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To play on a long-time slogan, the 2020 BMW X7 is the Ultimate Opulence Machine. It’s big, it’s plush and it’ll pamper six or seven people in indulgence. It can have the finest, ornately stitched leather this side of Rolls-Royce, controls topped in glass, and a panoramic sunroof etched with a light-capturing pattern. The stereo can pump out 1,500 watts through 20 speakers. You want swank? The X7 will give you swank.
If you want the Ultimate Driving Machine, however, the X7 is unlikely to satisfy. The new-for-2020 X7 M50i should certainly get you closer to that goal (details below), but this is still a colossal three-row SUV with an air-spring suspension designed to comfort and cosset. Frankly, the non-M versions drive a bit like a Range Rover. That’s not necessarily a complaint, just know that this isn’t a family hauler with the heart of an M3. You may also find more space and versatility in other three-row vehicles, but opulence? That seems unlikely.
What’s new for 2020?
For 2020, the X7 adds the high-performance M50i model to its portfolio on top of the existing xDrive40i and xDrive50i. Besides boasting 523 horsepower, the M50i includes M-specific suspension tuning and exhaust, plus a special M Sport differential. It also gets special styling elements and interior trim. The X7 was all-new last year.
What’s the interior and in-car technology like?
Interior quality is exceptional, which is expected for a vehicle of such a lofty price, but it can indeed get downright lavish when you start checking options boxes. Our test vehicle’s BMW Individual cabin upgrades included gorgeous Ivory White/Night Blue leather seating with unique braded seat piping (a whopping $5,150 option), plus a matching blue leather dashboard, an Alcantara headliner, LED-lined panoramic sunroof, and glass-topped controls. The latter results in the shifter resembling some sort of magical amulet from a fantasy novel. Even without all the extra fancy bits, the design is quite fetching and a welcome departure from BMW’s usual no-nonsense aesthetic.
Technology also dominates, including the large central display that is controlled by touch, voice commands and the iDrive center console knob with accompanying capacitive menu buttons. There’s also the silly gesture controls, but they don’t work consistently, and as we’re not wizards, we prefer not to flick and swish our way through radio stations. Being a wizard would make it easier to operate this latest version of iDrive — see our full review of the system here — as it can certainly overwhelm and isn’t as initially intuitive as Mercedes new MBUX or Porsche’s latest touchscreen setup. Operating it with Apple CarPlay is a source of frustration at times, but it has improved in recent BMW models we’ve driven.
How big is it?
The X7 is the biggest BMW on sale, which can be seen on the outside and experienced inside. Space in the second row is palatial, while adults can even fit quite comfortably in the third row of seats. They can even have their own climate controls, which is a feature we do not recall seeing before. The rear seats feature power-operated slide and recline, which is definitely fancy, but it takes considerably longer to slide the second-row seats forward for third-row access than in three-row vehicles with manually-operated seats. Be prepared to stand at the door and wait awhile.
The second-row captain’s chairs also don’t fold, meaning there’s no way to get the sort of maximum cargo capacity typical of such a large three-row vehicle. Maybe you won’t be routinely using your leather-lined, $90,000 luxury SUV to haul lumber from Home Depot, but such versatility is a key reason people buy such a vehicle. As such, we’d recommend sticking with the sliding and reclining second-row bench seat shown in the cargo area images above. It’s plenty comfortable and adds an extra seat to boot.
What’s the performance and fuel economy?
There are three BMW X7 versions available for 2020: the xDrive40i, xDrive50i and M50i. Although the term “xDrive” specifically refers to the presence of all-wheel drive, it’s in fact standard on all of them.
The xDrive40i comes with a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six good for 335 horsepower and 330 pound-feet of torque. BMW says it will go from 0- 60 mph in 5.8 seconds. It returns an EPA-estimated 20 mpg city, 25 mpg highway and 22 mpg combined, which isn’t bad consider the X7’s size and performance.
The xDrive50i has a 4.4-liter turbocharged V8 that produces 456 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque, which is a substantial increase. Yet, its estimated 0- 60 time is only a bit quicker at 5.2 seconds. Really, you’re more likely to notice the difference when accelerating once already underway, and especially when towing. EPA fuel economy estimates are considerably worse at 15 mpg city, 21 mpg highway and 17 mpg combined, so we’d think pretty hard about checking this option box.
The new-for-2020 X7 M50i also has a 4.4-liter V8, but it’s tuned to produce 523 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque. Its 0-60 time drops more convincingly to 4.5 seconds. Fuel economy for the M50i is, delightfully, exactly the same as the xDrive 50i at 15 mpg city, 21 mpg highway and 17 mpg combined.
What’s it like to drive?
