SUVs

2019 BMW X7 vs. Lincoln Navigator, Mercedes GLS, Audi Q7 and Range Rover: How do they stack up?

Will the BMW X7's newer tech and middle-of-the-class pricing help it stand out from its many rivals in the full-size SUV category?

BMW

BMW's X7 SUV has been a long time in the making. But when it goes on sale early next year, it'll enter a fiercely competitive segment of full-size luxury SUVs.

The way we see it, the X7's main competitors will be its German rivals, the Mercedes-Benz GLS and Audi's tried-and-true Q7. All three can seat seven passengers, so you can pack the rest of your well-heeled brood in there for a family outing. We also expect that the X7 will have to face off against the granddaddies of the full-size luxury SUV world: the Range Rover and Lincoln's Navigator.

BMW is starting to subscribe to the "more grille, more better" mentality that has been sweeping the industry as of late.

BMW

Some of the most significant differences between our five SUVs come in the form of engine choices. Of the five vehicles, only Mercedes offers a true performance-focused variant, the GLS63, though the Range Rover SVAutobiography Dynamic comes close. BMW offers a turbocharged V8 in its X7 xDrive50i and Mercedes' GLS can be had with a twin-turbo V8 as well. Audi's most potent engine choice in the Q7 is a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6, an engine that isn't exactly going to shake the pillars of heaven.

The Range Rover is available with a bevy of engine options, including a plug-in hybrid, a supercharged V6, a supercharged V8 and a diesel. The higher-powered variant of the Rangie's V8 comes closest to the AMG in terms of outright brutality. The Navigator can be had with only one engine, the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 that also sees duty in the Ford Raptor.

If history proves any guide, we're sure that BMW will introduce other powertrain variants to the X7 line as time goes on, but for now, there are only the two choices listed below:

Engine and transmission comparison

Vehicle Engine Power (hp) Torque (lb-ft) Transmission
BMW X7 xDrive40i 3.0-liter turbo I6 335 330 8-speed Steptronic
BMW X7 xDrive50i 4.4-liter turbo V8 456 479 8-speed Steptronic
Audi Q7 2.0 TFSI 2.0-liter turbo I4 252 273 8-speed Tiptronic
Audi Q7 3.0 TFSI 3.0-liter turbo V6 333 325 8-speed Tiptronic
Mercedes-Benz GLS450 4Matic 3.0-liter turbo V6 362 369 9-speed 9G-Tronic
Mercedes-Benz GLS550 4Matic 4.7-liter turbo V8 449 516 9-speed 9G-Tronic
Mercedes-Benz GLS63 AMG 4Matic 5.5-liter turbo V8 577 561 7-speed AMG Speedshift
Lincoln Navigator 3.5-liter turbo V6 450 500 10-speed Selectshift
Land Rover Range Rover 400e 2.0-liter turbo I4 hybrid 398 472 ZF 8-speed hybrid automatic
Land Rover Range Rover Td6 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 254 443 ZF 8-speed automatic
Land Rover Range Rover V6 3.0-liter supercharged V6 340 332 ZF 8-speed automatic
Land Rover Range Rover V8 5.0-liter supercharged V8 518 461 ZF 8-speed automatic
Land Rover Range Rover SVAutobiography Dynamic 5.0-liter supercharged V8 557 516 ZF 8-speed automatic

Styling

While styling is incredibly subjective, early reaction from the internet peanut gallery suggests that the size of the X7's kidney grilles push the boundaries of good taste. It's a polarizing vehicle, but some people are bound to love it. The Audi is the most restrained of the bunch. It's not pushing the design envelope at all, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. The Benz is big and elaborate, with many character lines and creases, but it's less aggressive than the Bimmer and more stylized than the Audi. 

The Navigator has plenty of chrome, and is more upright (perhaps reflecting its body-on-frame truck roots), but it's handsome all the same. The Range Rover is an iteration on a theme, but we feel that the current generation Rangie is one of the more handsome versions to `come out in a long time.

Pricing

The X7 falls midpack when it comes to pricing. The X7 xDrive40i starts at $74,895, while the X7 xDrive50i starts at $93,695. The smaller Audi Q7 is much more aggressively priced. The base Premium trim begins at $50,875 thanks in part to its standard 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine. With the supercharged V6 under the hood, the top-tier Prestige model starts at $66,475.

