The verdict: The X7 is a true luxury vehicle that ticks all the boxes of what a big SUV should be, with plenty of space, technology and style.
Versus the competition: The only luxury SUVs that can match the X7’s roominess are much larger and more cumbersome to drive (and park).
It’s a case of “better late than never” for BMW, which arrives to the large three-row luxury SUV game later than its competitors but has done a great job focusing on the “better” part of that statement. It feels as though BMW took notes on what the rest of the three-row class did well — and not so well — then applied those observations directly to the X7.
The X7 is offered in two trim levels: xDrive40i and xDrive50i, representing different engines. There’s a big gulf between the starting prices: The xDrive40 starts at $74,895, while the xDrive50i costs nearly $20,000 more, starting at $93,595 (prices include destination charges). It competes against other three-row luxury SUVs, such as the Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class, Lincoln Navigator and Cadillac Escalade.
I tested both varieties of the X7 over the course of a week and found plenty to like. It was as if I’d made a wish list for the things a large, top-flight luxury SUV should be — and the X7 proceeded to check each item off that list, starting with …
A First-Class Interior
The number “7” in the X7’s name creates plenty of expectations, as it’s the number also used by BMW’s flagship luxury sedan. Thankfully, the X7’s fantastic cabin lives up to those expectations with very comfortable, highly adjustable seats and a light and airy feel thanks to some large side windows (which also help with outward visibility). Materials also impress, especially when you get the seats adorned in the optional Merino leather (which my test vehicles had). That leather will cost you, though: It was a $5,150 option for the very attractive two-tone Ivory and Night Blue full Merino setup on my xDrive40i. The xDrive50i came with a pricey leather option of its own, but instead of full Merino, it was only “extended” Merino and thus cost only an extra $1,000.
The X7 comes with a standard three-passenger bench in the second row; captain’s chairs are a $600 option. The captain’s chairs are the more comfortable choice, but in addition to losing seating capacity, bear in mind that those seats don’t fold down all the way. This prevents you from opening up the cargo area as fully as you can with the bench.
Most impressive, though, is how interior quality is maintained all the way back to the third row. Often in larger vehicles, the materials and presentation can drop off rapidly as you move backward. Not so in the X7, where the pillars were all nicely covered in Alcantara all the way to the back and the third-row bench had the same quality Merino leather found up front, though the seats had a little less padding. Speaking of the third row …
Three Usable Rows
Third rows are often neglected in SUVs, but not in the X7. Its third row has enough room to fit two adult passengers for long periods, in part due to the second row’s 5.7 inches of fore/aft adjustment, which allows you to find room for everyone. Besides being roomy and well-upholstered, the third row also has some striking amenities and options, including its own set of climate controls, a pair of USB-C charging ports and (my favorite feature) its own moonroof, set behind the large panoramic moonroof that covers the first two rows. This is a rare feature, and it really helps stave off claustrophobia for passengers back there. The third-row vents are also properly placed up in the ceiling, where they actually help with airflow.
Additionally, third-row adjustments are powered, just like the first two rows. BMW has handily included controls in three places: the cargo area, on the openings to the rear side doors and through the touchscreen up front. Press one button in the cargo area to open up maximum cargo space, then another to bring all the seats back up. One caveat: The seats move pretty slowly, taking them about 15 seconds to move up and down. Still, it beats crawling around the interior or walking around the X7 from door to door, moving each seat individually.