2021 BMW ALPINA XB7
2021 BMW Alpina XB7 Review
- Thundering acceleration
- Impressive array of advanced driver aids
- Exclusivity of the Alpina badge
- Not enough differentiation from the BMW X7
- Interior is cluttered with buttons
- Ride quality can suffer on less than perfect roads
- Based on the BMW X7 SUV
- Turbocharged V8 makes 612 horsepower
- Retuned suspension
- Based on the first X7 generation introduced for 2019
Alpina has been tuning and modifying BMWs for decades. Its latest project is the 2021 BMW Alpina XB7. The XB7 is based on BMW's big three-row SUV, the X7. As with other Alpina models, it features higher-quality interior materials, subtle exterior styling changes and an upgraded powertrain.
The XB7 joins Alpina's other model, the 7 Series-based B7. The XB7 costs significantly more than a regular X7, but it comes with more power from its turbocharged 4.4-liter V8. The engine is paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission and standard all-wheel drive. While the X7's M50i trim makes 523 horsepower and 553 lb-ft of torque with this setup, the XB7 cranks up the knob to generate 612 hp and 590 lb-ft. An Alpina-tuned suspension, Brembo brakes, standard rear-wheel steering (which helps make the X7 feel more nimble when turning), and optional 23-inch wheels are part of the XB7's repertoire.
There are only a handful of three-row luxury SUVs to choose from in the XB7's price range. The closest competitor to the XB7 comes from Mercedes-Benz. Its AMG GLS 63 packs similar performance and luxury accoutrements. You might also consider the Cadillac Escalade, which is all-new for 2021. Does the Alpina XB7 have the right mix of luxury and performance for you? Read our Expert Rating below to get our in-depth analysis.
The Alpina XB7 is one of the most expensive and powerful vehicles BMW has to offer. It's comfortable, well appointed, and loaded with just about every feature you could ask for as standard equipment. But it doesn't feel all that much better than a regular X7, especially considering the price jump.
How does the ALPINA XB7 drive?
BMW doesn't currently build a full M version of its large X7 SUV, but the Alpina-tuned XB7 comes reasonably close to offering that level of performance. The XB7's turbocharged V8 makes more power than anything else in BMW's lineup, save for the bonkers M8 Competition. Acceleration is blazingly quick (0-60 mph in 4.1 seconds, in our testing), and the brakes are powerful enough to slow the XB7 down better than most sports cars.
The XB7 is reasonably nimble on a winding road, but it feels much more at home in the city or out on the highway. The transmission shifts smoothly, and the quick, light steering makes turning or parking relatively easy. Occasionally the brakes can be too sensitive, making it tricky to stop smoothly, but overall braking performance is on par for the class.
How comfortable is the ALPINA XB7?
Disappointingly, the XB7 isn't more comfortable than a regular BMW X7. We expect more considering the price gap between the pair and the vehicles the XB7 competes against. The seats in all three rows are reasonably comfortable, but, despite plenty of adjustment, we never quite settled in.
The XB7's ride quality is also underwhelming. On anything less than perfect pavement, the XB7 doesn't feel as quiet and isolating as its rivals. The ride quality isn't harsh, but it doesn't glide over pavement either.
The climate control system is a mixed bag too. The settings aren't intuitive and require constant manual fiddling to get what you want. We like the standard heated and ventilated seats, but overall the Alpina lacks polish.
How’s the interior?
Save for some minor trim pieces and Alpina logos, the interior of the XB7 is identical to the regular X7's. That's both a good and bad thing. The interior is relatively spacious, though adults will find the third row lacks shoulder room. It's at least easy to crawl back there since the adjustable air suspension and large doors make getting in and out pretty easy. Visibility is good for such a large SUV. The standard surround-view camera, parking sensors and blind-spot monitoring help out a lot, especially in tight parking lots.
Getting your preferred driving position is easy thanks to lots of seat adjustment and an upright but comfortable view ahead. On the downside, many of the XB7's controls are frustrating to use. There are plenty of buttons, but it's not always clear which ones control which settings.
How’s the tech?
