2023 BMW X7 Review
(Photo/Evan Williams)

2023 BMW X7 Review: iDrive Wow Factor and Better Fuel Efficiency

With a new six-cylinder engine and 48V hybrid system, the 2023 BMW X7 driveline is much improved. But it’s the tech upgrades that are the focal point of this big corner carver.

The most obvious change to the 2023 BMW X7 is that new nose. The split-light look is new for BMW, and it’s going to be reserved for what it calls its luxury models. By luxury, BMW means the 7 Series (and i7), and the upcoming XM. None of the rest of the line will get the look. Or at least that’s the story now.

2023 BMW X7: Facelifts Aren’t for Everyone

2023 BMW X7 Review
(Photo/Evan Williams)

It’s a polarizing new face, but there’s no doubt one new detail will be extremely popular. Not the standard LED headlights, but the new illuminated kidney grille. BMW calls it understated. We call it garish. Based on the number of Mercs we’ve seen around Palm Springs with the same treatment on their noses, this will be a popular option.

We’re in Palm Springs now, testing out the refreshed 2023 BMW X7. It’s the sort of place where this bold statement fits right in, where the number of pool cleaning trucks is matched by the number of Bentleys.

It’s the topography around this desert oasis we’re interested in, though. The winding roads and stunning backdrops, all found in Joshua Tree National Park.

BMW has tweaked the rear on the X7, though it’s far more subtle than the nose. The taillights have some more three-dimensional sculpting, a detail hidden under new glass covers. The L-shaped light strips are brighter than before. There are some new paint colors, too, You can pick around 40 from the BMW individual catalog on request.

48V Mild Hybrid for 4.4L Twin-Turbo V8

2023 BMW X7 Review
(Photo/Evan Williams)

Behind the new light-up kidney grilles are two new powertrains. One is a bit newer than the other. The 4.4L twin-turbo V8 in the X7 M60i gets a new 48V mild hybrid system.

Thanks to a small electric motor in the eight-speed automatic transmission, this X7 has much improved start-stop operation and comes back more smoothly from coasting.

The 2023 BMW X7 has a bit more torque under the curve, thanks to the 147 pound-feet the electric motor generates (and 12 horsepower). This gets the X7 moving a little more quickly when the engine is in start-stop mode. The peak figures are unchanged, though, with 523 horsepower and 553 pound-feet available.

This is the rocket ship of the lineup (until the Alpina model arrives). With a bellow from the tailpipes, it propels the big X7 along like it was a much smaller and lighter vehicle.

The transmission is all new and changes gears even faster than before. Sprint mode is new, a feature that instantly grabs the lowest possible gear if you hold the left paddle for a second. At the same time, the X7 switches everything into sport mode. Though by the time that’s done, you’ll probably have long since finished your pass.

Inline-Six Gets 40 More Horses

2023 BMW X7
(Photo/Evan Williams)

Pick the X7 xDrive40i and you won’t get an M badge, but you will get an all-new inline-six. This 3.0L twin-turbo engine is completely overhauled and even uses a different combustion cycle than the six it replaces. Power is up by 40 to 375 horsepower and torque climbs 52 to 383 pound-feet.

The six uses the same 48V mild hybrid system as the V8, but here it lifts peak torque higher. When conditions allow, 398 pound-feet.

No, it isn’t as quick as the V8, and no, it doesn’t sound as impressive when you floor it. The engine does, though, feel much smoother than the V8. Thank the inline-six layout that BMW has used impressively for decades. Even if it can’t beat the V8, the xDrive40i is a quick vehicle.

Mild Hybrid Systems Improve Experience, Efficiency

The six is less thirsty, too, compared with both the V8 and last year’s six. The xDrive40i improves by a single mile per gallon combined, rated at 22 (21 city/25 highway). The M60i is up one combined versus last year’s M50i, too, to 18 miles per gallon (16 city/21 highway).

Air Suspension Ride Improvements

2023 BMW X7 Review
(Photo/Evan Williams)

BMW has made changes to the adaptive air suspension to go along with the refresh. Standard on M60i and optional on the six, it now has a wider range between sport and comfort modes. It promises to deliver more of both, and it does.

Hit the highway and this is a comfy ride. Or at least as comfy as you can be with the optional 23-inch wheels fitted. The X7 does offer good compliance, but it can’t hold a candle to the 7 Series sedans we also drove as part of the event.

