The long awaited 2019 BMW X7 is finally here and it’s, um, polarizing. BMW’s largest utility vehicle, the X7, uses the brand’s versatile CLAR platform as a starting point for the most controversially styled Bimmer since Chris Bangle left the building.
Arriving at dealerships in March, the X7’s derrière is not, nor ever will be, the main source of viewer displeasure. This large vehicle has a big face and BMW knows it. It’s proud of it. Poised to tackle the likes of Mercedes-Benz’s GLS and other capacious, three-row premium utilities, the X7 makes sure it will never go unnoticed.
“The largest kidney grill ever designed for a BMW model features very prominently at the front of the new BMW X7,” states BMW in a phrase no one could argue with. “Together with the slim twin headlights extending up to the grill, it emphasizes the width of the car and creates presence.”
Spanning 203.3 inches from stem to stern, the Spartanburg, S.C.-built vehicle is 1.3 inches longer than a GLS. Ground clearance is 8.7 inches — a number Subaru owners will recognize immediately. Beneath the model’s panoramic sunroof, seating for seven occupants comes standard, though there’s an option of upgrading to a more executive-feeling six-person layout. For either layout, second-row seat travel is 5.7 inches.
Behind those monster kidneys lurk two familiar engines. At the bottom end, xDrive40i buyers receive a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six producing 335 horsepower and 330 lb-ft of torque. Moving up to the xDrive50i brings a 4.4-liter V8 endowed with new thermal efficiency measures and an ignition system designed to make the standard auto stop/start less annoying. Power is 465 Hp and 479 lb-ft. Like the straight-six, the V8 is only available with an eight-speed automatic.
All-wheel drive, as you’ve probably surmised, comes standard, as does 21-inch wheels on the lowliest trim and air suspension fore and aft (coupled with double wishbones up front, multi-links in the rear). Those air reservoirs allow owners to auto-lower the vehicle for easier cargo loading, but it also helps when on- and off-road. At high speeds (85+ mph), the vehicle, in Sport mode, lowers by 0.8 inches. If an off-road foray is on the itinerary (and which large, premium SUV owner doesn’t hit the trails?), a button in the cockpit offers an extra 1.7 inches of clearance.
If sportier driving is your bag, why the hell did you just buy an X7? Regardless, there’s standard two-mode Dynamic Damper Control for drivers to switch between, as well as a Dynamic Handling Package that adds an M Sport rear differential. You’ll find the same differential on vehicles outfitted with the Off-Road Package, as its locking function allows grip to flow to a single rear wheel.
Inside the X7, a cabin whose aesthetics will remain unmentioned contains a 12.3-inch screen in place of a gauge cluster, with a second screen of similar width riding atop the center stack. If found lacking, the roof can be swapped for BMW’s Panorama Sky Lounge ceiling, with outfits the glass with tiny LEDs meant to mimic the night sky. Romance blossoms in the X7. If possible, avoid allowing your teenager to take one on a date.
As expected, there’s tech aplenty. Opting for the Connected Package Professional bring aboard a slew of remote services, concierge services, and real-time information about traffic and parking. The Driving Assistant Professional package, which comes standard on the uplevel model (optional on xDrive40i), allows drivers to enjoy hands-off semi-autonomous driving on limited access highways, with a camera scrutinizing their moves (a la Cadillac’s Super Cruise) to ensure their attention remains fixed on the road ahead. In this mode, the vehicle demands a steering wheel touch once or twice a minute. A stop-and-go traffic jam function (Extended Traffic Jam Assist) operates at speeds up to 37 mph.
For buyers of the entry-level model, driver assist functions are not lacking. Standard features include Blind Spot Detection, Lane Departure Warning, Rear Collision Warning, Frontal Collision Warning and Pedestrian Warning with City Collision Mitigation, Cross Traffic Alert Rear, and Speed Limit Information.