BMW is joining the three-row fray next March with the 2019 X7 xDrive40i and xDrive50i. Both X7 trims will offer seating for six or seven, rear-seat entertainment for long family trips and the ability to preorder online. That preorder feature is new for the company. The X7 will be built in Spartanburg, South Carolina, alongside the rest of the X-branded vehicles.
Engine choices will be familiar to anyone who follows BMW. The xDrive40i comes with the company’s 3.0-liter inline six with a single twin-scroll turbocharger making 335 hp and 330 lb-ft of torque. That engine coupled with the standard-across-the-range eight-speed automatic will be good for a sprint time of 5.8 seconds. The xDrive50i gets a 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8 delivering 456 hp and 479 lb-ft and a 0-60 time of 5.2 seconds. Both get a top speed of 130 mph. The 40i weighs in at 5,370 pounds; the 50i is 5,617 pounds.
EPA fuel mileage hasn't been revealed.
That eight-speed automatic has been upgraded, according to BMW, with new torsional dampers that improve shift comfort. It also works with the navigation system, adaptive cruise control, road sensors and cameras to keep the driver in the proper gear for whatever comes next. The auto stop/start function does the same, keeping the engine running when approaching a roundabout or short-stop situation.
All-wheel drive is standard on all X7s and can send up to 100 percent of torque to the rear when necessary. Optionally, buyers can spec the M Sport Differential (available for the xDrive50i in both the Dynamic Handling Package and in the new Off-Road Package) that can split power side-to-side, for situations like powering out of a corner or over slippery roads. It all works together with the Dynamic Stability Control system and other sensors, cameras and radar to give the driver the most possible power and grip.
The X7 comes with a double-wishbone front suspension setup and a five-link rear. Air suspension and Dynamic Damper Control are both standard. If optioned with either the Off-Road Package or Dynamic Handling Package, it can adjust for sportiness by lowering the vehicle, off-road ability by raising it, as well as lowering the vehicle for cargo loading. Active Comfort Drive also uses cameras and sensors for comfort and stability around turns and over undulating pavement. Rear steering (wheels turn in phase with the front wheels at high speed, out of phase at slow speeds) is standard all around.
The X7 is 203.3 inches long, 78.7 inches wide and 71.1 inches tall. That makes it longer and wider by a few ticks than the new Volkswagen Atlas, Subaru Ascent and Mercedes-Benz GLS, and it's close to the size of a GMC Yukon. It offers 90.4 cubic feet of cargo space with everything folded down. For comparison, the Atlas has 96.8; the Ascent has 86.5 and the GLS comes with 84.1. The X7 can tow 7,500 pounds with a factory hitch and the Mercedes can do the same. The VW Atlas and Subaru Ascent can pull 5,000 pounds apiece, the Ascent using a boxer four, the VW a V6.
Inside, there is a choice of six color options including alpine white, black, black sapphire, mineral white, arctic gray and Vermont bronze. More colors will be introduced later. As for materials, we’re looking at black SensaTec vinyl or leather, with several colors and a two-tone option. Like the X5 we recently drove, BMW also offers the X7 with good-looking glass accents on the start/stop button, gearshift lever, iDrive controller and radio volume knob.
Options include remote engine start, 22-inch wheels and a factory installed tow hitch. Five-zone climate control is available as part of the cold weather package, which also includes front and rear heated seats and heated front seat armrests and steering wheel.
The Premium Package adds soft-close automatic doors, rear electric side window shades, heated and cooled cupholders, head-up display, premium audio and gesture control.
The seventh-generation iDrive infotainment system uses two 12.3-inch screens for nav, connectivity, media and telephone functions, and if the (recent) past is anything to go on, it will be one of the best in the business. The speedometer and tach sit on the outsides of that gauge cluster screen. The basic radio is a 10-speaker, 205-watt setup. Optionally buyers can spec a Harman/Kardon or Bowers & Wilkins system.
On the safety side, the X7 basically has everything. The xDrive40i comes standard with active protection and active driving assistant including blind-spot detection, lane departure warning, rear collision warning, frontal collision warning and pedestrian warning with city collision mitigation (which now also alerts the driver if cyclists are detected) cross traffic alert rear, and speed limit information.
The xDrive50i adds standard Parking Assistant Plus which provides Top View, Panorama View and 3D View. The xDrive50i also includes Head-Up Display and Active Driving Assistant Professional with Active Lane Keeping Assistant and Extended Traffic Jam Assistant for limited access highways.
Active driving assistant professional, optional on the 40i, standard on the 50i, is BMW’s semi-autonomous system that works with the extended traffic jam assist, lane keeping assist and active side collision systems to take over driving duties at speeds below 37 mph. When activated and the driver is paying attention, there’s no need to touch the steering wheel or pedals.
Parking sensors are standard. BMW’s Parking Assistant is standard on the 50i, optional on the 40i. That system takes care of the steering, shifting and braking when parking. Back Up Assistant remembers the last 50 yards and repeats the same steps to get out of a tight spot.
All of this stuff, including infotainment, safety and other systems, can be updated wirelessly via BMW’s Remote Software Upgrade.
Pricing hasn't been announced, but it's safe to assume the BMW X7 will sit in the upper tier of three-row vehicles, starting in the $70K range. Right now, the Cadillac Escalade leads the segment, with the Range Rover Sport and Mercedes-Benz GLS following. We’ll have to wait and see if the X7 joining that segment shakes things up.
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