The verdict: Controversial looks aside, the 2023 BMW iX M60 is a quick, comfortable and luxurious mid-size SUV that brings traditional BMW driving characteristics to the EV era.
Versus the competition: With a starting price north of $100,000, the iX M60’s price tag puts it in competition with EVs like the Tesla Model X and Mercedes-EQ EQS SUV. All three have tech-centric interiors, but the iX’s blocky, chunky looks set it apart from the sleeker Tesla and Mercedes — and represent a significant design departure for BMW.
The iX debuted for 2022 as an all-wheel-drive xDrive50 making 516 horsepower. The M60 trim level I tested is new for 2023, and while it’s also AWD, it uses a more powerful rear motor to produce up to 610 hp. The SUV’s as-tested price was $113,420 (prices include destination), but pricing has gone up for 2024: A similarly equipped 2024 iX M60 cost $120,395 as of publication.
Drives (Mostly) Beautifully
The iX M60 is quick; BMW says it can hit 60 mph in 3.6 seconds, which isn’t bad for an SUV with a curb weight approaching 5,800 pounds. You can send its nose skyward when you accelerate hard, and there’s plenty of reserve power for slicing through traffic whenever you choose — and that power is delivered immediately. Acceleration is accompanied by some spaceship-like sounds, as if BMW wanted to find an electric-age replacement for the growl of an internal-combustion engine. It’s a different approach than some other EVs, which are content with silent acceleration, but the noises didn’t bother me.
I liked driving in the iX’s B setting, which allows essentially one-pedal driving in most situations. It smooths out the driving experience, letting you avoid the iX’s mushy brake pedal that was also occasionally plagued by inconsistent responses.
The iX rides well, especially considering its optional 22-inch wheels and low-profile tires with relatively high recommended tire pressures — 39 pounds per square inch in front and 46 psi in back. There’s a firmness to the adaptive air suspension’s response when you hit a bump in the road, but it’s not jarring or harsh. The suspension does a good job soaking up imperfect pavement, mostly preventing it from disturbing occupants or the driving experience. I did, however, notice a bit of a shudder through the body structure when one of the rear tires hit a bump or utility cover.
Noise isolation at highway speeds is also good, with the main sound intrusion coming from tire noise. There’s no noticeable wind noise on the highway, and bumps and pavement breaks don’t create unpleasant sounds in the cabin like they do in the Tesla Model Y. It’s a serene driving experience overall.
The iX’s steering is responsive. In the SUV’s Personal driving mode, it takes just a light effort to turn the wheel. You’ll feel a bit of body roll when you toss the iX into a corner in this mode, but in Sport mode, it’s more locked down with less body lean. Sport mode also firms up steering feel and suspension responses, and it enhances accelerator pedal response. By contrast, accelerator response is dulled considerably in the iX’s Efficient mode.
A Beautifully Finished — if Different — Interior
Premium materials and controls pair with unique interior elements to make the iX’s cabin distinctive and memorable. Having controls embedded in the center console’s wood trim is not common, and the iX’s transparent console knob, volume knob and beveled seat controls likewise give familiar interior components a new look. (These design cues are part of a $1,150 Luxury Package.) Look closely at the steering wheel, too, and you’ll see it’s more of a hexagon than a wheel. It’s not all stellar, though: The bronze-plastic interior trim looks a little cheap considering the iX’s price, and the black-mesh trim near the speakers is another rare downmarket moment in this SUV’s cabin.
The iX’s curved displays — a 12.3-inch digital instrument panel and a 14.9-inch infotainment screen — sweep across the left and center portions of the dashboard, adding a high-tech, minimalist look. I like that the iX’s large center display is a touchscreen even though the iDrive multimedia system’s menus are typically easy to navigate via the knob controller. The knob is still there, but it seemed touchier than the ones I’ve used in other BMWs and was harder to operate. Using wireless Apple CarPlay was simple — it’s just a matter of pairing your phone with Bluetooth and it’s available — and CarPlay uses the full width of the center screen.
The front seats are wide and comfortable with adjustable side bolsters. The optional leather upholstery adds $3,500, but it’s appropriately rich and high-quality. The center console’s design makes the front seat feel more open than in a conventionally powered luxury SUV, but the location of some console features is a bit odd: The cupholders, for instance, are positioned low under the upper controls and aren’t the easiest to reach.
The driver has good forward visibility thanks to a dashboard and front roof pillars that aren’t in the way, but rear visibility isn’t great; the rear and rear-quarter windows are small. Over-shoulder views are passable, though, and they’re supplemented by electronic safety aids like a blind spot warning.
Backseat space is reasonable for adults, and it’s mostly accommodating for child-safety seats. The seat cushion is a little close to the floor, so there’s less thigh support for taller passengers, but headroom is great even with what BMW calls its Panoramic Eclipsing Sky Lounge roof, which is standard. The roof is a large glass panel that can switch between transparent and opaque modes. The bench seat and floor are both flat, which should be a boon for passengers stuck in the middle seat, but the seatback doesn’t recline. Among two-row mid-size SUVs we’ve measured, the iX’s 20.3-cubic-foot cargo area is on the small side. It’s even smaller than the cargo areas of some compact SUVs: The Hyundai Tucson, for example, has 21.5 cubic feet of space.
One of the more surprising aspects of the iX is how the doors sound when you close them. The iX has frameless door windows (meaning the glass isn’t surrounded by metal), and rather than getting a satisfying “thunk” when you shut the door as you do in many luxury vehicles, there’s an unrefined rattling noise. It’s completely out of place in a six-figure vehicle.
Home Charging, DC Fast-Charging and Range
The iX can accept up to 11 kilowatts of power from a Level 2 home charger provided the system can supply that level of power. My home charging setup — a 48-amp Wallbox Pulsar Plus unit — can, and that’s roughly what the iX took during our charging test. The Wallbox unit delivered 10.6 kilowatt-hours of energy during the hourlong charging session, which added 33 miles of range and brought the iX’s battery from 39% to 47%. The iX also comes with a handy mobile charger that has interchangeable plugs for 120- or 240-volt service, and it can handle up to 9.6 kW of power on 240-volt service.
The iX has a maximum DC fast-charging rate of 195 kW, but in our experience, it’s been difficult to reach and sustain an EV’s maximum fast-charging rate for any length of time — even at fast chargers capable of supplying the maximum power they can accept. Best-case scenario, BMW says the iX’s battery can go from 10% to 80% in 35 minutes.
EPA range estimates for the iX vary considerably by trim level and wheel size. The xDrive50 with 20-inch wheels has the longest estimated range, at 324 miles, while versions with 21- and 22-inch wheels have 305 and 315 miles of range, respectively. An M60 with 21-inch wheels is rated at 288 miles, while our test vehicle and its 22-inch wheels get 274 miles of rated range.
The Elephant in the Driveway
It was back in the early 2000s that BMW embarked on a new design direction with the 2002 7 Series full-size sedan. That car traded the sleek, classic styling of its predecessor and other BMWs for an entirely different look, and it feels like we’re seeing that same type of design disruption playing out again with the iX as the automaker moves into the EV age.
The iX’s tall twin-kidney grille, for instance, has generated the same type of controversy that surrounded that turn-of-the-millennium 7 Series. The iX’s angular exterior styling lacks the gracefulness of the similarly sized X5 SUV; to my eyes, it’s more different than attractive.
There is, however, a school of thought that says EVs need to look different. The iX does, and while its looks aren’t for everyone, those who cross this SUV off their list based on looks alone will miss out on one great-driving luxury EV.
Source : Cars