It’s the ultimate driving crossover within the confines of a brand promoting itself as the Ultimate Driving Machine.
Welcome to the 2023 X7 M60i, one of the German automaker’s largest five-door offerings with three rows of seating standard. Don’t casually refer to X7 as a crossover as exampled in the previous paragraph; BMW reserves the term ‘Sport Activity Vehicle’ for its upscale five-door hatchbacks. Since its recent inception, this five-door SAV calls Spartanburg, South Carolina its production home.
The Volks from Munich remain profoundly proud of their S.C. digs, first breaking ground in 1992 with what soon evolved into the company’s first full manufacturing plant outside Germany. Last September, the six-millionth vehicle rolled off the line with many exported for sale around the world. Future plans include assemblage of all electric vehicles and erecting an electric battery plant nearby. Currently, Spartanburg not only assembles X7, but an array of five-door SAVs including the X3, X4, X5, X6 and all-new high-performance 644-horsepower XM, debuting in the 2023 model year.
The sizeable X7 remains a relative newcomer to the BMW library, arriving in 2019 with this 2023 edition receiving a significant mid-cycle refresh while still retaining a power-pleasing V-8 engine. All-wheel drive comes standard. Although X7 exports around the globe, the U.S. market remains the most popular, accounting for a remarkable 47 percent of sales according to BMW.
Two X7 flavors await potential buyers here in the States, an xDrivev40i and our tester this week, the X7 M60i. Both beef up with the addition of a complimentary 48-volt ‘Mild Hybrid’ system.
Mild hybrids differ from full hybrids in several ways. Full gas-electric hybrids employ a small electric motor powered by battery packs capable of propelling vehicles along at low speeds within a pure electric mode. The original Toyota Prius may be the most recognizable full hybrid.
Mild hybrids have been around as long as full hybrids (at least a quarter century) acting as a power booster rather than rotating an axle. Both utilize regenerative braking to capture and repurpose kinetic energy created during the braking process. Mild hybrids cost less than full hybrids with neither requiring a nightly wall socket plug-in to store electricity. As their name indicates, emerging plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) require a wall socket connection to charge their much larger on-board battery pack.
During the previous four years, BMW utilized the M50i designate to ID the larger X7 V-8. The M60i update for 2023 reflects BMW’s attempt better define the returning internal combustion engine (ICE) with emerging electrified technology.
The inline turbo-charged six-cylinder X7 xDrive 40i increases horsepower by 40 in 2023 reaching 375 thanks in part to the Mild Hybrid. For those still hankering for a V-8 punch, our tester’s 4.4-liter, twin-turbo variant delivers a quick-footed 523 horsepower. Expect this X7 to reach zero to 60 mpg in a mere 4.5 seconds. Both engines work in tandem with BMW’s eight-speed ‘Steptronic’ automatic transmission.
The fuel tank holds 21.9 gallons in both engine sizes. Neither of the X7’s prioritize fuel economy, although the mild hybrid addition helps up the numbers slightly from last year. Expect 18 mpg combined city/highway estimates with the V-8 and 22 combined mpg with the inline six. Both drink up premium gas for optimal results.
A visual cue new in 2023; illumination of BMW’s supersized twin-port Kidney grille. As always the circular blue and white round BMW medallion resides above. The twin ports situate above a substantial sized ‘painted in black’ lower air dam for an in-your-face can’t miss front end. Flanking the grille, a split headlight design featuring a narrow band of daytime running lights separated from the conventional lights below by body-colored framing, a cue borrowed from BMW’s much coveted flagship 7-Series sedan.
On the flip side, tail lights upgrade to include a narrow chrome bar connecting the two elongated ovals forming a stretched letter C pattern all in red left, and reverse C pattern right. Side wheel wells offer a curved, not boxed design for added elegance. Also new in 2023, availability of large 23-inch tire rims. Side windows team with a low belt line to promote ample glass, helping minimize blind spots while driving.
Standard two-axle air suspension and rear-wheel steering add a comforting smoothness even with all those horses thundering under hood. Rear-wheel steering adds a swivel dimension to the rear wheels through a limited degree range, helping this X7 exit from aggressive turns with a degree of refinement. Air suspension allows drivers to adjust the ride height at the flick of a tab. The steering feel remains quite light for a vehicle of this size and girth.
