30,000-Mile Update

After just shy of a year, our 2020 BMW X7 M50i continues to rack up the miles with a relentless haste. And with 523 horsepower on tap, a plush cabin, and three rows of seating, it's easy to understand why. The X7 is popular with staffers for many different reasons. For some it's just a large three-row ute to ferry their families, while others enjoy it for the opulence of its interior trappings or the growl of its powerful V-8. It even works great as a tow vehicle. With so many talents, it's no mystery why the X7 M50i is in high demand amongst our staff.

The X7 never stays parked for long. In just two months, we managed to put more than 10,000 miles on the odometer. It ferried our photo crew to Virginia International Raceway for our Lightning Lap event, explored as far south as Georgia, and took one editor to a remote Airbnb in the mountains of North Carolina via the twisty, scenic Blue Ridge Parkway. While traversing the winding mountain passages, we were impressed with the X7's sure-footed grip and surprising agility. Despite weighing nearly three tons, the stiff suspension (in Sport mode), massive tires, and rear-wheel steering help deliver a convincingly carlike experience.

Marc UrbanoCar and Driver

All of that driving eventually prompted the X7 to ask for its third computer-indicated service as it neared 30,000 miles on the way home from North Carolina. This made for good timing, since we also needed to replace the windshield—a few small chips accumulated out West eventually grew to cover nearly half the windshield. This service visit (the final one included in BMW's three-year/36,000-mile complimentary maintenance program) called for just an oil change and a few inspections, but we weren't getting out of the dealership that easy. After confirming that there are no aftermarket windshields or even a shop outside of a BMW dealership that is authorized to replace one, we begrudgingly forked over the $2808 to replace our fractured windshield.

In our last update, multiple editors commented about experiencing intermittent issues with the haptic buttons that surround the elegant crystal shifter protruding from the X7's center console. When present, this issue would render both the haptic feedback and the actual function of the buttons (be it auto stop-start, drive modes, traction control, or the auto hold for the parking brake) inoperable. So, sometimes Sport mode was unavailable, which was a shame, but other times the auto parking brake would refuse to release, which is more than a minor peccadillo when you're in a car wash. Thankfully, we also had the dealer examine that problem while the X7 was in for service. According to them, the culprit was a bit of debris underneath the panel that holds the haptic buttons, and we've had no issues since. With the arrival of winter, we've reinstalled our Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V2 winter tires and hope to have more opportunities to see how this big ute handles snow-filled environs in the near future.

Marc UrbanoCar and Driver

Comments continue to roll in, too. One staffer praised the adaptive cruise control's smooth braking, a quality that she discovered while using the system to rein in her speed after realizing that 90 mph can easily feel like 70 in such a well-isolated space. She also pointed out that a larger fuel tank would be a welcome addition, and while that's not untrue—a Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class holds nearly two gallons more—we've found that the best way to stretch the range of the X7 is to take it easy on the gas pedal. As the X7 nears the end of its stay with us, we're struggling to find much bad to say about it. Yes, the big BMW's fuel economy is subpar, and yes, its cargo space with the third row upright is on the small side given its external proportions. But judged as a whole, the X7 M50i is largely uncompromised and is about as versatile as an SUV can be. Our plan for the final 10,000 miles? Keep using those 523 horsepower to pass anything that might kick a rock toward that $2,800 windshield.

Months in Fleet: 10 months Current Mileage: 30,182 miles
Average Fuel Economy: 17 mpg
Fuel Tank Size: 21.9 gal Observed Fuel Range: 370 miles
Service: $0 Normal Wear: $0 Repair: $0
Damage and Destruction: $2808

View Specs

20,000-Mile Update

Dave VanderWerpCar and Driver

When a BMW X7 M50i joined our long-term fleet some eight months ago, we were relieved to gain another tow-capable vehicle in our fleet, especially since many of our resident beasts of burden were nearing the end of their tests. This was somewhat sullied when we learned from our local BMW dealership that the only way to get the factory tow package is to have ordered it that way; they won't add it on after the fact. That left us scratching our heads in wonder as to why BMW wouldn't make it easier for customers to add OEM towing equipment. We still needed to find a way—factory or not—to outfit our Bavarian workhorse with a hitch receiver.

