BMW’s spread its turbocharger love across its SUV lineup, and the new 2019 X7 adopts two of those best-life powertrains. With that kind of power on tap, the big bruiser can loaf along at a triple-digit clip, but it’s not without some winding-road charms, too.
We give it a 7, with points for its powertrain and its ride. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Base X7 xDrive40i SUVs (remember Alpha-Bits?) pockets a 3.0-liter inline-6 with a single turbocharger for net output of 335 hp and 330 lb-ft of torque, which it punches out at a low 1,500 rpm. It purrs somewhere off in the distance, behind a thick wall of acoustic glass, while it drops a 0-60 mph time of 5.8 seconds, according to BMW estimates and despite a curb weight of at least 5,370 pounds. The perception of speed isn’t nearly that quick since the X7 blankets the road with its mass and blankets a lot of its road noise with a muffled exhaust. Top speed’s capped at 130 mph.
Before batteries take over the world, you need to experience a rippling V-8 like the one in the X7 xDrive50i. The twin-turbocharged, 4.4-liter V-8 pumps out 456 hp and twists out peak torque of 479 lb-ft at the same, low 1,500 rpm. BMW pegs its 0-60 mph time at 5.2 seconds, and its top speed at 130 mph. It’s a glorious engine with a throaty V-8 chuckle as you try to rein it in, a gleeful wide-open roar at full throttle. It’s the prestige powertrain in BMW’s top-range SUV, the badge that gets noticed in the valet lane; we’re unsure why anyone that can afford the base vehicle wouldn’t stretch into the V-8 X7’s lap of luxury.
With either engine, power spools out to all four wheels, with a bias toward the rear set, through an 8-speed automatic that seems only to know quick and clean shifts. The all-wheel-drive system can be fitted with a sport differential that uses an electric motor to vary power across the rear axle, which can lend more traction while it also can help the X7 carve a tighter line through corners.
It may never make it so far off pavement, but BMW makes an off-road package available with the X7. With its dedicated off-road drive modes (for snow, gravel, mud, and the like), it can raise itself for a maximum of 8.7 inches of ground clearance, or lift wheels to make tire changes easier. With BMW’s hitch the X7 can tow up to 7,500 pounds.
BMW X7 ride and handling
All those functions matter more to newly minted X7 drivers, we’d be willing to bet. But like the slightly smaller X5, the X7’s more agile than any of its specs indicate, and that comes from the well-knit set of mechanical and electronic systems that control its steering and suspension.
The X7’s suspension marries front control arms, five links in back, electronically controlled dampers and air springs, the latter of which are all but necessary to control the X7’s weight and to give it a compliant ride. That’s its best performance feature, aside from its talkative V-8: The X7 can unruffle roads of the worst order, even when its base 21-inch 285/45 run-flat treads get swapped out for the available 22-inchers, which are staggered at 275/40 front, 315/35 rear.
Credit goes to a new system that ties in the vehicle’s camera systems to its brain; when the cameras see a patch of poor pavement, they firm up and relax to mitigate the impact. There’s some fine jiggling in Sport drive modes that comes from firm damping and those big run-flat tires, but mostly the X7’s calm and collected.
Steering feel isn’t one of the priority items on the X7’s to-do list, but BMW knows a long-wheelbase vehicle with huge wheels needs help. Along with an M Sport package that adds the sport rear differential and more grippy tires, the X7 can be fitted with rear-wheel steering, which turns the rear wheels up to 3 degrees opposite the fronts at lower speeds. It’s a way to make the X7 drive like a smaller vehicle, and it works. Our drive on low country roads in South Carolina didn’t offer much in the way of switchbacks or esses, but in the rare places where the road bent more than a few degrees, the X7 offset its mass and height with some of the lifeforce you’d feel in a 7-Series.
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