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Car Review: The BMW X7 is three rows of luxury and now the base version is a worthy look with revamp

BMW calls its SUV, or crossover, a Sport Activity Vehicle and the X7 has space for the entire family, while still managing to be more of a driver’s vehicle than other big rides.

With a big makeover last year, the X7 is more alluring than before with big changes under the hood. When I saw that the BMW X7 xDrive40i was on my schedule, I thought I’d rather have the V-8 model. However, I was pleasantly surprised with the new base engine after the first mile.

The power is vastly improved from the previous X7. There is no penalty for choosing the six-cylinder i40 version anymore. The X7 is large but still handles well for a big SUV, not track worthy, but you won’t be holding up traffic on back roads.

The optional Dynamic handling package adds all-wheel steering and a feature called “Active Comfort Drive,” that uses cameras to look ahead and set up the suspension for a refined ride.

The X7 gets a refreshed look, with new front-end styling. Large revised kidney grills seem to fit the face of the X7 much better than in the smaller cars. The slender bi-lighting clusters are daring styling cues for BMW, which tends to be more conservative when it comes to lighting.

The big BMW also stands out with the optional M Sport Professional package that drops the bright trim pieces for blacked-out trim that gives a more dramatic look, when paired with the gray paint.

The optional 23-inch wheels with blacked-out brake calipers complete the sport-themed style of this family ride.

When you climb into the X7, you quickly notice that it takes to heart the luxury three-row activity vehicle moniker. There’s a well-appointed interior, with comfy leather seats and rich wood and aluminum trim pieces throughout the cabin. Also, it’s nice to have a second row bench seat as standard to maximize the seating capacity.

Where this and some other big German SUVs fall short is space for the third row. The third row is fine for smaller adults. The lower roofline is limiting for taller riders. Only two seats are offered where some offer space for three.

The new digital cockpit and large center screen blend together to make one large screen across the dash.

Cost: $81,900; as tested $95,050

MPG: 21 mpg city, 25 mpg highway. I managed 21.4 mpg in 316 miles of mixed driving.

Safety: Active cruise control with braking function; dynamic stability control; active driving assistant pro with active blind spot detection; active park distance control & parking assistant plus; head-up display; Adaptive full LED lighting & auto high beams; surround view with 3D view; extended traffic jam assistant; drive recorder; front & rear head protection system

Options: $3,300 Dynamic handling package; $1,350 M Sport Professional package; $1,850 premium package; $2,600 23″ V-spoke multicolor wheels; $900 parking assistance package.

Things to know: The BMW X7 M40i is now a worthy three-row SUV worth a look with a revised engine and improved technology. The BMW is a family ride that’s a good drive.

Pros:

  • New base engine has more power than before and better miles per gallon
  • Comfortable interior, with large touch screen and virtual instruments
  • Space for seven keep BMW owners with larger families happy

Cons:

  • Price is high and climbs quickly with options
  • Less cargo space than some rivals
  • Third row of seats is tight for taller adults