Dave VanderWerpCar and Driver

After a bit of research, we settled on the aftermarket company Stealth Hitches. True to the company's name, when not in use the hitch is completely hidden. The trick is its vertical receptacle, which is tucked just behind the bumper, that the ball mount (for towing) or a square receiver tube (for bike racks or other accessories) plugs into. The hitch system itself works with great ease, mounts directly into the X7's frame (the same points used for the factory hitch), doesn't interfere with the foot-operated liftgate feature, and the receiver can be quickly disconnected when not in use for complete concealment and no aesthetic compromise. Sadly, our reputable German-import shop in Ann Arbor struggled with what should have been a simple install, and it ended up taking them more time than anticipated, setting us back nearly $500 in labor. The problems didn't stop there, either. On a 4600-mile, cross-country trip from Ann Arbor to Washington state to acquire a new-to-him 2007 Aston Martin V8 Vantage, Dave VanderWerp, director of vehicle testing, spent some two hours on the ground at a gas station in Bellevue, Washington, diagnosing and then remedying a miswiring of the seven-pin connector. (Annoyingly, the installing shop failed to follow Stealth Hitch's very clear instructions.) After correcting the wiring snafu, U-Haul allowed him to leave with the trailer, and the rest of the trip was a breeze. VanderWerp commended the M50i's twin-turbo V-8 for its accelerative authority returning to cruising speed, even when loaded with some 5800 pounds in tow.

Dave VanderWerpCar and Driver

There have been some niggles that continue to frequent the logbook comment section. VanderWerp and other editors have opined that the bolstering on the lower seat cushions is a bit too aggressive, particularly for taller drivers who tend to splay their legs while driving, causing thigh discomfort after only a few hours in the saddle. Even though we were able to install a hitch after being unable to opt for it from the factory, we still can't access the factory tow mode that comes with the tow package, which adjusts some of the safety systems to cooperate with a load in tow (and an ever-present object being there). While that's mostly a nonissue, it did mean the rear sensors would occasionally trigger alerts, causing the steering assist to stop working. Strangely, that only happened a couple of times over the course of the 4600-mile trip. We're still experiencing some glitches with the drive-mode buttons randomly losing functionality, although it only seems to happen when the vehicle has been sitting for a while or in the morning on first startup. The latest instance, with the auto-hold feature on, prevented us from switching the automatic parking brake off in the car wash, which resulted in 30 seconds of shame as the rollers continued to push past the X7 while it remained stationary on the track. Thankfully, cycling the ignition did the trick, and we were able to successfully leave with some dignity. We'll be getting our X7 into our local BMW dealer shortly to investigate this issue.

Dave VanderWerpCar and Driver

Since the last update, we've seen the M50i's fuel economy rise one mpg to 17, mostly due to all of the highway driving it's seen as things slowly begin to reopen. Fuel efficiency in the X7 is largely reliant on self-control. Dip into the throttle too often and your mpg will look similar to our towing figure, where we saw an average of 14 mpg. The highest any staffer has been able to attain on the highway unladen is 22 mpg. However, in our controlled 75-mph highway fuel-economy test we achieved an impressive 25 mpg. Now that we've acquired a hitch, the X7 will continue to pack on the miles and, more than likely, continue to impress us.

Months in Fleet: 8 months Current Mileage: 24,337 miles
Average Fuel Economy: 17 mpg
Fuel Tank Size: 21.9 gal Observed Fuel Range: 370 miles
Service: $0 Normal Wear: $0 Repair:$0
Damage and Destruction: $40

10,000-Mile Update

Marc UrbanoCar and Driver

Despite coming into our possession just before the shutdown of nearly everything due to COVID-19, our BMW X7 M50i has proven itself a workhorse over the past few months. Its only recent trips were short drives to the grocery store and highway jaunts between our various homes and the Ann Arbor office, but each time we climb into the X7, we're reminded of how quiet and isolating it feels—like a hyperbaric chamber on wheels.

