My office window looks out to one of the main roads in my neighborhood, meaning that all day long I get to see cars whiz up and down my street. School runs, work commutes, and stay-at-home parents running errands mid-day, I’m privy to it all. And because my brain works in unique ways, I’ve memorized all the cars. There are two BMW X7 SUVs nearby—a black one and a white one with the M Sport package. I recently had the pleasure of one-upping both neighbors with the newest versions of their rides: the newly-refreshed 2023 BMW X7 M60i.
The X7 was born to transport humans, particularly the little kind, so Spartanburg’s finest boasts enough room for six or seven across three rows of seats and enough trunk space to fit all the junk that comes with them. Despite its aggro exterior, carbon fiber-clad interior, and an M badge on the trunk lid, this sporty SUV’s true home is the school pick-up line. Well, and maybe the interstate where it loves to gobble up miles at triple-digit speeds.
But in a crowded segment where well-off folks don’t blink twice at six-figure price tags for posh family rides, where does the BMW rank? BMW flaunts its Ultimate Driving Machine slogan every chance it gets, but what about the passengers? Is it also the Ultimate Riding Machine? Well, let’s just say my neighbors probably won’t like this review.
2023 BMW X7 M60i Specs
- Base Price (As Tested): $104,095 ($117,045)
- Powertrain: 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8 aided by a 48-volt mild-hybrid system | 8-speed automatic transmission | all-wheel drive
- Horsepower: 523 @ 5,500 rpm
- Torque: 553 @ 1,800 rpm
- 0-60 mph: 4.5 seconds
- Curb Weight: 5,895 pounds
- Seating Capacity: 6
- Cargo Volume: 48.6 cubic feet with rear seats up | 90.4 cubic feet with rear seats folded
- Towing Capacity: 7,500 lbs
- Fuel Economy: 16 mpg city | 21 highway | 18 combined
- Quick Take: Too sporty for its own good.
- Score: 7/10
Like the 7 Series does for the brand’s sedans, the BMW X7 represents the pinnacle of the automaker’s SUV lineup. Only the fancied-up Alpina XB7 outranks it in terms of horsepower and price. Below it sit the many SUVs and crossovers BMW makes nowadays, namely the X6, X5, X4, X3, X2, and X1. It’s offered in three flavors: X7 xDrive40i, X7 M60i, and the aforementioned Alpina XB7. The 40i is powered by a 3.0-liter twin-turbo inline-six that pumps out 385 hp, the 60i a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 with 523 hp, and the XB7 squeezes 631 hp out of the same V8.
The new exterior design for 2023 is best described as, well, yikes. In some instances, the new front end can look dominating in a weird and sinister way, especially with the optional blacked-out trim. In most other instances, however, I found it challenging to find any cohesiveness in its design. Even looking back at these photos, it’s evident that I struggled to find the new X7 front end’s good side. The rest of the vehicle, however, like its profile, rear end, wheels, and other characteristics are just fine. I believe that, overall, the X7 could look fine in the right spec, but my tester’s harsh contrast between the white body and black trim simply accentuated its worst traits.
The interior follows the exterior’s design ethos. Large swaths of carbon fiber encased in aluminum surrounds the cabin, giving off a very sporty but cold vibe. As is the case with all new BMWs, there are buttons, knobs, switches, paddles, and dials everywhere. A massive curved display houses two screens, one that serves as a gauge cluster and another that functions as the infotainment screen. The former measures 12.3 inches while the latter is 14.9. Unlike some of the Mercedes cabins I’ve been in recently, I noticed that if it’s not carbon fiber, metal, or a screen, then it’s black leather. I found very little use of plastics throughout, making the space feel first-class. If you want to spend your carpooling hours in a cabin reminiscent of a luxury sports car, the X7 is your ticket. The second-row seats featured powered adjustments while both the second and third rows enjoyed their own climate zones, power outlets, and cupholders.
The 523-horse, 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 engine pairs with an eight-speed automatic transmission to deliver smooth and torquey acceleration that’s bound to make the kiddos in the back take notice. A 48-volt mild-hybrid system allows for some creeping around under electric power, and it works seamlessly with the combustion engine.
Driving the BMW X7 M60i
Back to the two X7s in my hood; they’re always speeding down my street, y’know? Not a big fan of that. But now I know why. The X7 is happiest when cruising at speed on the highway, free from stop signs, stop lights, and anything that might keep it from stretching its legs. Despite its size and weight, it just wants to go. But seriously, dear neighbors, slow down a bit.
During city duty, the X7 felt cumbersome at best. Eco and Comfort modes made it feel sluggish off the line and just too relaxed. Switching to Sport, however, made the X7 too aggressive as if it were an M car of sorts. While fun for the driver to explore those 523 horses, the rear passengers might just puke. The air suspension, too, never really quite delivered a truly soft ride on bumpy city streets. Perhaps the Pirelli Scorpion winter tires it was riding on are also to blame for the less-than-ideal ride quality, but still. And sure, each specific driving setting can be individually customized according to the driver’s preferred steering, suspension, throttle map, etc. But is that what the average owner wants to do with their $117,000 SUV? A family vehicle of this caliber really shouldn’t take much programming to deliver a prime driving experience around town. Lastly, visibility from the driver’s side isn’t ideal, either, with thick A-pillars and a substantial rearview mirror hub getting in the way of optimal vision.
