Automotive

Review: 2020 BMW X7 M50i brings muscle to the big Bimmer

Review: 2020 BMW X7 M50i bring...
A big, beefy SUV, the X7 M50i adds considerable muscle with its twin-turbocharged eight-cylinder powerplant
A big, beefy SUV, the X7 M50i adds considerable muscle with its twin-turbocharged eight-cylinder powerplant
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Like most large SUVs, cargo space behind the third row in the BMW X7 is limited, but not ti
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Like most large SUVs, cargo space behind the third row in the BMW X7 is limited, but not tiny
The third row in the 2020 BMW X7 is surprisingly adult-friendly
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The third row in the 2020 BMW X7 is surprisingly adult-friendly
The simplicity of BMW's design elements in the X7 are a good example of the company's penchant for modern styling and openness
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The simplicity of BMW's design elements in the X7 are a good example of the company's penchant for modern styling and openness
A huge panoramic sunroof is standard in the BMW X7
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A huge panoramic sunroof is standard in the BMW X7
Expansive comfort defines the general interior motif of the 2020 BMW X7, and the M50i adds to that with some materials upgrades
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Expansive comfort defines the general interior motif of the 2020 BMW X7, and the M50i adds to that with some materials upgrades
Access to the third row is a bit difficult with the standard bench in the rear of the BMW X7, but opting for the captain's chairs in the second row greatly aids third-row accessibility
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Access to the third row is a bit difficult with the standard bench in the rear of the BMW X7, but opting for the captain's chairs in the second row greatly aids third-row accessibility
A big, beefy SUV, the X7 M50i adds considerable muscle with its twin-turbocharged eight-cylinder powerplant
7/9
A big, beefy SUV, the X7 M50i adds considerable muscle with its twin-turbocharged eight-cylinder powerplant
Some off-pavement capability is inherent in an SUV as big as the BMW X7, but its M50i package is definitely bent more towards pavement performance than it is dirt
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Some off-pavement capability is inherent in an SUV as big as the BMW X7, but its M50i package is definitely bent more towards pavement performance than it is dirt
In this demo, a couple of the color options for the BMW X7 are showcased alongside bodywork at varied angles
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In this demo, a couple of the color options for the BMW X7 are showcased alongside bodywork at varied angles
View gallery - 9 images

The X7 is BMW’s big, three-row sport utility and has been the largest offering from the company in terms of family haulers. Often forgotten as the less exciting of the Bimmers, the X7 gets a muscular upgrade in the 2020 M50i model. After a week, we developed a love-hate relationship with it.

At a glance

  • M50i adds twin turbos to the beefy V8 engine
  • Plenty of standard features plus a lot of upgrades with the M50i package
  • It is expensive and fuel-hungry
  • The X7 drives very well with the upgraded suspension on the M50i

The primary upgrade found in the 2020 BMW X7 M50i is its powertrain, which comprises a 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8 and an eight-speed sport-tuned automatic transmission. The 4.4 muscles out 479 horsepower (357 kW) and 533 pound-feet (722.6 Nm) of torque with high-precision direct fuel injection. For comparison, the standard model 2020 X7 puts out 335 hp (250 kW) from its inline-six and the 4.4L in standard configuration offers 456 (340 kW).

A huge panoramic sunroof is standard in the BMW X7
A huge panoramic sunroof is standard in the BMW X7

Standard features in the 2020 X7 are plentiful and include adaptive LED headlamps, automatic wipers, a panoramic sunroof, a self-levelling air ride suspension, four-zone climate control, a robust smartphone app with vehicle connectivity, and a 12.3-inch infotainment center with navigation and wireless charging. Most of the expected active safety systems, like forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking and blind-spot monitoring, are also standard. The M50i upgrades include 22-inch wheels, a sport-tuned exhaust, an adaptive sport suspension, leather upholstery, a Harman Kardon sound system, and a surround-view camera system.

Where things really get good, though, is in the combination of the sport suspension and the big turbocharged engine. Shoving horsepower under the hood is one thing, but adding the ability to actually control it is quite another. BMW did well with the M50i’s specialized sport differential and adaptive suspension. The X7 M50i has launch control and heavy sport brakes as well – all designed to make the muscular M50i both muscular and controllable.

There’s a price for all of that powerful sport, though, and it comes in two forms: dollars and fuel economy.

In this demo, a couple of the color options for the BMW X7 are showcased alongside bodywork at varied angles
In this demo, a couple of the color options for the BMW X7 are showcased alongside bodywork at varied angles

The base-level 2020 BMW X7 M50i begins at US$99,600 before delivery and can quickly jump over $110,000 with add-ons. The Dynamic Handling Package, a near must-have addition to the M50i, runs $3,450, for example, and the upgraded driver assistance systems are another $1,700. Opting for second row captain’s chairs is $850, as is a leather dashboard. Bumping the well-done Harman Kardon sound to an even better Bowers and Wilkins beauty will add $3,400 to the total. With most of the options added plus a destination fee, our test model X7 M50i tallied up to $113,845 in all.

In fuel economy, the burly X7 M50i is only average for the full-sized, muscular SUV class in the luxury realm. The EPA rates it at 15 mpg in the city and 21 mpg on the highway (15.7 and 11.2 l/100km). Our average over a week’s worth of driving fell well short of the 17 mpg (13.9 l/100km) estimate given as a combined rating, however, putting the M50i closer to the city rating of 15. Our time in the Mercedes-Benz GLS, which admittedly had the smaller engine, returned far better fuel economy, though its top-end and most powerful configuration returns numbers (per the EPA) similar to that of the BMW. Comparing this BMW to its competitors is like comparing AC/DC to Alien Weaponry. They’re in the same area of the globe, but they aren’t really equivalent.

On the interior, the BMW X7 has much of the feeling of austerity that the BMW brand is known for, using simple mixtures of cream and black to create a modern cabin. Foregoing much of the posh use of multitudinous materials, the X7 M50i drops complicated designs in favor of simpler, more elegant appeal. With all of that, comfort levels are high all around. Even in the third row.

Some things require some attention, however, and should be noted. The infotainment in the new X7 is far superior to previous generations, but still lacks some refinement in daily use. The voice-activated, hands-free (not even a button-push is required) setup is great, but becomes limited in use as it triggers unnecessarily or fails to hear some commands. For most needs, though, like navigation on the fly and radio tuning, the voice system works very well. Other systems, like climate controls, are obvious and generally straightforward.

What really shines about the 2020 BMW X7 M50i, overall, is its excellence as a driver’s SUV. It feels smaller than it is on the road, and maneuvers remarkably well. With seating for seven, it allows one to bring the whole family out for those country highway drives and twisty fun times. There’s little to argue with there.

Product Page: 2020 BMW X7

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3 comments
guzmanchinky
Luxury Sport Utility? Why do I feel like these vehicles do everything sort of ok, but nothing particularly well?
Paul Leinweber
I agree with guzmanchinky in that the price paid does not equate to what you get. Buying two other very good SUV's for the price of one of these makes one wonder.
Paul R
Good old BMW always brings it on but for a price. $115K is a little high I think, but it'll be interesting to see what a fully loaded Escalade will come in at. Might not be too far from the X7 price point.