By on December 20, 2017

2019 BMW X7, Image: BMW Group

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.

2019 BMW X7, Image: BMW Group

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.

2019 BMW X7, Image: BMW Group

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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23 Comments on “As Spartanburg Slowly Births the BMW X7, an Ever-growing Pool of Buyers Awaits...”

  • avatar

    I don’t really like any of the German entries in this segment. The Q7 is hideous and boat-like, and the GLS is a cynical experiment in overpricing. This BMW will look ridiculous, but sell anyway because it has a prestigious badge on the front.

    Acura doesn’t play here, the QX60 is a level down from these in price, and the GX is pretty ancient.

    PS. The X7 should’ve been ready in 2005.

    • 0 avatar
      Car Ramrod

      Hush you! We needed a 5 series GT and an X4 more than this. They are so attractive and such hot sellers.

    • 0 avatar

      The current Q7 styling is bad, but I like the way my first gen looks. I’ve driven a new one as a loaner. It’s definitely not-boat like, at least relative to the class. The GL/GLS however, is. Haven’t been in a Lexus, but the QX is more like 2 levels down….the Enclave is nicer, as is the GMC Acadia in Denali trim. The QX is remarkably fuel efficient and quiet though (CVT helps, no doubt. If Oldsmobile were still a thing, The QX would be like a top spec Olds.

      And, yes, it also baffles me that 12 years after the Q7 and GL were unveiled (as 2006 model years), and 14 years after the Cayenne appeared, that BMW has finally put out a profit making CUV. Its one thing to have Porsche, Audi, and M-B beat you to the market. It’s another to wait a decade and a half to respond…..

  • avatar

    oh no, the sneak peak makes it look like the X7 has a parody uber-butch nose.

  • avatar

    The current Q7 is a big step backward, styling-wise, from the handsome first generation. But it drives well by most accounts, and the interior is nice.

    Wonder how the X7 will be priced. Q7 or Range Rover?

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    How unfortunate-looking. BMW’s twin-kidney grille really doesn’t work when it’s that big.

  • avatar

    I’m still bummed they didn’t bring the 2-Series Gran Tourer to the USA. I would have gladly contributed to its dismal sales volume.

  • avatar

    Another nail in the coffin for sedans. The X7 more bold looking over the Q7, stands out and sales will increase well for the next few years.

  • avatar

    This is just getting ridiculous.

    Seriously can I do anything BMW-esque in those things or are they just today’s Sedan de Ville?

    • 0 avatar

      They’re the ride of choice for well heeled housewives, so they’re more like the modern-day Country Squires, if you think about it.

      Rich Dad drove the Sedan DeVille, and today he drives something like a top of the line pickup, an Escalade, or a prestige sedan.

  • avatar

    Of all the automotive segments this is the one that baffles me most. Unless you are towing, a minivan does a better job of this task a million times over.

    I realise neurotic white women don’t want minivans but jesus creepers these things make zero sense.

    • 0 avatar

      Why did you limit this to only “white women”? What makes you think other ethnicities would not prefer to drive one of these?
      Careful with generalizing….
      O yeah, I am not a white woman but I would drive one if I could afford it. Sic!

      • 0 avatar

        Yup – used GM SUVs are popular with Hispanic folks at my kid’s school.

        A couple of families who work in the trades have old Escalades. I guess it comes with a nice interior, commercial truck chassis, and the previous owners used it like a luxury car. That’s a win, if you for making your living by pulling a trailer full of drywall and tools around town.

  • avatar

    > As the sole member of the Big German Three without a three-row SUV

    BMW X5 has three rows of seats.

  • avatar

    What a sad state of affairs when big news from BMW is that their box on 4 wheels is almost ready.

  • avatar

    That giant kidney grill looks so off as well, the other little wagons pulled it off so much better.

  • avatar

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

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    “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.

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