2019 BMW X7. Photo: BMW

This week I'm driving the 2019 BMW X7, the newest and largest SUV in the German luxury manufacturer's lineup, with a sticker price of $85,445.

Why it matters: BMW is best known for producing ultimate driving machines, so I zeroed in on the ample driver-assistance features in this jumbo-size Bimmer to see how well the machine actually does the driving.

Details: Besides standard driver-assistance warnings for blind-spot detection, lane departure and front and rear collision, the X7 xDrive40i also comes with BMW's $1,700 Drivers Assistance Pro package.

  • The package includes an active lane-keeping feature for highway driving and can assist in stop-and-go traffic up to 37 miles per hour.
  • The system uses a driver-facing camera in the instrument cluster to monitor the driver’s eye and nose position to determine if the person is paying attention.
  • As long as they're attentive, they can take their hands off the wheel for 30 to 50 seconds at a time.

The bottom line: Compared to other driver-assistance technologies I've tried, the BMW X7 seemed heavy-handed. I often felt like I was competing for control, rather than being assisted.

  • But the traffic jam assistance was a welcome relief when we hit heavy traffic outside Toronto.

One other fun feature: The X7 also has the gesture-control feature introduced on the BMW 7 Series sedan, which lets you adjust the audio volume with the twirl of a finger. We had fun talking with our hands and playing around with different gestures to see what would happen.

  • But in the end, we were left wondering: What's wrong with a knob?

Go deeper

Over 73 million people watched the first debate on TV

Data: Nielsen; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

More than 73.1 million people watched the first presidential debate on television on Tuesday night, according to Nielsen ratings.

Why it matters: While that's a sizable audience for any American TV program, it's down more than 13% from the record number of TV viewers who tuned in for the first debate of the 2016 election. The chaotic nature of the debate and the overall uncertainty around this year's election may have pushed some viewers away.

Senate passes bill funding government through December

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Senate on Tuesday passed legislation to fund the federal government through Dec. 11, by a vote of 84-10.

Where it stands: The legislation will avert a government shutdown before funding expires Wednesday night and before the Nov. 3 election. The House passed the same measure last week by a vote of 359-57 after House Democrats and the Trump administration agreed on the resolution.

  • Both sides agreed early in negotiations that the bill should be a "clean" continuing resolution — meaning each party would only make small changes to existing funding levels so the measure would pass through both chambers quickly, Axios' Alayna Treene reported last week. The bill now goes to President Trump for his signature.
Bryan Walsh, author of Future
2 hours ago - Technology

The age of engineering life begins

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Synthetic biology startups raised some $3 billion through the first half of 2020, up from $1.9 billion for all of 2019, as the field brings the science of engineering to the art of life.

The big picture: Synthetic biologists are gradually learning how to program the code of life the way that computer experts have learned to program machines. If they can succeed — and if the public accepts their work — synthetic biology stands to fundamentally transform how we live.