A quick trip to central Michigan from Indianapolis provided some quality time to get cozy with the X7. And, as it turns out, it’s a lovely beast on the open road. When set to Comfort mode, the X7 is a prime road trip machine. Tepidly cruising at 80-85 mph almost feels like an insult to this SUV’s strong German DNA. It wants to go. The active dampers sort out road imperfections better at higher speeds and the steering feels nice and light. Pair that with the seat massagers and $3,400 Bowers and Wilkins sound system, and I was in my happy place. No complaints from the younger passengers in the back, either, as they had every amenity at their disposal: heat, a bunch of vents, seat warmers, built-in window shades, and power outlets to charge their smartphones, of course.
The Highs and Lows
Let’s run through the X7’s highest highs: A spacious cabin that’s a real treat on long trips. Great seats; comfortable, elegant, and extremely adjustable. The massaging function is better than what you get in the average luxury car, including most Mercedes SUVs. The rear accommodations are top-notch. The engine and transmission are a real delight to play with—just make sure there aren’t any folks in the back when you unleash their performance. If there are, make sure they’re buckled and have vomit bags handy.
The X7’s biggest demerit is certainly its lack of adaptability for daily life. Can you get used to it? Sure. Should you? No, not for this much money. In the spec I tested, the X7 feels like it wants to be more of a sports car than an SUV, and that’s a problem. Like many sporty family haulers nowadays, the X7 M60i suffers from an identity problem.
BMW X7 M60i Features, Options, and the Competition
My tester’s starting price was $104,095 but packed nearly $13,000 in optional equipment, bringing the total to $117,045. This included the $2,700 Black Full Merino Leather, $1,700 Active Driving Assistant Pro, heated/cooled cupholders, glass shifter, and front massaging seats as part of the $1,700 Executive Package, $300 M Sport Professional Package, heated front and rear seats and five-zone climate control of the $1,600 Climate Comfort Package, $300 carbon fiber seat trim, $850 rear captain’s chairs, and the $3,400 upgraded sound system.
The X7 M60i’s biggest competitors are its crosstown rival the Mercedes-Benz GLS and the Detroit brawlers, the Cadillac Escalade and Lincoln Navigator. You can get a wide range of options in all of these large luxury SUVs, all of which come with a V8 standard (except the Navigator which gets a twin-turbo V6). The GLS580 starts at $106,150 but hikes up to about $120,000 when similarly equipped. The Escalade Sport Platinum starts at $110,490 and is almost a bargain at $112,695 similarly equipped. Lastly, the Navigator Black Label starts at $111,150 and comes in at $119,200 when loaded with similar bells and whistles.
How would I spec mine? I’d drop down to the xDrive 40i trim and trade the V8 for the phenomenal 3.0-liter turbo inline-six. I’d do away with all the sports car-wannabe nonsense and get rid of the aggro black trim to bring some normalcy to the design with traditional silver or chromed bits. Take away the 22s and replace them with vanilla silver wheels and all-season tires with a decent sidewall. Maybe even remove the M badge, because it’s a damn three-row SUV—who the hell cares? Lastly, I’d do away with all the carbon fiber and bring some warmth into the cabin with some wood trim and perhaps tan leather. I would also go for a nice Tanzanite Blue or Manhattan Green exterior color. Grandpa spec? Maybe. Sensible spec? You betcha.
Saving money at the pump isn’t what an M Performance X7 buyer is after, but that’s not to say fuel economy isn’t a factor in the big scheme of things. The X7 M60i delivers 16 mpg city, 21 mpg highway, and 18 mpg combined. I nailed the combined average during my weeklong test, though only achieved about 19.9 mpg during my 400-mile round trip to Michigan.
I’ll add, however, that weather conditions were awful during that specific drive and we were rolling quite heavy with five passengers and lots of cargo. Temperatures were in the single digits with plenty of ice and snow, which undoubtedly kept the V8 from achieving prime efficiency.
Value and Verdict
In terms of value, the 2023 BMW X7 M60i is right on the money compared to its competitors. Where it starts to go downhill is when you analyze how practical and family-friendly it is over the others. I’ve done family road trips in the GLS and can attest to its formidable comfort and user-friendliness. Same applies to the Navigator, but I haven’t driven the Escalade. Those who have, however, say it’s the best three-row luxury SUV money can buy.
Its biggest problem is that it’s aching to show you how fast it can go and how well it can corner. It reminds me of when my kids were little and would pester me with, “Look what I can do!” all the freaking time. Regardless, some folks who value the driving experience over the comfort of their passengers may find this acceptable. For those who don’t and would rather have something less edgy, I suggest saving a little cash and going for the X7 xDrive 40i. In theory, it should deliver a more sensible driving experience.
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