Is the BMW X7 as good as claimed? We review this three-row SUV and what it’s capable of.
BMW took on what seemed like an impossible challenge, build a 3-row SUV that still feels like a BMW, but it looks like they pulled it off. Designed as a 6 or a 7 passenger ride, the X7 is aimed at the family vehicle market and is scheduled to go on sale in early 2019.
The X7 uses the CLAR architecture that is found on the 3 to 7 series, and this allows the X7 to offer different types of driving modes and the ability to drive off-road. The X7 CLAR also makes it possible to implement driver safety, assist and connectivity features.
In the US, the X7 will be sold with the 3.0L turbocharged l-6 inline 6 gas engine. In the 7 Series this is good for 330 lb ft of torque and 320 HP, but the HP for the X7 hasn’t bee n announced yet. However BMW has said the engine is fully optimized for the X7.
Two variants of the 3.0L turbo diesel will be available in Europe but not in the US. All X7 models will have an 8 speed automatic transmission for better fuel efficiency and better response to shifting.
It’s expected the X7 will have a hybrid down the line, but it won’t be available right away when the SUV is released. A 4 cylinder is in the works for the Chinese market, but it won’t be sold in the United States. An X7 M is unlikely but an M package is possible. BMW currently has no plans for a coupe but that could change depending on customer feedback.
This is the most likely engine for the American market. While the X7 is probably going to be in the 5,000 lb range, this engine is ideal because it provides excellent acceleration. It doesn’t roar as much as a V8 but it’s not lacking in power.
When the l-6 isn’t roaring it doesn’t make a lot of noise, probably helped by the size of the X7. This engine, coupled with 22 inch tires, makes driving smooth and easy. For a family SUV, the X7 fits the bill nicely.
Depending on the model, the X7 may be fitted with 20, 21 or 22 inch wheels. Comparing the V8 and the l-6, the V8 has a more powerful sound than the l-6. However the V8 also feels bigger and heftier than the l-6, not exactly something you will want when driving an SUV as the objective is to be compact.
The 2019 X7 is equipped with a 2-axle air suspension, and its body height can be adjusted 3 inches up and down. The front and back springs are steel and there is Dynamic Damper Control designed to smooth travel on rugged roads.
The X7 comes with the X Steer or Active Steering, similar to the one on the 7 Series sedan, and it offers a no-frills performance that does exactly what it should, keep the driving line straight. There is no sense of thrill here, but it works and feels easier to handle compared to to other SUVs.
The various driving modes do make a difference in the way you drive. If you switch to Sport mode, the X7’s body drops half an inch lower. This might not seem to make much of a difference but it does as the SUV steering tightens and the engine gets louder..
Sport mode lowers body roll and the suspension doesn’t feel as stiff even when driving for long stretches.
Comfort mode is more effective when it comes to smoothing your ride when on bumpy roads. This mode is also suitable for absorbing road bumps. When you switch on to adaptive mode, the X7 determines how and where you’re driving and makes the proper adjustments to the throttle.
The X7 also has an Eco Pro mode that reduces the A/C, the SUV finds its glide path and the throttle turns low key. A quick look at the dash graphics show information about the battery and mpg, both essential for SUVs.
The X7 is designed for off-road and it succeeds. There are modes for rock, gravel and sand exist so this SUV is going to do fine. There’s no mode yet for snow but there are options for slip differential and anti-roll bars. Even when driving on a muddy course, the SUV runs very well and keeps you in control.
No matter what mode you choose, the X7 provides a wide range of assist and safety features including those for acceleration, steering and braking.
The X7 is still in the prototype stage and a lot of new features may still be added between now and its 2019 release. But from what we’ve seen it looks like BMW has a winner here.
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