X-travagent Seven

Extravagant is a very good word to describe the BMW X7 M50d because it’s big and bold on the inside and out! There is a lot of ground to cover on the X7, so grab a cup of your favourite beverage before you read on to find out why I think this is the best seven-seat SUV that I have driven to date.

Even though the X7 is the largest vehicle I have had in my garage to date it doesn’t feel like a large SUV to drive. I put this down to its car-like steering, handling and suspension that gives the driver a sense of comfort and little anxiety about driving the X7 in suburbia. It also has a fantastic 360o reversing camera that includes the cool BMW ‘look down’ feature when you approach an object at the front or the rear of the SUV. This allows you to confidently park in tight spaces that you would normally give a miss to in a SUV of this size.

Where the X7 does feel big is inside the cabin and I felt I needed an intercom to talk to my son in the third row. It is very quiet inside and the loudest noise that you hear is the air from the air vents if you are not listening to your favourite music. It doesn’t sound like you are driving a diesel-powered SUV and under hard acceleration the engine noise is actually quite good, I’m guessing some ‘aural enhancement’ is at play here though?

The V6 3.0 litre diesel engine is smooth and powerful and easily copes with the size of the X7. It has 294kW of power and 760Nm of torque and will accelerate from 0-100km/h in just 5.7 seconds, which is very decent for such a large SUV. It doesn’t have an official fuel consumption figure, but for my week I used only 10.4l/100km.

The X7 has four drive modes Sport, Comfort, Eco Pro and Adaptive. I found Comfort mode to be too soft and wallowy so spent all of my time in Sport mode as it firmed up the ride, but not to the extent that it was bumpy or uncomfortable. You can configure Sport mode under the Individual setting also if you want to. Damping and Steering can be adjusted between Comfort and Sport and the Engine and Transmission can be adjusted between Sport+, Sport and Comfort. The 8-speed Sport automatic gearbox is excellent and changed right down to first gear when I asked it to using the wheel mounted gear selectors.

The cabin of the X7 is a really nice place to be thanks to the lovely headliner and the leather which smells good, not quite Bentley good, but very pleasant none the less. The front seats have full power adjustment, two memory positions and are heated and cooled. When you push the heated and cooled button a display comes up on the screen and you can select your level of temperature intensity. The only issue I had with the front seats was that I wanted them to be lower down by a couple of inches and I kept trying to adjust it further down every time I got into the X7.

The driver can adjust passenger’s seat from their side by pressing a button on the door and then using their own controls to move the passenger seat. The driver can also move the second row seats using a separate button on the door and this adjustment can be for individual rear seats or the whole row together. If you want to prevent your children from moving the second row seats you can lock the seats in place using the same button that stops them from putting the windows up and down.

With the big also comes the bling that is the optional ($1,200) crafted glass clarity gear lever and rotating selector. The problem with the ‘crystal’ gear lever switch was that when the sun hits them at a certain angle and the light shines straight into your eyes. The dash and gloss black centre console ($800 option) are also a dust magnet, so you will be constantly wiping it down with a micro-fibre cloth.

Under the arm rest is a deep-ish storage cubby perfect for storing the micro-fibre cloth and there is also one mini-USB port there. The front cup holders are heated and cooled and they work really really well. You also have additional storage for large drink bottles in the door cubby. In front of the cup holders under the sliding cover there is the wireless phone charging for compatible devices, one 12V outlet and one standard USB port. You can lower and raise the X7 from buttons on the centre console.

The voice control on the X7 known as the BMW Live Cockpit Professional worked really well for normal tasks like changing the radio station and making a phone call. For setting the sat nav destination you had to input by spelling out the suburb and street name. For me this worked OK to find the suburb, but struggled to find the street, but you can input the address using the rotating selector if needed.

You can also use voice control to set the temperature in the car by saying ‘I’m hot’ or ‘I’m cold’ and if you want to navigate to a nearby restaurant you simply say ‘I’m hungry’ and the system doesn’t just pick the nearby McDonalds but other cafes and restaurants as well. I also asked it where Coles and Woolworths were and it displayed the nearby stores. It will even find you a hair dressers or car dealerships, even non-BMW ones. The system even told me the date and time when I asked it. My X7 also had the optional gesture control ($500), but I couldn’t quite work out how to use it.

