BMW is in a state of evolution, a brand amid change as electrification spreads throughout its lineup. Once known exclusively for its fantastic driving vehicles, the Bavarian brand diversified its lineup over the last decade, giving you a whole range of mainstream and niche models. From the legendary 3 Series to its first electric vehicles, BMW had something for every customer. Now, we have the latest addition, the all-electric iX, its first dedicated EV since the i3 nearly 10 years ago. Built on an EV-specific platform, the 2022 BMW iX promises long-distance capability and comfort. Let’s take a look and see if it delivers!
2022 BMW iX: Looks That Aren’t for Everyone
Let’s discuss the elephant in the room first: the iX’s looks. It’s not for everyone. Between the massive enclosed kidney grille to the bulbous proportions, this SUV causes a commotion everywhere it goes. Essentially the production Vision iNEXT, the iX demands attention, especially in white, which gives it the stormtrooper look. The thin headlights and taillights magnify the sense of mass you get looking at the car. Black accents and a floating roof effect keep it from looking overly substantial in lighter colors. Darker hues make the iX look like the automotive equivalent of a specific Sith lord.
Opulent and Daring
BMW’s interiors have long been defined by their simplicity and austerity. As a result, they looked similar from one generation to another. The iX breaks that trend by introducing a downright daring look. Between the fantastic build quality and the elegant layout, BMW succeeded in creating something distinctive yet clean and elegant. Combined with exceptional sound deadening, you get a tranquil space that’s perfect for long drives and the daily commute.
The iX offers a leather alternative in the form of two-tone blue suede and dark blue cloth, highlighting BMW’s sustainability commitment. Together with the available wood and crystal controls, you get a unique and truly opulent interior that makes minimal use of animal products, a nice change from all the leather found in other luxury cars.
Thanks to its underpinnings, the iX offers impressive levels of practicality. Five people comfortably courtesy of the car’s generous head- and legroom and the flat floor. The latter also opens up additional space for front occupants’ belongings and a cool multi-function center console with a built-in smartphone holder, wireless charging pad, and a deep bin. Additionally, you get plenty of cargo space, especially with the rear seats folded. BMW also added additional storage for small items under the cargo floor and two USB-C charging ports behind each front seat. The only quibble I have is the narrow cargo area opening, which limits the usable capacity with all seats up.
Approachable Tech Powerhouse
The latest version of BMW’s Drive system takes things up a notch while retaining the simplicity of its predecessor. Using a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster and a massive 14.9-inch main touchscreen housed under a single piece of curved glass, you get a vibrant and clear interface. Together with quick responses and a customizable main menu, you get a fairly straightforward multimedia system. However, due to certain functions being moved into the main display, you now have more submenus to deal with, increasing the learning curve slightly. The available 30-speaker Bowers & Wilkins Diamond surround sound system offers one of the most immersive listening experiences. Thanks to its impressive clarity and extensive customizability you’ll want to blast your music full force on every drive just to experience the system’s goodness.
BMW rises to the top when it comes to driver assistance systems with the latest ones in the iX. Components like lane centering do a fantastic job at preventing you from drifting while adaptive cruise control seamlessly follows traffic. The latter does a great job maintaining your set distance and backs off quickly if someone cuts you off. It also helps you navigate gentle curves at highway speeds and can execute automatic lane changes. They’re among the most natural in operation and add a sense of coherence to how they function. Unfortunately, some of these components are optional along with evasive steering assist, meaning you need to get them as part of the Active Driving Assistant Pro option. Additionally, some functions, like the distancing component, require you to go into two submenus to change.
2022 BMW iX: The New Age Autobahn Cruise Missile
In the U.S., the only iX available is the xDrive50. This means you get a dual-motor AWD setup backed by a 111.5-kWh battery with a usable capacity of 105.2 kWh. Generating 516 hp and 564 lb-ft of torque, the crossover accelerates effortlessly despite weighing nearly three tons. It simply goes and takes off like a rocket off the line or on the move. You get power immediately regardless of the drive mode selected and it pins you hard into your seat. Best of all, the iX’s power delivery feels never-ending because it still has a lot to give even at highway speeds, enabling it to hit triple-digit speeds with staggering ease.
