Tuesday, October 1, 2019



If you are a believer in bigger is always better, than BMW has the SUV (excuse me, in BMW's terminology it's a Sports Activity, not Sports Utility, Vehicle) you have been looking for.

The BMW X7 launched for 2019 is the company's largest utility, er, activity, vehicle yet with standard three-row seating for seven (or six when equipped with second-row captain's chairs) and towing capacity of up to 7,500 pounds when equipped with the factory hitch.

It comes in two versions. The X7 xDrive40i comes with a turbocharged V6 under the hood. The X7 xDrive50i on which this review is based has a turbo V8 that ups horsepower to 456 from the 335 of the turbo-6 and torque to 479 pound-feet from 330.

Both engines are mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters for manual gear selection and driving modes that can be set to comfort, sport, eco, or set to individual tastes.

Presumably, driving in Eco might improve the mileage figures of 17 miles-per-gallon city, 21 highway, and 15 combined using premium fuel, but more time spent in sport mode likely would have the opposite effect.

It's your choice, of course, but sport mode does deliver a more pleasing driving experience. The V8 moves the X7 xDrive50i's 5,617 pounds from zero-to-60 mph in a brisk 5.2 seconds. BMW clockers report a 5.8 clocking for the somewhat lighter (5,370 pounds) X7 xDrive40i.

Being the biggest in the fleet of the German automaker's fleet of "Activity" vehicles, the X7 offers generous interior space, though legroom and headroom in the third row is a bit confining at 33.3 and 36.6 inches, respectively. Legroom up front is just under 40 inches with headroom of 41.9 inches.

Being a BMW, it has all the niceties that a luxury vehicle typically has complete with the latest in technology. The heated, 20-way power adjustable, multi-contour front seats include 4-way lumbar support, and the panoramic moonroof and power liftgate are standard.

Also included with no charge in the X7 xDrive50i's $92,600 MSRP (a jump of nearly $18,000 over the X7 xDrive40i) are such features as active blind spot detection and lane-keeping warning, wood interior trim, a parking assist system, Wi-Fi hotspot, and a Harmon Kardon Surround Sound audio system with a one-year subscription to SiriusXM satellite radio.

Too many option packages quickly added $25,000 to the base MSRP for my test vehicle, however, running the total to $117,945 including the $995 destination and delivery charge.

You don't have to go full bore, of course. For example, I could do without the leather dashboard that added $1,200 to the price or the Bowers & Wilkins sound system that tacked on $3,400. The Dynamic Handling Package (suspension and steering upgrades) and M Sport Package (trim upgrades) combined add over $8,000 alone.

I also could probably do without the Premium Package (Remote Engine Start, Soft-Close automatic doors, rear electric side window shades, heated and cooled cup holders, Heads-Up Display) and Executive Package (Panoramic Sky Lounge LED Roof, Glass Controls and BMW Laserlight headlights) as well as the rear-seat entertainment system ($2,200). 

A Driving Assistant Professional package (Extended Traffic Jam Assist for limited access highways and lane-keeping assistant with active side-collision protection is standard on xDrive50i models and optional on the xDrive40i.

There's also a cold weather package that includes 5-zone climate control, heated seats for the front and rear and heated front-seat armrests and steering wheel that runs $1,200 that, being a South Florida resident, I would have no need for.

But I'd go for the captain's chairs for the second row.  At $600, they seem like a bargain.

What I liked about the 2019 BMW X7 xDrive50i: No question it is refined luxury and engineering at its best. The ride is smooth and quiet, the cabin spacious. I also like the concept of the split tailgate.

What I didn't like about the 2019 BMW X7 xDrive50i: Some nits here. As is typical of upscale German luxury cars, it is packed with technology that, alas, can be very distracting to operate. (But the 12.3-inch display screen for navigation is nice.) Adjusting the A/C blower manually (as I prefer to do) requires a fine touch. It either is too low or it blasts you out. The Active Lane Departure Warning can be overly active at times. Finally, your have to pay extra for leather seats over the standard leatherette.

Would I buy the 2019 BMW X7 xDrive50i? A bit too large for my tastes or needs, but if you are looking for or need a full-size luxury SUV, the X7 could be just what you want. No question it's a quality vehicle with outstanding engineering and a powerful engine.

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