With its tremendous size, height-adjustable air suspension, and subtle pitching when turning, the X7 xDrive models feel more like a Range Rover than BMWs of the past. In many ways, this is a good thing as Range Rovers are lovely to drive. The previous-generation Range Rover was even originally engineered by BMW. However, if you’re expecting taut handling and tactile steering, this is not the vehicle for you. Instead, expect truly supple ride quality and composed handling that allows for a rapid-enough pace on a mountain road. There’s quite clearly a mountain of sophisticated engineering that went into the X7, which is what you should expect from a vehicle that can cross the $100,000 threshold.
The base six-cylinder turbo engine provides abundant power, while the eight-speed automatic goes about its business without fuss. Frankly, BMW could have only offered the base engine, and it’s hard to imagine anyone complaining. Yet, there is a bigger engine available, and in our brief drive, we found the V8-powered xDrive50i delivers the extra whack of overkill its potential buyers would be expecting. However, it doesn’t come with an increase in athleticism in other areas, such as the suspension, brakes or the exhaust. For that, you have to turn to the M50i, which provides myriad M Sport performance add-ons beyond its 523-hp V8.
Just like its less powerful brethren, the X7 M50i is a supremely comfortable luxury barge. Leave the suspension in its baseline Comfort mode, and it sops up potholes and road imperfections leaving the passengers undisturbed. Select Sport mode, though, and the M50i’s ride turns stiff-ish. Barreling down a backroad is slightly unnerving with the amount of weight you’re carrying around, but this chassis instills far more confidence in the driver than most three-row crossovers do. It’s more composed than the 40i, and the summer tires fitted to our test car gave it a miraculous amount of lateral grip. Too bad the numb steering fails to give us any indication of what’s going on with those four very wide patches of rubber. So yes, the handling is improved, but mashing the throttle is the real fun of the M50i. That twin-turbo V8 pulls this big vehicle around with ease while you watch traffic disappear in the rearview mirror. Its speed is deceptive from the high chairs, making frequent checks of the speedometer a necessary precaution. It’s undoubtedly the most fun to drive of all X7s, but the smart choice would be to buy the more efficient (and still fun) 40i and a cheaper dedicated sports car with the savings.
What more can I read about the BMW X7?
BMW X7 vs Three-Row Luxury SUVs
We compare the specs, dimensions and features of the X7 vs the Lincoln Navigator, Audi Q7, Land Rover Discovery, Volvo XC90 and the previous-generation Mercedes-Benz GLS.
2019 BMW X7 First Drive | Looking past the grille
Our first drive review of the X7, including more in-depth information about its engineering and design. Our findings remain the same from this model year.
The 2020 BMW X7 M50i’s exhaust is a convincing full M imitator
Here’s what the X7 M50i sounds like. It features an exhaust specific to the model, making it louder and more aggressive than the standard 50i.
What features are available and what’s the price?
Once again, the 2020 BMW X7 is available in three models, which largely correspond to their engines: xDrive40i, xDrive50i and M50i.
Pricing for the xDrive40i starts at $74,895, including the $995 destination charge. Standard features include 21-inch wheels, a self-leveling air suspension, parking sensors, adaptive LED headlights, power-folding mirrors, proximity entry and push-button start, a panoramic sunroof, four-zone climate control, a power-adjustable steering wheel, heated front seats, Sensatec premium vinyl upholstery, two USB ports, wireless smartphone charging, a three-month trial of 3G in-car Wi-Fi, a one-year trial subscription to Apple CarPlay, the latest iDrive interface (12.3-inch touchscreen, center console controller), a 12.3-inch all-digital instrument panel, and a 10-speaker sound system with HD and satellite radios.
The xDrive50i starts at $93,595. Besides its bigger engine, it gets a few features that are optional on the 40i. These include a 14-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, extra parking cameras, leather upholstery and the Driver Assistance Professional package (see Safety section below).
Pricing for the M50i starts at $100,595. Besides its bigger engine, performance upgrades include 22-inch wheels and M Sport suspension, brakes, differential and exhaust. It also gains multi-contour front seats, which are optional on the xDrive50i.
Beyond that, there’s a dizzying number of options that can skyrocket the X7’s price tag deep into $100,000 territory. You can check out its various standard and optional features, along with specs and local pricing here on Autoblog.
What are its safety equipment and crash ratings?
Standard on every X7 is the “Active Driving Assistant” suite of accident avoidance tech that includes forward collision warning with daytime pedestrian detection and low-speed automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic warning. The Driving Assistance Professional package (standard on xDrive50i and M50i, optional xDrive40i) adds adaptive cruise control with steering assist and stop-and-go capability, higher-speed automatic emergency braking and evasive steering assistance. BMW also includes emergency communications services as standard.
The X7 has not been crash tested by a third party.