The BMW X7 is still quite new, but if the history of the 7 Series is any indication, it may be some time before we get a full-fat X7 M, if ever. For now, we have sorta-similar offerings from Alpina by way of the and the upcoming XB7 SUV, but the closest thing you can get to a big-body M from BMW itself is the , which is quite the vehicle. Now, SUV fanatics get their own analog with the 2020 BMW X7 M50i, which packs an impressive amount of performance under its bulky body.
- Goes like spit
- Plush ride when need be
- Latest, greatest in-car tech
- Expensive as all get-out
- Still not a sports car
- Gesture control still pointless
A business suit with a fun liner
There is no hiding the X7's visual heft. It's large and in charge at all times, casting a rather commanding shadow on everything in its general vicinity -- as evidenced by how the 22-inch wheels on my tester look merely adequate in the wells. BMW's M-flavored trims, whether the full Monty or something below that, always carry some special appearance upgrades, and the X7 M50i is no different. The front end's more aggressive bumper is easily my favorite X7 fascia on offer, and out back there's a massive pair of outlets surrounding four individual pipes. It's not terribly in-your-face, which is nice, because there's always room for a little restraint.
The interior is a little more business-forward, but there are still some fun touches scattered around. BMW's really ramped up its interior design of late, and I'm quite taken with what the X7 offers. The general layout is the same as every other BMW -- vehicle buttons and an iDrive knob on the center console, physical HVAC controls above that -- and it all works very well, so it takes the driver very little time to get used to how everything is laid out. And with everything pointed toward the driver, I find it's easy to take stock of whatever information I need with minimal distraction.
Quality has never been a problem with BMW's high-end interiors. The leather wrapped around the seats, steering wheel and center console feels as premium as any other automaker's hides, and I'm a big fan of the brown shade on my tester, which plays well with the dark wood trim. BMW's optional cut-glass shift lever is still absolute eye candy, even if the numerous sharp edges don't exactly feel great in my hand. Form over function still has a place, kids.
Speaking of kids, every seat behind the front row still feels mighty special. My tester's second-row captain's chairs are supportive, and they're also powered for quick access to the third set of seats, although there's plenty of space between the chairs for kids to get back there without help. The Bimmer's big body means there's actually some decent space in the back for both kids and adults, although the latter will probably prefer shorter trips. If you need to sacrifice the bench for more cargo space, the seats drop effortlessly with a press of a switch located in the cargo area. Without that extra capaciousness, I can fit a couple of backpacks in the trunk, and the split tailgate makes loading large objects a bit easier. If you really need some help, the air suspension can lower the rear end a bit, too.
Party all the time
The trick to all the underlying madness is a 4.4-liter, twin-turbocharged V8. In this iteration, it produces 523 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque, improvements of 67 and 74, respectively, over the more pedestrian X7 xDrive50i. That motive force moves its way through an eight-speed automatic transmission to all four wheels. A 60-mph sprint takes a BMW-estimated 4.5 seconds, which if you're not a numbers geek is some serious swiftness in a 5,600-pound office park on wheels.
No matter how you manhandle the gas pedal, the X7 M50i is an absolute goddamn hoot. At low speeds, the V8 provides more than enough torque to putt around town with barely any pedal pressure. Give 'er the beans and things get really stupid (in a good way), with the engine barking through the standard sport exhaust while the vehicle pushes forward at a preternatural pace. It never gets tiring watching the horizon arrive at your doorstep in seemingly record time, even if it means absolutely ruining the M50i's EPA-estimated fuel economy of 15 miles per gallon city and 21 mpg highway. Don't worry, that's not physics contorting your face under acceleration -- it's just the permanent smile this thing etches into your visage.
The X7 M50i isn't a glass cannon, though, so don't expect other parts of the vehicle to be unable to keep pace with its, um, pace. The standard air suspension can live as either Jekyll or Hyde, providing a properly plush ride at low speeds with very little unwanted movement transferring to the occupants. Throw the M50i into a more aggressive mode like Sport or Sport Plus, and everything stiffens up suitably. I mean, at no point are you not aware of the mass you're throwing around, despite how well the Pirelli P-Zero summer tires stick to the road, but the X7 M50i's impersonation of a sports car is almost spot on. The eight-speed automatic works great here, shifting with minimal feeling yet doing so quickly.