We managed to take the X7 down south just before states started locking down, traveling through Kentucky, Tennessee, and North Carolina to the beautiful Cherohala Skyway. Though we haven't taken any long road trips since then, we still managed to add another 6600 miles to the odometer over the past four months. Our winter lingered longer than usual—or maybe it just seemed that way, since we hardly left the house—but we eventually got the M50i back on its massive Pirelli P Zero PZ4-shod 22-inch wheels.

Marc UrbanoCar and Driver

The X7 hasn't generated many issues since joining our long-term fleet, and the few that cropped up were minor inconveniences. During testing, we had a small mishap where the driver—in his quest for the quickest time—slammed the accelerator pedal down with a bit too much gusto, causing it to break free from the plastic floor-mounted pivot. BMW covered that under warranty, but our local dealer noted they've never seen this issue before. (Compliment accepted.) We've also experienced glitches with the buttons that control drive modes, the auto stop-start system, and traction control, seeing them go completely inoperable upon startup. In each case, cycling the ignition fixed the problem. Some staffers complained about the steering feeling numb and lacking in feedback, parroting complaints we've also had with our long-term BMW M340i. Aside from that, the power third-row seats netted some complaints for their lack of urgency when folding, and the infotainment system is occasionally unwilling to reconnect to a previously paired phone, prompting a reset. We'll ask about our iDrive quibbles at our next service visit or sooner if symptoms worsen.

Marc UrbanoCar and Driver

Of course, these were all minor or temporary problems, and there was plenty of praise to offset the gripes. Many logbook comments included mention of the ZF eight-speed's smoothness and its unobtrusive nature in all drive modes. Others praised the X7's impressive acceleration and thunderous boom of the twin-turbo V-8's exhaust. The interior continues to receive high marks for its nearly Rolls-Royce level of hush, its supremely comfortable leather seats, and ambient lighting that prompted one staffer's friend to exclaim, "This car makes me want to be rich!"

After more than 10,000 miles, our X7 prompted us to schedule its first service for an oil change and some inspections. That visit incurred no out-of-pocket cost because BMW covers all maintenance up to 36,000 miles. Assuming that our summer travel goals are compatible with the epidemiological outlook, we expect that the X7 will continue to rack up the miles. Its combination of speed, comfort, and utility continue to make it a high-demand road-tripping favorite.

Months in Fleet:5 months Current Mileage: 10,504 miles
Average Fuel Economy: 16 mpg
Fuel Tank Size: 21.9 gal Observed Fuel Range: 350 miles
Service: $0 Normal Wear: $0 Repair: $0


Marc UrbanoCar and Driver

The X5 sat at the top of the BMW SUV lineup for nearly two decades, and then last year, the larger X7 arrived and became the brand’s biggest and most luxurious SUV. We’ve previously tested the X7 40i and the X7 50i, but to properly shake the X7 down, we invited BMW's luxurious three-row SUV for an extended stay to see how its size would fit into our lives and garages. To make sure the X7 fit our expectations for performance, we opted for the top twin-turbo V-8 model, the 523-hp M50i version that starts at a lofty $100,595.

To that six-figure sum, we added the $1200 Cold Weather package, which adds five-zone automatic climate control, heated front and rear seats, a heated steering wheel, and heating for the front-seat armrests. We also opted for the $1300 Executive package, which equips the cabin with heated and cooled cupholders, laser-cut glass on the gear selector and some switchgear, and a Panoramic Sky Lounge LED roof, which enlarges the standard panoramic moonroof and enhances it with LED accent lighting. And then we chose some standalone options, including front ventilated seats ($500), a leather dashboard ($850), second-row captain's chairs with electric sunshades ($850), and an excellent 20-speaker Bowers & Wilkins sound system ($3,400). Our M50i arrived with an as-tested price of $113,845, making it one of the most expensive cars to run our 40,000-mile test.

