Refined, comfortable, easy to use, well-equipped, huge inside
Huge outside. Could you really live with those looks?
What is it?
Have we reached peak grille yet? The X7 is BMW's biggest and most luxurious SUV, and it wants to be noticed. Even the BMW badge on the nose had to be made bigger to match this thing's outsize swagger.
WHY ON EARTH DOES IT NEED TO LOOK LIKE THAT?
Well, this is the newly-facelifted X7, now with even more IMPACT. The 2022 redesign introduced an EVEN BIGGER GRILLE, as well as the strange split-headlight look that we still can’t get used to. Elsewhere it’s as flat and boxy as ever.
And it's not just about wedging in as many people as possible, although you do of course get seven seats as standard. The X7 is all about luxury. It takes themes from the 7 Series and the 8er to make BMW's three-flagship fleet. They want us to see this top-end trio as a separate high-end luxury series.
As a clue, they add the strapline Bayerische Motoren Werke to all the advertising. Why? Because the fashion business often uses the full name for the top-end stuff (Paul Smith, Calvin Klein) and initials for the diffusion line (PS, CK). If you find this almost comically subtle, we're right with you.
But these aren't really a separate line. In design and tech, they're bigger, better, plusher BMWs. End of. If you like BMWs, that's fine; they polish up the brand. What the 8 Series and X7 don't do is provide the stand-apart specialness of an Aston Martin DBX or Range Rover, a car the X7's project team call a rival.
WHAT SEPARATES THIS FROM A RANGE ROVER, THEN?
Unlike the Range Rover, all X7s have three rows of seats. The middle row has the option of either a pair of plush individual thrones, or a three-seat split bench, making this a nursery-run charabanc of unparalleled luxury. Which no-one will use it for.
As usual BMW has thrown masses of technical wizardry at the chassis, so this truck-sized monster can perform surprising off-road feats. Which no-one will use it for.
WHAT ABOUT ON-ROAD?
The same technologies make it track-capable. Which no-one will use it for. (The now-deceased pre-facelift, quad-turbo M50d version equalled the Nordschleife time of the V8-engined E90 M3. Yet more proof that a quick 'Ring time says nothing about what makes a driver's car.)
All of which makes the X7 sound vastly pointless. But do those abilities actually foster a sense of well-being and fathomless indomitability, or do they make it cumbersome and compromised? More on that over on the Driving tab of this review.
DO I HAVE TO HAVE A DIESEL?
You do not. In the UK your ‘standard’ options are now the xDrive40i petrol or the xDrive40d diesel. Both are 3.0-litre straight-sixes, with 375bhp for the 40i and 335bhp for the 40d.
If you have more compensating to do, there’s the twin-turbo 4.4-litre petrol V8 in the range-topping M60i. That produces a monstrous 523bhp and 553lb ft of torque. All X7s send their power to all four wheels through eight-speed auto gearboxes, and all are now helped along by 48V mild-hybrid tech.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
Lots. At the time of writing, the X7 starts at £86,475, but if you want the full-fat V8 you’ll pay from £109,935. Yikes. There’s more detail on that over on the Buying tab.
What's the verdict?
There’s no getting away from the fact that the X7 is another superbly engineered and executed product from Munich, by way of a factory in the USA. It's a fantastic mile-muncher, roomy, luxurious and refined. It’s also beautifully serene inside, so long as you avoid Sport+ mode in the M60i.
All it lacks is specialness of ambience, a sense that you're not just in a bigger, better-trimmed and better-equipped X1. Unfortunately the fancy materials and glass gear shifter don’t really level-up the X7 enough to make it feel special. Oh, and we won’t even get started on the facelifted looks…