At $71,145, the Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class may have a starting price slightly lower than the X7, but thanks to its 577-horsepower AMG variant, the GLS's top-tier base price is a whopping $127,145. The GLS550 -- which starts at $96,745 -- is on fairly even footing with the X7 xDrive50i.

The Navigator is on par with our three Germans, but the Range Rover, with its mix of engine options, wheelbases and trim levels can stretch its price north of $200,000, embarrassing the "quaint" AMG.

Three-row luxury SUV pricing

Vehicle Price (incl. destination)
BMW X7 xDrive40i $74,895
BMW X7 xDrive50i $93,695
Audi Q7 2.0 TFSI Premium $50,875
Audi Q7 3.0 TFSI Premium $57,475
Audi Q7 2.0 TFSI Premium Plus $54,875
Audi Q7 3.0 TFSI Premium Plus $61,475
Audi Q7 3.0 TFSI Prestige $66,475
Mercedes-Benz GLS450 4Matic $71,145
Mercedes-Benz GLS550 4Matic $96,745
Mercedes-Benz GLS63 AMG 4Matic $127,145
Lincoln Navigator Premiere $73,850
Lincoln Navigator Select $77,850
Lincoln Navigator Select L $82,345
Lincoln Navigator Reserve $83,000
Lincoln Navigator Reserve L $87,495
Lincoln Navigator Black Label $95,500
Lincoln Navigator Black Label L $101,245
Range Rover SWB Td6 $91,855
Range Rover SWB Td6 HSE $97,045
Range Rover SWB P400e HSE $96,145
Range Rover SWB 3.0 V6 $89,855
Range Rover SWB 3.0 V6 HSE $96,045
Range Rover SWB 5.0 V8 Supercharged $105,845
Range Rover SWB 5.0 V8 Autobiography $142,990
Range Rover SWB 5.0 V8 SVAutobiography Dynamic $178,195
Range Rover LWB 5.0 V8 Supercharged $109,890
Range Rover LWB 5.0 V8 SVAutobiography Dynamic $208,895

Tech and safety

The X7 features a healthy amount of standard tech, including a 12.3-inch screen in the instrument cluster which is complemented by a 12.3-inch infotainment screen atop the center stack. Other standard features include a 20GB hard-drive-based navigation system, in-vehicle Wi-Fi, six USB ports, wireless charging and a 205-watt, 10-speaker audio system. A Harman Kardon premium audio system is standard equipment on the X7 xDrive50i.

The Audi Q7 and the Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class are not quite as tech-heavy. The Q7 comes standard with a 7.0-inch infotainment screen, 10-speaker audio system and satellite radio. The Prestige-trim Q7, however, includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, embedded navigation, satellite radio, a 558-watt, 19-speaker Bose audio system and Audi's beloved 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit instrument cluster display.

The Navigator isn't exactly cutting-edge, but it's not stuck in the stone age, either. It offers Ford's much-improved Sync 3 system with a prominently-placed 8.0-inch touchscreen. The optional Revel stereo is great, and can hang with the Bang & Olufsen unit in the Benz and is much nicer than the Bose system in the Audi. The Range Rover's base Meridian system is good but the optional Reference system is something else entirely.

The Range Rover's dual-screen infotainment layout is slow, a huge improvement over previous offerings, but still feels slow compared to iDrive or more recent versions of Benz's COMAND setup.

Although much more expensive than the base Q7, the Mercedes-Benz GLS450 isn't much better with its standard tech. All you get is a 7-inch display, HD radio and an SD card reader. The GLS550 is a little more flash with its 8-inch screen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, embedded navigation, satellite radio and a Harman Kardon audio system, but Mercedes' awesome new MBUX system hasn't made the leap into this platform yet.

The X7's robust suite of standard driver-assistance systems matches its abundance of standard tech. With the big Bimmer, you get automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, traffic sign recognition as well as a lane departure warning system.

The xDrive50i will parallel park itself with the help of front and rear parking sensors and a 360-degree camera system. It also gets front cross-traffic alert, a heads-up display, lane-keep assist and hands-free adaptive cruise control. The xDrive50i also gets some semi-autonomous driving features like automatic lane-changing, autonomously assisted collision evasion, automatic high beams and adaptive LED headlights.

The Q7 and GLS, in contrast, are older platforms and as such their list of standard safety tech isn't quite as long. The Q7 only offers automatic emergency braking along with front and rear parking sensors as standard. The Prestige trim adds LED headlights, blind spot monitoring and 360-degree camera coverage.

