What It Is: The BMW X5’s available third-row seat isn’t much to write home about. Fortunately, BMW is bringing forward a better option in the form of the 2018 BMW X7. The full-size X7 will offer additional luxury and a standard third-row seat better suited for average-size adults.
Why It Matters: While competitors from Cadillac and Mercedes-Benz have been lapping up sales in the full-size luxury SUV category, BMW has been sitting on the sidelines. No longer. A big, top-of-the-line BMW crossover fitted with 7-series levels of luxury plus room to cart around the whole family is sure to practically print money for the German brand.
Platform: A variant of the “cluster architecture” (CLAR) first introduced on the current BMW 7-series, a comfort-oriented chassis that prepares us to assume the X7 will be less a driver’s crossover than a luxury cruiser. BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive likely will be standard, but BMW won’t fit the X7 with any off-road-ready equipment such as locking differentials or a low-range transfer case. Production of the X7 will take place in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
Powertrain: The X7’s engine lineup is expected to closely mirror that of the 7-series sedan, with a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six making about 320 horsepower serving as the entry-level engine in the X7 40i and a twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V-8 with about 445 horsepower to top off the range in the X7 50i. Diesel and gasoline-electric hybrid models also are expected, while a V-12 model theoretically would be easy to produce for markets like Russia (okay, the United States, too). If an Alpina-tuned X7 becomes a thing, however, we don’t anticipate it will reach our shores.
Competition: Cadillac Escalade, Infiniti QX80, Lexus LX570, Lincoln Navigator, Mercedes-Benz GLS-class.
Estimated Arrival and Price: Watch for the X7 to be revealed at one of the auto shows in the first half of 2017 (perhaps Geneva in March), with production coming by the end of the year. Given the target market, it makes sense for pricing to start around $70,000, with top-of-the-line models surpassing $125,000.