2023 BMW X7 Doesn’t Ignore Handling

2023 BMW X7 Review
(Photo/Evan Williams)

Toss the X7 into a bend and it feels like a 5 Series and not the three-row beast it is. Give some of the credit to the new Integral Active Steering with rear-wheel steering. Give more to the active roll stabilization that can stiffen and soften the anti-roll bars as needed.

Turn into a corner and they stiffen, virtually eliminating body roll. Cruise in a straight line and the bars go soft. This lets BMW use softer air spring settings for ride comfort, and it lets the suspension better absorb single-wheel impacts like potholes without sending forces to the opposite wheel.

The adaptive air suspension gives the 2023 BMW X7 more off-road capability, too. You can raise your BMW by three-quarters of an inch at speeds up to 34 miles an hour, or an inch and a half below 19 miles an hour. It’s not Range Rover capability, but it offers enough for most rough road driving needs.

Curved Display New Cabin Highlight

BMW X7 Review
(Photo/Evan Williams)

On the inside, BMW has freshened up the cabin and the focal point is the new curved display. That’s BMW’s name for the combined 12.3-inch digital dash and 14.9-inch center screen that share one large bezel. The anti-glare screen means BMW can skip the traditional cluster binnacle, and it really cleans up the dash.

Slim dash vents replace the bulky old ones, and the light-up trim strip is also new. These changes highlight that BMW has gotten rid of nearly all the buttons with the change to iDrive OS8.

iDrive Adds Natural Speech Control

2023 BMW X7 dash
(Photo/Evan Williams)

This generation of iDrive steps up the number of things you can do with your voice. It makes them easier to do, too, which is important with all of the buttons tossed in the garbage.

We’re not normally fans of button-free cars, but BMW’s touchscreen is seriously responsive, and that makes up for it. Where menu functions more complicated than, say, climate control are buried, voice control solves that problem.

Ask your BMW to do almost anything and it does it. Lowering the windows, operating the blinds, opening the driving assistance menu, and even engaging sport mode. BMW’s software folks couldn’t put a hard number on just how many things the system can do.

If you really can’t stand the system, BMW hasn’t ignored you: There is still an iDrive controller dial on the center console, with a suspension height switch and some other functions surrounding it.

Phone-as-Key: New for 2023 BMW X7

2023 BMW X7 interior
(Photo/Evan Williams)

Other new onboard tech includes the optional BMW Digital Key Plus. It lets you unlock and start your BMW with your Apple iPhone, and it has the ability to allow you to send someone else access to your X7.

Parking Assistant Professional with Maneuver Assist (doesn’t BMW have names that just roll off the tongue?) can now help you back up with a trailer. It can also let you store up to 10 series of driving maneuvers that it can replicate.

Think winding around a tight driveway or a very cramped parking garage. Record the drive once (up to 600 feet) and the X7 can do it next time. You can even run it from outside the vehicle through the app.

Interior space doesn’t change. The 2023 BMW X7 still offers large amounts of luxurious space in rows one and two, and medium amounts of space in row three. The split tailgate opens the top part up and the bottom part down, giving you a tailgate seat that can easily hold a pair of adults. It keeps your gear and groceries from rolling out when you open the trunk, too.

2023 BMW X7 Review: First Drive Summary

2023 BMW X7 Review
(Photo/Evan Williams)

We’re not going to pass judgment on the 2023 BMW X7’s new nose. We know that some people love BMW’s latest designs and others really don’t.

We will, though, on the powertrain changes, with the new six greatly enhancing the X7’s driving experience compared with the model it replaces. The 48V hybrid system on both engines is also a nice add-on, helping fuel economy and in-town drivability.

The tech changes will be more armchair quarterbacked than the facelift. Dropping buttons for voice is a big deal, but BMW has made a slam dunk on the hardest part of the equation: the voice system that replaces the buttons is excellent. And the crucial functions are still just a touch away.

Starting from $77,850 for an xDrive40i and $103,100 for an X7 M60i, expect to see plenty more of these new X7s at the country club or private school dropoff. You’ll probably see more of them tearing up a back road, too.

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Evan Williams
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Evan has been drooling over cars since the time he learned to walk. Since then he's worked on controlling the drooling and expanded his interests to include hiking, cycling, and kayaking. He went to school for engineering but transitioned into a more satisfying career and has been writing automotive and outdoors news for nearly a decade