The 2023 BMW X7 receives one of the most significant mid-cycle updates in the recent memory of BMW models. Not only has the X7 gone through a major design refresh, but also received a suite of technical upgrades. One of them, and likely the most important one, is the addition of a brand-new V8 engine. Naturally, BMW had to come up with a new naming convention. Enter the BMW X7 M60i.
To sample the new X7 models – both the V8 M60i and six-cylinder 40i – we flew to its American home in South Carolina. The Spartanburg Plant is one of BMW’s most important factories in the world. It is the birth place of the X3, X4, X5, X6 and X7 models, and even of the upcoming XM. What do all these SUVs have in common? They are some of the most profitable products for the Bavarian brand. And of course, the U.S. market plays an important role in the adoption of their sports crossovers.
47% percent of X7s are sold in the U.S.
According to BMW, 47 percent of the BMW X7 models are sold to U.S. customers. China comes in second with 21 percent, surprisingly followed by South Korea with 7 percent. Germany? A mere 2 percent. BMW of North America only sells two models: the X7 xDrive40i and now the X7 M60i. Clearly, the B58-powered 40i takes majority of the global market share – 74 percent. The BMW X7 M60i – replacing the M50i – is expected to amount for 12 percent of the sales. European markets still get the BMW X7 xDrive40d – a 14 percent market share.
So while the X7 xDrive40i might be the market leader for X7 models, it’s the V8 that usually puts a smile on our face. Speaking of the face, let’s tackle head-on the design refresh. Despite having a larger kidney grille, the BMW X7 was always too close for comfort to the X5. Their front fascia wasn’t differentiated enough and always felt like the X7 is simply just a larger and more expensive X5.
Split Headlights – A First in a BMW
But like it or not, the design team fixed that problem. Of course, the split headlights are the big news. As with the new 7 Series and XM cousins, the BMW X7 Facelift gained a new split headlight design that’s entirely different from any other headlight design in the brand’s history. It’s a bold new design direction for a car that’s already polarizing. The headlights are now split into two halves, upper and a lower. The upper half features a modern, slimmer take on the daytime running lights, while the beams sit just below them.
The grille is still big but it does look more proportionate now that the split headlights add more visual verticality. Additionally, the X7 Facelift gets an optional illuminated kidney grille, just like the X6 and upcoming 7 Series. The illumination is activated when one of the doors is opened and can be tuned on or off through the iDrive system. The M Sport Pro Package also features a more aggressive design with plenty of air breathers and intakes to cool down that massive V8. Mate black kidney surrounds are also part of the M Sport Pro Pack.
Furthermore, the BMW X7 M60i also gets M specific side skirts, along with larger M badges on the side and new M gills. As you’d expect, the M-lite models also come with four visible pipes. The brake calipers can be optioned in different colors, including black and red.
Out back, the BMW X7’s taillights are nearly identical to the pre-facelift taillights, except they have a bit more depth and beautifully integrate the slim chrome bar. New inner graphics are also part of the light package. For the first time, the BMW X7 also comes with a massive 23 inch wheel option. Next, a new color palette, including Sparkling Copper Metallic. The top of the line X7 M60i gets a few new shades as well, including M Marina Bay Blue (matte), Ametrine Metallic, and Frozen Pure Grey Metallic. There are of course a ton of new Individual colors available too, including Daytona Violet and Ruby Red. My tester was painted in a stunning Frozen Marina Bay Blue running on 22 inch wheels with Pirelli P Zero performance tires.
iDrive 8 and a Shift Toggle
But that’s not all. The design team took the cabin by storm as well. Long gone is the small, iDrive 7-powered screen, and in is the large curved display inherited from the iX and 7 Series. Along with the iDrive 8 screen, the BMW X7 Facelift now gets the same new digital dials as the iX, and of course, iDrive 8. Other upgrades include the interaction light bar on the passenger side of the dashboard and the iX-style shift toggle, which replaces the old shift lever. The lack of protruding shift lever gives the center console a more open look and feel, which adds to the airiness of an already airy cabin.
The interaction bar is also quite functional. Not only it acts as ambient light, but can also perform some gimmicks, like flashing when a call comes in. Comfort seats in Merino leather, wood trims and even a vegan options are available (Sensafin), and of course the massive panorama roof. The BMW X7 can still be optioned with a six or seven-seat configuration. My BMW X7 M60i featured the captain seats in the second row.
Yet there is one thing that I wish BMW hasn’t touched. And that’s the physical buttons layout. Unfortunately, they were removed from the dashboard and controlling the AC system is now a two-click process within the iDrive 8 system. During my drive, I often found myself reaching out for the AC knobs and switches to control the temperature and fans, so I can see why this will be a learning exercise for existing BMW customers.
The interior space is unchanged. In the video at the end of this article, you can see the second and third-row space for someone that’s 6″2 tall (1.90 m). No surprises, as you’d expect: the second row knee and head room is more than adequate, while the third row seat is suitable for shorter drives. Unless you’re on the shorter side, or if you sit kids in there.
New BMW S68 V8 Engine
Of course, the addition of an M-developed engine is the bigger story in the BMW X7 M60i. The S68 is still a 4.4 liter twin-turbocharged V8 but with proper motorsport tech. The new powerplant comes with a cross-bank exhaust manifold, bank-symmetrical turbochargers, external engine oil cooling with an all-new oil pump, a reinforced crankshaft, and a lightweight oil sump. More importantly, it also gains 48-volt mild-hybrid technology, with added power from an electric motor. BMW claims the 48-volt mild hybrid motor makes 12 horsepower but up to 147 lb-ft (200Nm) of torque. Of course, as we tested, the 48 volt system helps with both fuel savings and smoothing of auto start/stop technology.
