2020 BMW X7 M50i Review

Faster than you think, as big as you need


Amos Kwon, Editor-In-Chief



Positives: Remarkable power and agility for something this large, serious premium street cred, technologically awesome, supremely luxurious.
Negatives: Thirst for fuel is apparent, too many shiny surfaces in the cabin, third row needs more legroom, dumb gesture control tech, muy expensive.
Bottom Line: Although the X7 M50i is a pricey steed, it brings tremendous levels of tech, driving fun, and comfort in the premium three-row SUV segment. Perhaps its only demerit is the less-than-spacious third row.
Shy of giving us a performance-focused X7 M (which may or may not happen), BMW offers up a more sporting, more aggressive version of its big three-row X7 in the form of the X7 M50i. Its 523 horsepower engine eclipses the 335-hp six-cylinder on xDrive40i models and the 456-hp twin-turbo V8 of the slightly lesser X7 xDrive50i version. Not only is it more powerful, it also boasts more tech, more luxury, and definitely more visual attitude. We drove the top trim X7 for a week (and up to New Holland, MI and back) to see if it could impress us (and our kids). Read on for our detailed review.
 

Driving Experience

9

 

It's alarming that something this big, weighing in at a corpulent 5,661 pounds, could be this quick. Although it's no sports car, what BMW has done with the M50i's ability to manage its weight in sporting driving conditions is nothing sort of incredible.

Ride Quality: The various drive modes work well do either dampen rough roads or take on more challenging twisties. The M50i's two-axle air-suspension system adjusts remarkably well between drive mode settings, providing ample dampening in Comfort mode and nice firm sportiness when you dial it into Sport and Sport+.

Acceleration: Mash the gas, and you feel this rocket sled take off like nothing you'd expect. 0-60 mph comes in about 4.1 seconds. That's alarmingly quick, and it even beats the Porsche Cayman GT4 in a sprint. The 8-speed automatic transmission downshifts quickly, too.

Braking: The X7 M50i's brakes are strong and easy to modulate. We didn't find them grabby, and the pedal feel was excellent.

Steering: Active steering that comes with the Dynamic Handling Package helps with quicker turn-in. There's not a ton of feedback, but the steering has good effort and is on-center at highway speeds.

Handling: Don't be too afraid to take the big X7 into turns thanks to the expensive but awesome Dynamic Handling Package, which has active roll stabilization to manage the heft.

Technology

9.2

 

iDrive is in its best version yet, and BMW has pretty much nailed the look and operation of it. Pretty much all of the tech in the X7 M50i is easy to use and wonderful to look at. We did, however, have one issue using it.

Infotainment System: The huge 12.3" screen is vivid and easy to read, even in the brightest of sunlight. Everything looks high-end, including the graphics.

Controls: The Drive controller that's situated between the seats is very easy to operate, and the actuation feels great, too. We still had trouble figuring out how to advance the next music track, which was our only issue. The crystal shift knob is a fancy touch, but it doesn't feel that great in the hand.

Styling

8.7

 

While we wouldn't call the X7 M50i beautiful, it does look more attractive than the xDrive40i and even the 50i thanks to a sportier ride height, 22" wheels, and M50i trim. The cabin is also stunning with top notch materials quality.

Front: There's a lot going on up front, but the fascia is dominated by huge kidney grilles first and foremost. On a vehicle this size, it's not offensive. The headlights could be a little bit taller to match the grille a little bit better. The foglight surrounds and outboard intakes are tad busy.

Rear: The back of the X7 is rather tame compared to the front end. The taillights are slim but nicely shaped. The only real sporty aggression comes from the large tailpipes and the contrasting valance.

Profile: The profile is the X7 M50i's best angle thanks to the hockey-stick trim and vent, the dark chrome 22" wheels, and the Shadowline trim around the windows. It looks muscular and refined at the same time.

Cabin: The caramel-colored Cognac Vernasca leather seats are beautiful, and the streamlined dash is elegant. The angled metal trim pieces for the dash trim, door trim, and door handles are wonderful touches, as well. We could do without the preponderance of shiny trim, as it picks up way too much dust, fingerprints, and smudges.

Comfort

9.2

 

The X7 is plush and easy to enjoy when it comes to longer drives and daily commutes. The seats strike the right balance between cushy and properly supportive, and the cabin provides an open atmosphere.

Front Seats: The seats are big and comfortable without being mushy. The adjustability is also excellent, and there's ample bolstering to take on those corners.

Rear Seats: The second-row Captain's Chairs, which were optional, provide top-level comfort for passengers, and there's a wide pass-through for the third-row occupants. Adults can ride all the way in the back, but the legroom could be improved.

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): The sound deadening makes for a hushed environment, and the build quality ensures no errant noises are present. Road and wind noise at high speeds are also kept at bay appropriately.

Visibility: The driver has a commanding view thanks to a good seating position. Big windows all around provide great sightlines.

Climate: The heated and ventilated seats are superb, and the climate control system is powerful. Physical HVAC knobs make quick work of the adjustment process while driving.

Safety

8

 

BMW makes safety a priority, so it's comforting to know that the X7 M50i is rife with high-tech safety features. At this price and because of its premium niche, the X7 hasn't been tested by the IIHS or the NHTSA.

IIHS Rating: Not tested.

NHTSA Rating: Not tested.

Standard Tech: in M50i trim, our tester came standard with Parking Assistant Plus crisp 3D view, Active Driving Assistant including Frontal Collision and Warning City Collision Mitigation, Lane Departure Warning, Active Blind Spot Detection, and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert.

Optional Tech: None.

Storage/Cargo

8.8

 

The X7 is a big beast, and there's a solid amount of storage inside. Families can easily bring a fairly large haul with them on vacation, and the cabin does have good cubbies for takealong items.

Storage Space: The large retractable door at the front of the center console exposes a medium sized cubby and two convenient heated/cooled cupholders. The door pockets are also well-sized, as is the split-door armrest.

Cargo Room: The X7 has 12.8 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row, 48.6 cubic feet behind the second row, and 90.4 cubic feet when the seats are folded flat. That's larger than the Audi Q7 and even the big Mercedes-Benz GLS.

Fuel Economy

6.8

 

The big twin-turbo V8 engine is a monster, and with the X7 M50i's sporty leanings, it's bound to be a thirsty beast. We drove from Chicago to Holland, MI and back, a distance of about 340 miles. We also did some around town driving, so we actually did a little bit better than the EPA combined estimate (and in Sport Mode, at that). It's still not even close to efficient, of course, but not terrible given the power and size. We were also toting three kids and a fair amount of luggage.

Observed: 17.5 mpg.

Distance Driven: 413 miles.

Audio

9.5

 

Our tester came with the upgraded Bowers & Wilkins premium audio system. It exhibited crisp, full sound, and was wonderful to listen to. But at $3,400, it doesn't come cheap. We can't imagine that the stock Harmon Kardon system was something to balk at. You just have to consider how important the top-tier system is to you because no additional features come with the optional system.



Final Thoughts

The X7 M50i represents the best of what BMW can do when buyers need something fast and spacious that can also get them through winters and some mild off-roading. It's opulent, insanely quick and capable, and it looks premium throughout. You get high levels of comfort, great space, excellent driving control, and hair-raising power and performance. But the price is steep. We'd take it over the Infiniti QX80, the Mercedes-Benz GLS, and the aging Lexus LX570 in a heartbeat. Nothing this big is this good to drive.
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