TEST DRIVE: 2020 BMW X7 M50i – The Ultimate Road Companion

4 weeks ago
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The BMW X7 has been on the market for nearly two years and it’s already one of the most successful SUVs ever launched by the Bavarians. A true seven seater, the BMW X7 clearly caters to large family or people who love to haul lots of things. It is an impressive SUV in size, but it certainly feels at home on U.S. roads where it’s often eclipsed by even larger cars. But for a premium and luxury truck, it has the right size, without going overboard. I’ve tested the X7 on two previous occasions, once in a prototype form with a bit of off-road, followed by a production model.

It Was Built For Long Trips

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But both of those drives took place over the course of a few hours and with just a few hundred miles of driving. So I’ve been looking forward to properly test the X7 during a long road trip. Especially since BMW has often touted the large SUV as being the perfect travel companion. A few weeks ago, an opportunity arose to drive a 2020 BMW X7 M50i, so I wanted to make the best of it with a long trip from Chicago to the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee. But I wanted this drive to be “as real as possible”, therefore, I was planning on packing the car to its largest capacity.

The Mineral White X7 M50i came in a six-seats configuration, with two captain chairs replacing the second row bench. But that wasn’t an issue since I was planning on taking more cargo with me than passengers. So first step was to create a list of things that a large family would have: a couple of large suitcases, a car seat, a large stroller, a baby walker, a portable crib, a couple of fishing rods and some other smaller bags. You can probably go even wilder with your cargo, but this was a good starting point.

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The X7 has 12.8 cubic feet of cargo space with all of its seats in the upright position. With the the third row folded, and you’ll have 48.6 cubic feet of space. There’s 90.4 cubic feet of space with the second and third row seats folded. It also has a power liftgate and tailgate rear cargo access which make things quite easy when you load up the car.

The X7 stretches 203.3 inches from bumper to bumper, it has a width of 78.7 inches and stands 71.7 inches tall. Furthermore, the wheelbase is 122.2 inches which is about 10 inches longer than the 7 Series Sedan and 5 inches longer than the X5. Overall, the X7 is 9 inches and something longer than X5. So yes, the X7 is a big car, just as you’ve imagined.

A Marvelous Powerplant

Those of you that might care about the weight of the X7, here is the figure – somewhere over 5,300 lbs, based on the model and configuration. Heavy, certainly, but not when you have a powerful V8 engine under the hood. The newly revised N63 4.4 liter twin-turbocharged V8 started life in the BMW M850i and has been making its way into other M Performance models. That means the big X7 delivers 523 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque. The latter of which is available at an astonishing 1,800 rpm.

That power helps the BMW X7 M50i accelerate from 0-60 mph in 4.5 seconds. That’s extremely fast in an SUV that weighs as much as a medium-sized mountain. Top speed is limited to — you guessed it — 155 mph when equipped with summer tires (130 mph with all-season tires). Certainly, at no point did the X7 M50i felt slow. The car rapidly rolls off and when the massive torque kicks in, you can find find yourself quickly going over the speed limit. The 8-speed transmission is extremely smooth and perfectly matches the revs with the driving situation you’re in. Especially if you use the adaptive driving mode.

The low profile summer tires can be a bit noisy but overall the cabin is well insulated and blocks all the unnecessary noise. Of course, they’re quite sticky, even though I had no plans to test their thread during heavy cornering. The one thing I did enjoy to hear from the outside was the sports exhaust system which comes standard with the M50i models. It has a nice growl and beautiful blurbs, even though is enhanced inside the cabin by the Active Sound. But to keep everyone happy in the car, I decided to ride mostly in the Comfort mode which loosens the suspension and reduces the exhaust and engine notes.

Plenty Of Tech And Luxury

While I personally get excited about the driving experience, my family was more impressed by the refined and luxurious interior of the X7. It had the soft and perforated Vernasca leather in cognac with perfect double stitching. There was also the Glass Application Package which brings some beautiful crystals around the gear shifter and iDrive knob. The dashboard was also dressed up in leather with some beautiful contrasting wood. But the icing on the cake for them was the large Panoramic Sky Lounge LED MoonRoof which spans front to back, and makes for a serene interior, night and day.

We’ve all also enjoyed the refined sounds coming from the Bowers & Wilkins hifi sound system which is certainly worth the high price tag – $ 3,400. There is little to none to be desired in the interior of the X7. The seven-seater luxury SUV has all the things you need during a long road trip. From the aforementioned premium items to the Apple CarPlay and semi-autonomous driving features.

