2022 BMW iX Review and Test Drive

Blending forward-thinking luxury, sustainability, and design, the BMW iX is a head-turner in more ways than one.

Beverly Braga

Review QuickTakes:

In today's new-car market, electric vehicles (EVs) have finally found a place alongside their gasoline-powered counterparts. Perhaps not in terms of sales, but definitely as part of everyday discussions. And you'd be forgiven if you thought EVs were a new concept, existing only since Tesla came to market 20 years ago. In reality, BMW introduced not one but two EV models 50 years ago.

The German luxury sport automaker converted a pair of BMW 1602 vehicles into battery-electrics and used them as support cars during the Munich-hosted 1972 Summer Olympics. Since then, BMW Group released its share of concept cars before officially creating a dedicated EV sub-brand in 2011 known as BMW i. Leading the electrified charge for BMW was the quirky but innovative i3, which debuted in 2013. The BMW i8 came along the following year. Taking a different electrified approach, the futuristic-leaning i8 was a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) sports car.

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The i3 and i8 represented BMW's first-ever mass-produced EV and PHEV, respectively. And both were bestsellers within their segments — subcompact EV for i3, electrified sports car for i8 — before their production runs ended in 2022 and 2020, respectively. But BMW didn't take long to turn the page and start a new chapter. The appropriately named Vision iNEXT concept was already in line to become the all-new 2022 BMW iX.

The BMW iX midsize crossover SUV undoubtedly nods to its forefathers. Its design is distinctive while also featuring sustainable products such as natural and recycled materials. One key difference between the 2022 iX and the i3 and i8 is that BMW positions the iX as a new flagship vehicle rather than an experiment. As proof, the iX is the first model based on a new scalable global platform upon which BMW will build all future vehicles.

BMW launched the new iX in the United States as a 2022 model with the xDrive50 trim. For the 2023 model year, BMW adds the powerful iX M60 trim. The iX xDrive50 starts in the mid-$80,000s, while the M60 variant begins at around $110,000. These BMW iX prices include the destination charge to ship the EV crossover from its German manufacturing plant to your local dealership.

For this iX review, I test-drove a 2022 BMW iX xDrive50 in southeast Michigan. It came with multiple option packages (Dynamic Handling, Luxury, Sport, Radiant Heating), Active Driving Assistant Pro, adaptive LED headlights, premium paint, extra-cost interior fabrics, and 22-inch wheels. The added options brought the manufacturer's suggested retail price to $104,020, including the $995 destination fee. BMW provided the vehicle for this iX review.

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2022 BMW iX Review: The Design

The BMW iX is roughly the same size as the BMW X5. Its length is exactly 195 inches, and its width is 77.4 inches — comparable to the X5's 194.3-inch length and 78.9-inch width. The iX is low-slung at 66.8 inches tall, which matches the automaker’s rakish X6 M50i. Not that you would ever confuse this electric SUV for either an X5 or X6. Both of those SUVs feature a familiar BMW face; the iX leads with something else entirely.

Welcoming the new elongated signature kidney grille, the iX represents a departure from the current lineup of BMW X models. The new design isn’t strictly an EV thing; the swollen kidneys appear on vehicles that continue to feast on fuel, like the all-new 4 Series, 7 Series, and X7. But BMW completely sealed off the new fascia on the iX since there is no engine to cool. Hexagonal shapes and shadowing give the otherwise flat-faced grille a three-dimensional look.

Beyond its forward presence, the BMW iX is standard crossover SUV fare but with surprisingly flattering exterior proportions. Black window dressing and other dark accents (courtesy of the standard Shadowline trim package) create a svelte silhouette. This is despite the large windows, which are great for visibility but tend to make a vehicle appear frumpy. The iX design trims the fat.

BMW places iX badging on the vehicle's rear roof pillar, where it appears as an inscribed black bar. This unique element provides a sleek appeal in multiple ways. There is a visual separation within that vast swatch of rear pillar sheetmetal. The black badge also adds that final connection from the slimline full-LED headlights to the dark trim of the windshield and center roof pillars, past the frameless rear windows, into the rearward/forward angle near the base of the rearmost pillar, and finally into the slender taillights. And that's just the outside.

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The iX’s cabin is another world. BMW outfitted my test vehicle with the optional Stonegray microfiber-wool blend upholstery. It's soft, comfortable, and striking when paired with the dark Aventurin Red Metallic exterior finish. Titanium Bronze accents add more color contrast and highlight the doors, control panel, vents, and steering wheel. If you prefer a subdued interior, this would not be it. The iX is available in darker, single-tone choices as well as Oyster for those who presumably never spill or stain anything.

In terms of spaciousness, the iX SUV has plenty of it in both the front and rear seats. Headroom is 41.5 inches in the front and 39.5 inches in the rear. The X5 offers 40.8 inches in the front row. For legroom, the iX outstretches the X5 by 0.4 inches (40.2) up front and 1.5 inches (38.9) in back. In addition, the iX is roomier in the shoulders. The front and rear measure 61.5 and 58.3 inches at the shoulders in the iX and 60 and 58.1 inches in the X5.

