iNext Up Concept Previews Coming All-Electric BMW Crossover

The iNext project will provide our building blocks for BMW's future.

Tesla's cash flow issues are blood in the water to the German sharks of the luxury market, and with the Audi E-Tron and Mercedes EQC crossovers already here, BMW's iNext is what's, well, next. We first saw the iNext concept last fall, and as photographs of the first production prototypes show, the originally funky styling has been toned down to reveal a slightly more conventional-looking all-wheel-drive crossover. Expected to arrive in 2021, the iNext (which is rumored to be called i5 when it reaches production) will be powered by BMW's next-gen electric powertrain, will boast a range of nearly 400 miles, and will essentially serve as the brand's technology flagship. As such, the iNext will also be a pioneer for BMW on the autonomous stage, with Level 3 capability being the current goal for customer versions. BMW says it will also put a test fleet of 500 iNext EVs on global roads in 2021 with autonomous, fully self-driving Level 4 and 5 tech aboard and expects international regulations will be compliant by that time. BMW views the iNext as an essential part of its product plan, with CEO Harald Krüger saying, "The iNext project will provide our building blocks for the future, from which the entire company and all of its brands are set to benefit."

Despite claiming to have invented the luxury SUV segment with the first-generation X5, BMW has seemingly been content to leave the full-size luxe SUV class to German competitors such as the Mercedes-Benz GLS and Audi Q7. But no more. With this year's launch of the 2019 BMW X7, the Munich-based brand has stepped into the people-moving fray and is throwing punches. More of a lifted 7 Series luxo-cocoon than a bigger sport-tuned X5, the X7 we drove wasn't the sharpest ute we've piloted, but that's to be expected from any near-three-ton SUV.

Available powertrains are a 335-hp 3.0-liter turbocharged straight-six and a 456-hp 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8, both paired to an eight-speed automatic. If you want more, wait for the introduction of the X7 M50i, which bumps the V-8's power to 523 hp and can shift 100 percent of that grunt to the rear wheels. Even the weaker engine gets the hulking X7 to 60 mph in less than 6 seconds. If you have a real use for a seven-person lounge on wheels lined with leather and wood, the X7 is worth consideration.

Take a look at the refreshed 2020 BMW 7 Series alongside its 2019 forebear, and all you're really likely to notice are the 40 percent larger front kidney grilles. Pretty they're not, but they do hint at the increased power BMW has found from its 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8 (now up to 523 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque). Other improvements include a new voice recognition setup for the car's infotainment system and Extended Traffic Jam Assistant, which is happy to chauffeur the driver at speeds up to 37 mph as long as it determines said driver's eyes are looking at the road ahead. Other changes to the lineup include the new 745e plug-in hybrid, which pairs an electric motor with a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six for 389 horsepower and 35 miles of pure EV driving. But you're an enthusiast, you say! In that case, there's the 2020 Alpina B7, which boosts the 4.4-liter V-8 to 600 horsepower and 590 lb-ft. In this rarefied air, the price shouldn't concern you, but if you must know, it starts at $142,695 and should be available to order now.

On Sale: i5: 2021 (est); 7 Series: Now; X7: Now
Base Price: i5: $80,000 (est); 7 Series: $87,445; X7: $74,895

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