The Alpina XB7 is loaded with tech, and almost all of it comes as standard equipment. BMW includes a full suite of driver aids, from adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking to surround-view cameras and parking sensors. It all works well too. The adaptive cruise holds a tight gap but doesn't tap the brakes constantly like less refined systems. The lane-centering is equally impressive.
While we may not love the XB7's gesture controls, its voice command system is much more useful. It understands natural language and can control a variety of features, including adjusting the climate control and setting navigation directions. BMW has finally come around and stopped charging a subscription for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which work wirelessly, a boon for those who prefer to just use their phones for navigation and music.
How’s the storage?
Luxury SUVs need to be as practical as they are well appointed, and the XB7 does pretty well here. Cargo space behind the third row is typical for a luxury SUV of this type. Drop the seats and the space opens up greatly, though it's not quite as massive inside as the Lincoln Navigator or Cadillac Escalade. Those big domestic SUVs can also tow more — properly equipped, the XB7's maximum towing capacity is 7,500 pounds.
Small-item storage is mixed. The door pockets are massive, but the center console is shallow. Putting things in the front cupholders blocks access to the wireless charging pad. Got kids? The XB7 is a capable family hauler. The second-row seating area is roomy enough for rear-facing child safety seats, and the seat anchor points are easy to access. You can also lower the XB7's ride height to make it easier for small kids to climb in.
How economical is the ALPINA XB7?
The Alpina XB7 gets an EPA-estimated 17 mpg combined (15 city/21 highway). We matched that figure on our 115-mile evaluation route, so the EPA figures should be fairly accurate if you drive with a light foot. That's average economy for this class in which almost all members are powered by V8 engines. Some rivals are a bit less thirsty in the city, but only by a small margin.
Is the ALPINA XB7 a good value?
The XB7 looks and feels like a premium vehicle, but it doesn't do anything to fully stand out. Outside of the extra power, the Alpina XB7 isn't noticeably better than a standard BMW X7. Factor in the price gap between the Alpina and a regular X7 and it's even harder to swallow, even if you consider the upgraded interior. The XB7 does include just about every available feature as standard equipment, but the overall package isn't totally worth the premium.
BMW includes a four-year/50,000-mile basic and powertrain warranty. It also includes four years of roadside assistance and three years/36,000 miles of maintenance.
The Alpina XB7 is one of those vehicles that should stand out to those who know what the Alpina badge means. But the special wheels and slight design tweaks don't do a lot to separate it from the rest of BMW's SUV lineup. Is it fun to drive? Sort of. The subtle looks do make it a bit of a sleeper given the potent V8, but the XB7 is too big and bulky to really enjoy driving along a curvy road.
Which ALPINA XB7 does Edmunds recommend?
BMW ALPINA XB7 models
The BMW Alpina XB7 is a three-row luxury SUV powered by a turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 engine (612 horsepower, 590 lb-ft). An eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive are standard. No trim levels are offered for the XB7 and only a few stand-alone options are available. Highlighted features include:
BMW Alpina XB7 vs. the competition
2021 BMW Alpina XB7
2021 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class
BMW Alpina XB7 vs. Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class
The AMG GLS 63 is a great alternative to the Alpina XB7. It comes with a monster V8 and mind-bending handling and includes all of the luxurious features found in the standard GLS. The main advantage to the XB7 is the more exclusive Alpina badge. Otherwise, we prefer the GLS 63.
BMW Alpina XB7 vs. Cadillac Escalade
Fresh off a massive redesign, the Cadillac Escalade is right to flaunt its new duds. Its cavernous and impressively styled interior is packed with cool technology. The Escalade also undercuts the XB7 by tens of thousands of dollars. The XB7 counters with more luxury, more horsepower and better all-around performance.
BMW Alpina XB7 vs. Tesla Model X
If raw speed and cutting-edge technology are at the top of your seven-passenger SUV shopping list, it's difficult to top Tesla's Model X. Improvements in quality and range have made the Model X much more desirable, but the Alpina XB7 offers a far more luxurious interior as well as performance that's not too far off the blazing Tesla.