2020 BMW X7 Review

2020 BMW X7 - The 7-Series meets a crossover and magic happens.


The X7 is BMW's largest crossover to date. It was introduced for the 2019 model year and carries over into 2020 with a new trim offering featuring a more-powerful V8 engine. A full-size crossover, X7 available only as a 4-door wagon and offers 6- or 7-passenger capacity. Compared to the X5, X7 rides a 5-inch longer wheelbase and is 9 inches longer overall. Competitors include the Audi Q7, Cadillac Escalade, Lexus GX, Land Rover Range Rover, Lincoln Navigator, Mercedes-Benz GLS and Volvo XC90.

For 2020 the BMW X7 is offered in xDrive40i and M50i trim. Both come standard with all-wheel drive. The xDrive40i is powered by a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six that makes 335 horsepower and 330 lb-ft of torque. The M50i gets a turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 that makes 523 horsepower and 553 lb-ft of torque. Both engines are paired with an 8-speed automatic. Towing capacity is 7,500 pounds when properly equipped.

All models come standard with forward-collision warning with emergency braking, blind-spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning and front and rear parking sensors. The XDrive40i lists for $89,145 and comes standard with 21-inch wheels, self-leveling suspension, adaptive LED headlights, dual-section power tailgate, sunroof, 4-zone climate control, simulated leather upholstery and wood trim, 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system with support for Apple Car Play and Android Auto, digital instrument cluster, wireless charging pad, heated front seats and heated front armrests and steering wheel.

The M50i lists for $100,795 and adds 22-inch wheels, adaptive sport suspension, sport differential, upgraded brakes, multicontour front seats, soft-close doors, head-up display, gesture control, surround view camera and 16-speaker Harman Kardon sound system. Also offered are adaptive cruise control, forward cross-traffic alert, ventilated and massaging front seats, second-row captain's chairs 20-speaker Bowers & Wilkins surround-sound system, dual-screen rear entertainment system and panoramic sunroof with LED lighting.

The turbo six in the 40i provides robust acceleration around town, good highway passing punch and relaxed highway cruising. When pressed it will push the X7 from 0 to 0 mph in about 5.5 seconds. That's pretty quick for the class -- and that's the base engine. Quite frankly, there's no reason to opt for the more-powerful engine in the M50i, well, unless you really want it.... That engine is takes things to a whole new level from a performance perspective. In Sport mode, the M50i jumps off the line and races to 60 MPH in about 4.7 seconds. Stomp on the throttle in passing situations and you'll be pressed into the seatback with authority. Basically, in every situation, you have more power than you will ever need.

Both engines are very smooth and refined and emit a throaty exhaust snarl in hard acceleration. In addition, they pair well with the 8-speed automatic transmission to provide smooth and seamless acceleration and prompt downshifts in passing situations. The standard all-wheel-drive system efficiently shuffles power to the wheels with the most traction to limit spin on slippery surfaces. It does not have a low range and is not suited for extreme off-road driving. BMW also offers active torque vectoring to improve cornering in hard acceleration.

At 20 MPG city and 25 MPG highway, EPA ratings for the base six are among the best in the class. However, things take a turn for the worse with the V8's 15 MPG city and 21 MPG highway scores. Making matters worse, the X7, like just about every vehicle in this class, requires premium-grade fuel. In routine suburban commuting the base engine will likely average 20 MPG. The V8 in the M50i will stretch to hit 18 MPG overall in mixed driving. The 22-gallon fuel tank provides about 450 miles of highway range.

The X7 is a big crossover and, at more than 5,300 pounds, heavy too. Still BMW employs a tried-and-true front wishbone/rear multi-link suspension with air springs to provide a premium ride and handling balance that sets the standard for large crossovers. In addition, the M50i gets a sport differential and rear-wheel steering, which makes it feel much smaller and more agile.

There is definitely a difference in overall ride quality between the 40i's 21-inch wheels and the M50i's 22-inch rubber. However, both models provide a smooth and comfortable ride that doesn't intrude. Occasionally, a large bump or particularly sharp expansion joint will pound through into the cabin with an uncharacteristic thud. Steering is precise and quick with enough heft that you can feel the vehicle's overall weight in quick changes of direction. Brakes have ample stopping power and a very easy to modulate pedal.

