After a long tease, BMW revealed the X7 this week. Although it’s entering the full-size utility market a little late in the game, BMW will benefit from the prestige that comes with having a true flagship SUV. Of course, that prestige only applies if the model is well-executed. Did BMW nail the design of the X7, or does it fall flat? Before you decide, let’s examine the X7’s design in relation to some of its most significant competitors.
Asserting its dominance as the top-dog SUV in the lineup, the X7 features BMW’s largest kidney grille ever. The large grille contrasts with slim headlights. But if you think this grille is big, take a look at the Audi Q7. This model features an even bigger grille with a thick silver frame. Like the BMW, the Volvo XC90 features a blingy grille dominated by vertical lines, and it has arguably the nicest lights with Volvo’s signature “Thor’s hammer” LED accents. The Mercedes-Benz GLS is a much older vehicle, and it features the rounded styling of yesteryear. The headlights are chunky instead of long and narrow like on most competitors, though expect that look to change when the new model arrives as soon as next year.
From the side profile, the 2019 BMW X7 adopts an upright stance, particularly in the rear. It also features plenty of bright trim around the windows and on the lower portion of the doors. The Q7 looks a little plainer from this angle, although it has strong wheel arches. On the XC90, you’ll find simple lines, and bright trim at the bottom of the doors. The GLS adopts a boxy appearance, and it has a very straight roofline.
In the rear, the BMW features a bright chrome bar between the two taillights, a feature we’ve seen before on the 7 Series. The long and thin taillights make the rear look wide, while the rear’s upright stance makes it look tall as well. The rear of the Audi Q7 doesn’t look quite as upright, and two solid rectangular blocks make up the taillights. Of all the SUVs, the XC90’s taillights are the most memorable, simply for their unusual vertical orientation. On the GLS, you’ll find more rounded taillights on the boxy rear end, and plenty of shiny trim.
The differences between the four models get interesting inside the cabin where drivers and passengers spend most of their time. In the BMW, there is a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and central display, as well as optional glass controls for the gear shift lever and infotainment controller. The BMW also has a main sunroof and smaller rear sunroof, allowing third-row passengers to enjoy some sun. The Audi Q7 beat the BMW to the digital gauge display punch by a number of years, first offering the Virtual Cockpit option for the 2016 model year. The Audi’s center touchscreen pops up from the dashboard, meaning it sits particularly high. In the XC90, the main feature that stands out is the iPad-like touchscreen, which eliminates the need for excess buttons inside the cabin. Meanwhile, you can start to see the GLS’ age when you hop inside. It has a small infotainment screen and tons of buttons below, including a number pad. Everything from the cabin materials to the instrument cluster and temperature dials appear dated for a flagship SUV.
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