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Mark Savage's auto review column, Savage On Wheels, looks at a new vehicle every week and tells consumers what’s good, what’s not so good, and how the vehicle fits into the marketplace.

2023 BMW X7 M60i review

2023 BMW X7 M60i nose and side
Mark Savage
Savage On Wheels
2023 BMW X7 M60i nose and side

BMW is one of the best automakers at straddling the line of performance and luxury and nowhere is that balancing act more challenging than the large SUV market.

Yet, BMW does just that with its X7, a big beauty that handles like a smaller sportier SUV or crossover, but delivers power like Arby’s delivers the meats. I drove the mid-level X7 M60i. Don’t try to make sense of the nomenclature, just know that there’s a base X7 (xDrive 40i) and a devilishly fast performance model (Alpina XB7) bookending this X7.

Mine was a bright Mineral White Metallic (think pearly) and I’ve not driven a better large truck. Oh, I’ve had bigger, and boxier and more off-road friendly, but nothing this comfy and yet grin-inducing powerful.

X7 goes up against the grain of the upper-end luxury market’s monster trucks like Cadillac’s Escalade, Jeep’s Grand Wagoneer, Lincoln’s Navigator, the Range Rover and Mercedes GLS. And if you Penalize a Chevy or GMC Suburban they fall in this category too even though the Ford Expedition, along with the Jeep, are much longer than this big boy.

The three-row X7 doesn’t look as big because it’s not. Plus, it’s not as boxy. Even its nose with its twin kidney shaped grille looks sleeker and more stylish. But it still rides on a 122-inch wheelbase and is nearly 204 inches long. Heck, it weighs nearly three tons.

But imagine powering up that heft from 0 to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds and you’ll be asking what the heck is under the hood, a giant electric motor? Nope, a twin-turbo 4.4-liter V8 brother, and it makes 523 horsepower with a torque rating of 553. Nothing to sniff at. Oh, it has a 48-volt mild hybrid system to help get the X7 moving, but really, you’d never know.

Press the accelerator and even in Comfort (one of three drive modes) the X7 jumps to life. Punch the console button for Sport and revs jump and even accelerating out of a side street onto a main road you’ll feel like you’re exiting the pits at Road America in hopes of setting a new track record. Highway entry ramps are as much fun as an amusement park ride.

Plus, the exhaust tone is a fiery V8 grumble. Vroom with a view!

Yet the ride on BMW’s air suspension is cushiony and comfy, befitting the luxury that its leather-laden interior promises. And handling? Well, it’s a BMW folks, so you turn the wheel and immediately head in the direction aimed. It’s fun just to zip around city street corners at 25 mph. Save your racing for the track! X7 goes where it’s pointed and Sport mode firms up the steering feel even further, although mostly that seems unnecessary.

Braking isn’t something I dwell on often, but the giant discs here would tempt an Olympic discus champion. They are 15.6 inches up front and 15.7 in the rear. They look intimidating even from a distance. Yes, they also stop this hefty hauler with authority.

And did I mention AWD is standard? NO, well, it is, but then you’d expect that along with all the safety systems that come on today’s vehicles, from parking sensors to 3D cameras to smart cruise, and blind-spot warnings.

Inside the test truck was awash in black (more like gunmetal gray) full Merino leather, a $2,700 option. Not sure what partial Merino leather looks like, but this was plush, soft, and scrumptious. Plus, the seats are well bolstered for long-ride comfort.

And once I mention the staring price for X7 ($104,095) you’ll understand why this next feature, massaging front seats, is available. It’s “just” a $2,100 option in an Executive package that includes heated and cooled cupholders too. Indeed!

Naturally there are heated and cooled front seats standard, but it takes a Climate Comfort package to heat the row-two seats and add a 5-zone climate control system to aid the third-row riders. The cost is $1,600. Standard though are heated armrests and steering wheel. This SUV added the optional second-row captain’s chairs for $850. That cuts passenger capacity to six from seven as it replaces a center row bench. Captain’s chairs are decidedly comfier.

Those power third row seats actually are comfortable enough and the knee room isn’t bad, if row-two seats are pulled forward a bit. But if row-two seats are all the way back there’s precious little foot room.

I’ve read that some folks are complaining the rear seats power down and up slowly, but that’s a first world complaint. There’s a tiny lag, OK? Yet, there are buttons next to row two and others inside the power hatch that will fold the third row flat and if the second-row seats are a bit in the way, they’ll power themselves slightly forward until the third row is neatly stowed. Then, they’ll power back to their original setting. Clever!

