As the 2019 automotive model year (and soon calendar year) comes to a close and 2020s take center stage, this web site has room for a few remaining noteworthy 2019s. Enter the all-new BMW X7.
Don't call this largest five-door BMW a crossover or even Sport Utility Vehicle as the German giant enjoys framing this body style as a 'Sport Activity Vehicle,' truncated in auto linguistics to 'SAV.'
Already in the SAV fold, the compact X3 and mid-size X5 two of BMW's best-selling vehicles. The new-for-2019 X7 takes the next step up in the form of a three-row full-size luxury offering, now the flagship of its "SAV' crew. All three assemble at BMW's sole U.S. manufacturing campus in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Active for more than a quarter century, this complex enjoys a capacity to assemble 450,000 units and rates as BMW's largest assembly facility worldwide. A majority of vehicles assembled in the Palmetto State export out to global markets.
Last years, BMW drove 311,014 units off U.S dealer lots placing 2018 in BMW's top five sales years. In October 2018, 23,262 units sold compared to 25,440 in 2019, a 9.4 percent increase.
For decades, domestic luxury rivals Cadillac and Lincoln enjoyed steady sales and profits from three-row Escalade and Navigator SUVs respectively. With X7, BMW finally motors off the sidelines and finds itself participating. Newbie status ensures X7 enjoys the newest state-of-the-art safety technologies and consumer conveniences.
The X7 comes exclusively with intelligent all-wheel drive which BMW denotes as xDrive; very handy during low-grip scenarios as the upper Midwest transitions very early into the 2019/2020 snow season. The rear-biased xDrive system sends 60 percent of power to rear wheels and 40 percent upfront when the sun's out and road's dry. An electronically-controlled multi-plate clutch can send almost 100 percent of engine torque to either front or rear axle depending upon sensed road conditions in a split second (one-tenth of a second to be exact according to BMW).
Two trims each offer their own, worthy engine choice. The xDrive40i offers a 335-horsepower, turbocharged power boost compliments of a 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder structure. Need more? Opt for this week's xDrive50i tester with a twin turbo 4.4-liter V-8 jumping the horses upward to 456. Both mate with an eight-speed automatic transmission.
Currently, only conventional internal combustion powertrains power X7, although BMW promises a plug-in hybrid electric version (PHEV) on the road within the next year or two.
These BMW experiences don't come cheap, and the all-new X7 is no exception. Plus stand-along extras and option packages add to the bottom-line price. Bimmer resale value continues strong, an important aspect when investing with German luxury experience.
Our V-8-powered X7 started out at $92,600. Just about every available option package came aboard too including dynamic handling package, cold weather package, premium package, M Sport package and executive package. A-la-carte goodies included advanced sound system and leather dashboard. Surprisingly, the $995 destination charge is less than many main-stream automakers tack on, leading to a $112,245 bottom line. The inline six-cylinder X7 xDrive40i starts at $73,900.
Another $600 extra included optional two second-row captain's chairs replacing a three-person split-bench-style, reducing occupant capacity to seven from six. No matter the row, seating comfort rates as 1A. While X7 may not enjoy the same large cargo-capacity as other three-row luxury rivals, BMW envisions X7 as a people mover rather than a Home Depot packer.
For those who enjoy a little quiet with their Big Boys, X7 delivers a silent interior experience despite 456 horses pumping under hood.
The way back third row backrests include a 50/50 power backrest split and quality space for two adults. Too many third row crossovers imply a trio of riders can happily co-exist. The X7, to its credit, sticks with a pair. And third-row occupants enjoy a ceiling caddy with dedicated HVAC buttons monitoring their zone of temperature comfort and controls operating their portion of the sunshade above. This along with decent head room and limb space creates one of the best third-row experiences tested in recent memory.
Power-operated second row captain's chairs motor and tilt fore and aft 5.7 inches, allowing a sizable walk way when venturing into row three. Simplicity is key as a four-year old can master and enjoy said technology.
Upfront in row one, the power buckets move 20 ways including multiple lumbar supports and knee extensions. Dashboard, center console and doors include pen-light accenting all contributing to a very classy, top-tier quality environment. Real wood trim adds elegance and the available leather-covered dashboard interacts with several human senses. Third-row seats and side panels include the same first-rate quality amenities found in the first two rows. Too often the way back row makes due with second-rate quality plastics, treating the third row as coach while those up front enjoy first-class. The X7 offers up to five individually controllable climate zones.
The electronic push-button start locates between front buckets away from steering column/steering wheel interference. The electronic transmission shifter includes reverse, neutral and drive selections engaged with a thumb-release button on the left side moving the jewel-like grip upward or back. Park engages automatically when pushing the nearby electronic start/stop ignition.
Both the animated instrument panel and multi-function center infotainment screen retain a large, 12.3-inch rectangular shape. The high-resolution touch-sensitive screen tilts slightly in the driver's direction featuring the latest iteration of BMW's iDrive interface. Past versions tended to overcomplicate simple tasks. BMW, to its credit, took a step back with a higher degree of 'intuitive-ity.'
Between front buckets resides a chrome control knob with half-a-dozen quick-reference push buttons ahead also allowing screen interaction via a curser. Screen interaction also takes hold via a thumb-operated scroll cylinder at the steering wheel's 3 o'clock positon.
Apple CarPlay integration comes standard providing one-year of service; after which, an annual subscription applies. Android Auto Smartphone interaction is not yet offered.
Hard to miss the super-sized version of BMW's twin-port, dual-kidney grille with BMW's blue-and-while circular medallion logo centered above. This grille gets flanked by narrow headlight housing sporting bejeweled headlights with automatic high beams standard. Below resides a black honeycomb air intake. Aside from this bold statement, the remaining exterior theme takes a conservative, elegant approach. Towards the back, chrome framing surrounds a pair of dual inboard exhausts.
The side belt line resides relatively low, providing large side windows contributing to better-than-average sight lines for those behind the wheel. The four sizeable side doors include rear versions even longer than the first row's, a big convenience when trekking in and out of row three.
The rear hatch powers up high enough providing ample head clearance. It's a two section design with a large upper-lifting rear window section and power-operated fold-down lower lip.
Keep in mind BMW equips all-new X7's with run-flat tires mounted on all four wheels and no spare anywhere. 2019 BMW X7
Price as tested: $112,345
Engine: Twin turbo V-8
Overall length: 203.3 inches
Overall width: 78.7 inches
Overall height: 71.1 inches
Wheelbase: 122.2 inches
Fuel Economy: 15 mpg city, 21 mpg highway
Assembly: Spartanburg, South Carolina