Bigger than the X5, with the luxury and style of the 7 Series sedan, the 2021 BMW X7 brings its “A” game to the three-row crossover battle. But is it worth the considerable premium over the 2021 Cadillac XT6?
- Cadillac XT6 was brand-new for 2020.
- Both fit seven full-size adults.
- Alpina BX7 makes 612 horsepower.
2021 BMW X7
Base price: $75,895 / Read our 2020 BMW X7 Review
What we like: Powerful engines; beautiful interior; ride and handling; massive cargo space.
What we would change: Body roll; sluggish power-operated second row; $20K price differential between base and upgrade engine.
Overview: Taking what they’ve learned from the X5 crossover and the 7 Series luxury sedan, the 2021 BMW X7 is the best of both worlds: powerful, comfortable, and easily a rival to the best from Land Rover or Mercedes-Benz. The base engine is a turbocharged six-cylinder, whose 335 horsepower and 330 pound-feet of torque is enough to motivate the beast. Combine that with excellent ride and handling given its size, and it’s a pleasure to drive. Of course, there is also a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 if you must have more than 500 horsepower. New this year is the Alpina BX7, offering more than 600 horses for a mere $142,000. Driving manners are assured and confident, although given its size and weight, the X7 leans a bit for our tastes, and we’d recommend the Dynamic Handling package, which also beefs up the brakes. Sport mode tightens things up a bit and makes the throttle more responsive as well.
Inside, the X7 is well equipped, with four-zone climate control, a panoramic sunroof, and lots of other goodies. The cabin is as quiet as a bank vault, with lots of rich leather and wood. All three rows accommodate full-size adults, and the second row bench can be replaced by optional captain’s chairs, reducing capacity to six. Space behind all three rows is a bit tight, but with all seats folded, there are a cavernous 90 cubic feet of space. There’s plenty of tech, including a 12.3-inch touchscreen and of course BMW’s iDrive control, operated by a rotary knob with redundant buttons. The base 10-speaker stereo is good, and for 2021, Apple CarPlay capability is finally joined by Android Auto. Prices climb very quickly with options, with even the upgrade V8 engine costing more than $20,000 over the base six-cylinder.
What’s new for 2021: Most significantly, the engine lineup is all-new for 2021. The 456-hp V8 is dropped, and the Alpina XB7 is added. This is the first SUV for the famed BMW tuner. Having already had Apple CarPlay compatibility, the X7 adds Android Auto for 2021 as well. The previously available Off-Road package has been dropped. Also new for 2021 is the Dark Shadow trim, with matte gray paint, black exterior trim, and blue seats. It’s limited to 600, however, with only 75 coming to the U.S.
Features and technology: As befitting a luxury SUV costing more than $75,000, the 2021 BMW X7 comes well equipped, with heated front seats, a panoramic sunroof, 21-inch wheels, air suspension, onboard Wifi, wireless phone charging, and power seats in all rows. Every model includes a 10-speaker stereo, navigation, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. There’s a fully digital gauge cluster and a 12.3-inch touchscreen. Safety tech includes blind-spot detection, lane departure warning, both rear- and front-collision warning, and rear cross-traffic alert. The xDrive 50i adds remote start, a 360-degree top-view camera system, and a head-up display.
Options are numerous. Given our quibbles with the body roll, we like the Dynamic Handling package, which adds M sport brakes and a more robust suspension, including four-wheel steering. Other options include 22-inch wheels and a 1,500-watt, 20-speaker Harman Kardon stereo. Other options include two 10.2-inch touchscreen displays on the back of the front seats, a Blu-ray DVD player, and an HDMI port.
What does the future hold: Given that the X7 has only been around since 2019, we expect only modest tweaks in the future, with possible suspension adjustments to diminish the body roll and maybe a hybrid option.
2021 Cadillac XT6
Base price: $48,990 / Read our 2021 Cadillac XT6 Review
What we like: Full-size third row; smooth ride; low price compared to the competition.
What we would change: Sharpen up the interior; needs more power; towing capacity.
Overview: Brand-new for 2020 and slotting between the two-row XT5 and gargantuan Escalade, the Cadillac XT6 returns for 2021 as a premium luxury crossover with three rows of seats for full-size adults. The base V6 has been replaced by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, which to our tastes is a bit underpowered, although there’s an upgrade 3.6-liter V6 in Premium and Luxury models. The base model comes with front-wheel drive, although there are three driving modes and all-wheel drive is optional. Sport mode offers a distinctly lively ride, but without a loss of comfort.