You'd think a vehicle like the two-and-a-half-ton X7 might shy away from twisty roads. That's not the case here. The X7 feels quite at home carving a curvy on-ramp or back road. There's more body lean than you might expect, but in quick maneuvers, the X7 vehicle takes a nice set and isn't bothered by mid-corner bumps. On M50i models, the rear wheels can counter steer up to 3 degrees from the fronts to make the X7 feel smaller behind the wheel. The X7 definitely feels a bit bigger and more cumbersome in comparison to the X5, but then again, the X5 sets the standard for all large crossovers.

With little wind rush and nicely suppressed tire roar, the X7 is very quiet when cruising -- even at extra-legal speeds. Both engines can get vocal in hard acceleration, but always maintain a refinement becoming of the X7's premium price tag.

On the inside, the X7 is all BMW, meaning serious and businesslike with just enough whimsy and chrome to lighten the mood. Materials are premium, no doubt, and assembly quality is top notch. Drivers face an all-digital instrument cluster with an available head up display. The dashboard is dominated by a large 12.3-inch touchscreen. Most surfaces are either wood, leather or chrome.

From a functionality standpoint, the X7 takes a bit of familiarization. Most knobs and buttons are small and not all that well marked. Even the shifter is different, pushing forward to select reverse and pushing rearward to select drive. (In fact, it seems as if sometimes you have to push forward twice to engage reverse.) The digital instrument cluster is programmable, thankfully, and can display as much or as little information as you desire. The infotainment system is mainly controlled by a jog dial that's an awkward reach for the driver. The screen does have touch and gesture control, which is nice. Still, operation of BMW's iDrive infotainment system requires a deep dive into the owner's manual and grows more frustrating to use as BMW adds more and more complexity.

The X7 is based on the X5 but is stretched a bit to make it a true 7-passenger vehicle. In fact, the X7 is longer than the Audi Q7 and Benz GLS-Class. Front seat passengers are treated to immensely comfortable seats that afford a multitude of adjustments. They are heated and cooled and have an available massaging feature. Head and leg room are generous.

The second row can be configured with either a 3-place bench or twin captain's chairs. If you have kids, the bench makes sense, but for adult comfort, the captain's chairs can be adjusted for and aft and are extremely comfortable. Most of the X7's additional length compared to the X5 went into making a more accommodating third-row seat. It's adult friendly and not all that hard to access.

Cargo space is a mixed bag. With all seats in use, the X7 offers a scant 11.5 cubic feet of storage. Fold the third row and capacity jumps to 48.6 cubic feet. All seats folded, the X7 offers 90 cubic feet of storage capacity. As far as small-item storage, the X7 could be better. There's a decent bin ahead of the shifter and a large center console bin. But other than that, just so-so.

Bottom Line -- Given that no one is buying luxury sedans, the X7 is basically a BMW 7-Series in crossover form. And it is the epitome of BMW's current automotive conundrum. It's exceedingly well mannered, provides ample performance and fitted to the nines, but it is dragged down by BMW's desire to be different for the sake of being unique. Prices are steep, as is the case with all competitors in this segment, but there is no denying that the X7 is a fantastic vehicle despite its price.

Mark Bilek

Mark Bilek is the Senior Director of Communications and Technology for the Chicago Auto Trade Association and the General Manager for DriveChicago.com. He is also responsible for developing and maintaining the Chicago Auto Show Web site.

Mark has been reviewing vehicles for more than two decades. Previously, he was associate publisher at Consumer Guide, where he oversaw publication of Consumer Guide Car & Truck Test, Consumer Guide's Used Car Book, and ConsumerGuide.com. He was also responsible for publication of "Collectible Automobile" and various hardcover automotive titles. In 2001 and 2002 he served as president of a Midwest Automotive Media Association. Mark has appeared on NBC TV, ABC TV, Fox News, WGN and MotorTrend TV as an automotive consultant. He hosts the Drive Chicago radio show on WLS 890 AM and was a regular guest on WGN Radio's Steve & Johnnie show. Mark lives in the northwest suburbs with his wife and three sons.