Despite coming into our possession just before the shutdown of nearly everything due to COVID-19, our BMW X7 M50i has proven itself a workhorse over the past few months. Its only recent trips were short drives to the grocery store and highway jaunts between our various homes and the Ann Arbor office, but each time we climb into the X7, we’re reminded of how quiet and isolating it feels—like a hyperbaric chamber on wheels.
We managed to take the X7 down south just before states started locking down, traveling through Kentucky, Tennessee, and North Carolina to the beautiful Cherohala Skyway. Though we haven’t taken any long road trips since then, we still managed to add another 6600 miles to the odometer over the past four months. Our winter lingered longer than usual—or maybe it just seemed that way, since we hardly left the house—but we eventually got the M50i back on its massive Pirelli P Zero PZ4-shod 22-inch wheels.
The X7 hasn’t generated many issues since joining our long-term fleet, and the few that cropped up were minor inconveniences. During testing, we had a small mishap where the driver—in his quest for the quickest time—slammed the accelerator pedal down with a bit too much gusto, causing it to break free from the plastic floor-mounted pivot. BMW covered that under warranty, but our local dealer noted they’ve never seen this issue before. (Compliment accepted.) We’ve also experienced glitches with the buttons that control drive modes, the auto stop-start system, and traction control, seeing them go completely inoperable upon startup. In each case, cycling the ignition fixed the problem. Some staffers complained about the steering feeling numb and lacking in feedback, parroting complaints we’ve also had with our long-term BMW M340i. Aside from that, the power third-row seats netted some complaints for their lack of urgency when folding, and the infotainment system is occasionally unwilling to reconnect to a previously paired phone, prompting a reset. We’ll ask about our iDrive quibbles at our next service visit or sooner if symptoms worsen.
Of course, these were all minor or temporary problems, and there was plenty of praise to offset the gripes. Many logbook comments included mention of the ZF eight-speed’s smoothness and its unobtrusive nature in all drive modes. Others praised the X7’s impressive acceleration and thunderous boom of the twin-turbo V-8’s exhaust. The interior continues to receive high marks for its nearly Rolls-Royce level of hush, its supremely comfortable leather seats, and ambient lighting that prompted one staffer’s friend to exclaim, “This car makes me want to be rich!”
After more than 10,000 miles, our X7 prompted us to schedule its first service for an oil change and some inspections. That visit incurred no out-of-pocket cost because BMW covers all maintenance up to 36,000 miles. Assuming that our summer travel goals are compatible with the epidemiological outlook, we expect that the X7 will continue to rack up the miles. Its combination of speed, comfort, and utility continue to make it a high-demand road-tripping favorite.
Months in Fleet: 5 months Current Mileage: 10,504 miles
Average Fuel Economy: 16 mpg
Fuel Tank Size: 21.9 gal Observed Fuel Range: 350 miles
Service: $0 Normal Wear: $0 Repair: $0
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: 370 miles
Service: $0 Normal Wear: $0 Repair: $0
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