BMW Just Unveiled Its Massive X7 SUV

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.

Seven-Worthy Interior

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.

What to Do When Your BMW’s Engine Overheats

Beloved by car enthusiasts but not necessarily mechanics, BMWs raise some real questions about the legend of German reliability.

Running hot is a problem cars from all marques face, and BMW is no different. If you thought that trim panel was expensive, you’ll split a wig when you see the price of new motor components for your beamer. So if your car is running hot, be quick about identifying the issue and implementing a fix. It could make a five-figure difference in your bank account. Here’s what to do.

Know How to Recognize Overheating

Modern BMW engines are water-cooled and do a pretty good job of staying at operating temperature — unless something goes wrong or you’re running the car very hard. Depending on how new your vehicle is, a gauge will indicate the head and oil temperatures of your engine in the central cluster, and you might have a digital readout that displays an error code if it gets too hot. In analog gauge clusters, the needle should never touch go past the halfway mark on the dial.

If you see this happening, don’t continue driving the car because you can do severe damage to the engine. Pull over and call a tow truck. You can repair the issue once a mechanic has had a chance to take a look at things, which may cost a few hundred dollars, but it will save you the price of replacing an engine.

Fixing an Overheating Engine

Now that you know that your engine is overheating, you need to repair it. If the car overheats during regular use, your set of suspects will include your electric fan, water pump and thermostat. You should be able to observe your fan switching on and off. If you can’t, look at the thermostat and if that doesn’t do it, check your fan and fusebox.

If the car overheats at idle, you’re probably dealing with a busted water pump. Make sure you have clean, high-performance oil in the car, as allowing it to degrade or running a cheap motor oil can increase your chances of heat soak.

All these are relatively cheap to replace, and some BMW models are known for having less-than-stellar fan or water pump performance. Your mechanic will know just what to do. If the car has been overheating for some time, you’ll want to check the expansion tank to see if it has become weak.

For drivers who frequently track their cars or engage in spirited driving that causes heat soak, something more serious is needed. Consider upgrading your car’s plastic cooling system to a metal one with a larger fan and radiator. Change your factory oil for something with a higher boiling point, like a full synthetic. This will ensure fewer metal shavings enter your motor and provide better performance in the long run, as well as defend against heat soak during track days. The truly extreme can look for ventilated bodywork, a higher-volume intercooler and turbo plumbing.

Beamers have their fair share of unique issues, but overheating isn’t one of them. These problems have been faced time and time again by the automotive community, and as long as you get to them quickly, they’ll be cheap and easy to fix. Don’t wait until your head gasket breaks. Pay for the fix now, and you’ll be glad your car isn’t down for the count tomorrow.

Can You Tow With a BMW?

BMW, the ultimate towing machine! Not familiar? Perhaps not. Bavaria’s famed automaker is better known for Hoffmeister kinks and persnickety gearboxes than for stump-pulling proficiency. So you might be surprised to learn that not only do BMW SUVs tow, they do it quite well.

Vehicle dynamics have long been the forte of the blue-and-white brand, and while you’re predisposed to think of dynamics as the way your M3 rotates when you chuck it into a 90-degree right, it’s the very same set of principles that informs the way your X5 behaves when pulling the family motorcraft. Naturally, BMW has taken all they know about building surefooted, smooth-riding cars and translated it into confident, capable towing machines.

Serious Tug

Boating magazine recently published a review of the BMW X5 as a tow/haul vehicle. It received numerous compliments, not only for its capable towing, but also for offering boat owners a driving experience that is noticeably more comfortable than that of a domestic-market pickup. While diesel Fords, Chevys and Dodges have added semi-truck levels of torque to their outputs, the BMW’s powerful V8 and robust suspension package make it a worthy competitor for all but the largest oceangoing boats with its 6,000-pound tow rating and 4,000-pound payload capacity.

Smaller oceangoing craft and riverboats should be no problem for the burly X5, which you can also have in diesel flavor with a wonderful compression-ignition powerplant that delivers a hearty 413 foot-pounds of torque, sure to make your trailer feel feathery on the highway. All X5s enjoy 15.2-inch front and 13.6-inch rear ventilated disc brakes in a testament to what a serious towing machine this is. Lots of vehicles offer the power output needed to pull a trailer, but making it safe and controlled to slow all that moving mass is what separates the ultimate driving machine from its lesser competition.

Don’t Forget About Little Sister

You’ll find the same exceptional road manners that make the X5 a capable tow vehicle in the more affordable, more compact X3 for city-going outdoor aficionados and anyone with an active lifestyle. Even in four-cylinder guise, the Twinpower four-cylinder on the base model X3 develops 258 foot-pounds of torque, enough to enable a payload capacity of nearly 1,000 pounds and the ability to tow 4,400 pounds. That’s plenty to haul your small trailer or camper or a pair of watercraft or snowmobiles. It’s the perfect solution for nearly all those who want the ability to tow, but won’t rely on their BMW strictly for towing, and can appreciate the versatility of a crossover.

Plus, You Still Get a BMW!

Seldom do you hear anyone heaping praise onto the full-sized pickup segment for being nimble, responsive backroads dancers with supportive seats and well-placed controls. That’s more a BMW thing. While these cars are capable tow vehicles, they’re also very much BMWs. You’ll enjoy every day of ownership with your tow-package-equipped Bimmer, not just the ones where you visit the lake or pull a trailer.

Consider how often you need to tow. Wouldn’t it be nice to find a vehicle that can comfortably perform the role of tow vehicle while at the same time swaddling you in luxury and offering class-leading performance that makes it a joy to drive? That is precisely what we have in the X line of SUVs. BMW has found success with the suburban market already, but these cars have gone underappreciated as thoroughbreds for some time. The secret’s out now, so don’t be surprised if one of your Ford- or Dodge-driving pals asks you next time they see you, “Can I take your X5 for a spin?”

The Ultimate BMW Forum