BMW’s new electric flagship — the iX xDrive50 SUV — was created and engineered from a clean slate to showcase the automaker’s latest technology. It is similar in size to the X5 but with a shorter profile.
Underneath the composite space frame made of carbon-fiber reinforced plastics, aluminum and high-strength steel: two electric motors and a high-voltage battery, which is placed low beneath the passenger compartment.
A 111.5-kilowatt-hour lithium ion battery pack sits in the middle of the iX’s 118.1-inch wheelbase. The front motor produces 268 hp and 260 pound-feet of torque while the rear has 335 hp and 295 lb-ft.
The EPA hasn’t certified the iX’s range, but BMW estimates the number will be close to 300 miles.
The 2023 BMW iX M60, a more powerful version of the iX electric crossover, delivers up to 610 hp and an EPA-estimated 280 miles of driving range on a single charge. It will be available in June.
“The iX’s key mission in life is to move you and yours silently and efficiently, so don’t expect sports car-like antics. That said, this EV is hardly a dud, with a nicely controlled ride quality and little in the way of body roll while cornering. The iX uses the same lift-related dampers that BMW introduced on the G20-generation 3 Series, where the shocks have extra hydraulic damping built in for smoother rebound over bumps. A self-leveling air suspension is optional for a more supple ride, and even on 22-inch wheels, the iX glides across miles and miles of German autobahn without the smallest hiccup.
Disappointingly, like a lot of new BMWs, the iX’s steering is pretty lifeless, though the wheel — actually, I guess it’s more of a squircle — has immediate response and good weight to its action. Spec the $1,600 Dynamic Handling Package and you’ll get rear axle steering, which helps scoot the iX’s frumpy butt around corners, making it rather surprisingly agile while pointing up twisty Alpine roads in the Bavarian countryside.
Given the dual-motor setup, the iX xDrive50 has what’s known as through-the-road all-wheel drive, though the front motor can be turned off when power isn’t needed so the whole drivetrain runs more efficiently. No, you can’t force the iX into a purely rear-wheel-drive setting during sporty driving — this isn’t an M5, you guys — but the awd system’s fully variable torque distribution should definitely make the iX a good friend for foul weather. Throw on some winter tires and you’re good to go.”
— Steven Ewing, Roadshow by CNET
“To avoid using rare-earth elements, BMW employs electrically excited motors rather than the permanent-magnet type. And although the latter are more efficient, BMW claims 93 percent efficiency for its powertrain. The 516-hp iX xDrive50 combines a 255-hp front motor and a 308-hp one in back. EVs don’t typically have tachometers, but the iX and i4 do; we saw 12,100 rpm at the iX’s 124-mph top speed. But the front and rear have different trans ratios, so it’s unclear which motor it’s tracking.
Although the iX is about 450 pounds heavier than a V-8-powered X5, its acceleration won’t be far behind. It should hit 60 mph in just over four seconds. There’s so much instant thrust available that the passing-maneuver-calculation part of your brain needs reprogramming.
Low tire noise makes it seem like the iX glides on its optional 22-inch wheels. The rate of energy use on our daylong drive through the Bavarian countryside aligns with the 300-plus miles of EPA range that BMW expects the iX to achieve. It steers and handles well for a nearly 3-ton SUV optimized for efficiency, and the optional rear-wheel steering goes unnoticed until you realize how tidy it makes the iX feel on the road and in parking lots. Among the regen settings is another new feature, Adaptive mode, which takes map data and information on upcoming turns or stops, surrounding traffic, and speed limits to match regen levels to predicted deceleration needs. It sounds gimmicky, but it did a great job of keeping our foot off the brake pedal.”
— Dave VanderWerp, Car and Driver
“Marvelous on the inside, maddening on the outside — I’ll get to the styling — the iX is addressed to the tech-loving, Earth-hugging mainstream who might want to buy or replace a similar-sized BMW X5. The company says the iX may also speak to those who like X7’s “expressive” front-end styling. Maniacs, in other words.