The exterior design follows that of its smaller siblings, the XT4 and XT5, and there are some nice luxury touches on the interior, including semi-aniline leather, rich woods, and soft-touch materials. It’s a very nice and comfortable place to be, although to our minds, it feels a bit generic, without really distinguishing itself as a premium vehicle. The 2021 Cadillac XT6 comes well equipped, and plenty of options are available, including the $4,900 Platinum package on upper-tier models.
What’s new for 2021: The XT6 was brand new for 2020, so there are not a lot of changes for this year. Most significantly for 2021, last year’s 3.6-liter V6 is now the upgrade engine, with the base engine being a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder. It’s a bit underpowered, but returns 24 mpg combined. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity have also been added, and there are a new 20-inch wheel design for Sport models and a couple of new paint colors.
Features and technology: For 2021, XT6 trim levels are increased from two to three, with the Luxury trim joining the Sport and Premium Luxury. Luxury and Premium Luxury models are offered with front-wheel drive and optional all-wheel drive, while the Sport has dual-clutch Sport Control all-wheel drive, continuous damping control, and faster steering.
The base XT6 comes with leather seating, heated 8-way power front seats, an 8-speaker Bose audio system, a heated steering wheel, and a power sunroof. Also included are a power-folding third-row seat, tri-zone climate controls, wireless charging, an 8-inch touchscreen with wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration, 20-inch wheels, and rain-sensing wipers. Driver assists include forward collision alert, pedestrian braking, low-speed forward automatic braking, front and rear park assist, rear cross-traffic alert, and blind-spot warning.
Options include ventilated front seats, heated second-row seats, captain’s chairs for the second row, a 360-degree camera, and a 14-speaker Bose audio system. On the top two trims, Cadillac also offers the $4,900 Platinum package, with Opus semi-aniline leather, a leather-wrapped console, a micro-suede headliner, and a performance suspension.
What does the future hold: It could certainly use more power, and maybe even a top-level V performance model. Other than that, expect the usual tweaks and refinements.
X7 vs. XT6: Strengths comparison
Much more powerful base engine; higher tow rating; maximum cargo space; standard all-wheel drive; pure luxury.
Significantly lower starting price; better fuel economy; longer powertrain warranty.
X7 vs. XT6: Which is better?
There is no question that the 2021 BMW X7 is exquisitely made, comfortable, luxurious, quiet, and fun to drive. It is a lovely machine. But we’re just not sure it’s worth $27,000 more than the Cadillac. Save yourself $22,000 and get the XT6 with the V6. Find a 2021 BMW X7 for sale or Find a 2021 Cadillac XT6 for sale
|2021 BMW X7||2021 Cadillac XT6|
|Engine||3.0-liter I6, turbocharged||2.0-liter I4, turbocharged|
|Horsepower||335 hp @ 5500 rpm||237 hp @ 6700 rpm|
|Torque||330 lb-ft @ 1500 rpm||258 lb-ft @ 1500 rpm|
|Transmission||Automatic, 8-Spd||Automatic, 9-Spd|
|Fuel Economy||22 mpg (20 city, 25 hwy)||24 mpg (21 city, 27hwy)|
|Also Available||4.4-liter V8, twin-turbocharged; 4.4-liter V8, twin-turbocharged (Alpina)||3.6-liter V6|
|Basic Warranty||4 years or 50,000 miles||4 years or 50,000 miles|
|Powertrain Warranty||4 years or 50,000 miles||6 years or 70,000 miles|
|NHTSA Overall Safety Rating||n/a||4 Stars|
|Max Seating Capacity||7||7|
|Wheelbase||122.2 inches||112.7 inches|
|Overall Length||203.3 inches||198.5 inches|
|Width||78.7 inches||77.3 inches|
|Height||71.1 inches||69.9 inches|
|Turning Diameter||42.8 feet||39.1 feet|
|Headroom, Front||41.9 inches||39.8 inches|
|Headroom, Rear||41.9 inches||39.1 inches|
|Legroom, Front||39.8 inches||41.2 inches|
|Legroom, Rear||37.6 inches||39.1 inches|
|Shoulder Room, Front||60.0 inches||58.3 inches|
|Shoulder Room, Rear||58.1 inches||57.4 inches|
|EPA Passenger Volume||n/a||149.9 cu. ft.|
|EPA Cargo Volume||90.4 cu. ft.||78.7 cu. ft.|