Does it seem like luxury automakers release a new SUV just about every week? It’s more than a feeling. Since the start of September, we’ve gotten the Audi Q8, Audi e-tron, and Mercedes EQC, three pricey performance models from Germany.
With October about halfway gone, BMW followed its rivals with the debut of its largest vehicle of all: the 2019 BMW X7. At a glance, it appears there may be no limits to how far luxury brands may go in the SUV space.
Here’s a close look at the 17-foot Bimmer headed to the U.S. market next year.
1. Bigger than German rivals, equal to Escalade
Did you ever expect to see a BMW that’s as big as the Escalade? If you think of the 3 Series sedan when think of the automaker, we expect you didn’t. Yet the X7’s length (203.3 inches) takes it within a few millimeters of the massive Cadillac SUV (203.9 inches).
That’s about 17 feet from one end to the other, making this Bimmer longer than the Audi Q7 and Mercedes GL-Class. Meanwhile, the X7 tops 5,600 lbs. at the curb with a V8 engine.
It will come come standard with seating for seven people, though you can opt for captain’s chairs in the second row if you only need space for six.
2. BMW’s take on 3-row styling
It’s interesting to see foreign automakers’ takes on what is a distinctly American style (i.e., the overwrought SUV). So far, we’ve seen Audi and Mercedes-Benz playing it rather conservative, and that trend continues with the X7, which comes standard with 21-inch wheels and a generally hulking presence.
The feature that jumps out at you is the enormous kidney grille, which is the largest example of BMW’s signature design piece to date. In profile, you’ll notice the rear doors are longer than the front doors, which helps passengers get in and out of the back. Chrome details on the back and sides hint at this model’s lofty price point.
3. Powertrains and pricing for the launch models
At launch, the X7 will come in two models. The first, xDrive40i, will run with the 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine producing as much as 335 horsepower. BMW says it will hit 60 mph in 5.8 seconds from a stop. It starts at $74,895 including destination.
The next step up (xDrive50i) involves a considerable boost in power, as the 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 cranks 456 horsepower and 479 pound-feet. This model, which can hit 60 in 5.2 seconds, starts at $93,595.
Both engines work with an eight-speed automatic transmission and have all-wheel-drive as an option.
4. Interior tech
Inside the X7, you start to see where the money went. The slick center-console layout and digital instrument cluster highlight what is a standout interior for any 2019 model. Both screens measure over 12 inches, and a head-up display will come standard in the xDrive50i (optional in the lower trim).
Buyers will have choices of nine different interior color combinations (six at launch). Wireless charging, a WiFi hotspot, and a 10-speaker audio system come standard. A Harman Kardon system goes in the V8 model, and a 20-speaker surround-sound system is an option.
5. Safety and comfort
While the X7 interior tech and convenience features are impressive, the second- and third-row seating may be what sets this model apart from other large SUVs (even luxury models). The high-end finish is noticeable at a glance, the airy feel inside the cabin is enhanced by the large windows and a standard three-panel sunroof.
Meanwhile, a two-axle air suspension system comes standard to help add to the smoothness of the ride. Blind-spot detection, lane-departure warning, rear- and frontal-collision warning, and many other advanced safety features come standard as well.
6. Spartanburg production and release dates
BMW says the first X7 models will roll off the line in Spartanburg, South Carolina early in 2019 and hit dealerships by March. However, the automaker is trying out a reservation system for buyers who want to get an early start.
Beginning in October, BMW dealers will accept deposits and allow buyers to configure vehicles. These models will get priority when the first deliveries are made next year.