Row two accommodates three riders in split-bench style unless kicking in an extra $850 for a pair of sturdy, subtle Captain’s Chairs, as did our tester. These seats power and tilt forward together (in relatively slow fashion) when necessitating a visit to the two-passenger way back. When not in use, these 50/50 split third-row seat backs power down in a nice flat fashion to widen cargo carrying opportunities. Abby the 14-pound Schnauzer (with built-in German pedigree) found the seats exceedingly comfortable thanks to her own ‘comfort zone’ settings. Taller bi-peds should schedule very short jaunts since these confines are best enjoyed by human pre-teens.
The power rear hatch (wiper included) of this SAV opens to provide plenty of head clearance for taller-standing folks. A small bottom lip powers down if loading larger, heavier items.
The M in X6 M60i indicates performance M upgrades get throw into the mix including a beefier exhaust sound (from the quad exhaust) and superior braking characteristics.
Prestige found with BMW badging has its advantages, but at a cost. The X7 M60i adds $3,300 from the 2022 M50i’s base price which now starts at $103,000 before an array of available options. The 2023 x40i starts at $77,850. Our Alpine White tester added a $3,400 upgraded sound system, $1,600 climate control package (rear heated seats), $2,100 Executive Package (front massaging seats, heated/cooled cup holders), $1,700 Driving Assistance Pro Package and comparably mellow $995 destination charge to end the bottom line at $117,045.
The optional Driving Assistance Pro Package ($1,700) is BMW’s answer to autonomous driving, at least at a low entry level working in tandem with onboard radar-enhanced technology. Automakers remain a long, long way away from self-driving vehicles. Even with DAP, drivers remain fully in command.
While some three-row luxury competitors may offer a pinch more passenger and cargo room, the optics, upscale materials and ambiance X7 presents remains masterful while quietness is a virtue as very little outside rattles reaching inside. Four-zone climate control comes standard (opt for a five-zone version with the climate comfort package like Abby the Dog) and subtle Black Merino leather upholstery is a $2,700 extra.
The dashboard design gets revitalized in 2023 with prominent digital display and infotainment upgrades (including BMW’s iDrive version 8 software). The sizeable instrument panel window increases in size from 10.25 inches upward to 12.3 inches and joins up seamlessly with the center multi-function touchscreen now measuring a sizeable 14.9 inches. It’s a concaved rectangular screen stretching from just left of the steering column all the way towards the shot gun passenger. Both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity come standard as does wireless charging. While the narrow screen concaves ever so slightly, the lower midportion of the dash forms an arrowhead-like design. Carbon fiber accents along the dash and doors constitute a worthy $300 ding to the bottom line.
BMW offers several ways of screen interaction including touch-sensitivity. Also available, a circular dial (BMW’s iDrive Controller) between front buckets motivating an in-screen curser. A gentle push down of the dial selects curser highlights. Secondary volume and station preset buttons are found on the leather-wrapped three-spoke steering wheel. For those ready for high-tech adventures, voice commands and gesture controlling and are also available, but the hand motions and swirls take time to master (at least for this lower-tech guy).
A narrow horizontal region along the screen’s center bottom prompts HVAC operations, always displaying digitally the dual front zone temperatures with up/down adjustments just a push away. When prompted, additional HVAC commands and settings monitor from touch screen commands. The sole dashboard dial monitors audio volume on/off, a change from last year when additional buttons and dials monitored HVAC controls.
Screen interaction with sound and climate updates are relatively easy to master even for a non-tech dudes (save for arm-waving gesture controls).
Also between the seats, the electronic push start/stop ignition push button and electronic automatic transmission gear selector ‘be-jeweled’ in the 2023 model year. The gem-like bar (replacing a conventional shift lever/handle) slides vertically up to reverse and down to drive. Summoning ‘park’ requires a push down of a ‘P’ prod aft of the transmission column track. Three push buttons promoting unique drive modes are nearby: Eco, Sport and Comfort.
All X7 derivatives easily qualifies for BMW’s extensive Ultimate Care maintenance program covering some dealer-performed scheduled maintenance for three years or 36,000 miles, whichever comes first (including engine oil service, air filter check etc.). Four years of complimentary roadside assistance gets added into the mix, too.
2023 BMW X7 M60i
Price as tested: $117,045
Engine: 4.4-liter, twin turbo V-8
Overall length: 203.6 inches
Overall width: 78.7 inches
Overall height: 72.2 inches
Wheelbase: 122.2 inches
Curb weight: 5,895 pounds
Fuel Economy: 16 mpg city/ 21 mpg highway
Drivetrain warranty: Four years/50,000 miles
Assembly: Spartanburg, South Carolina