2023 BMW X7 Review and Test Drive
BMW's flagship SUV gets numerous updates for the new model year.
Is the BMW X7 a good SUV?
BMW added the X7 to its extensive lineup of SUVs just a few years ago. The brand's first SUV with standard three-row seating, the X7 remains the largest model BMW offers, with space for up to seven passengers. For 2023, BMW refreshes the X7 with new styling, increased performance, and an updated interior that brings a high-tech feel to the brand's flagship SUV.
As any automaker will probably attest, keeping existing customers within the brand is paramount. However, before BMW launched the X7, its customers had little choice but to jump to other brands when they needed a larger SUV. Since arriving for the 2019 model year, the X7 brings the expected size, styling, and performance of a BMW, which the automaker says has not only helped retain current customers but also brought new buyers to the brand. With sales that continue to grow and now exceed most of the passenger cars that BMW sells, the company has clearly created a vehicle that works for its audience.
The 2023 BMW X7 is currently available in two trim levels: xDrive40i, which starts at around $79,000*, and the performance-oriented M60i, priced at nearly $104,000*. BMW will add the high-performance Alpina XB7 to the lineup in early 2023 with a manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) of about $146,000. These prices include the destination fee, which covers the transport of the X7 from its assembly location in Spartanburg, South Carolina, to your local dealership.
For my test drive of the updated 2023 BMW X7, BMW covered my transportation costs to Palm Springs, California, as well as my food and lodging. The company also provided me with a 2023 BMW X7 M60i, painted in the premium Frozen Marina Bay Blue Metallic. In addition to the long list of standard features, the X7 I drove had many options. These included the Driving Assistance Pro package, Executive package, and Climate Comfort package. In addition, it had full Merino leather trim, carbon fiber trim, second-row captain's chairs, and the upgraded Bowers & Wilkins audio system. The vehicle's MSRP of nearly $123,000* includes the destination charge of approximately $1,000.
2023 BMW X7 Review: The Design
While the refreshed 2023 BMW X7 retains the same basic shape as its predecessor, it is noticeably different in terms of style. The front-end styling includes a new split headlight design similar to the brand's 7 Series flagship sedan, with slim LED daytime running lights at the hood line. The headlights flank the prominent kidney grille, hidden behind smoked glass. The grille itself gets new vertical bars that illuminate. In the back, the LED taillights get a new slim design that wraps around the car's corners. A narrow chrome bar spans the liftgate, connecting the lights. Also, BMW nicely integrates the exhaust outlets into the updated rear bumper.
The most noticeable changes to the 2023 X7 are found inside, with the adoption of BMW's new Curved Display instrumentation and infotainment system.
Featuring a 12.3-inch driver display and a 14.9-inch infotainment display, the two screens reside behind a single curved glass surface. This new display features an anti-reflective coating, so there's no need for a hood over the screen in front of the driver, thus creating a clean interior design.
Adding to the clean look is the removal of almost every hard button on the dashboard; all that's left are buttons for the front and rear defrosters, tuning buttons, and a volume control knob. Shortcut buttons to media, communications, navigation, and drive mode functions are in the center console alongside the classic iDrive controller. You can access most every other feature via the touchscreen or the advanced voice-control system BMW refers to as the Intelligent Personal Assistant. For the most part, the system is intuitive and easy to use, with climate controls and access to the climate menu always appearing at the bottom of the screen.
As expected from a top-level BMW, the interior materials are of the finest quality. BMW trims the seats in the base X7 xDrive40i in Sensafin, the company's high-quality vegan upholstery that feels like genuine leather. The M60i comes standard with extended Merino leather. Alternately, buyers can outfit their X7 with full Merino leather with a stylish pattern. With excellent bolstering and soft leather, the front seats are quite comfortable with multiple adjustments, heating, ventilation, and seat massaging functions. To complement the seat trim, BMW offers a variety of materials that include open-pore wood, a piano black finish, or carbon fiber.
BMW offers the second-row seats in two configurations: a bench that seats three or captain's chairs for two. BMW equipped my X7 with the latter. The captain's chairs are fully adjustable and heated; I really liked the addition of the pillow-like headrests. Two adults would be quite comfortable in the second row as there's plenty of leg- and headroom. Between the seats, the test vehicle had a center console with two large cupholders and dual USB-C ports for charging devices. Rear dual-zone climate control adds to passenger comfort.
Generally speaking, the third row in most SUVs is a space to avoid. That said, I was pleasantly surprised to see how roomy and comfortable the rearmost seat was in the X7. Two adults could likely fit easily without complaint. The second-row seats easily fold out of the way with the push of a button for easy access to the third row, and they can slide forward to provide a bit more legroom if need be.
While BMW outfits the X7 like a luxury sedan, it still delivers the utility expected of a large SUV. The cargo area offers a good amount of space behind the third row, and you can fold the rear seats flat (or raise them again) via buttons in the cargo area, providing additional space. Behind the second row, the X7 supplies 48.6 cubic feet of cargo space. Maximum volume with the second-row seats folded down measures 90.4 cu. ft.
In an unusual approach, the X7’s rear hatch is split into a liftgate and a short, fold-down tailgate that makes loading gear a bit easier. Pushing the close button on the hatch will close both sections.
2023 BMW X7 Review: The Technology
The BMW X7 features a widescreen 14.9-inch infotainment display as part of the elegant, large curved screen that now comes standard in all variants. To operate the eighth generation of the brand's iDrive operating system (iDrive 8), you can swipe the screen left or right, with different features represented by large panels, presenting an easy way to navigate the system. Alternatively, you can use the classic iDrive dial in the center console or your voice via BMW's Intelligent Personal Assistant.