… Whatever else the iX is or does, it’s got legs: an all-aluminum suspension with aluminum subframes; double-wishbone front suspension with anti-roll bar; five-link rear suspension with anti-roll bar (and some trick-ass spring struts); optional adaptive damping and two-axle air suspension with automatic self-leveling. Also, e-assisted, speed-variable steering and optional rear-wheel steering. Corner-to-corner, the iX felt locked down tighter than New Zealand.
BMW’s interior designers elected to use a fair number of hard buttons as well, available but discreetly arranged in a way the company calls “shy tech.” But one selector is practically an exhibitionist: the cut-glass rotary controller in the floating center console, part of the Executive Package. It is among the details that offer warmth and tactility to shoppers seeking an alternative to Teslas’ Vulcan minimalism.
Note to Tesla: the iX’s hexagonally shaped steering wheel is the yoke done right.
My question is, does BMW really want to sell electric vehicles or is this an elaborate scheme to discredit the technology? Because, man, the iX’s exterior styling is just brutal. What a mutt. Those squinty little LED eyes, the soft shoulders, the gravid belly, the swollen nose with a glass-butterfly bandage. Is this some sort of purity test for the eco-conscious? Because I’m failing.”
— Dan Neil, The Wall Street Journal
“One area where the BMW iX struggles is that it doesn’t sound or feel particularly premium. I know I’m sitting on leather, but the interior has been simplified so much that I feel like I’m in a device, as opposed to a luxury vehicle. I would love to see the (eventual, I hope) Alpina version of the iX, one that’s generously slathered in leather. The xDrive50 is slick and high-tech, but there’s a Tesla-like sparseness that doesn’t connect with me. Plus, the spot that’s normally a drivetrain tunnel is simply empty space. Like in a cargo van. Now, maybe that was the design team’s intention? Maybe they said, “Look, Tesla is dominating the EV space, and we need to be more like it.” If that’s the case, then BMW really has succeeded in going minimum. Some customers might even dig it. Call it the Tesla Syndrome. But for my large hunk of cash, I’d like some more wood, metal and leather. To me, the Tesla aesthetic doesn’t work here.
As for driving on curvy, fun Bavarian roads, it’s fine. The iX drives at least as well as the Tesla Model X, and now that I’m thinking about it, quite similarly. That impression makes sense as both weigh about the same, have said weight located in the same spots, and make about the same power. To be clear, I’m talking about the last Model X I drove back in 2016 when the 90D version of the electric three-row SUV produced 518 hp from its two motors. For 2022 you now choose between 670 Long Range or 1,020 ponies in the Plaid. Like the equally heavy Tesla, the iX is betrayed by physics. This might be part of why this EV SUV doesn’t necessarily feel premium. There’s a minivan quality that’s hard to get past. I’m not feeling the ultimate driving machine. I’m not feeling BMW as a brand in the way it tackles a road. It’s quite like how I felt about the i3. Interesting car, interesting concept, but doesn’t feel the way a BMW should feel when I close my eyes. The iX just feels like… an electric thing. That said, the noise the motors make (or is that coming from the speakers?) is quite cool.”
— Jonny Lieberman, Motor Trend
“It seems BMW didn’t take the low motor noise for granted and put extra care into quieting down the minor annoyances that prove so hard to ignore in many EVs. Even at 130 mph on the Autobahn, wind noise is a distant concern. Tire roar is a non-issue as well, although perfectly paved German roads mean that observation may not translate to our shores. A similar caveat must be applied to observations of ride comfort; a shame, because the iX proved positively lush over a hundred miles of every type of road.
That softer setup does force you to confront its purpose. The iX is the SUV of the electric lineup, the family hauler and plush flagship to the i4’s sporty “Ultimate Electric Driving Machine” schtick. To expect anything adjacent to an M5 would be absurd. Its dual electric motors provide 516 hp and tug you to 60 in just 4.6 seconds, but the iX is Autobahn fast, not back-road fast. There’s too much weight here for any real cornering heroics; the iX is willing to negotiate bends quickly but it’s never eager for it. Instead, go for that straight line flat-floor thrill and enjoy a space-ship soundscape designed by Hans Zimmer himself.”
— Mack Hogan, Road and Track