It has taken BMW years to finally build the three-row, Americanized crossover that drivers have pined for. While Audi and Mercedes have introduced larger brutes, BMW refused to offer anything bigger than an X5 with an optional third row.
The X7, though, was worth the wait. We wouldn't have been surprised, if the company's entry ended up a little weak and dispassionate. Instead, BMW took its time to create the most competent, quiet and desirable luxury SUV on the market today. It's fantastic.
There's not much use for a three-row SUV if the third row is tiny. The X7, though, is a gargantuan German in every dimension. Even six-footers can make the back row of seats work in a pinch, while anyone under 5' 10" should be comfortable for longer rides.
There are also USB ports, climate controls and cupholders for all three rows of seats. Nobody in an X7 will have to suffer through the indignity of an empty battery. To keep things from getting dull in the back, the X7 offers a monster panoramic sunroof that can be optioned with ambient lighting built in, giving the night sky a tinge of color.
Of course, all of those details about the interior are delaying the main point: it's the best interior BMW has ever done. It's typical BMW fare, with exceptional materials, but more spacious and offering more luxury than typical Bimmers. You can even option two-tone, quilted leather to really take things up a notch. Even in a more basic guise, our $85,445 tester impressed.
And while the interior looks similar to other BMWs, the X7's is adorned with thoughtful touches throughout like a "max luggage" button that immediately folds down all seats to maximize room. A "max passengers" configuration reverses that, putting all seats in their most spacious positions. The cold weather package doesn't just include heated seats, but heated armrests too. BMW's really focused on the creature comforts.
Additionally, you still can't beat the usability of BMW's cabin technology. The X7's parking assists, head-up display and infotainment are all best in class. The big SUV is dripping in technology, but it's never intimidating or confounding.
You also get BMW's full suite of active driving aids, including a traffic jam assistant that can handle steering and acceleration in traffic. You are still in charge, so the X7 monitors your face to make sure you keep your eyes on the road. When the speed picks up, it goes back to being a lane-centering system with extremely smooth adaptive cruise.
One thing you may notice when stuck in traffic or on the highway is how hilariously quiet the X7 is. It makes other SUVs sound comically noisy. That meshes well with the X7's ride quality, which is simply exceptional. Despite its massive footprint, the X7 quietly dispatches with bumps and undulations without fuss or discomfort.
That's helped by the buttercream-smooth powertrain, with BMW's 3.0-liter straight-six powering our xDrive40i tester. You can step up to a V-8, but the 335-horesepower 40i felt plenty quick. That's in large part thanks to BMW's unrivaled ability to make turbocharged engines provide effortless, broad-spectrum power and the engineers in Munich's unparalleled ability to tune an 8-speed transmission.
We're still not sold on the massive grille on the X7. We liked it better in person than in photos, but ultimately it still felt absurd. Shame, too, because we otherwise like the design of the big Bimmer.
Also, despite over $10,000 in options, our tester was far from loaded. If you want a fully kitted, V-8 X7, you're well past $100,000. We think it's worth it, as it provides luxury reminiscent of flagship luxury sedans like the BMW 7 Series or Mercedes S-Class, but it's still a big check to cut. More than that, you have to be smart about how you option it.
Finally, entering the third row can be annoying. The second row has to motor out of the way, which can take a while. It's one of those cases where a manually folding seat would be faster and easier, but the insistence on power everything means that the X7's second row whirrs to and fro.
A basic X7 is $74,895 with destination charges. You don't want the base one. This is a seriously quiet and capable luxury car, so it might as well have the equipment to match.
Good colors are included and you should keep the wheels small to get the best possible ride quality, so no need to spend money there. We'd also skip the M-Sport trim, as you're not going to make a massive luxury SUV into a sports car.
You're going to want the multi-contour seats with the extended leather to make the interior truly gorgeous, so add $3,200 for that. Another $1,600 adds the luxury seating package, which brings ventilated and massaging seats.
We'd also add the $1,200 Cold Weather package and the $1,700 Driving Assistance Professional Package. Heated armrests and traffic jam assistant help take some of the tension out of driving. The $700 parking assistance package gives you auto-parking and surround-view cameras, while the premium package gives you quality-of-life improvements like remote start and an upgraded stereo.
Finally, if you only need six seats, we'd recommend paying $600 to replace the second-row bench with captain's chairs. They not only make the second row more comfortable but also offer easier access to the third row without having to wait for the seats to motor out of the way.
Our final price is $90,245.
That may sound like a lot, but we cannot overstate how impressive the X7 is. Our BMW reviews have always pointed out areas where the company beats out all of its competitors; powertrain smoothness, infotainment, transmission programming and head-up displays. But we also usually complain about interiors without a wow factor and high prices.
The X7, though, combines everything we've always loved about BMWs with a lot of newfound strengths. The interior is fantastic, the ride is lovely, space is ample and the cabin is quieter than any other SUV we've driven.
It's so free of substantive faults that we can't think of any SUV that bests it. In fact, it's hard to think of anything that bests it. Maybe the Mercedes S-Class can match its ride and quietness, but the X7 has an extra row of seats, way more space, and is still cheaper than a base S-Class with all of the options we tacked on.
So it's definitely the most luxurious BMW we've tested, almost certainly the most impressive SUV we've tested and probably the best luxury vehicle we've tested. It may have been a long wait, but BMW's long-anticipated mega-SUV was worth waiting for. It's the best one ever built.
Driving Experience: 5
Price as tested: $85,445
*Ratings out of 5.