A nicely tuned suspension complements the iX’s power, giving you excellent stability at all speeds. When the road starts to turn, it provides good handling. A rear-biased power split between the two electric motors allows it to rotate more naturally or on-demand. Good body control adds to the SUV’s confidence but due to its size, the car can feel a little top-heavy. The steering, on the other hand, seems a little disconnected. While accurate and quick, it has a distinct numbness similar to what I experienced in the X5 xDrive45e. At least the integral active steering system gives it more natural weighting.
The iX’s biggest strength is its ride comfort. This thing flattens road imperfections and keeps the cabin isolated without floating around. The available air suspension provides the best balance of ride and handling even with the optional 22-inch wheel and summer tires. Regardless of the mode, the iX has a level of plushness that enhances its refinement and effortlessness. Together with its surefooted handling and stability, you get a fantastic all-electric long-range cruiser that’s down for a good time or a detour through the mountains.
Learning the Braking Strategy
One aspect you need to get used to is the iX’s regenerative braking. You have two choices: strong and strongest. Therefore, you must learn how to best modulate the accelerator and brake pedal to avoid bobbing your passengers’ heads around. The iX drives more like a conventional internal combustion vehicle because you don’t get true one-pedal driving. Yes, it slows you down to a complete stop in B mode but only on certain occasions. This means you use the brake pedal more often. However, you get abrupt transitions when slowing down from highway speeds because the car immediately gives you a lot of regeneration the moment you ease off the accelerator. Thankfully, the iX recaptures a lot of energy regardless of whether you’re in Drive or B mode. This makes maintaining your charge levels easy, especially when going downhill where you regain a lot of miles.
Road Trips? Definitely
If you’re looking for a luxury electric SUV with road trip credentials, the 2022 BMW iX is it. Regardless of the wheel size you get, every variant travels over 300 miles per charge. This test car with the 22-inch units is EPA-rated for 315 miles while cars equipped with the standard 20-inch wheels go 324 miles. Oddly, the 21-inch option has the lowest at 305 miles. During my week, I squeaked past the EPA’s official ratings and managed to do 320 miles on a single charge.
DC charging is a big factor when it comes to long-distance driving in an EV. Thankfully, the iX charges fairly quickly because of the battery’s sheer usable capacity. During a 30 to 80 percent charging session at a 350-kW Electrify America station, the car immediately spiked to its 195-kW peak speed and stayed there for the first 10 to 15 percent. For a few seconds, it eked past it, hitting 196 kW. The amount of energy the car took in dropped gradually first to around 175 kW at 50 percent then to 150 kW by 60 percent. It dropped to 115 kW by 65 percent before dropping to 54 kW at 75 percent, staying there until 80 percent.
2022 BMW iX: Electrification with a Bang
With the iX, BMW’s electrification offensive finally starts taking shape and it gives us a glimpse of an exciting lineup of EVs. This SUV puts the brand up among the best with its balance and livability. Its driving dynamics befit a vehicle wearing that iconic roundel. Although it’s softer than most BMWs, the iX possesses the confidence of one. Starting at $84,195, this utility vehicle isn’t cheap. However, opulence and uniqueness justify that. This test car with several optional packages and standalone features costs $102,070 before the $7,500 federal tax credit and local and state incentives.
In a way, the iX defines the BMW brand’s identity for the electric age. Its vehicles drive great, allowing it to keep its tagline of “Ultimate Driving Machine” in North America and “Sheer Driving Pleasure” in other global markets. However, the iX also shows that each of these cars gets a distinct identity to better appeal to more people. In this case, you get a comfortable yet confident luxury SUV with an excellent interior. As more EVs join the BMW lineup, I’m excited to see how each one defines its character and interprets the brand’s ethos.