As Spartanburg Slowly Births the BMW X7, an Ever-growing Pool of Buyers Awaits

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
as spartanburg slowly births the bmw x7 an ever growing pool of buyers awaits

It certainly feels like BMW is taking its sweet time getting the full-size, three-row X7 to market, but the automaker assures us it’s almost here. Announced yesterday, pre-production models are now rolling off BMW’s Spartanburg, South Carolina, assembly line — a major step in a product timeline that began in 2014.

Offering up an all-important third row and front end styling that’s sure to spark debate (this year’s X7 iPerformance concept set a high bar for controversy and grille size), the production model should be ready for a late 2018 debut. In the meantime, certification drudgery and copious amounts of hot and cold weather testing awaits.

As the sole member of the Big German Three without a three-row SUV (SAV in BMW parlance), the X7 is a much-needed vehicle, and not just because the automaker wants more high-margin vehicles to fund its electrification efforts. True, the new car market is contracting, but big premium utility vehicles sell.

From what BMW is willing to show us, the X7 — like the concept that preceded it — shouldn’t want for airflow through the front fascia. It was a big grille before, and it remains one now. A large, wraparound lower opening underscores the brand’s signature twin kidneys, which, unlike those found on all other X-models, are fused in the middle. The headlights are not nearly as narrow.

The X7 rides atop BMW’s CLAR modular platform, and buyers of the 2019 production model should expect a range of engine choices, as well as a likely hybrid option.

By adding the X7 to its Spartanburg assembly plant, BMW expects the factory’s workforce — which currently stands at 9,000 — to swell by a further 1,000 employees over the next few years. Spartanburg, Bimmer’s largest plant, builds the X3, X4, X5, and X6.

But what does the market hold for the X7? If sales of the model’s future competitors are any indication, Bimmer won’t regret spending the cash needed to make the X7 a reality. Three-row premium SUVs are a license to print money.

With one month left to go on 2017’s sales calendar, Audi’s Q7 has already surpassed 2016’s record U.S. sales volume. Through the end of November, sales are up 22.8 percent.

Mercedes-Benz soldiers on with its GLS class, formerly the GL. Year-to-date, GLS sales in the United States are up 7.6 percent, with the model poised to break last year’s record volume.

Over at Lexus, the brand can’t get enough three-row utility vehicles. The aging GX and range-topping LX simply aren’t enough to satisfy the automaker’s thirst for volume, so there’s a new three-row variant of the midsize RX coming for 2018. Still, GX sales are up 10.1 percent, year-to-date, with the model’s on track for its best sales showing in 12 years. Sales of the LX grew 8 percent in 2017.

As Infiniti prepares a new QX50 and introduces a refreshed QX80 flagship, the three-row QX60’s sales are down 2.2 percent, year-to-date. It’s worth noting that 2016 was the model’s best sales year since its 2013 model year introduction.

Suffice it to say there’s buyers waiting for the X7.

[Images: BMW Group]

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3 of 23 comments
  • Dukeisduke Dukeisduke on Dec 20, 2017

    Wow, that front end is hideous. Is it time for BMW to get the Old Yeller treatment?

  • Master Baiter Master Baiter on Dec 20, 2017

    "As the sole member of the Big German Three without a three-row SUV (SAV in BMW parlance), the X7..." The X5 is available with a third row. Mine has one, and while only suitable for kids, it does come in handy at times. . .

    • JohnTaurus JohnTaurus on Dec 22, 2017

      I thought you found your huff, and left in it. Did the bookmark rebookmark itself?

  • MaintenanceCosts Would be a neat car if restored, and a lot of good parts are there. But also a lot of very challenging obstacles, even just from what we can see from the pictures. It's going to be hard to justify a restoration financially.
  • Jeff S Ford was in a slump during this era and its savior was a few years away from being introduced. The 1986 Taurus and Sable saved Ford from bankruptcy and Ford bet the farm on them. Ford was also helped by the 1985 downsize front wheel drive full sized GM cars. Lincoln even spoofed these new full size GM cars in an ad basically showing it was hard to tell the difference between a Cadillac, Buick, and Oldsmobile. This not only helped Lincoln sales but Mercury Grand Marquis and Ford Crown Victoria sales. For GM full size buyers that liked the downsized GM full size 77 to 84 they had the Panther based Lincoln Town Cars, Mercury Grand Marquis, and Ford Crown Victorias that were an alternative to the new GM front wheel drive full size cars that had many issues when they were introduced in 1985 and many of those issues were not resolved for several years. The Marks were losing popularity after the Mark Vs.
  • SCE to AUX Toyota the follower, as usual. It will be 5 years before such a vehicle is available.I can't think of anything innovative from them since the Gen 1 Prius. Even their mythical solid state battery remains vaporware.They look like pre-2009 General Motors. They could fall hard.
  • Chris P Bacon I've always liked the looks of the Clubman, especially the original model. But like a few others here, I've had the Countryman as a rental, and for the price point, I couldn't see spending my own money on one. Maybe with a stick it would be a little more fun, but that 3 cylinder engine just couldn't provide the kick I expected.
  • EBFlex Recall number 13 for the 2020 Explorer and the 2020 MKExplorer.