Pros: Exquisite interior design, superb performance, long electric range, comfortable ride
Cons: Polarizing exterior styling, no third row of seats, desirable driving assists are options
The 2023 BMW iX SUV is leading its brand’s latest wave of electric cars. It makes a statement anywhere it goes with its controversial exterior design, but get past that, and you’ll discover a beautifully crafted luxury SUV that’s comfortable to cruise in and surprisingly engaging when driven hard.
The interior is where the iX really shines, with modern, airy design that’s unlike anything on the market, let alone the BMW line-up. It also has the best implementation of the brand’s current infotainment system, showcasing how good the system can be, when it’s running well. It’s also extremely spacious for occupants and cargo, in particular with more carrying space than its closest competitors, and just shy of the Tesla Model X.
The ride quality is among the best available from BMW, and extremely good against the competition. It favors the firm side, but that, along with reasonably good steering and a talkative chassis make it fun to drive. The extra power of the iX M60 only adds to the fun. And with ranges exceeding 300 miles on the regular xDrive50 models, you can have fun driving it for long periods of time without having to stop for a charge.
Its only major drawbacks are the aforementioned odd styling, a lack of a third-row seat option (although Tesla’s and Mercedes’ are of questionable use), as well as hiding many features behind options. In particular, simple adaptive cruise control is an extra-cost option, which is somewhat galling when it’s becoming commonplace on far more affordable cars.
But all-in-all, the iX is a luxury electric crossover that feels genuinely special and practical, particularly for the price. If you’re in the market, it’s a must-see.
What’s new for 2023?
The new model year brings the introduction of the BMW iX M60. The new range topper gets a new rear motor and can produce a maximum of 610 horsepower and 811 pound-feet of torque. Besides the motor, it also gets upgraded brakes and different anti-roll bars to improve stopping and handling. Visually, it features the same Sport exterior package available on the xDrive50, and is only identifiable by its bronze badging.
The iX interior is one of its finest attributes. It’s unlike any other BMW with a design that wouldn’t be out of place in a modern art museum. The razor-sharp curved instrument and infotainment screens float above the steeply raked dash via long, delicate-looking arms. The door design, air vents and upholstery all feature crisp angles and geometric designs. Even the steering wheel is hexagonal. Unique materials are available, too, including microfiber and wool upholstery, real wood trim and infotainment controls made from crystal. It’s a unique and luxurious cabin befitting a flagship electric SUV.
Sitting up front, the cabin is airy and spacious, too. The seats are large and slightly firm with plenty of adjustment. The seating position is high up, and with the falling dashboard, the feeling is almost minivan-like. The rear seating area feels a little darker, but it’s still very roomy with a firm but fairly supportive rear bench.
The infotainment system can be operated via either tapping the 14.9-inch screen, or using the control dial on the center console, where volume controls are also found. While we’ve had difficulties with iDrive 8 in other BMW models, specifically slow operation, it works very well in the iX. It was very responsive and has less dense menu design and arrangement. The screen is integrated in the same panel as the instrument screen, which measures 12.3 inches. Both screens are extremely bright and sharp and have artistic, geometric graphics that complement the interior design well.
The BMW iX measures 195 inches long, 77.4 inches wide and 66.8 inches tall. That puts it a couple inches longer than an Audi E-Tron, a few inches shorter than a Model X and about half a foot shorter in length to the Mercedes EQS SUV, which offers the option of a third-row seat. It weighs around 5,700 pounds, depending on configuration, which is roughly equivalent to the Audi, and a few hundred pounds lighter than the Mercedes. The Model X is lighter than all of them, though at just under 5,200 pounds.
Front headroom is better in the BMW and all three Germans are in an almost dead heat as far as leg room. The Tesla offers a bit more front leg room. Move to the rear, and the Audi and Mercedes are slightly ahead in space, with the Tesla having an advantage in head room, but not leg room. But as mentioned in the interior section, the BMW is still very comfortable front and rear.
Cargo space with the rear seats up is 35.5 cubic feet and 77.9 with them folded. These numbers are substantially more than either the Audi or Mercedes offers, but behind the cavernous Tesla (maximum capacity of the Model X is around 90 cubic feet). BMW does not give towing capacity numbers for the iX, but the Tesla is rated for 5,000 pounds, the Audi for 4,000 pounds, and the Mercedes for 3,500.
