What Car? says...
The BMW X7 is kind of a big deal. In fact, it's so big, it lets you arrive at an event in a vehicle that seems larger than the venue – and you can take six other people along for the ride.
You see, the X7 is the biggest BMW on the road, and traverses two car classes – seven-seaters and luxury SUVs. As well as offering seemingly endless interior space, it aims to pamper its driver and passengers as thoroughly as the BMW 7 Series luxury limo.
Although it's been around for a while now, the model recently received a major update (BMW says it was the biggest facelift it’s ever given to one of its models). That involved a fresh exterior look to bring it more in line with the latest 7 Series, and a new infotainment system.
So, is the BMW X7 really good enough to tempt you away from its talented premium-brand rivals, including the Audi Q7, the Mercedes GLS and the Range Rover? Well, we've driven it, and in this review we’ll run you through how we rate it for performance, comfort and practicality, as well as how much it will cost to buy and run.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
The engine range kicks off with the mightily impressive xDrive40d, which has a 347bhp six-cylinder diesel engine that helps the BMW X7 sprint from 0-62mph in a remarkably swift 5.9sec. That’s faster than the Mercedes GLS 400d and the Range Rover D350.
It's a brilliant choice, offering smooth, strong acceleration that allows you to demolish long journeys, yet it’s also hushed and subdued in all situations.
If you don't want a diesel, your best bet is the six-cylinder petrol xDrive40i. Its engine is serenely quiet when you want it to be, and pleasantly snarly when you’re pressing on. It offers fractionally quicker acceleration than the 40d (0-62mph in 5.8sec), but you do need to rev the engine a bit harder to access that performance – and fuel economy is nowhere near as good.
The most potent engine in the X7 range is under the bonnet of the M60i. It has a 4.4-litre V8 petrol with a ridiculous 523bhp to help the X7 see off 0-62mph in 4.7sec. It’s very quick when you want it to be and effortless when you’re plodding along. The engine sound is also very tempting, but it’s hardly the sensible choice.
All engines are paired with an eight-speed automatic gearbox that shifts gears quickly and smoothly, but also allows you to take manual control using paddles behind the steering wheel. There can sometimes be a small delay when you plant your right foot to ask for brisk acceleration, but it’s nothing compared with the pregnant pause that afflicts some luxury SUVs.
When it comes to ride comfort, the standard air suspension does a fine job of soaking up whatever the road can throw at it. It's more comfortable than the GLS and gives the Audi Q7 a run for its money on the motorway. It even edges the Range Rover if you avoid the slightly firmer M60i (which has clever anti-roll bars to keep it upright through corners) and stick with 21in (up to 23s are available) wheels.
The X7 is a big, heavy car, so it doesn't feel as light on its toes as the Porsche Cayenne or the smaller BMW X5 – even if you go for the M60i. Nevertheless, it’s surprisingly agile if you put the standard air suspension in its Sport setting and feels more gainly than the Land Rover Discovery and the GLS.
In common with other big BMWs, the steering is accurate, smooth and reassuringly weighted. You wouldn’t describe the X7 as a fun or rewarding car to drive along a meandering country road, but few luxury SUVs are. The exceptions are the Cayenne and, for big spenders, the Aston Martin DBX 707. Those are far less practical cars, though.
Generally, the X7 is pleasant and remarkably hushed, with very little tyre or wind noise, whether it's munching through motorway miles or negotiating urban traffic. In town, the optional four-wheel steering (standard on the M60i) greatly aids manoeuvrability at low speeds by turning the rear wheels very slightly in the opposite direction to the fronts. It’s a must-have if you do lots of driving in town.
Off road, the X7 is able to tackle rougher ground than most buyers will ask of it. You can also select the optional xOffroad package on the 40 engines, which provides drive settings to suit different terrains and adds underbody protection. The ultimate off-roading luxury SUV is still the Range Rover, though.
The interior layout, fit and finish
For a car with such a gargantuan, in-your-face exterior, you might be surprised by the BMW X7’s slightly low-key interior design. Still, whatever your views about the look of the interior, you can’t argue with its quality.
Every surface you touch simply screams craftsmanship, lending it a truly upmarket ambience that soundly beats the Range Rover for build quality, although it can’t match the British rival for sheer opulence or the Mercedes GLS for pizzazz.
In terms of layout, the X7’s dashboard is a mash-up between the BMW X5 and the BMW iX. The basic structure is similar to the one in the X5, but you get the curved 14.9in infotainment touchscreen from the iX, plus an adjoining 12.3in screen behind the steering wheel for the digital instruments.
The infotainment system is generally really easy to use, and can be operated using an extremely intuitive rotary controller positioned between the seats, or by using the voice control system. When you're driving, both methods are less distracting than stabbing away at the touchscreen.