The dash is impressive with a single curved screen for easier driver viewing. The digital instrument panel is more than 12 inches wide and the info screen nearly 15 inches. All are easy to see and tune. The info portion is a touchscreen, with a backup large dial on the console. I found that best for scrolling through radio stations.

The trim inside the hush-quiet leathery interior is satin chrome and carbon fiber facing on dash, doors and console. The carbon fiber adds $300 and can be pretty reflective, sort of like gloss piano black trim.

Climate and heated/cooled seats and heated wheel controls are all on that giant info screen, which isn’t as convenient as having the seats in particular handled through console buttons.

I’m also no fan of the itty-bitty console toggle for gear shifting. A bigger knob or lever is needed. There is however, a height adjustment on the console that allows the truck to be lowered or raised a couple inches for off-roading (oh really, you would?), or easier entry and exit, or even just cargo loading.

Overhead is a monstrously large sunroof controlled with one overhead button. But the third-row seat also touts a tiny sunroof that can be controlled in the second-row seats, as can power side window sunscreens.

2023 BMW X7 M60i sunroofs
Mark Savage
Savage On Wheels
2023 BMW X7 M60i sunroofs

BMW also includes a head-up display for the driver, an SOS system overhead, a power tilt/telescope steering wheel and wireless charger at the front of the console. There’s no reminder if you leave your phone there when turning off the SUV though. Other brands offer that nicety.

I must note the optional $3,400 Bowers & Wilkins sound system on this X7. It touts 20 speakers and really is terrific. After all, it’s just money, right?

The cargo space is generous once the third-row seat is down, and gargantuan if row-two seats are lowered too. But there’s just room for grocery bags, or a couple small suitcases behind the third-row seats if they are in use. The power hatch also is split, with a small tailgate below the hatch. It too is powered but seems a bit in the way. Too bad one hatch wouldn’t suffice.

Not surprisingly the X7 prefers premium fuel to boost its horsepower, but gas mileage was decent for such a large SUV. I got 18.7 miles per gallon in a mix of driving while the EPA rates this at 16 mpg city and 21 highway. By comparison, that’s 3 mpg better than I managed in a Jeep Wagoneer and more than 6 mpg better than I got last year in a Jeep Grand Wagoneer still with about 50 less horsepower than the X7. It’s about the same mileage as I’d gotten driving a Ford Expedition, with just 375 horsepower. So, the mild hybrid and twin-turbos seem to improve gas mileage.

The pricing is crazy expensive. My house was cheaper (albeit 30 years ago). Base for the M60i model is $104,095, including delivery. This one added enough options to push that to $117,045. Imagine the monthly payments! A base X7 goes for nearly $83,000, right in line with most of its competitors.

The 631-horse Alpina version? Hang on Mr. Gates. It lists at $150395.

But topping $100 grand isn’t unusual for any of the big SUVs now, and this one excels at virtually every measurable function. In fact, it’s Car and Driver magazine’s top-rated large SUV. For the record, Range Rover and Escalade are second and third, respectively.

X7 gets my vote for primo 3-row luxury and pulse-quickening performance.

FAST STATS: 2023 BMW X7 M60i

Hits: Major power, good handling and excellent ride, plus AWD. Quiet interior seats up to 7, comfy supportive seats w/massage function, and giant sunroof plus small rear sunroof. Power side rear seat window shades, heated steering wheel and first and second-row seats, cooled front seats, big curved screens, HUD, 3 drive modes, vehicle height adjustment, SOS system, power tilt/telescope steering wheel and wireless charger.

Misses: Cost, rear seats not cooled, prefers premium fuel.

Made in: Spartanburg, S.C.

Engine: 4.4-liter twin turbo V8 w/48V mild hybrid, 523 hp/553 torque

Transmission: 8-speed automatic

Weight: 5,895 lbs.

Wheelbase: 122.2 in.

Length: 203.9 in.

Cargo: 12.8, 48.6, 90.4 cu.ft.

MPG: 16/21

MPG: 18.7 (tested)

Base Price: $104,095 (includes delivery)

Invoice: $102,585


Black full Merino leather, $2,700

Active driving assistant pro, $1,700

M Sport professional pkg., $300

Executive pkg. (heated/cooled cupholders, glass controls, front massage seats), $2,100

Climate comfort pkg. (front/rear heated seats, 5-zone climate control), $1,600

Carbon fiber trim, $300

Second row captain’s chairs, $850

Bowers & Wilkins sound system, $3,400

Test vehicle: $117,045

Sources: BMW, www.kbb.com

Mark Savage writes the auto review column, Savage On Wheels, for WUWM (formerly for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) and Savageonwheels.com. He is the former executive editor of American Snowmobiler magazine and FineScale Modeler magazine, both part of Kalmbach Media in Waukesha.
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