Marc UrbanoCar and Driver
The X5 sat at the top of the BMW SUV lineup for 13 years, and then last year, the larger X7 arrived and became the brand’s biggest and most luxurious SUV. We’ve previously tested the X7 40i and the X7 50i, but to properly shake the X7 down, we invited BMW's luxurious three-row SUV for an extended stay to see how its size would fit into our lives and garages. To make sure the X7 fit our expectations for performance, we opted for the top twin-turbo V-8 model, the 523-hp M50i version that starts at a lofty $100,595.
To that six-figure sum, we added the $1200 Cold Weather package, which adds five-zone automatic climate control, heated front and rear seats, a heated steering wheel, and heating for the front-seat armrests. We also opted for the $1300 Executive package, which equips the cabin with heated and cooled cupholders, laser-cut glass on the gear selector and some switchgear, and a Panoramic Sky Lounge LED roof, which enlarges the standard panoramic moonroof and enhances it with LED accent lighting. And then we chose some standalone options, including front ventilated seats ($500), a leather dashboard ($850), second-row captain's chairs with electric sunshades ($850), and an excellent 20-speaker Bowers & Wilkins sound system ($3,400). Our M50i arrived with an as-tested price of $113,845, making it one of the most expensive cars to run our 40,000-mile test.
Before you judge our decadent ways, this isn't exactly how we'd order an X7 M50i. To get into an X7 as quickly as possible, we agreed to a long-term test of a highly optioned example. We could live without the optional extras (especially the Executive package) considering the X7 M50i comes very well equipped with leather seats, soft-close doors, heated 20-way power front seats, a wireless phone charger, and a panoramic moonroof.
Other standard equipment on the M50i model includes 22-inch wheels with Pirelli P Zero PZ4 summer tires. While great for cornering grip and for short, 152-foot stops from 70 mph, these Pirellis are definitely not designed for a Michigan winter. In searching for tires better suited to the cold, we decided to downsize the wheels to 20 inches because that opens up a larger selection of winter tires and because a little extra sidewall offers a bit more protection from the craggy paths that Michigan calls roads. A day after a call to Tire Rack and $3045 later, a set of OZ Racing Cortina wheels wrapped in Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V2 winter tires arrived. Since the swap, the all-wheel drive and rear-wheel steering have no problem accelerating and rotating the big X7's mass through the white stuff.
On a dry day at the test track, the M50i blasted to 60 mph in an eye-popping 4.1 seconds and passed the quarter-mile in 12.6 seconds at 110 mph. That's a mere two-tenths slower to 60 and through the quarter than the smaller, lighter X5 M50i with the same twin-turbo V-8. Speaking of that engine, despite the M badging and M Sport exhaust, the 523-hp N63 V-8 is never intrusive, and the X7's cabin is always insulated and quiet. At 70 mph, just 66 decibels of sound makes its way to the driver's ear, which is as silent as the last Mercedes-Benz S-Class sedan we tested.
When spring and summer finally come, we anticipate that the X7 will be a road-trip favorite. For those of us who tow race cars and make impulsive car purchases, we wished our X7 had the Tow Hitch Receiver ($665) option that allows you to tow up to 7500 pounds. BMW told us it wasn't yet available when our car was ordered, so we'll add it as soon as it arrives to our dealer's parts department. Once that happens, the X7's twin-turbo V-8 should have no problem hauling our loved ones and ensuring that the X7 is quicker than the toys we haul with it.
Months in Fleet: 1 month Current Mileage: 3888 miles
Average Fuel Economy: 17 mpg
Fuel Tank Size: 21.9 gal Observed Fuel Range: 372 miles
Service: $0 Normal Wear: $0 Repair:$0