The 2022 BMW iX hides a gem of an interior in an awkward package

BMW’s lineup has needed a new electric vehicle for the past couple years, and those calls are finally being answered with the introduction of the 2022 BMW iX and i4, both of which are slated to arrive in the first quarter of next year. The pair were introduced side-by-side at a space in Los Angeles […]

BMW’s lineup has needed a new electric vehicle for the past couple years, and those calls are finally being answered with the introduction of the 2022 BMW iX and i4, both of which are slated to arrive in the first quarter of next year.

The pair were introduced side-by-side at a space in Los Angeles earlier this week and seeing them in such proximity highlighted a big difference in strategy between the two. While the i4 hews closely to the existing 4-Series Gran Coupe and doesn’t really take any chances, the iX takes big swings. Whether or not those swings pay off is going to be in the eye of the beholder. 

The iX’s exterior styling is interesting, to say the least. That’s not surprising, considering that the SUV has combined two of BMW’s most controversial styling decisions over the past decade: the i3 and the big version of the traditional kidney grille. I’ve always been a fan of the i3, the creativity of the exterior and interior styling matched what BMW was trying to accomplish with the platform at the time, so that part’s okay with me. The black accents don’t seem to add much, but at the same time they don’t take anything away either.

2022 BMW iX

2022 BMW iX

2022 BMW iX

2022 BMW iX

2022 BMW iX

2022 BMW iX

That grille however, I’m not sure I’ll ever quite get used to. And in this form factor, where it’s not only solid but painted in a standout geometric pattern I am having an even harder time. Above the grille is a BMW logo that opens up to double as a spot to refill the wiper fluid like the small door on the fender of the Mercedes-Benz EQS. This port is necessary because the iX’s “hood” cannot be opened without a special tool, and this also means that there is no frunk.

Dimensionally, the iX checks in at 195.0 inches long, 77.4 inches wide, and 66.7 inches tall. Though its proportions make it look significantly larger than the Audi e-Tron, the two vehicles are pretty close in size. The e-Tron is 193.0 inches long, 76.2 inches wide, and 65.5 inches tall, putting the iX within two inches of each measurement. BMW didn’t publish official interior dimensions yet, but I have sat inside both vehicles and the iX feels much more expansive. This is due in part to the shape of the body adding what feels like a fairly significant bit of headroom and to the massive standard panoramic glass roof, which comes with electrochromic shading for warm days. 

2022 BMW iX

2022 BMW iX

Materials in the iX impress immediately, it has the feel of one of BMW’s top-end luxury vehicles like the 7-Series or X7 inside. The seat adjustments have moved up to the door and can be finished in crystal, as can the gear selector, audio roller control, and the circular controller for the multimedia system. That system runs BMW’s new iDrive 8 software on a pair of screens united in a curved housing, a 12.3-inch display in front of the drive and a 14.9-inch touchscreen. In the few minutes I had inside the iX, the system felt very snappy and intuitive, and completely ready for production.

For backseat passengers, the seat upholstery runs flush to the doors on either side like it does in a Rolls Royce and it makes those outside seats feel more like substantial buckets than an afterthought as most rear benches are. A flat floor makes the middle position viable for shorter trips, and the backseat provides the best view for the impressive glass roof.

2022 BMW iX

2022 BMW iX

2022 BMW iX

2022 BMW iX

2022 BMW iX

2022 BMW iX

The iX’s starting price is substantial, $84,195 (including a $995 destination fee). That is far above the e-Tron’s $66,995, but less than the Tesla Model X. BMW’s projected 300 miles of range places it between those two vehicles as well. It’s not a true competitor for either, too luxurious and with significantly more range than the e-Tron, and with one less row than the Model X can potentially pack in. 

I came away very impressed by the iX’s interior styling and materials, to the point where I started to make justifications for the grille in my head (well you can’t see it from the inside really, so why does it matter). If the driving experience is as good as BMW thinks it will be with that fancy five-link rear suspension and 516-hp, the 2022 iX will justify that price tag and then some.