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Driven: BMW Gets It Right With the 2020 X7 M50i

This luxury SUV has so many features, its six-figure price tag looks like a deal.

LOS ANGELES—You don't hear a lot of references anymore to "ultimate driving machine" when it comes to BMWs across the board. Critics love to pan BMW for losing this plot and, in some ways, chasing the market's wants has made the German marque lose an overall image that was once upon a time taken for granted. Yet, it does still build some cars with amazingly sharp handling and great dynamics, including the latest one we've tested: The 2020 X7 M50i boasts an incredible package of performance technology while managing to provide exceptional luxury for every passenger.

Big family haulers like this are often pressed into roadtrip duty, and that's exactly what we used the 2020 BMW X7 M50i to do for this test drive. In my case, I planned a trip to a cabin, from Los Angeles to Joshua Tree National Park, and then on a subsequent trip to San Marcos, California. And along the way, I was rather impressed with this three-row SUV's poise and power.

2020 BMW X7 M50i Test: Dynamics

Recently I've found the M Sport suspension on BMW's smaller sedans to run on the overly stiff side, as noted in my review of the M235i Gran Coupe and the G20-generation 330i. However, the 2020 X7 M50i's two-axle air-suspension system is tuned nicely. It's cushy in the Comfort setting; there's no getting around the ride-comfort penalty of rolling on 22-inch wheels, but the suspension still manages to firm up nicely in Sport and Sport Plus modes without shocking your spine. And while the damping is livable, the active suspension also does a great job of controlling untoward body motions during enthusiastic driving.

BMW's Dynamic Handling Package ($3,450) was at least partially responsible for our test car's great handling and uncanny body control. This option adds active steering which enables better low-speed turn-in and also better stability when you decide to hustle the X7 M50i. It also has active roll stabilization to add another bit of tidiness to the 2020 BMW X7 M50i's driving manners.

In the sweeping corners found in the hills that separate Joshua Tree and the greater Los Angeles area, I had absolute confidence pushing the X7 M50i through the bends. BMW doesn't sell sporty wagons in the U.S. anymore, but this SUV does its best performance-wagon impression. I was frankly shocked at how much speed I could carry safely through a corner, and by how competent and communicative the chassis remained.

The twin-turbo V-8 engine is an absolute long-haul killer. It produces gobs of power and twist, to the tune of 523 horsepower and 553 lb-ft of torque. It brought back good memories of our belated long-term M550i xDrive, which we referred to affectionately as the "Rocket Couch." I guess that makes the X7 M50i the Speed Sofa, because it's impressively comfortable and also an absolute missile off of the line and on open roads.

BMW equipped the 2020 X7 M50i with an eight-speed automatic transmission that provides smooth, effortless shifts in the Comfort and Adaptive drive modes, and which sharpens in Sport and Sport Plus. The gearbox is satisfyingly responsive to inputs from the steering-wheel's shift paddles but is likewise competent to select gears on its own; this drivetrain is among the best on the market.

2020 BMW X7 M50i Test: Features

The interior is stuffed with sumptuous materials, from the Cognac leather to BMW's Fineline black-wood trim. The dashboard received an upgrade, too: for $850, BMW applies leather to the entire surface. With all of that hide also covering the six seats, the X7 M50i smells every bit the luxury cruiser that it is. And yes, smell matters in high-end luxury cars.

The X7 M50i test car also featured ventilated seats ($500), and optional second-row captain's chairs ($850). I was particularly impressed with the upgraded Bowers & Wilkens audio system ($3,400), which sounds great and looks tremendous with bare metal housings.

Beyond those options, some key packages took the 2020 X7 M50i from feeling luxurious to outright opulent. For instance, the Executive Package ($1,300) added equipment that made the three-row SUV feel extra special: its Panoramic Sky Lounge LED Roof delivers the impression that there is a second sky of stars on the glass above. The package also upgrades the shift-knob materials, as well as those for the Start/Stop button, and adds glass to the iDrive control knob. And since I'm a coffee (of all types) addict, the heated and cooled cupholders were especially welcome.

BMW's Cold Weather Package ($1,200) added heated front and middle seats and five-zone automatic climate control. The Driving Assistance Professional Package ($1,700) upgrades the standard safety suite with camera-based systems and traffic-jam assist. These features were certainly less exciting than the Executive Package's extras, but they still made the car feel like it was stuffed to the teeth with every imaginable goodie, aside (somewhat oddly for this otherwise loaded test car) from massaging seats).

The 2020 BMW X7 M50i starts at $100,595; our test vehicle with options stickered for $113,845. It's packed full of content and has the power and handling to entertain its driver for the duration of a journey, relatively speaking for a vehicle of this size. If you want a similar SUV without as large of a footprint, you can step down to the BMW X5 M50i and get the same drivetrain in a smaller package. Either way, the 2020 BMW X7 M50i hauls people and hauls serious ass, too.

 2020 BMW X7 M50i  Specifications
ON SALE Now
PRICE $100,595/$113,845 (base/as tested)
ENGINE 4.4L twin-turbo DOHC 32-valve V-8/523 hp @ 5,500-6,000 rpm, 553 lb-ft @ 1,800-4,600 rpm
TRANSMISSION 8-speed automatic
LAYOUT 4-door, 6-passenger, front-engine, AWD SUV
EPA MILEAGE 15/21 mpg (city/hwy)
L x W x H 203.3 x 78.7 x 71.1 in
WHEELBASE 122.2 in
WEIGHT 5,661 lb
0-60 MPH 4.5 sec
TOP SPEED 130 mph