Personally, I find a mix of the modes to be best for everyday usability. By leaving the transmission and suspension in their default settings, the ride remains nice and cushy. The engine stays in Sport for a little extra hustle at stoplights and around corners. No matter the mode, the only outside noise making its way to the cabin is the exhaust -- thick glass and correctly placed insulation keep the interior extremely quiet otherwise.
All the latest tech
I'm just going to get this out early: Gesture control is stupid. I don't care how well it can register my hands (and this system does it very well), it's way more distracting to spin my finger in a circle than it is to tap a button on the steering wheel. While I appreciate BMW's decision to bring new ideas to the table, I don't think this one has ever been fully baked. Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming.
Like every other modern BMW, the X7 M50i is positively brimming with the latest tech. Most of it comes by way of the iDrive infotainment interface, which lives on the 12-inch screen atop the dashboard. It's a great system, with fast boot times and responsiveness that ensure I can get my settings dialed in before leaving my driveway. The home screen gives me literally all the information I need at a glance, and while more advanced climate control menus exist in here, the physical buttons below offer all the adjustability I need on the road. Even though iDrive takes almost no time to get used to, smartphone addicts can and likely will stick with the standardor interfaces.
Plugging those devices in won't be a problem, either, as the X7 is positively littered with ports. Older iPhone ($600 at Best Buy) owners will likely need to buy a USB-C cable or an adapter for their standard USB-A one, but the quick-charge benefits of USB-C mean you won't actually need the port for that long. CarPlay can be run wirelessly, so you won't blow through unnecessary charge cycles on long road trips with Spotify playing, and a wireless charger ahead of the cupholders allows for some extra juice, too.
In addition to the 12-inch infotainment screen, there's another standard footlong in place of the gauge cluster. While it might not be my personal choice for style, all the pertinent information is displayed clearly and prominently. The map between the gauges is only usable when turn-by-turn directions are enabled, as there are no street names highlighted, but I appreciate the fact that it's there to mitigate distraction.
Given the six-figure price tag attached to even the most modest X7 M50i, it's no surprise that there's a bevy of standard safety features in here. All X7s come with the usual things like automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring and lane departure warning, but throwing a couple thousand at the window sticker will open up even more options, like a getup that combines the aforementioned and more to hold the vehicle in a single lane at varying speeds. BMW's iteration of this tech is easily one of my favorites; the computers create smooth inputs that feel natural, never hastily jerking the vehicle on either axis as it stays dead center in the lane.
How I'd spec it
If you don't count the mandatory destination charge, the 2020 BMW X7 M50i barely squeaks into the five-figure range with a $99,600 price tag. My personal spec goes well above that, though. I'd drop $1,950 for the optional deep-red Ametrin Metallic paint, in addition to $3,700 on a full Merino leather interior in dark brown. On the feature front, I'll spend $1,200 to heat the steering wheel and armrests, as well as dropping another $1,200 for ventilated massaging front seats. Toss in $650 for the flashy shift lever and $350 to remove the exterior chrome trim, and that leaves me with an out-the-door price of $108,650 (before $995 for destination).
Down to brass tacks
If you're looking for a hulking three-row luxury SUV that has mega performance chops, your choices are pretty much restricted to the X7 M50i or the Mercedes-AMG GLS63. The latter is far more powerful (603 hp), but it's also vastly more expensive with its $132,000 starting price, and it errs a little more toward luxury than the Bimmer does. There's a 500-hp Audi SQ7 on the horizon, but its baby third row makes it more suited to complete against the smaller .
If what you're after is some blend of performance and comfort, the 2020 BMW X7 M50i more than fits the bill. It's plenty capable at any speed, its interior is posh and it carries the latest technological trappings that buyers are after. If you're lucky enough to pony up the dough for one, it'll be hard not to have a blast every time you slide behind the wheel.