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2023 BMW iX M60 Review: Don’t Judge it by Its Looks

The 2023 BMW iX is for those who want their electric SUV to stand out from the gasoline establishment. The iX is a fully electric luxury SUV that’s at the larger side of mid-size by American standards and seats five. It makes a far quirkier design statement than the Audi E-Tron SUV, the Cadillac Lyriq, or the Mercedes EQS SUV, but it might be easier to process than the Tesla Model X’s steering yoke and falcon wing doors. The BMW iX is great, with some excellent scores for comfort, features, and efficiency.

The iX has fine proportions, muddled by a unique set of design details. Some might find it eye-catching in all the right ways. The BMW iX serves up a design statement that’s challenging, to say the least. The proportions and floating-roof look are pleasant enough, but from a few feet away the details and surfacing tend to distort it all in unbecoming ways. The farther away you step from the iX and don’t try to pick apart all of its odd trim choices, or the gigantic patterned plastic faux-grille, covered with a self-healing material, or the seemingly random, slim taillight design, the more acceptably it all fits together.

The iX is perky and polished, but those with ideas about BMW handling will find it remote and uninspiring. Composure and comfort are the emphasis over “ultimate driving machine” thrills. It excels for its excellent drivetrain and power delivery and for its above average ride and all-around poise. The BMW iX weighs more than gasoline SUVs its size, but its aluminum-space-frame and carbon-fiber construction helps enable more battery capacity, and thus more range, than most electric SUVs this size.

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In the xDrive50i version, the iX makes a combined 516 hp and 564 lb-ft of torque from its motor system, enough to enable a 0-60 mph time of 4.4 seconds. The other version of the iX, the M60, cranks up the power for the dual-power setup, bringing 532 hp and 749 lb-ft of torque, or in its launch mode, 610 hp and 811 lb-ft of torque, and a 0-60 mph time of about 3.6 seconds. In addition to a range of dressed up trim items and features, the M60 gets M Sport brakes and its own suspension tune, including the adaptive air suspension.

The suspension is all-aluminum, front double-wishbone, rear multi-link, with its own subframes, and you can opt for a rear-only air suspension, electronically controlled shocks, and rear-wheel steering. With this optional setup, the iX can accommodate 1.2 inches of height adjustability, lowering the iX 0.4 inches from normal in Sport mode or when passing 87 mph, or raising it 0.8 inch for more clearance.

The iX is satisfying in pretty much every aspect of forward performance. It’s gentle and precise when you need it, and downright sprightly in Sport mode. The brake pedal feels a little remote, but the iX stops exactly where intended. And there’s a choice between four modes of regenerative braking, including low, medium, and high, one-pedal driving which is becoming an EV must-have, plus an adaptive mode that matches (mostly) the deceleration of vehicles ahead.

Although stepping up in wheel size typically means some sacrifice of driving range, it doesn’t detract from comfort here; even on the showy 22-inch Air Performance bi-color wheels, as we experienced the iX, it has perhaps the quietest, most serene ride quality in this class of luxury SUV. All versions of the BMW iX have dual-motor all-wheel drive.

A big battery pack and reasonably good efficiency means impressive driving range. As an electric vehicle, the BMW iX never needs gas and doesn’t generate any direct tailpipe emissions. With an efficiency of about 2.6 miles per kwh in its xDrive50i form so it’s not a guzzler of electrons. If efficiency and range matter, you should focus on wheel size. Go with the most efficient combination and you’ll get 324 miles out of its 106.3-kwh battery pack, better than all but the Tesla Model X. We often saw ranges over 350 miles even with highway driving. The iX includes two years of complimentary 30-minute charging sessions on the Electrify America network.

The xDrive50 is offered in three different wheel sizes, while the high-performance M60 is offered in two sizes, and they each yield slightly different range and efficiency ratings. With the smaller 20-inch wheels you’ll get the most miles out of your energy, with 324 miles of range and 86 MPGe combined. Versions with 21-inch and 22-inch wheels are rated at 305 and 315 miles, and 83 and 86 MPGe, respectively. The M60 achieves 288 miles of range and 77 MPGe with the 21-inch wheels, or 274 miles and 76 MPGe with the 22-inchers.

The BMW iX is likely a very safe vehicle. Its aluminum space frame, with carbon-fiber reinforced plastic, high-strength steels, and thermoplastics, forms a strong “carbon cage” to up safety without adding weight, BMW claims. That said, because it’s an expensive niche vehicle, and unlikely to share its body structure directly with other models, the federal government is unlikely to test one, and it could be some time before the IIHS does.