My only issue with the new interface is that you can't instantly access the climate controls. Temperature settings for both driver and passenger always appear at the bottom of the screen, but other climate functions, like fan speed, air flow direction, or seat heaters, require opening a climate control menu. Adjusting climate controls is commonly done multiple times during a trip, which is why most automakers keep them easily accessible.
Voice recognition in the X7 works quite well, showcasing how far this technology has come. There is no need to push a button; you can easily activate the system by saying, "Hey, BMW." Interacting with the Personal Assistant, I set navigation destinations, adjusted the audio system, checked traffic and the weather, and even lowered the windows—all via natural-voice requests or queries. Of course, I could have easily completed all these tasks via the touchscreen, but the premise of voice recognition is to keep the driver's hands on the wheel and focus on driving.
Both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connect wirelessly in the X7. Setting up my Android Galaxy S21 was quick and easy. When starting the pairing process, my phone displayed a BMW screen asking if I wanted to pair it with the car's infotainment system, which of course, I did. It also asked if I wanted to enable Android Auto—a much nicer and cleaner interface than the typical Bluetooth setup.
The 2023 BMW X7 comes standard with a long list of advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), including automatic emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane-departure warning, rear-collision protection, and rear cross-traffic alert. The X7 I drove also had adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go capability, which can automatically match posted speed limits. The system will also automatically change lanes. If the driver activates the turn signal while the adaptive cruise is in operation, the X7 will check to see if it's safe to change lanes and, if it is, will proceed to do that on its own.
BMW's Extended Traffic Jam Assist package—included on my X7—brings the big BMW one step closer to autonomous driving. With the adaptive cruise control active, the system can bring the vehicle to a complete stop when traffic isn't moving and will automatically set off again if the car ahead moves within 30 seconds. This can be done entirely hands-free at speeds up to 37 mph, but the driver still needs to pay attention. A monitoring camera ensures the driver hasn't become distracted. This great feature made dealing with the heavy traffic around Palm Springs much easier. When I didn't have to operate the vehicle, I did find it very easy to become distracted, so the system warned me several times to pay attention to the road.
With its long list of safety-related driver-assistance features, I would expect the 2023 BMW X7 to perform well in an accident. This is, of course, based on the feature list. At the time of writing this review, neither the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety nor the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had tested the crashworthiness of the X7.
2023 BMW X7 Review: The Drive
BMW provided me with a 2023 BMW X7 M60i that comes standard with a twin-turbocharged, 4.4-liter V8 engine that delivers 523 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque. The V8 features a 48-volt mild hybrid system that integrates a starter generator into the 8-speed automatic transmission. This setup optimizes throttle response for smoother launches, especially with the automatic engine start/stop function. It also increases the powertrain's overall efficiency. The M60i comes standard with all-wheel drive (AWD) and dual-axle air suspension.
You can save yourself about $25,000 by choosing the BMW X7 xDrive40i. It employs a new turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine that offers more power for 2023. BMW says it is good for 375 hp (+40) and up to 398 lb.-ft. of torque (+67) and claims it will scoot the big SUV to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds. That’s slower than the more powerful X7 M60i, but, in the real world, it’s still quick for this kind of vehicle. Like the M60i, the xDrive40i can tow up to 7,500 lbs when properly equipped.
In addition, the X7 xDrive40i can save you more money at the pump. It’s rated to return 22 mpg in combined driving. As for the X7 M60i, if you’re buying a V8-powered three-row SUV, fuel economy is likely not high on your list of priorities. Still, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the twin-turbo V8 at a reasonable 18 mpg in combined driving. During my drive in the X7 M60i, which included a mix of freeway and back roads, the trip computer reported an average of 19 mpg, so the EPA's figures seem accurate.
With so much power on tap and the grip of AWD, the X7 M60i exhibits strong acceleration. According to BMW, the big SUV will reach 60 mph from a standstill in just 4.5 seconds. Cruising on the freeway at 80 mph seems to take no effort, as the X7 always feels comfortable and stable. The ride is quiet, with very little road or wind noise. With a top speed limited to 155 mph (I'll take BMW's word on that), I barely scratched the surface of the X7’s capabilities.
Typically, a three-row SUV is not a vehicle that would exhibit any sporty characteristics, but this is a BMW. Just because it is the largest model in the brand's lineup doesn't mean it isn't fun to drive. With big, high-performance tires, AWD, and active roll stabilization, it's possible to push the X7 M60i hard in the corners. And it stays perfectly composed and planted.
Furthermore, the brakes are definitely up to the task of slowing this almost 3-ton vehicle to enter a corner, and there's plenty of torque to blast out the other side. The wonderful sound of the BMW V8 engine accompanies all this. I wouldn't go so far as to say the X7 drives like a sports car, but the M60i’s performance is impressive for a big, heavy three-row SUV.
Is the 2023 BMW X7 a Good SUV?
When BMW first introduced the new X7 for the 2019 model year, it brought high levels of luxury and performance to the three-row SUV market. Now, BMW ups its SUV game with the refreshed 2023 model. The updated exterior styling gives the big SUV a modern look, while inside, the new curved display screen feels almost futuristic. For the customer looking for all the refinement of a luxury sedan, including the latest in high-tech infotainment, premium materials, ADAS, and a quiet, comfortable ride, the X7 delivers.
Even more importantly for some buyers, the X7 drives like a proper BMW. With available V8 power, impressive handling, and fun-to-drive characteristics, the 2023 BMW X7 fits perfectly at the top of the German automaker's SUV lineup. The price may be too rich for some buyers, but for those in the market for a luxury SUV, the updated 2023 BMW X7 is worth considering.
*All vehicle pricing includes MSRP plus destination charges (set at the time of publication), and will be rounded to the nearest thousand.