It took a while for BMW to get into the three-row SUV segment. Mercedes-Benz and Audi were first to market with their GL-Class and Q7 in 2006, both of which have since evolved into second-generation (and third in the case of the GLS) forms. It doesn’t seem to matter much though, as even though BMW waited over ten years to build its own three-row SAV, X7 sales have been strong, proving there was pent-up demand for the largest BMW model yet. Sure, the X5 could be optioned with additional third-row seats that really seemed more like an afterthought than a true value-adding upgrade, but for large families, there’s never been any real alternative to a full-size vehicle.
Territory that was once owned by the likes of the Chevrolet Suburban has changed though, and instead of ponderous brutes built on truck frames, the modern family seems more keen to embrace something on the luxury side. American manufacturers have been quick to capitalize, but when it comes to performance, there’s really no alternative to what the German marques are selling, and among them, the Alpina XB7 is the obvious choice.
It’s easy to understand why. Although Mercedes-AMG builds a 600-horsepower version of the GLS-Class which is incredibly fast, the Mercedes Maybach GLS600 is the true luxury choice. Audi makes an SQ7, but with just 500 horsepower, it’s not in the same performance league as the Mercedes-AMG or Alpina. There’s the 600-horsepower Audi RS Q8, but this model is more of a coupe SUV, and goes without the third row of seats. If you’re looking for one vehicle that can truly do it all within its segment, there’s really no alternative to the Alpina XB7, as it effectively straddles the two seemingly mutually exclusive worlds of performance and luxury almost perfectly, just as Alpina always has. The XB7 starts at a breathtaking $141,300, but just a few months after the model was filled, the production quota for the first year was filled.
In a new video, automotive YouTuber and car auction site founder Doug DeMuro reviews the XB7, and you won’t want to miss him going over all of the quirks and features. Given the unique properties of the XB7, you might not be particularly surprised to learn that it ranks among the best luxury SUVs on the market, and falls just short of performance wagons like the Audi RS6 Avant and Mercedes-AMG E63S by a slim margin.—Alex Tock
[Photos and video courtesy BMW AG, Doug DeMuro on YouTube.]