Marc UrbanoCar and Driver

Before you judge our decadent ways, this isn't exactly how we'd order an X7 M50i. To get into an X7 as quickly as possible, we agreed to a long-term test of a highly optioned example. We could live without the optional extras (especially the Executive package) considering the X7 M50i comes very well equipped with leather seats, soft-close doors, heated 20-way power front seats, a wireless phone charger, and a panoramic moonroof.

Other standard equipment on the M50i model includes 22-inch wheels with Pirelli P Zero PZ4 summer tires. While great for cornering grip and for short, 152-foot stops from 70 mph, these Pirellis are definitely not designed for a Michigan winter. In searching for tires better suited to the cold, we decided to downsize the wheels to 20 inches because that opens up a larger selection of winter tires and because a little extra sidewall offers a bit more protection from the craggy paths that Michigan calls roads. A day after a call to Tire Rack and $3045 later, a set of OZ Racing Cortina wheels wrapped in Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V2 winter tires arrived. Since the swap, the all-wheel drive and rear-wheel steering have no problem accelerating and rotating the big X7's mass through the white stuff.

Marc UrbanoCar and Driver

On a dry day at the test track, the M50i blasted to 60 mph in an eye-popping 4.1 seconds and passed the quarter-mile in 12.6 seconds at 110 mph. That's a mere two-tenths slower to 60 and through the quarter than the smaller, lighter X5 M50i with the same twin-turbo V-8. Speaking of that engine, despite the M badging and M Sport exhaust, the 523-hp N63 V-8 is never intrusive, and the X7's cabin is always insulated and quiet. At 70 mph, just 66 decibels of sound makes its way to the driver's ear, which is as silent as the last Mercedes-Benz S-Class sedan we tested.

When spring and summer finally come, we anticipate that the X7 will be a road-trip favorite. For those of us who tow race cars and make impulsive car purchases, we wished our X7 had the Tow Hitch Receiver ($665) option that allows you to tow up to 7500 pounds. BMW told us it wasn't yet available when our car was ordered, so we'll add it as soon as it arrives to our dealer's parts department. Once that happens, the X7's twin-turbo V-8 should have no problem hauling our loved ones and ensuring that the X7 is quicker than the toys we haul with it.

Months in Fleet: 1 month Current Mileage: 3888 miles
Average Fuel Economy: 17 mpg
Fuel Tank Size: 21.9 gal Observed Fuel Range: 370 miles
Service: $0 Normal Wear: $0 Repair: $0



2020 BMW X7 M50i

front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 6-passenger, 4-door wagon

$113,845 (base price: $100,595)

twin-turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 32-valve V-8, aluminum block and heads, direct fuel injection
268 in3, 4395 cm3
523 hp @ 6000 rpm
553 lb-ft @ 1800 rpm

8-speed automatic

Suspension (F/R): multilink/multilink
Brakes (F/R): 15.6-in vented disc/14.6-in vented disc
Tires: Pirelli P Zero PZ4 Run Flat PNCS, F: 275/40R-22 107Y ★ R: 315/35R-22 111Y ★

Wheelbase: 122.2 in
Length: 203.3 in
Width: 78.7 in
Height: 71.1 in
Passenger volume: 142 ft3
Cargo volume: 12 ft3
Curb weight: 5742 lb

Rollout, 1 ft: 0.3 sec
60 mph: 4.1 sec
100 mph: 10.4 sec
120 mph: 15.6 sec
Rolling start, 5–60 mph: 5.2 sec
Top gear, 30–50 mph: 2.8 sec
Top gear, 50–70 mph: 3.2 sec
¼-mile: 12.6 sec @ 110 mph
Top speed (governor limited): 124 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 152 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.83 g

Observed: 17 mpg
75-mph highway driving: 25 mpg 
Highway range: 540 miles 

Combined/city/highway: 17/15/21 mpg

4 years/50,000 miles bumper to bumper;
4 years/50,000 miles powertrain;
12 years/unlimited miles corrosion protection;
4 years/unlimited miles roadside assistance;
3 years/36,000 miles scheduled maintenance

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