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2022 BMW iX Review
I'd put the iX up against any of its luxury SUV competitors
SAN DIEGO — There are basically two flavors of electric car.
First, there's the electrified version of a current vehicle, like the Ford F-150 Lightning. It looks like a standard, gas-powered F-150 and feels like one, too, except for a handful of extra features like the Mega Power Frunk.
Then there's the other kind, where a brand's rulebook is tossed out in favor of an entirely new paradigm. That's the BMW iX, my test car this week, and it feels like a car from some near-future sci-fi flick with Tom Cruise. It has an entirely reworked design language you will love or hate — familiar territory for BMW.
We'll start on the outside, which is sure to be controversial. Like the Mercedes-Benz EQS, I reviewed recently, the front of the iX has an enormous beaver-tooth grille that isn't the best-looking thing around. If you were hoping BMWs new grille design language was going away with its new EVs, you will be disappointed. It's bigger than ever.
The whole SUV feels large and beefy, with sharp angles and extravagant proportions. It's similar to an X5, with plenty of room for passengers and a spacious-ish cargo area behind the second row. The rear liftgate angles down so steeply that the cargo area is lopped off, and if you're transporting tall items (or a large suitcase on its side, as I discovered), you might have trouble closing the gate.
My iX xDrive50 is the lower trim, with a pair of motors making 516 horsepower and a 0-60 time in the mid-4 second range. This big rig hustles when you put your foot down. If that's not enough, there's an even faster and wildly unnecessary iX M60 that shaves almost a second off that 0-60 time and boosts horsepower to 610 while simultaneously trimming the range down by 10 percent or so. With 22-inch summer tires equipped, the iX xDrive50 has a range of 315 miles.
This is perhaps the first BMW that I've loved. I've always felt them overly stiff, with too much focus on Ultimate Driving and not enough on everyday driving. No one is going to track their X5, so why pretend otherwise? Still, that's part of the BMW mystique. But the iX feels much more like a large, comfortable luxury SUV than a large luxury SUV pretending to be a sports car.
The low center of gravity inherent to EVs makes the iX handle far smaller than you'd expect, and the electric drivetrain means all you need to do is think about the throttle, and you're quickly ripping towards triple-digit speeds.
But the interior is where the iX shines. BMW's designers took advantage of the skateboard platform to combine a floating dash with a floating center console and then slathered everything in exquisite leather and wood and controls made out of actual cut glass. An enormous, curved piece of glass combines the dash cluster and infotainment into one visual element that floats in mid-air in front of you.
The center console (with available heated armrests) has a glass shifter, a control knob for the infotainment if you don't want to use the touchscreen, and buttons built into an open-pore wood panel with laser-etched labels. The seat controls are also cut glass, positioned high on the doors. The overall effect is stunning; your friends will be incredibly impressed when they first climb in.
The steering wheel is a hexagon, which is weird at first and then surprisingly pleasant. I can take it or leave it as a control item, but it fits the overall angled aesthetic of the car nicely.
The windows and windscreen are enormous, the panoramic glass roof is astounding — and the largest ever fitted in a BMW. The feeling of spaciousness in the car is unmatched and is perhaps the best thing about driving it. The roof is fascinating because, while it doesn't have a cloth shade to block out the sun, it can be either transparent or opaque thanks to electrochromic glass — something found in only a handful of cars.
It supports wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and it's one of the few vehicles to support Apple Maps display in the instrument cluster and the infotainment screen. We're inching towards Apple taking over every screen in the car, but it solves one annoyance of using your phone for nav instead of the built-in system.
My tester priced out to $104,820 (after starting at "just" $85,095), which makes it price competitive-ish with the Rivian R1S and other high-end luxury SUVs. The more powerful iX M60 starts at $109,895 and rises quickly as options are added. They neither qualify for a tax credit as they’re too expensive.
We're rapidly getting to the point where electric cars won't be purchased because they're electric but rather because they're competitive as cars. I don't know if we're quite there yet, but I'd put the iX up against any of its luxury SUV competitors. It's just that good.