My personal favorites? The The Dynamic Handling package and laser lights. The former includes Active Comfort Drive which uses front-facing cameras to read the road and adjust the suspension to suit. It also makes cornering more effective while the rear steering helps you navigate tighter bends or roads. Of course, the M Sport rear limited-slip differential  and M Sport brakes are welcome additions as well.

Even thought he U.S. laser lights are not as efficient and useful as the ones in Europe, they still do a better job at lighting the road, and they simply look cooler than the standard LED lights.

Another thing worth mentioning is the center console and its large 12.3 inch infotainment system with the latest iDrive 7 or Operating System 7.0, as they call it elsewhere. Another 12.3 inch lies behind the steering wheel which is highly configurable with lots of data points available to the driver. The center screen can be operated via touch, gestures or the old school, yet still every effective, iDrive knob. While I love the iPad-like screens, I still find the knob turns and pushes to be more effective and less distractive. Again, you can customize lots of info on the large screen and it’s intuitive and user friendly.

There also plenty of USB ports, starting with a USB-A port in center console, one USB-C in the center storage space, while the second and third rows get a total of four USB-C ports split evenly. So we had plenty of charging options for all of our devices. Our X7 M50i was also equipped with Wi-Fi Hotspot and wireless charging.

During sections of night driving, the ambient lighting will certainly wow your passengers, while it can create a serene and calm ambiance.

Lots Of Space, No Need For A Minivan

Even with the driver’s seat set way back, the passenger behind me was able to easily slide into the second row with space to spare for the knees. The seats in the second row can also be tilted forward fully which helps to easily get in and out of the third row. The rear doors are larger than the front ones which is another helper for easy access to the last row.

With a single switch push on one of the second row seats, they start to move forward and up, the front seats also move forward and space for the third row opens up even more. After we arrived at a beautiful house on the Douglas Lake, I wanted to experience the third row bench. At 6″3 (1.9 meters) tall, I’m certainly on the longer side, but surprisingly, the third row provides decent space. The knees are slightly bent, but not touching the second row. There is plenty of headroom and lateral space is also sufficient.

The feeling of roominess is also aided by the individual moonroof in the back which allows more light in. It also feels like your own little lounge back there since you can adjust the climate zone and seats’ heating, while the ambient lighting accents can be adjusted to your mood. It also includes the highly coveted cupholders.

The driving experience matches the character of the X7 by not taking over the character of the car. And by that, I mean a spacious and luxurious truck which doesn’t need to take you quickly to your destination, but rather in style. Standard on all X7 models is the two-axle air suspension with its air supply being controlled individually for each wheel, enabling it to balance out an uneven load. The ride height is adjustable based on the driving mode and speed, and has a range up to 3.1 inches (80 millimeters).

Since comfort is the name of the game, BMW has included, again standard, the Dynamic Damper Control. Anti-roll bars can also be added to the package, along with the Integral Active Steering which uses a variable steering ratio with passively steered rear wheels, delivers improved stability and comfort. The system steers the rear wheels in the opposite direction as the front wheels, at certain speeds, significantly reducing the turning circle and making for easier maneuvering during tight situations.

Motion sickness reduction is also one of the benefits this system and that’s certainly something that I was looking to avoid on this trip. I can successfully report that no throwing up has taken place in this X7.

During my 1,200 miles round trip I had the chance to take the X7 through some tight backroads and through some gravel areas. I was mostly looking to have some fun alone with the car without anyone in the car yelling at me. And this is certainly when the M-tuned X7 made me smile even more. Despite its heaviness, the 2020 BMW X7 M50i feels quite agile and you can even have some fun throwing that wide rear into tight corners. The M Sport differential is extremely effective at keeping you on the road, while still allowing for some spin.

Would most, if any, customers will ever attempt to throw their X7 into hairpins and tight bends? Most likely not, but knowing that you can just makes you feel better when you have to justify the price of the car. Because the X7 M50i is not a a cheap car. Our tester had an MSRP of $ 113,845 with about $ 14,000 in extra options.

Should I Buy One?

The 2020 BMW X7 M50i is a well balanced premium SUV that caters to the needs of customers who are often looking for luxury, utility, space, latest tech and even good driving dynamics in a large family hauler. While it might not sell in large numbers like the popular X1, X3 or X5 – mostly because of their more affordable prices – the X7 certainly contributes to the bottom line of the company. It has one of the largest profit margins in the current lineup which means BMW makes money. Which also means, they make money so they can afford building beauties like the M2 CS or similar products.

In conclusion, if you’re in the market for a high-end SUV, without going into the Rolls-Royce or Bentley territory, the X7 is an extremely compelling product which will not leave you disappointed. Nor your family.

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