The standard iX xDrive50 features a motor on each axle and therefore all-wheel drive. Maximum output is 516 horsepower and 564 pound-feet of torque. That will get the iX to 60 in an estimated 4.4 seconds on to a top speed of 124 mph. It and the M60 come with a 111.5-kWh (gross) battery pack, but different options will affect how much range it gets. The longest-range xDrive50 is the version with 20-inch wheels, which will go 324 miles on a charge. Its efficiency is rated at 39 kWh/100 miles or 86 mpg-e. Next most efficient is the one with 22-inch wheels with a range of 315 miles and efficiency of 39 kWh/100 miles or 86 mpg-e. The 21-inch model will go 305 miles with an efficiency of 40.7 kWh/100 miles or 83 mpg-e.
The M60, as mentioned, gets a much higher output rear motor. Maximum output is 610 horsepower and 811 pound-feet of torque, though that’s only in Sport Boost Mode with Launch Control active. Normally, it makes 532 horsepower and 749 pound-feet of torque. It can hit 60 mph in 3.6 seconds and has a top speed of 155 mph. Unsurprisingly, it has a greater hunger for electrons. With 21-inch wheels, it has a range of 288 miles and efficiency of 44 kWh/100 miles or 77 mpg-e. Confusingly, according to the EPA, the 22-inch wheel model will only go 274 miles on a charge, but is slightly more efficient with a rating of 43 kWh/100 miles or 78 mpg-e.
The iX on-board charger can deliver 11 kW via a Level 2 charger. It also supports DC fast charging. At a fast charging station, peak charging speeds are 195 kW.
So far, we’ve only had the opportunity to drive the iX in the M60 guise, and its seriously impressive. Of course, the massive amount of power and torque is attention-getting and almost addictive. And unlike many less-potent electric cars, the power seems to stay on longer, rather than falling off quickly. While artificial powertrain sounds can be polarizing, we found the sounds BMW created to be an enhancement to the acceleration. They were composed by a team led by film composer Hans Zimmer, and they’re a blend of futuristic noises and low mechanical growls highlight acceleration and deceleration well. They’re quite fun. They also go quiet when you’re simply cruising, so they don’t outstay their welcome. And if you really dislike them, they can be turned off.
Weighing in at more than 5,500 pounds, the iX is certainly heavy, which can be felt as it’s going through corners. But it’s surprisingly agile for such a weighty machine. And the fact that it tells you quite clearly what each end is up to makes it surprisingly confidence-inspiring. That, and its all-wheel-drive system. The steering is even pretty good for a BMW. It’s still very numb, but not nearly to the extent of some other models from the brand.
The air suspension is extremely well-tuned, too. Naturally, it has Comfort and Sport modes that are basically a softer setting and a harder setting. They’re both quite compliant, though, with smooth rides. There’s less body roll in the firmer setting, and thus is the most fun. Considering how comfortable sport is, we wouldn’t blame you for leaving it engaged the entire time.
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The iX xDrive50 starts at $85,095, which includes the $995 destination charge. The M60 starts at $109,895. The xDrive50 comes standard with a 12.3-inch instrument display and 14.9-inch touchscreen infotainment system, which is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The standard sound system features 12 speakers. Wireless phone charging is included as well. Four-zone automatic climate control, heated seats and a glass roof round out the standard comfort and convenience features.
The M60 adds the aforementioned performance upgrades, 21-inch wheels and the sportier front and rear fascias. Inside it adds a Bowers & Wilkins 30-speaker sound system, head-up display and additional heated interior surfaces for the front occupants.
Optionally available on the xDrive50 are an array of wheel designs and your choice of exterior design, the standard version or the sportier style that’s standard on the M60. The M60’s four-wheel steering and air suspension are an option on the xDrive50. Additional heated interior surfaces, different interior trimmings, a head-up display, augmented reality navigation, soft-close doors, more seat adjustments and massage, as well as your choice of 18-speaker Harmon Kardon or 30-speaker Bowers & Wilkens sound systems are among the many options available for the base iX.
The iX has not been crash-tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or Insurance Institute for Highway Safety yet, and thus it does not have those ratings. The iX does come with a solid set of standard safety features including automatic emergency braking, blind-spot warning and lane-departure warning. It also has parking sensors and automatic high-beam headlights. Available as an option is the “Active Driving Assistant Professional,” which adds adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go and lane-centering steering assist. That package also includes a surround view camera system and automated parking functions.