One of the more unlikely heroes of the current BMW lineup is the X7. It might sound obvious to call a brand’s very expensive luxury car an unlikely hero but in the case of BMW, it’s true. Typically, the most beloved BMWs are the simplest, the smallest, and the most fun. Those are the sorts of cars BMW’s always been best at making. The BMW X7 is the antithesis of that; it’s complicated, massive, and overly opulent. And yet, it works so well.
Prior to its release, I personally thought I’d loath the BMW X7. I remember hearing a BMW exec tell me that the X7 was actually surprisingly great to drive, prior to driving it myself, and I told him I didn’t believe him. However, the X7 proved me wrong, once I’d been behind the wheel, and it’s actually one of my favorite Bavarian products, believe it or not. If you know me, you’d know that I like my cars as small, simple, and engaging as possible. If I didn’t have kids, my daily driver would be a Mazda Miata. Which is what makes my love for the X7 so special.
Why do I love the BMW X7 so much, despite it being everything I typically hate in a car? Here are the five reasons why.
I love a car that makes sense, one that actually works in the real world and makes life easier. The BMW X7 is one of those cars. Typically with luxury vehicles, all things are sacrificed in the name of comfort, quality, and opulence. However, the X7 does things a bit differently. Its third row is standard and, while not exactly spacious for adults, features its own sunroof, its own climate zone, heated seats, cupholders, and even USB-C chargers. It’s the perfect place to store two children on a long trip and gives them enough goodies to keep them quiet and happy.
Then there’s the seat buttons in the trunk. Power folding rear seats is nothing new in a premium SUV but the way BMW designed the buttons, one to completely fold every seat down and one to provide max seating capacity, is genius. Fitting a child seat is also a piece of cake, as the rear door apertures are wide and the LATCH hooks are easily accessible.
Then there’s the little stuff, such as the front passenger being able to easily see a child behind them in their own vanity mirror, due to the combination of a tall rear seat bench, tons of headroom, and high sun visor placement. I took an X7 on a long trip with my wife a son a few years back and she was able to check on him, directly behind her, without having to turn around. Little stuff like that makes daily ownership so much nicer.
In a nearly six-figure luxury BMW, you’d expect the ride to be brilliant but that always isn’t the case. The current 7 Series rides well but is among the worst riding luxury cars in its class. The BMW X7, however, is lovely. Its ride is soft and pillowy without feeling sloppy and, somehow, BMW has managed to engineer out a shocking amount of body roll, considering its height. Its long suspension travel also helps give it a feeling of invulnerability, allowing it to traverse almost any sort of terrain it will reasonably see.
However, despite its comfort, there’s a feeling of solidity, as if it were made from granite. It soaks up bumps but never pitches or heaves, as if it’s suction-cupped to the road. Somehow, BMW engineered classic BMW ride quality into a massive SUV without making it feel overly stiff.
I’ve been rather critical of BMW’s interior design language as of late, as it’s just far too homogenous and lacks the visual pop of its competitors’ cabins. However, the X7’s interior works really well because it isn’t overly flashy. There’s a whiff of utility to the luxury. It’s not as sumptuous as a 7 Series inside but I actually like that about it. Big SUVs are used as family workhorses; kids kick seats, they bring dirty soccer balls in the back seat, strollers slam into trunk floors, and drinks are often spilled. So the fact that the X7 feels a bit sturdier and less glamorous inside than a 7 Series is refreshing.
Don’t think that means the X7 is a Jeep Wrangler on the inside. It’s still lovely, with rich leather and Alcantara throughout. But BMW wisely kept the 7 Series as its luxury flagship, leaving the X7 to feel a bit more usable everyday.
There’s also the quality and luxury of the cabin. Seats are brilliant in the X7 too, with tons of support but not overly bolstered, to allow for easier ingress and egress. Cabin noise is hushed, outward visibility is excellent, there are plenty of places to store things, countless charging ports, and even optional second-row captain’s chars. There are few better overall interiors for the money.
You shouldn’t buy a BMW X7 if you want a sporty SUV, it just isn’t one. However, there’s an athleticism to its drive that belies its size. The X7’s steering is surprisingly precise, its front-end is sharper than it needs to be, and its body control is excellent for an SUV as tall as heavy as it is. It won’t engage you on a twisty back road but it always feels tight and in control, without any slack in its inputs, a rarity in such a large SUV. I’ve never driven an SUV of its size that’s as enjoyable to drive.
It might sound odd calling the BMW X7 a value but, when you look at the rest of BMW’s luxury lineup, it actually is. The BMW 7 Series sedan starts at $86,800, which about average for a large luxury sedan. However, the BMW X7 starts at $74,900, almost $12,000 less. Those entry level cars come with the exact same powertrain, too — a 3.0 liter turbocharged inline-six with an eight-speed automatic transmission.
Yet, the BMW X7 is so much more car than the 7 Series. It’s larger, comes with more interior space, far more practicality, and can seat far more people. Sure, the 7 Series has ever-so-slightly nicer leather in a handful of places but anyone that steps out of a 7 Series, into an X7, and says they can notice meaningful differences is a liar. The X7 is every bit as luxurious in reality, while coming with so much more car, for the same money.
Even if I didn’t want a massive SUV, which I honestly never really would, and I had the choice between the 7 Series sedan and BMW X7, I’d choose the latter every time. Not only is the 7 Series smaller, less practical, less comfortable, and more expensive, it’s barely any better to drive. That makes the X7 one helluva value.