The only slight disappointment is that there are no physical controls for the air-conditioning. You have to adjust the interior temperature either by using the touchscreen or firing out voice commands.
Behind the wheel, you’ll find a typically high-set luxury SUV driving position. You get electrically adjustable front seats that are effortlessly easy to fine-tune to your taste and are also extremely comfortable.
While there are no notable flaws when it comes to the X7’s visibility, a car this bulky can present a few manoeuvring challenges. Fortunately, front and rear parking sensors, all-round cameras and a self-parking system come as standard.
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
The BMW X7 is simply huge – bigger even than the Range Rover – and as a result has masses of interior space. It’s tall and airy in the front, and so wide that the driver could almost feel like they’re in a different postcode to their front passenger. There’ll be no shoulder-rubbing going on here.
There’s also plenty of room for those on the second-row seats to stretch out and, with no shortage of head, leg or shoulder room. Even three adults sitting side-by-side will be relatively comfortable. The second row even gets a climate control zone for each side of the car along with heated seats for the outer passengers. The seats can be moved forwards and backwards electrically in a 60/40 split, or folded in a 40/20/40 split.
The X7 also matches the Audi Q7 and Mercedes GLS by offering a third row of seats as standard, meaning it can carry up to seven people. With the Range Rover, you have to pay extra for a third row, and when you do, it's not quite as roomy as in the X7, especially in terms of headroom.
In fact, the X7’s third-row seats are even more spacious than those in the Q7 and Land Rover Discovery. Even a couple of six-footers will fit comfortably enough. Access to the third row is good, too, thanks in part to wide rear doors that reveal a large gap to clamber through.
If you don't need a seven-seater you can order your X7 as a six-seater. This more luxurious layout costs a little more and replaces the three-person second-row bench with two individual chairs, each with its own arm rests.
As for the boot, the X7 retains the smaller X5’s split-folding tailgate layout, whose lower section flips out to serve as a handy perch when taking off muddy wellies or similar. There’s space for a couple of suitcases even when the third-row seats are in use.
In five-seat mode, the boot is enormous, and the load area is positively monstrous when the second and third rows are folded away, although the parcel shelf only covers the load area fully in seven-seat configuration. There are also some handy underfloor storage compartments.
Buying & owning
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
If you want a luxury SUV that seats seven in comfort, the BMW X7 isn't the cheapest option: an Audi Q7 or Land Rover Discovery will do the job for less money.
Likewise, if you’re not desperate for the X7’s enormous size but like the rest of the package, you might be better off with the cheaper but still excellent X5. However, if you’re looking for a blend of luxury, versatility and space, the X7 is a fantastic buy – far more so than the Mercedes GLS.
According to official tests, the X7’s fuel economy and CO2 emissions are a close match for those of its key rivals. If you have one eye on keeping running costs down, go for the 40d diesel. It’s a great engine and suits the X7 really well, while also offering much better fuel economy than either of the petrols.
The X7 isn’t particularly attractive to company car drivers because there’s no plug-in hybrid (PHEV) version with a low official CO2 output, so all X7s are in the top 37% benefit-in-kind tax bracket. If you’re looking to keep your monthly tax bills down, there is a PHEV version of the smaller X5 and the Range Rover.
Even entry-level Excellence trim comes positively loaded with kit, including air suspension, four-zone climate control, and heated front seats. The M Sport model adds sporty cosmetic touches and upgraded brakes. Meanwhile, the M60i stands as a trim level in its own right, adding a limited-slip differential on the rear axle to increase cornering traction.
Our advice is to go for M Sport trim. It’s only slightly more expensive than Excellence but its extra desirability means it should be worth more when you come to sell, so monthly PCP finance costs are not much higher. You might want to consider adding one or two options for a touch of extravagance.
In the 2023 What Car? Reliability Survey, BMW came 12th out of the 32 manufacturers rated. That puts it above premium rivals Audi, Mercedes and Land Rover. A three-year, unlimited mileage warranty is provided as standard.
The X7 has yet to be crash-tested by Euro NCAP but it does come with lots of standard active safety technology, including automatic emergency braking (AEB) and rear cross-traffic alert, which warns you about approaching vehicles when you're backing out on to a road.
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The X7 is 5181mm long, 1835mm tall and 2000mm wide.
Yes – all versions of the X7 have four-wheel drive as standard.
|RRP price range||£86,405 - £123,925|
|Number of trims (see all)||3|
|Number of engines (see all)||3|
|Available fuel types (which is best for you?)||diesel, petrol|
|MPG range across all versions||23.2 - 36.2|
|Available doors options||5|
|Warranty||3 years / No mileage cap|
|Company car tax at 20% (min/max)||£6,275 / £8,974|
|Company car tax at 40% (min/max)||£12,550 / £17,949|