The term “flagship” is commonly associated with top-line or top-trim vehicles in a given manufacturer’s portfolio. The flagship metaphor has crossed over into many types of businesses and products but nowhere does it fit as well than in the automotive industry.
When I think of flagship sedans, the first that comes to mind is the Mercedes-Benz S Class. Without a doubt, the new 2020 BMW X7 best represents the term in the industry where SUVs are concerned. The reason behind this thinking has everything to do with the image projected by these vehicles.
The Clout’s In The Grille
The Benz S Class has an untouchable level of clout that the Audi A8 and BMW 7 Series cannot match. Although the SUVs lack the history found behind these sedans, they are inspired by them and somehow, the BMW X7 is better suited at communicating its position in the SUV pyramid.
Perhaps it’s the grille. Perhaps it’s the truck’s blocky shoulders, over-confident poise. Perhaps it’s the colour. Our collective taste in shades for our vehicles is disappointing, to put it grey-ly. While the BMW X7 can be had in grey, black or white, the $1,000 Ametrine Metallic shade delivers depth to an already muscular body. I would define the X7’s shell as more confident than the Mercedes-Benz GLS’ – the colour finalizes the debate.
Comfort, Space And Technology
Onboard, the story is different. Mercedes-Benz has aced the display-screen test with its standard twin matching 12.3-inch screens. They’ve also enabled Benz to clean up its dashboard but even so, the X7’s user-interface is visually pleasing and just busy enough. It too sports two 12.3-inch screens but the symmetry in the Benz’s setup is sharper.
As tested, my $134,700 BMW X7 M50i was loaded with items such as the Premium package, Ivory white merino leather, which meant that there were beautiful swathes of hide everywhere. Comfort and amenities are aplenty in the 2020 BMW X7. This applies to the “basic” $94,000 xDrive40i as does a vast expanse of interior real-estate. There’s room for one and all and with the included 3rd row bench stowed, boot volume is nearly 1,400 litres.
My sole complaint is the continued difficulty with accessing Apple CarPlay without crossing through various menus. It’s almost as though BMW figures the less intuitive it is to work the system, the more sophisticated it must be. To be frank, all other functions, from navigation to audio, are far easier to negotiate.
Because V8s Are Best
Truth be told, I purposefully waited taking a 2020 BMW X7 as a press vehicle. Last year, the unit was an xDrive40i however I wanted, nay, needed to sample the twin-turbocharged V8’s awesome power. The 4.4-litre unit is lifted right out of the sublime BMW M850i and produces the same 523-horsepower and 553 lb.-ft. of torque. With its 8-speed automatic transmission and curb weight of over 5,650lb, the X7 M50i launches to 100km/h in only 4.7 seconds. I may have said, in my Mercedes-Benz GLS 450, that the V6 was the right amount of power. I stand by the statement which was echoed in my X5 xDrive40i review but the V8’s more. More of everything.
Just thinking about the engine’s power and accompanying melody when under load gives me goosebumps. Acceleration is immediate thanks to all the torque being available from 1,800rpm. Despite the numerous drive modes, most of my time behind the wheel was spent in “comfort.” The standard 2-axle adaptive air suspension with variable dampers not only raises and lowers the X7’s driving experience but can be tailored to your driving preferences. Although I favored the comfort drive mode, it is possible to configure a pair of custom modes.
Dynamic Handling To Go
Ultimately however my tested X7 included the most important feature of them all. The optional Dynamic Handling Package, with Integral Active Steering and Active Comfort Drive with Road Preview, made all the difference. Once more, whenever all-wheel steering is available, it must be selected.
With it, the nearly 5.2-meter long BMW X7 is more agile and easier to toss than the X5 I reviewed last year. Steering response is nearly immediate, injecting a serious dose of unexpected confidence when driving such a large truck. Couple this with the truck’s 51/49 weight distribution, fantastically large 22-inch wheels and accompanying tires, and you’ve got yourself a 6-foot tall near 2.5-tonne sports truck. Remember, this is an M50i meaning it has all the “M” go-fast bits as standard.
When not exploiting the X7’s abilities, it settles in as one of the most cossetting and cozy large SUVs money can buy. The big Bimmer’s quiet cockpit is nothing short of a cocoon of solace whether driving in town or barreling down the highway.
The Question Is: Why By A 7 Series Sedan?
There’s but one way to answer the question and that is: For the sake of elegance. If there is one flaw in the X7’s design is that it’s brutish, which is part of its appeal. By contrast, the Mercedes-Benz is far statelier and elegant. Having said that, neither can match a luxury sedan like a 7 Series.
Among 3-row SUVs and this, until we get to review the new Cadillac Escalade, the choice sits squarely between the Benz GLS 450 for its regal posture, or the BMW X7 for its impossibly powerful presence.