Five years young this year, the largest of the BMW’s SUV range cops a facelift, chassis tweak, a bunch of interior updates and a mild hybrid system for 2023. We spent a week with the xDrive40d X7, big family and all.
The X7 is a massive car. It has a stance like a heavyweight German boxer, with a design that’s more high end Hugo Boss suit. Sharing X5 bones, it’s stretched longer, wider and taller. It also sports a menacing new face and 23-inch wheels.
From any angle, it’s intimidating, yet refined. It screams performance, yet whispers luxury and prestige. The new split Matrix LED headlight setup and monster grille are polarising, but we like it.
Inside, the latest generation of the X7 comes with BMW’s excellent curved 14.9-inch display that seamlessly mates a 12.3-inch instrument panel with an infotainment screen. While a lot of the hard buttons have sadly been removed, it’s a more modern space.
Under the hood is an inline-six 3.0-litre Twinpower turbo diesel, paired with an 8-speed auto (with paddle shifters). Offering 259kW of power and 720Nm of torque, it hits the road in its base form at $174,900 plus on-roads. That’s before any optional extras.
In the case of our test vehicle, there were a few of those, including Fineline trim and leather ‘Merino’ Tartufo upholstery, a Captain’s Chair 6-seat configuration, those V-spoke alloys, and a trailer hitch.
Draped in Dravit Grey, you’ll need to be spending just shy of $200,000 drive away, fully loaded with all the same add-ons. That’s a lot of coin, but it’s a car that’s packed with luxury, and offers excellent performance.
The standard equipment list is as long as the wheelbase as well, and includes active protection, acoustic glazing, adaptive air-suspension with self levelling, adaptive headlights, ambient lighting, welcome and dynamic contour lighting, and an auto split tailgate.
There’s also a head-up display, regenerative braking, DAB+ digital radio, Driving Assist Pro, stability and traction control, hill descent, Park Assist Pro, drive recorder, and a 3D surround sound system from Harman Kardon. It has 16 speakers and a 464W amplifier.
If that’s not enough, there’s seat heating up front and in the middle row, a panoramic glass sunroof, M Aero package, M Sports brakes, roof rails, and BMW Connect Drive. The latter includes intelligent emergency call, remote services and real time traffic.
Inside the new X7, there’s a lot to take in. It looks like the cockpit of an A380, and a week is not long enough to fully appreciate the ergonomic layout of every button and function, but as someone reasonably familiar after my X1 test, I was able to settle in fast enough.
The steering wheel is comfy and has electronic adjustment, with standard BMW controls either side. The left and right column stalks are easy to reach and operate, and the paddle shifters are well placed, and reactive.
In the centre console there is loads going on. A scroll wheel for the main menu has shortcut buttons at your fingertips, and there are five ride height settings, with the lowest only operational if Sport mode is engaged.
You’ll also find mode and traction control buttons. The drive selector is central to all this, and I didn’t gel with the small lever. Something more robust, with a distinct click, would be more familiar to use and know that your choice of direction is engaged.
The park brake and park assist buttons are easily confused too. You won’t find physical climate controls either, as these now sit on the touchscreen. This is a shame, as it’s difficult to adjust safely while on the move.
Those gripes aside, the X7 infotainment and its OS8 software, are intuitive and well appointed. It’s got absolutely everything, even cool ambient lighting, and the sound system is out of this world. There are loads of effective vents too, and plenty of storage.
You’ll find cup holders, bottle holders, a centre console tub and glovebox, as well as wireless charging and a nifty phone holder, plus a couple of cable outlets. The driver and front passenger seats are excellent, with heating and cooling.
They are large, luxurious and supportive, with loads of adjustment and memory. The passengers in the middle row are equally as comfy, with Captain’s Chair seats offering a first class ride. Fully adjustable, they can be reclined, and fold away for rear access.
The third row seats are smaller, and cramped for an adult, however kids and teenagers will be fine. We did have some minor tech issues with the controls though, with the middle seats sometimes not following prompts.
The younger humans couldn’t reach the cup holders, vents or USB ports in row two either, as they were a little far away. They also managed to annoy each other by messing with the opposite chair’s controls.
There’s five zone climate control, ensuring everyone has access to their own temperature controls, while a split electric tailgate offers a multitude of options for loading in and out of the car. Boot space should be similar to the previous model at 2,120-litres.
Passenger comfort and its absolute bevy of safety fear aside, the X7 xDrive40d M Sport provides driver engagement and fun in spades. Sure, the ride is firm on those 23-inch wheels (really firm), but the plushness of the seats and handling benefits win out.
We spent a day mucking around on the local twisties, testing out the various drive modes, with Sport mode ensuring we could hunker the big SUV down, giving the paddle shifters a workout as the Twinpower diesel pumped out the torque.
That showed us what we already suspected; that the X7 could be punted quite hard until the weight starts to say “that’ll do it”. What blew us away though was the incredible power and fade free performance of the braking package.
Stomp on those babies and this chunk of metal pulls up very rapidly, and with stability to boot. Go for the right pedal hard, and 0-100km/h in sub 6.0 seconds is real. The X7 is fast, particularly off the line, with the mild hybrid kicking in from the get go.
It launches like it’s on a cable, with a surprisingly revvy will and strong top-end for a diesel engine. The gearbox is precise and quick-shifting. When you’re done hooning, you can choose a more relaxing mode, raise the ride height, and cruise.
While you’re at it, soften the power delivery and open the sunroof, and relax. If you need to tow, there’s 3,500kg of braked capacity on offer as well. It’s a big unit though, so don’t expect it to be nimble like a baby SUV.
As a result, parking is something that can’t be rushed, and you should take your time finding a spot with room to spare. Make use of the cameras and parking assist to ensure you get it just right, and use the former when you’re in drive-thru.
All that aside, it’s out on the highways or the open road where the X7 xDrive40d M Sport excels. Driving Assist Professional makes long distance trips easy. A cross between a sporty and family SUV, it provides the best of both worlds, but makes some sacrifices either way.
It’s not the most practical large SUV on the market, but if you have the ability to buy one and want a little bit of BMW’s iconic performance, with room for the kids, this could be the ultimate car. You can build your own on the BMW Australia website.
If you’re keen on one and need finance, talk to CreditOne.
Our test vehicle was provided by BMW Australia. To find out more about the 2023 BMW X7 xDrive40d M Sport, talk to your local BMW dealer. Images courtesy of Heather Ware/HMC Photography.