For a second time in my career, I have taken over the reins of a long-term test car because the original chaperone fled back to bloody Britain. The first time I subbed in was back in 2016 when former editor-in-chief Angus MacKenzie moved back to London and left me with the keys to our glorious Land Rover Range Rover Sport Td6.
This time, after filming activities were complete, Top Gear America co-host Jethro Bovingdon flew back to the mother island to eat crumpets, kiss the queen, or do whatever he does when he isn’t hot-shoeing for the cameras.
That left me holding the keys of our BMW X7. If you haven’t been keeping up with Top Gear America Jethro Bovingdon’s (yes, I am always going to use his full name) take on the X7 xDrive40i in our fleet, it essentially boils down to this: If you judge the X7 like any other luxury three-row SUV, it ticks a lot of the required boxes. It’s biggish, comfortable, and leather clad. But if you put on your BMW-tinted glasses (blue, violet, and red, obviously), the X7 starts to look a little underwhelming.
It is only slightly annoying that you can’t get your phone into or out of the wireless charger when you have a drink in the cupholders.
After spending decades as the “fun one,” BMW is suffering from a mixture of its own success and marketing. With a product range that stretches from small hatchbacks, coupes, and sedans and tops out at the seven-seater we are discussing here, maintaining the “ultimate driving machine” status across the whole product line is nearly impossible.
The good news is, that’s OK. I don’t think the X7 needs to be a driving machine, let alone the ultimate one. Unfortunately, the X7 misses that mark by a lot. Features editor Scott Evans described driving the X7 perfectly when he said, “The body is always moving around, side to side, diagonally, front and back.” Editorial director Ed Loh spent a few days behind the wheel and reported that while his wife was sitting in the second row with their baby, she asked if “something could be done about the suspension,” because it was making her nauseated. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated reaction; I’ve heard similar complaints about the busy ride. I expect better from the X7, regardless of the Bimmer badge. You shouldn’t need to pop a Dramamine before riding in the back seat of a luxury SUV.
Despite the lackluster driving dynamics, I have enjoyed the opening chapter of my time with the X7. As Top Gear America co-host Jethro Bovingdon (last time, I swear!) wrote in his last update, the big Bimmer is supremely comfortable and functional.
Way back, when I took over responsibilities of the Range Rover Sport, little did I know that it would burrow its way into my heart and become my high-water mark of vehicle stewardship. The X7 has big shoes to fill, and I hope that comfortable functionality will shine bright enough to make up for some of the dark spots in BMW’s first crack at the large SUV segment.
Read More About Our Long-term 2020 BMW X7 xDrive40i:
- Update 1: We Go Searching for the BMW Within Our Long-Term X7
- Update 2: The 2020 BMW X7 and the Long Game
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