Moving to the GLS450, you get collision-mitigation braking, a driver attention monitor and rain-sensing wipers. The GLS550 adds adaptive LED headlights with automatic high beams, blind spot monitoring, lane-keep assist and autonomous parallel parking with a 360-degree camera.

The Navigator can be had with a number of advanced driver assist systems, including blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, self-parking ability and more, but nothing especially revolutionary for the segment. The Range Rover's ADAS suite is similar, but has a number of off-road-focused systems that make things both fun and safer when the going gets dirty.

Cargo space

The BMW X7's maximum cargo capacity is commensurate with its price: it's in the middle of the pack with 90.4 cubic feet. The smaller Q7 offers significantly less cargo space -- just 71.6 cubic feet. That's comparable to SUVs that are a whole size-class down the food chain. The comparatively cavernous GLS could almost swallow smaller SUVs whole with its 93.8 cubic feet of cargo space.

In summation, we won't know for sure until we drive it, but the BMW looks like a good bet if you want a big three-row SUV with all of the latest and greatest tech and can stomach the looks. The Audi remains a great bargain option if you're willing to live with the smaller cargo capacity and the older infotainment and safety system architecture. The GLS is arguably the most handsome of the bunch, will haul the most stuff out of the three Germans and can be had with a sweet handbuilt AMG V8.

The big American takes the cake when it comes to having an expansive cargo area. With seats folded (and with a second-row bench seat) the Navigator L will hold 120.2 cubic feet of whatever. The shorter version will hold a still-impressive 103.3 cubic feet. The Range Rover must assume that you'll have a valet to carry your possessions for you, because it's got the smallest boot of the bunch at just 65.5 cubic feet. The long-wheelbase version is interestingly identical to the short version in carrying capacity.

Cargo volume comparison

Vehicle Seats up (cubic feet) Seats folded (cubic feet)
X7 46.8 90.4
Q7 14.8 71.6
GLS 16 93.8
Navigator 19.3 103.3
Navigator L 34.3 120.2
Range Rover SWB 25 65.5
Range Rover LWB 24.3 65.5

Headroom and legroom

Headroom is important in any vehicle, and if you're exceedingly long of torso or graceful of neck, look towards the the big Benz, because it leads the pack in front headroom, with a hair over 42 inches. Things aren't bad in the second row either for the Mercedes, where it ties with the short-wheelbase Lincoln at 40 inches, on the nose. The way-way back isn't really meant for tall folks, but they may not be too miserable back there in the Benz, which has the most vertical room at 38.9 inches.

Legroom is a concern for everyone because nobody likes wedging their knees into a dashboard or seatback. Lincoln offers the most room to stretch your stems in the front seat with over 43 inches, and the Range Rover sits in the back of the pack with just 39.2 inches. The second row is where things start getting interesting, thanks to the long-wheelbase versions of the Navigator and the Range Rover. Here the Rangie really makes up ground with a staggering 46.8 inches of legroom, the X7 scrapes the bottom of the barrel here with 12.2 inches less room.

The third-row passenger typically gets the least amount of consideration where legroom is concerned. The Navigator has the most with 36.1 inches, which is OK for a smaller adult. Conversely, if you're expecting to be riding in an Audi Q7, don't volunteer to sit in the third row unless you are able to squeeze into tight spaces, otherwise you're going to have a bad time thanks to the 29.2 inches of room that the engineers in Ingolstadt, Germany have allotted you.

Headroom/legroom comparison

Vehicle Front headroom Front legroom 2nd row headroom 2nd row legroom 3rd row headroom 3rd row legroom
X7 41.9" 39.8" 39.9" 37.6" 36.6" 33.3"
Q7 38.4" 41.7" 38.8" 38.8" 35.9" 29.2"
GLS 42.1" 40.3" 40" 38.5" 38.9" 35"
Range Rover SWB 39.3" 39.2" 39.3" 39.3" N/A N/A
Range Rover LWB 39.3" 39.2" 39.3" 46.8" N/A N/A
Navigator 41.8" 43.9" 40" 41.1" 37.3" 36.1"
Navigator L 39.5" 43.9" 37.9" 41.1" 37.4" 36.1"

As far as driving enjoyment and the how all these different space and powertrain metrics feel out in the real world, we'll have to wait until we can get our hands on the 2019 BMW X7 for a proper first test.

Until then, however, Audi, Mercedes and the rest of the three-row premium SUV firmament had better watch their backs, because the X7's gigantic grille is likely to be crowding their rearview mirrors.