It’s finally here and it’s, um, polarizing. BMW’s largest utility vehicle, the X7, uses the brand’s versatile CLAR platform as a starting point for the most controversially styled Bimmer since Chris Bangle left the building.
Arriving at dealers in March, the X7’s derrière is not, nor ever will be, the main source of viewer displeasure. This large vehicle has a big face and BMW knows it. It’s proud of it. Poised to tackle the likes of Mercedes-Benz’s GLS and other capacious, three-row premium utilities, the X7 makes sure it will never go unnoticed.
The headline should read “teased again,” as this isn’t the first peek we’ve had of the automaker’s upcoming three-row SUV. Much of the model’s visage was already on display a year ago, when BMW unveiled the X7 iPerformance concept. (It’s funny how the passage of time lessens visual horrors.)
A pre-production model also appeared in a photo taken at BMW’s Spartanburg, South Carolina factory late last year, looking no less grotesque than the concept. This is the real thing, however, and a quick brightening of the above photo shows Bimmer took pains to tone things down.
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.
Because large, powerful vehicles surely play second fiddle to self-driving technology and electric powertrains, right? That sentiment might not hold true in the minds of driving enthusiasts, or even the people in charge of building those vehicles, but that’s the direction the industry’s headed. Greener. Smarter. More soulless.
At BMW, the company’s plan for a cleaner future comes with a steep price tag. In an odd twist, the cost of developing new technologies just might make life more enjoyable for driving enthusiasts in the near future.
BMW spent a good portion of this week ensuring the public that it is an aggressively forward-thinking brand with a clear plan for mobility and electrification. However, it took things a step further by letting the upcoming Frankfurt Motor Show patrons know it’s offering “a whole new take on luxury” with its X7 iPerformance Concept.
Clearly assembled in a manner designed to embrace futurism and highlight its proposed electrified drivetrain, the X7 is unnecessarily odd-looking. The sculpted body could be handsome, had some designer decided not to accent it with gregarious chrome trim inlayed at right angles. Likewise, the brand’s signature kidney grille seems to have gone off the rails completely. BMW admits the styling aspect “hogs the attention” and urges us to “look at it again” so that we might truly understand the vibrancy and class it exudes.
You’re welcome to humor them, but we found even a fifth look didn’t remedy the situation. The grille remains an oversized eyesore, begging to be toned down. Thankfully, there’s more going on here than an overcooked exterior. The X7 Concept introduces an important third row to BMW’s sport-utility lineup, as well as a plug-in hybridized powerplant with twin turbochargers.
Little more than 18 months from now, BMW’s utility vehicle lineup will be dramatically altered, primed to absorb rising SUV demand in an increasingly anti-car market.
According to Australia’s Motoring, BMW will expand its entry-level utility vehicle lineup — BMW calls them SAVs — in early 2018 and the top end of the brand’s SAV lineup by late 2018.
The production BMW X2, due early next year, was previewed by the Concept X2 at 2016’s Paris auto show. BMW’s long-awaited Mercedes-Benz GLS challenger, the BMW X7, is a late-2018 arrival.
But the expansion of the BMW SAV lineup is only part of the story, as new versions of the SAVs currently sitting at the heart of BMW’s lineup will arrive in short order, as well.
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- TheEndlessEnigma GM, Ford and Stellantis have significant oversupply of product sitting on dealer lots and banked up in holding yards across the country. Big 3 management is taking advantage of UAW's action to bring their inventories inline to what they deem reasonable. When you have models pushing 6 months of supply having your productions lines shut down by a strike is not something that's going to worry you. UAW does not have any advantages here, but they are directly impacting the financial well being of their membership. Who will be the first to blink? Those UAW members waving the signs around and receiving "strike pay" that is, what, 20% of their wages? UAW is screwing up this time around.
- CEastwood Seven mil nitrile gloves from Harbor Freight for oil changes and such and the thicker heavy duty gripper gloves from Wally World for most everything else . Hell we used to use no gloves for any of that and when we did it was usually the white cloth gloves bought by the dozen or the gray striped cuff ones for heavy duty use . Old man rant over , but I laugh when I see these types of gloves in a bargain bin at Home Cheapo for 15 bucks a pair !
- Not Previous Used Car of the Day entries that spent decades in the weeds would still be a better purchase than this car. The sucker who takes on this depreciated machine will learn the hard way that a cheap German car is actually a very expensive way to drive around.
- Bullnuke Well, production cuts may be due to transport-to-market issues. The MV Fremantle Highway is in a Rotterdam shipyard undergoing repairs from the last shipment of VW products (along with BMW and others) and to adequately fireproof it. The word in the shipping community is that insurance necessary for ships moving EVs is under serious review.
- Frank Wait until the gov't subsidies end, you aint seen nothing yet. Ive been "on the floor" when they pulled them for fuel efficient vehicles back during/after the recession and the sales of those cars stopped dead in their tracks