Seven seats has long been the promised land for the SUV-makers of the world. It’s no secret that people love these supersized people-haulers and despite what looked like a turn towards smaller footprints during the recession, the land barge is enjoying a return to its former glory ten years later.
BMW never shied away from the SUV game, but they are one of the last automakers to stake their claim to the Expedition-sized SUV segment. And so, in true Teutonic fashion, the X7 SUV might be showing up late to the party but it’s bringing the goods. This is a full-fat SUV and remarkably, also very much a BMW.
Cadillac, er, BMW Grills
Ludacris might have been proud to sing about his Caddy back in the day but one look at the X7 makes you think he’s probably changing brands. The X7’s mouthpiece is broad and confident, and it works quite well with the muscular styling of the X7 as a whole.
Understandably it looks like an uber-sized X5, and the new X5 is as handsome an SUV as you’ll find out these days. It’s still big, but not brutish. And the refinement continues inside.
Remember that as BMWs go, the 7 has long been the top-of-the-totem-poll luxury cruiser. Yes, there’s a new 8-series 2-door but that’s a halo car. The X7 spares no expense ensuring that families who drop the $75k price of entry are treated to the cushy experience they expect when they climb inside.
Second-row passengers can enjoy optional reclining bucket seats and even row three offers enough legroom for all but the tallest adults. Everything is trimmed in supple hides that look absolutely first-class with the quilted stitching option BMW’s test vehicles flaunt.
Want to take in the view? There’s a panoramic moonroof and of course an available 1500W Bowers & Wilkins stereo to provide all the mood music you’d ever need.
Does the Job in Style
Don’t let the fancy trimmings fool you though, the X7 is a capable ultimate people-hauling machine. In base trim, it sports a powerful twin-turbocharged six-cylinder and the upgraded 5.0i version receives a boosted V8 producing 559 horsepower and 479 ft.-lbs. of boat-pulling torque.
BMW expects about 70 percent of buyers to take the six-pot mill, while about 30 percent will upgrade to the six-figure 5.0i model. Self-leveling air-ride suspension is standard and the upgraded dynamic handling package will make you outright surprised you’re driving a 17-foot long SUV.
Both variants of the X7 receive BMW’s Xdrive all-wheel-drive system and for those looking to break some new trail in style and comfort, there’s an optional locking rear differential.
A state-of-the-art heads-up display takes full advantage of the X7s expansive windshield projecting your GPS navigation while you drive, and by folding down both rows of seats, you can expand the 362-liters of rear compartment space to a cavernous 2120. While it might be a boastful thoroughbred, the X7 still has all the necessary accouterments to be a true workhorse.
Late to the Game, but Not out of It
The competition from Mercedes, Audi, Lexus, and Cadillac is well-established in this field.
Even volume automakers are well acquainted with the seven-seater segment at this point, but BMW has the advantage of bringing something fresh to the market. They offer some excitement to buyers who would otherwise feel compromised by the softer Mercedes or less powerful Audi, not to mention the willing but decidedly less refined Cadillac and Lincoln offerings.
Perhaps BMW have stolen a page from Apple’s book here. You don’t have to be the first to market with a good idea, you just have to execute it well.