SUVs

2019 BMW X7 is a three-row SUV crammed to the brim with tech

It's a pricey proposition, too, with its base model starting at $73,900.

BMW

The 2019 BMW X7 is proof that if you yell loud enough, somebody will listen. Eventually.

For years, BMW fans have screamed for a true three-row SUV. They had to sit around while Mercedes-Benz buyers flapped their wings with their GLS-Classes, but now it's time to even the playing field. The X7 shows off the latest iteration of BMW's design language, and it offers plenty of technology for large, well-off families on the go. Let's take a deeper look.

Exterior and interior

It doesn't take a numerologist to understand that the X7 is the largest BMW SUV on offer. It's almost 10 inches longer than the X5 (203.3 inches versus 194), 2 inches taller (71.1 versus 69) and just as wide (about 79 inches), with a 5-inch longer wheelbase (122.2 inches to 117.1). But beyond numbers, the X7 simply looks monstrous, with its bolt-upright stance and the largest grille ever slapped on a Bimmer (true story).

The look embodies BMW's latest design language, with an emphasis on strong character lines and ever-slimming front lights. Even the rear lights are thinning out, following in the footsteps of every new BMW, from 3 Series to 8 Series and back again. It's unclear if a coupe-like variant will eventually follow, because while BMW does love itself a wacky variant like that, a tapering rear roofline will undoubtedly wreck third-row headroom.

The interior is similar to the 2019 X5, with flowing lines on the center console and door panels that work their way up toward the dashboard. Two standard screens sit in the driver's field of view -- one replacing the gauge cluster, and one for infotainment -- but there are still physical buttons for the climate and audio controls beneath. Vehicle modes, gears and the start button are located alongside one another on the center console, and in the right trim, you can get a shifter made of crystal-clear glass. A three-panel panoramic glass roof is standard, and third-row passengers have their own control for the shade that can cover it.

The X7 offers seating for either six or seven. The back row seats two full adults, while the middle row seats either three (on a bench) or two (in captain's chairs), depending on trim. Both second-row arrangements have 5.7 inches of fore-aft travel, and there are numerous switches that can fold the seats flat for easier third-row access. If you have something heavy that needs lifting into the cargo area, the standard air suspension will lower the rear end to make the job a little easier. A split-folding electric tailgate is standard, too.

Powertrain, two ways

When it launches, the 2019 X7 will come in one of two trims, xDrive40i or xDrive50i. All-wheel drive is standard on both, as is an eight-speed automatic transmission. The transmission uses the navigation system to determine the optimal gear for whatever lies ahead.

The base xDrive40i wields a 3.0-liter, I6, turbocharged gas engine. It'll put down 335 horsepower and 330 pound-feet of torque, and all that torque is available from 1,500 to 5,200 rpm. It'll hit 60 mph in 5.8 seconds, which is pretty sprightly for a car of its size.

If you want all the power, though, opt for the xDrive50i. This one packs a retuned version of BMW's 4.4-liter, twin-turbocharged gas V8, which is good for 456 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque, the latter of which is available from 1,500 to 4,750 rpm. The 0-to-60 time drops to 5.2 seconds, and having sampled both engines prior, let me tell you -- the V8 scoots.

Both engines have some green enhancements. A stop-start system is standard, and it's capable of monitoring the traffic ahead to determine when to engage and disengage. The transmission will also disengage the engine and allow it to coast at idle at speeds between 9 and 99 mph, whenever the car is in Comfort or Eco Pro mode. You have to be smooth about it, though -- abrupt throttle lifts will leave the powertrain connected, allowing engine braking to help the X7 decelerate.

If you want to pretend the X7 is some kind of sports car -- and it feels that way with the V8, to be honest -- there's an optional Dynamic Handling Package that adds rear axle steering, sportier brakes and, on the V8 model, BMW's M Sport rear differential. It also includes a system that can scan the road ahead and anticipate how to set up the suspension for optimal handling.

Tech and safety

Your traditional luxury-car accoutrements are all available, including parking sensors, five-zone automatic climate control, heated front seat armrests, soft-close doors, heated and cooled cup holders, gesture control and a head-up display. If you really want to ball out, the Executive Package adds a wild panoramic sunroof that uses embedded LED lights to act as a starry sky. That's some proper Rolls-Royce stuff, and it's especially impressive on something that doesn't cost as much as a Rolls-Royce.

On the safety front, there's plenty. The base X7 xDrive40i comes with forward collision warning, autobrake with pedestrian and cyclist detection, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and speed limit information. The xDrive50i adds a head-up display, a surround-view camera system and something BMW calls Active Driving Assistant Professional.

Active Driving Assistant Professional is standard on the xDrive50i and optional on the xDrive40i. It's basically a combination of adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist that will take care of steering, accelerating and braking at speeds up to 37 mph. A combination optical-infrared camera will monitor the driver's eyes and nose to make sure they're monitoring the road ahead, or else the system will disengage. It can also change lanes when the indicator is turned on.

This suite also includes the clever Emergency Stop Assistant, which is engaged by pulling the switch for the electronic parking brake while the car is in motion. It will attempt to come to a stop on the side of the road, but it can also stop the vehicle in its lane. It turns on the hazards and activates the emergency-call function so emergency services can be summoned.

If two screens isn't enough, a head-up display is standard on the xDrive50i and optional on the xDrive40i.

BMW

Infotainment and connectivity

All BMW X7s carry two screens on the dashboard. A 12.3-inch gauge cluster screen that offers different views based on the vehicle mode, but pertinent information like road speed and navigation directions is always kept in full view. The tachometer can be swapped out in favor of information from the infotainment system, in case you care more about your radio station than how many revs you're at.

The 12.3-inch infotainment screen offers touch capability, in addition to a standard controller with haptic feedback on the center console. If offers a wide variety of connected services, including parking and traffic information, as well as concierge services. Six USB ports are standard, including some Type-C connectors. Combine the system with the BMW Connected app, and you can push appointments and directions from your smart device to the car. A Wi-Fi hotspot is standard, as is wireless device charging.

You don't even need a key for the darn thing. BMW Digital Key lets you cast the traditional fob aside and use your phone as the key. There's a catch, though -- it only works with NFC-capable Samsung Galaxy phones running Android 8.0 or higher, and it's apparently limited to select carriers, although BMW didn't say which ones.

Release date and price

The 2019 BMW X7 hits dealerships in March. The xDrive40i model will set you back $73,900, while the xDrive50i will command a lofty $92,600.

Starting later in October, prospective buyers can skip the dealership altogether and preorder a new X7 through BMW's consumer site, although a trip to the dealer of one's choice is still required to finalize the order and eventually pick the thing up.

The X7 will be built at BMW's Spartanburg, South Carolina plant, where it also produces the X3, X4, X5 and X6.

It's big, but not so big it won't fit in your garage. It's not like it's a pickup truck.

BMW

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