Although the iX is roomy for passengers, storage space is lacking. Since this electric SUV doesn’t have a traditional center console connected to the dashboard, hiding places for items other than drinks are limited. The glove compartment is about the size of a 100-count box of envelopes (long and narrow). The center bin is deep but awkwardly shaped due to its tiered levels. Keys and trinkets will be at home in the upper tray, while a smartphone with a 6.0-inch screen can fit but not lie flat. It can, however, fit within the main storage area.

If you like having your phone within reach, BMW placed a wireless charging pad alongside the cupholders. A dedicated slot within the armrest control panel is a neat design addition. What isn't as clever is that the panel is almost directly above the cupholders. It doesn't completely cover the cupholders beneath it, but the overhang is far enough forward to be an annoyance.

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Although an EV, the iX doesn't offer a front trunk, or frunk. Not only that, there is no single release lever for owners to open the hood easily. An internet search will reveal that BMW locates fluids, batteries, and wiring in the compartment, hence the dealer-only access.

Despite the lack of a usable frunk, there is no demerit on overall cargo capacity. The iX has 35.5 cubic feet of storage behind the second-row seats and up to 77.9 cu.-ft. of cargo space with the seats folded down. The comparative X5 has 33.9 and 72.3 cu.-ft., respectively. The iX's charging cable does take up some valuable space. Thankfully, a deep underfloor bin has room for the cable and then some.

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2022 BMW iX Review: The Technology

The BMW iX's main attraction is technology. As BMW's first-ever crossover EV, the iX also debuts the automaker's latest operating software. According to BMW, iDrive 8 provides faster processing speeds, improved graphics, and more functionality compared to the prior generation of the software. And how better to showcase this new computing system than with a new screen — a large, long, curved one at that.

The BMW Curved Display combines a 12.3-inch driver information display with a 14.9-inch center touchscreen into a single unit. The result is a seamless, attractive display that is as rich in high-resolution images as in capabilities. Want to reorganize the main screen? Just as you would on a smart device, press down on the icon and move or delete it as you please. The system is fast, and the graphics are sharp. And even though it is curved in favor of the driver, passengers can read the screen clearly and access menu functions.

You can also utilize the artfully designed iDrive controller. Made of a clear, crystal-like material designed to resemble glass, the large dial is the centerpiece of the walnut-finished control panel. At night, the backlit buttons add to the high-fashion ambiance.

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A fast-acting display is a must in the iX since the vehicle has no center stack. This means there are no physical controls other than what's on the steering wheel and armrest panel the three small dashboard buttons that manage lighting. For frequent touchpoints, you can still control the audio with actual buttons but not the climate control. You must use the touchscreen, iDrive controller, or the BMW Personal Assistant in-car helper to adjust those settings.

While the first two methods can be cumbersome while driving, Personal Assistant is cumbersome in general. BMW programmed the intelligent voice-activated system to understand natural speech patterns (no specific code words needed) and, over time, to also learn and adapt to your personal preferences. For example, if you tend to take a particular route between home and work that is even slightly different from the recommended options, Personal Assistant will make your preferred choice its default setting. And who doesn't want to minimize hearing "recalculating"? The problem with the iX is that Personal Assistant is slow.

Communicating with Personal Assistant requires patience. The time between saying the wake phrase — the default is "Hey, BMW" — and the system responding took three seconds, sometimes longer. This may not seem like a long time, but when you're accustomed to smart devices being on call, even when compared to the nearly instantaneous responsiveness of the iX's display, Personal Assistant seems half asleep. The frustration multiplies when trying to use the system while driving.

Case in point: I asked Personal Assistant to turn off the climate control. It took three tries before it either heard or understood me. When it did, it handled my request in one shot. But it shouldn't take that many requests.

To be fair, this isn't the norm with BMW's human-machine interface. In other BMW test vehicles, the system was excellent, allowing me to have a regular conversation in which I ask about everything from jokes to the weather. This particular iX test vehicle, however, made me want to scream. Not that it would've heard me. At least not the first time.

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Regarding safety tech, BMW equips the iX with a host of features. BMW's suite of advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) is called Active Driving Assistant. On the iX, the standard ADAS group includes forward-collision warning, active blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning, and speed limit information.

Also standard are front and rear Park Distance Control, Safe Exit, an Active Protection System with Fatigue and Focus Alert, BMW Assist eCall, Parking Assistant plus Back-Up Assistant, automatic high beams, programmable LED daytime running lights, and a backup camera.

Available as part of select packages are a head-up display, video augmented-reality navigation, a 3D surround-view camera, active steering, active lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go capability, Parking Assistant Plus, Active Driving Assistant Pro, and Traffic Jam Assistant.

As of this writing, neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has published crash-test ratings for the 2022 BMW iX.