Explore the apps on the X7 and you will find things like the Experience Mode and one of the selections under this was ‘End Mode’ and this allow you to ‘Exit atmospheric world’ and my son’s response to this was does it mean the car has rockets? Sadly no is the answer as we didn’t blast off into space when we selected that option. There is also ‘Caring Mode’ and this can be used either to vitalise or relax the driver with automatically selected music and climate settings that last for three minutes.

Moving back through the X7 and the second row seats are very comfortable and have ample head and leg room for adults even when positioned so that adults can fit in the third row. They have power adjustment for forward/back and recline and are heated; the two outer seats also get head rest cushions! There are two ISOFIX/three rear tether chid seat restraint points and the seats are 40/20/40 split folding.

Second row passengers are not treated like second class passengers at all and get dual climate control for temperature, plus air speed and mode selection. There are vents behind the centre console, in the B pillars and under the seats. Below the temp controls there is one 12V outlet, two mini-USB ports and a handy ledge for storing smart devices. In fact the only thing that I noticed was missing from the second row was a mat over the transmission tunnel to prevent carpet wear.

The central seat folds down as an armrest and has two drink holders at the front and a shallow storage cubby under the arm rest and there are also large drink holders in the door cubbies. At the back of the front seats there is a locator point for attaching screens and a mini-USB port. Or if your passengers look up they can admire the full panoramic sunroof ($1,600 option) and at night this illuminates in the ambient lighting colour, which is pretty spectacular!

To access the third row of seats you press the button on the shoulder of the second row seats and the seat glides forward to reveal a gap ample enough for an adult to get in, but there is no plastic step to prevent wear on the carpet. There are also additional buttons on the inside of the rear wheel arch to raise and lower the third row of seats.

For once there are no comprises if you are sitting in the third row, there is plenty of head and leg room for adults to comfortably sit there and you don’t feel like your knees are up around your head either. The seats are heated and have separate climate controls for air temp and speed and a small sun roof that doesn’t open. All of these functions are controlled on a panel above the third row seats. The air vents are under the third row seats and above in the headliner. On either side of the third row seats is a small flap that has a tie-down point for when you are using the area for luggage and a mini USB port for when the third row is occupied and there are drink holders on either side of the rear wheel arch and speakers at shoulder height.

The third row has 50/50 split folding and a carpet mat that can easily be removed for cleaning and unlike many seven-seat SUVs, the third row has two ISOFIX points as well as two rear tether child seat restraint points.  It was great for me with only two children as one sat in the third row and the other sat in the second row, so zero arguments were had, fantastic!

Even the boot of the X7 is exceptional, to start with it has a gesture opening, which opens both the top and lower tailgate and it has gesture close as well; great for when you have your hands full of bags and kids! When the lower tailgate is down it makes a good seat, should you be watching Saturday sport and it has a 12V outlet as well.

You can use the buttons in the boot to lower the rear seats and you can even lower and raise the X7 from a button on the top of the lower tailgate. This is great because if you need all seats for school drop off there is enough room in the boot for school bags and then once you head to the grocery store for shopping you simply lower down the third row seats so you can put your groceries in.

There are also multiple points in the boot to anchor the cargo net depending if the third row is lowered flat or if all rear seats are lowered flat, a great feature and something I have not seen on other SUVs. Under the boot floor is storage for your cargo net and boot cover for when the third row of seats is lowered down and this is packaged really nicely.

The X7 comes with front collision warning, side collision warning with steering intervention at speeds of up to 30km/h, lane departure and lane change warning with the selection to have steering intervention on or off. I turned off the steering intervention as it was a bit erratic and aggressive. The X7 also has Park Assist and Reverse Assist; I still don’t trust park assist on any car, but the reverse assist on the X7 worked very well. To complete the package it also has blind spot assist and adaptive cruise control and assisted drive mode, which has lane keep assist.

The BMW X7 does not have an ANCAP safety rating, but it passive safety features include front-impact airbags, side impact airbags, and overhead airbags to protect the occupant’s heads in the event of a side collision or rollover. For night driving the Laserlight headlights light up the road ahead and include high-beam assist.

The BMW X7 M50d starts at $169,900 plus on-road costs and as tested my X7 was $177,500 and I think this is a bargain for what you get in this large SUV. If you want to own this V6 diesel version of the X7 then I suggest you visit your preferred BWM dealer sooner rather than later as the engine will be discontinued after its lifecycle ends.

Pros Cons
Loads of cabin space The sun reflecting off the centre console
Amazing tech Aggressive steering intervention of lane departure intervention
Quiet cabin The diesel engine will be discontinued

Photographs by Driven Women Magazine.