The S68 V8 makes 523 horsepower and 553 lb-ft (750 Nm) of torque. According to BMW, the M60i gets from 0-62 mph in 4.7 seconds. The engine is Euro 6d rated so it should be sticking around for quite some time.
Drives Smaller Than Its Size
So while all these visual and technological updates are making the BMW X7 even more appealing to customers, I was still interested to sample its driving dynamics. Especially since the X7 M60i is heavier than its M50i predecessor. According to BMW engineers, the addition of a new engine and the 48 volt tech adds about 265 lbs (120 kilograms) to the curb weight. The drive route is setup for both city and backroads driving, so that gave me an opportunity to experience the M60i both as a regular customer, and an as enthusiast.
In city driving, the X7 M60i is one of BMW’s smoothest cars. Thanks to its 2-axle air suspension and rear steering, the X7 M60i is easy to maneuver, despite its size and weight. The steering is more direct than in the X5, but lighter in feel. And while I often prefer the heavier steering feel, this is the exception. The suspension was also slightly revised. The symmetric angle (toe) was changed to accommodate for the heavier nose, along with a different suspension software tune. All these changes are based on customers’ feedback. There were also some design changes within the shock absorbers, so the rebound valve has a new design to get better body control out of zero position.
The result? A smoother ride because if there is a lot of movement at the zero point, then you get a lot of progression afterwards. So the earlier you can get control of the body movement, the less energy you need to invest afterwards. In simpler words: this new X7 is one of the smoothest and most comfortable BMWs ever made, even comparable to a 7 Series limousine. Speaking of the luxury limousine, the road noise in the X7 is just as good. Regardless of the surface, the cabin is almost fully isolated from outdoor noise and if it wasn’t for the Active Sound (read fake engine noise), you wouldn’t be able to hear that V8.
And that’s a pity because the new S68 powerplant is marvelous. Arguably, it sounds better than the outgoing N63, it gives a nice kickback and the power delivery is linear across the entire RPM range. Shifting is extremely smooth, thanks to the eight-speed automatic and mild hybrid system. But compared to the X7 M50i, “manual” shifting only works via the paddles behind the steering wheel.
On curvy roads, the BMW X7 M60i truly shines. The V8 engine pulls hard in any gear with very little turbo lag. Thanks to the Dynamic Handling Package, which adds Active Roll Stabilization and Integral Steering, the X7 M60i delivers a fun experience through the mountain bends in North Carolina. Body control is fairly decent in a car of this size, while the M differential keeps that rear slip in check.
Of course, my driving behavior is arguably very different from that of a typical X7 customer, but it’s still fun to see the driving confidence you can get from the X7. Overall, the BMW X7 M60i feels a lot smaller than its size, with very engaging handling and driving dynamics, when pushed towards its limits. The M Sport Brakes almost need no mention since they are just as great as ever.
New Driver Assistance Features
The BMW X7 is a luxury SUV, so it needs to be a great long-distance car and not a track monster. Therefore, BMW included its latest and greatest driver assistance systems in the facelifted X7 models. The Level 2 technology allows for hands-free driving for longer periods of time. According to BMW, the system in our X7 is limited to 40 mph. It remains to be seen whether the 80+ mph assistance system will end up in future X7 models.
The Assist Plus system kicks in when the cameras behind the steering wheel detect your eyes looking forward. You can then let go of the steering wheel and the X7 will accelerate, brake and steer for you. But this is still a Level 2 system so the driver should always be alert and ready to take over.
During my short highway stint, the system worked brilliantly and it certainly makes for a more comfortable drive in stop and go traffic. Steering and Lane Keep Assist are also included in the package, as well as Active Lane Guiding for the U.S. market. The latter works on highway driving when you have an active destination mapped in. Next, the X7 will recognize if you approach your exit and will give you a signal to change the lane. If you confirm that with a switch on the steering, the car will change lanes for you.
Of course, it does it in a safe manner. The Active Lane Guiding will check for an empty spot in the adjacent lane, either by accelerating or slowing down. Last but not least important is the Active Comfort Drive with Road Preview. The system uses a camera to detect changes in the oncoming road surface and adjusts the suspension accordingly.
Reversing Assist Professional
Parking maneuvers were further improved in the BMW X7 facelift as well. The Reversing Assist Professional can now drive up to 200 meters (656 feet). Basically, using GPS and trajectory data defined by steering movements, the system can store the last 200 meters covered and the movements of the steering wheel. When arriving again at the respective starting point, Parking Assistant Professional can then take over the complete driving task including accelerating, braking, steering and changing between forward and reverse gear. You’ll then just be tasked with watching the surroundings of the car during the automated process.
BMW setup a demo for us mimicking a parking garage structure with tight corners, and the parking assistant worked flawlessly. But that’s not all. BMW is aware that X7 owners are often using the trailer mode, so the system gets an update. You can now steer the trailer with the iDrive controller and guide the boat or trailer to the perfect spot. Next, the X7 will accelerate or brake to complete the parking maneuver.
The 7 Series of BMW Crossovers
The gap between the BMW X5 and X7 is now wider than ever. The luxury and massive SUV stands out more with new looks, a sportier drive and an upscale interior. It also gets the latest and greatest tech from Munich. So it’s not anymore the larger and more mature X5’s brother, but rather a car that’s closer to a 7 Series, or even to the upcoming XM. There are now enough reasons to upgrade from an X5, not just because of space requirements. At least until the BMW X5 Facelift is also refreshed in 2023.
The 2023 BMW X7 M60i starts at $103,100, but our tester was priced at around $120,000.
BMW X7 M60i
- V8 M Engine
- Luxurious cabin
- Driving dynamics
- No AC buttons
- Split Headlights
- Limited cargo room