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2022 BMW iX Review: The Drive

The BMW iX features the latest iteration of BMW eDrive. The foundation for all electrified BMWs moving forward, the fifth-generation eDrive features two electric motors, power electronics, high-voltage battery packs, and advanced charging technology. As with the iX interior and exterior, BMW developed eDrive with sustainability in mind. The automaker derived the cobalt and lithium used in the batteries from controlled sources. It also built the overall eDrive unit without using rare earth materials.

Fortunately, being Earth-conscious doesn't mean being slow and underpowered. The BMW iX has a total output of 516 hp and 564 lb.-ft. of torque. With standard all-wheel drive, BMW claims that the iX reaches 60 mph in 4.4 seconds. How about the ever-comparable X5? The most powerful version that isn't fully M engineered is the X5 M50i. Its twin-turbo 4.4-liter V8 powertrain produces 523 hp and 553 lb.-ft. of torque. Zero to 60 mph takes 4.1 seconds. Why the discrepancy in acceleration specs? Because batteries are heavy. In the case of iX xDrive50 versus X5 M50i, there's a 399-pound curb-weight difference.

In the driver's seat, this hardly matters. Instant torque is never boring. With 564 lb.-ft. of it, the iX was a delight. Matching highway speeds was easy. Sometimes it was just silly accelerating that quickly. The big, comfy cabin was quiet, even on the rough, uneven road surfaces for which Michigan is famous (or infamous). There were no errant creaks or rattles, either, when I drove down a pockmarked street I use solely for suspension tests.

To further customize the EV experience, the BMW iX’s drivetrain offers three drive modes. Personal mode is the default selection, allowing drivers to configure everything from the driving feel to the data layouts. Efficient mode shifts the accelerator response and changes the information screen to show readouts (on a scale of 1 to 10) of your regenerative braking and acceleration.

Of course, there is also Sport mode. In this mode, the steering and suspension feel stiffer, acceleration heightened, piped-in engine sounds get louder, and the interior lighting changes to what BMW characterizes as Thrilling Orange. Hmm, thrilling? Not quite. Smile worthy? Sure.

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Something else to smile about is the similar-powered X5 M50i chugs premium octane fuel at 18 mpg, while the iX doesn't drink any fuel. It's not apples to apples here, though. Consumers have individual needs and lifestyles, so an EV or V8 or even AWD isn't for everyone. According to the EPA, the iX xDrive50 offers up to 324 miles of driving range on a single charge. When equipped with optional 22-inch wheels like my test car, instead of the standard 20s, the range drops to 318 miles. The EPA says the iX M60 maxes out at 288 miles of range.

Your mileage will always vary, however. When I received the iX xDrive50, its range at an 83 percent battery charge was 303 miles. That calculates to 365 miles if at 100 percent. The iX was exceeding expectations, and I hadn't even driven it yet.

Despite my initial surprise, this wasn't a fluke or the result of extreme hypermiling by BMW's fleet team. I never had to worry about range because the iX always seemed to have more miles than I needed or expected. Ambient temperatures likely played a role in the favorable vehicle efficiency, too. Highs were in the mid-80s, and lows were in the mid-60s. Still, I didn't once use a DC fast-charging station.

I plugged into Level 2 stations when available, but with the iX's high-powered 111.5-kWh battery capacity, my mileage gains were about 30 miles in one hour and 45 minutes. Not expedient, but still much, much better than trickle charging at home. When plugged into a 110-volt outlet, the estimated time to a full charge was 52 hours. And the iX battery still had a 61 percent charge. It's OK to laugh. I did.

But such is the situation for EV buyers. Homeowners have the luxury and likely the budget to install a Level 2 wall box at home. For renters — myself included — unless landlords or building management take on the responsibility (and costs), charging on the go is the only option. This may not be ideal if your commute doesn't include a charger at or en route to your destination.

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Is the 2022 BMW iX a Good EV?

The new BMW iX lays the groundwork for the future of BMW, not just the BMW i sub-brand. The automaker hopes to be carbon neutral by 2050. Its global sales target of 50 percent EVs by 2030 is equally ambitious. This doesn't mean an EV-only future, however. BMW Group's CEO has said that the market ultimately decides how soon and how much in terms of electric car production. You can build it, but will consumers come? The iX offers a lot of promise that they will.

The iX offers the luxury you want from the brand, the performance you expect from the brand, and the innovation you need to continue moving ahead. And there's a lot of technology. But the iX has its share of bugs, too. Shake those out, though, and car buyers have a lot to look forward to.

As far as design, that's subjective. The iX isn't the end all, be all of BMW style. At the very least, Munich is giving us plenty to talk about.

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Beverly Braga
Beverly Braga is a freelance writer and consultant with nearly 20 years of experience as a storyteller and communications professional. Her work has appeared in numerous print and digital outlets covering the automotive, entertainment, lifestyle, as well as food and beverage industries.