The iX includes automatic emergency braking, blind-spot warning, and rear collision and rear cross-traffic warning systems. An Evasion Assistant, also included, actually helps direct the driver to a clear adjacent lane if a collision is imminent. An available Driving Assistant Professional adds full-range adaptive cruise control and active lane control, as well as a system that maps out surrounding vehicles and potential safety situations on the cockpit display. Outward vision through the windows and mirrors is quite good in the iX, thanks to the low beltline and relatively thin pillars.

Inside, the iX is a lot easier to love. The design is radically different from that of previous BMW SUVs, and while there are some button and menu details we’d prefer done differently from a functionality standpoint, and overt wildcard items like the hexagonal steering wheel design, it’s welcoming, well thought-out, cohesive, and uncontroversially luxurious.

Passenger and cargo space in the iX are hard to fault, given the five-passenger, upscale-family-friendly mission; we give the iX bonus points for its superb front and rear seating, with true space for five, plus good cargo space, top-notch fit and finish, and quiet cabin. It would be perfect if it weren’t for the sometimes-clunky frameless doors and slightly minivan-esqe view from the front seats. Once again, comfort over sport.

Seating space is vast, and the wide-open floor space and low-set dash makes the front-seat space feel bigger than in other like-size models. Cargo capacity is 35.5 cubic feet with the rear seatbacks up or 77.9 cubic feet with them folded forward. There’s a long tray below the cargo floor for keeping items safe or out of sight, and up on deck there’s plenty of space for a family’s grocery stock-up, if that’s the sort of thing you do in person anymore.

From the jewel-like seat adjustment controls and clear shift selector to the haptic console-top buttons and button-release doors, the collective newness of all the interface pieces in the iX will either seem special and eye-catching or a little too different for the sake of being different. The iX is also the first BMW SUV to have frameless doors, a feature the brand has previously only offered in coupes and they offer an excellent seal from wind noise.

The 2023 BMW iX comes in two versions: the xDrive50i, and the M60. Although there are many subtle trim and feature differences between the two, the main distinction is performance. All versions of the iX include the Live Cockpit Plus infotainment system, with a curved display that spans from instrument cluster screen space over to a wide-format 12.3-inch touchscreen system that boasts wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. The iX scores for its excellent base feature set, even before the great options list and a good 3-year/36,000 maintenance warranty and 8-year/100,000-mile battery warranty.

There are two different looks to the iX, Shadowline and Sport. The former serves as the base model for the lineup, at $86,545, with the feature set including the panoramic roof (with electrochromic shading), a Connected Package Pro with data and telematics services, and the Active Driving Assistant (active cruise control with lane keep assist) which helps make sense of the rounded/hexagonal steering wheel. Step up $2,800 to the Sport and you get 21-inch Aero bi-color wheels plus dark trim and taillights.

A $2,300 Convenience package adds a head-up display, a surround-view camera system, Harman Kardon surround sound, gesture and voice controls, and supplemental propulsion sounds. A $4,000 Premium package adds those items plus multi-functional massage front seats, an interior camera, and 30-speaker Bowers & Wilkins sound. A $950 radiant heating package is a standalone option, although four-zone climate control is included across the lineup. A remote parking feature controlled by an app on your smartphone shows off some of BMW’s more advanced technology, and it can store up to 10 starting points and complete all the driving moves within about 650 feet to get in and out and back to that starting point without driver intervention.

The iX M60 starts at $109,720 and adds a series of features that are optional on the xDrive50i. Examples include the panoramic roof, laser headlights, and the B&W sound system. Showier 21-inch wheels are included, with 22-inchers available. With one of the premium colors, upgraded 22-inch wheels, the perforated-leather interior, the Driving Assistant Professional Package (automated parking and partly automated driver support), and the Luxury Package (self-close automatic doors and glass-and-wood controls, with open-pore walnut finish), plus bronze trim and blue seatbelts, the BMW iX M60 adds up just short of $120,000, and that’s before accessories.

The 2023 BMW iX is impressive, purely for what BMW has been able to achieve. While BMW is not new to electric vehicles with the quirky i3, BMW was smart to use those teething years to learn from electric vehicles as a whole. Those years of learning payoff dividends as the new 2023 BMW iX is a pinnacle of automotive EV engineering. The new iX is one of those stunning vehicles that does everything well; cutting edge technology, efficient powerful powertrains, and driving dynamics that usher in the next generation of electric vehicles.

Image Source: letspicsit / Shutterstock

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