Back in the days when BMW attended auto shows, it would show off a dizzying array of vehicles. Coupes, roadsters, hybrids, SUVs, fastbacks—you name it, and BMW sold it. Yet there was one glaring omission as one wandered through BMW’s cornucopia of cars: a three-row SUV. If you were a fan of the Ultimate Driving Machine but had outgrown the X5 due to an accumulation of children and/or stuff, there was no choice but to look elsewhere for your luxury SUV needs. With the launch of the full-size, three-row X7, BMW has not only given its fans a reason to upgrade—it has built an SUV that anyone looking at a GLC, Q7, XC90, or Range Rover Discovery should look long and hard at.

At first glance, the X7 cuts a familiar profile. It has the same general outlines as the compact X3 and mid-size X5, but this vehicle has nicer proportions than either. At the front is a super-sized kidney grille bracketed by a pair of slim LED headlights. It’s classic SUV silhouette from the side, with the most noticeable feature being the longer rear doors, designed to make entry into the third row easier. The back side sports slim LED lights and a chrome bar that spans the rear liftgate, a design feature borrowed from the 7-series sedans.

No matter what your viewing angle is, one thing is crystal clear: this is a serious, full-size SUV built for doing full-size SUV things. For most folks contemplating full-size SUVs, that means being able to transport six or more passengers in ample comfort. The X7 excels here. But what about going off-road?

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