From the beginning of July through the first week of August, I drove nothing but EVs. This was a happy accident, but after a couple cars, I figured “What the hell, let’s see how far I can go.”
Six EVs passed through my driveway in that time (you can already read about the BMW i4, Kia EV6, and Chevy Bolt EUV; the Ford E-Transit and Mercedes-Benz EQS are coming soon) but it was the BMW iX that made the strongest impression.
Let me put it like this – I thought nothing I drove during this stretch would be as impressive as the Mercedes. But following it with the iX left me feeling like the EQS was trying to reinvent the S-Class' wheel via electrification (which it does well). But aside from its jelly-belly shape and Hyperscreen, it never established a character beyond “electric S-Class.” But the iX seemed comfortable in its own polarizing skin. It's a unique riff, rather than the electrification of a familiar idea, and it lands with a greater impact because of that positioning. That doesn't mean there aren't warts, of course.
Gallery: 2022 BMW iX: Pros And Cons
A Stunning Cabin
A huge part of that character comes from the cabin, which is unlike anything BMW has done, well, ever. Particularly when paired with the Stonegrey upholstery of my tester, the cabin is a masterpiece. High-quality fabric covers the rounded dash and door panels, not to mention the seats themselves (they look hilarious with a set of googly eyes stuck on the headrest), while anodized gold accents are a more interesting flash of brightness than chrome. The slab display housing is derivative on its own, but mounted on pedestals, it seems to float above the dash. It's the most concepty-car touch on a production model in years.
While way too many British Twitter users shamelessly ripped off Jeremy Clarkson by saying the iX's squircular steering wheel came from an Austin Allegro – honestly guys, it's not even close to Clarkson's best lines – I adored how the unconventional shape pairs with a thick rim and a two-spoke design. It felt natural and pleasant in my hand while making its own design statement with black leather upholstery. My only disappointment is the splash of wood on the center console, added as part of the $7,700 Ultimate package. It looks and feels rich, but it's also an unwelcomed piece of the old world intruding on a thoroughly modern product.
Forget The M60
BMW launched the iX M60 earlier this year, and as I argued in my first drive, it's pointless. A week with the base xDrive50 further reinforced that point. Packing 516 horsepower and 564 pound-feet of torque from a pair of magnet-free electric motors, the base car can hulk to 60 miles per hour in 4.4 seconds. To be blunt, though, I'd be shocked if the iX weren't clipping into the three-second range.
This thing is effortlessly, relentlessly quick. And with the M60 only turning in a 3.6-second sprint via 532 hp and 749 lb-ft while costing about $22,000 more, the xDrive50 is for all intents and purposes a value.
Awesome Back Seat
The iX is 1.8 inches longer, 1.1 inches wider, and its wheelbase has an extra 2.6 inches between the axles. If that all sounds like a relatively minor increase in size, that's because it is. And yet, the iX feels so much roomier than its combustion-powered sibling, the X5. The second row has more headroom and legroom, and rather than a simple, straight seatback, the pillar has padding that's rounded and wears the same upholstery. Passengers can lean to the outside like they're sitting on their favorite couch.
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The iX M60 is a poor value, but I did miss its deeper, more enthusiastic acceleration/deceleration sound. BMW's non-M acceleration sound also comes from Hans Zimmer, but it sounds thinner, quieter, and just plain less interesting. That said, I don't think I'd have noticed had I not driven the i4 M50 a few weeks prior. The xDrive50 sounds great, if you don't know there's anything else out there.
There's Room For A Lower Priced Model
The xDrive50 is a better value than the M60, but after a week behind the wheel, I'm pretty sure there's room in BMW USA's lineup for the Euro-market xDrive40. Something that possesses the iX's luxurious trappings along with a mid-5-second run to 60, a slight boost in the xDrive50's 305-mile (minimum) range, and a big dip in the $85,000 starting price is a pretty darn tempting package. As it stands, (North America's) base iX is simply more powerful than it needs to be. Give us a lower price and more range, and this already appealing SUV grows more attractive still.
Obligatory Complaint About Exterior
Even with it in my driveway for a week, I never really developed any affection for the iX's polarizing grille. And my tester's Aventurin Red paint, the iX's hero color, is just not my cup of tea, either. That said, responses from passersby were overwhelmingly positive, with people asking what the iX was and responding with surprise and delight when I said “It's a new BMW.” Maybe the Bavarians do know what they're doing with their exterior designs.
2022 BMW iX xDrive50