It's gas against electricity.
BMW was one of the first German manufacturers to hop onto the luxury SUV bus, and how we laughed at them back then. But now it has a massive factory in South Carolina, churning out over 1,500 cars per day, and every single one is an SUV.
The BMW X5 is BMW's OG SUV and arguably the best out of the lot. BMW has had a lot of time to refine it and has ensured that it has no competition from within its ranks.
But now the world is going EV, and we don't think it's a coincidence that BMW chose to go mainstream with a car similar in size to their original successful SUV.
The similarities between the X5 and the iX are shocking, no pun intended. They retail for the same price and offer similar performance and luxury. But we thought it smart to see, how do these two status quo-rattling SUVs stack up?
The iX is 195 inches long and rides on a 118.1-inch wheelbase. The X5 is slightly smaller, at 194.3 inches long, riding on a 117.1-inch wheelbase. These differences are small enough to be completely insignificant. The layout of the EV powertrain impacts the interior, but more on that later.
The X5's design is still very much a last-generation BMW, which is an excellent way of saying that it hasn't been ruined by an oversized grille yet. Some may call it generic; we say it's elegant. The iX is divisive at best. Potentially ugly, potentially a striking piece of modern design.
While we're not fans of the design, we understand why BMW moved so far away from its design principles. BMW is entering a new era, and the overall design needs to reflect that. You can't accuse the iX of not standing out.
If you own any BMW from the last decade, you could hop into the X5 and know immediately know what to do. BMW has been criticized for this before, but the fact is this; its interiors work beautifully. And we say this as people who have to jump into a new car on an almost daily basis. That's why we find it odd that BMW would move away from a well-proven recipe, though some of the most significant bits are still where you'd expect them.
The iX also has an iDrive controller with shortcut buttons for all the main menus, and all the main driving modes and ride height adjustment buttons are located exactly where you'd expect them.
As for the differences, there are things we do like and some we don't. The stubby gear shifter in the iX looks fantastic and makes the shifter in the X5 look unnecessary. BMW may have made a big mistake in a bid to go minimalist. Every function, including climate control, has been moved over to the new iDrive 8 system with its fancy curved display.
We're not fans of this new trend and believe that the functions used the most should always be separate. We understand that screens are excellent, but they take your eyes off the road for far too long.
Riding on a basic EV skateboard, BMW had more room to work with. The X5 has a tunnel running the entire interior, limiting the available space. With the iX essentially having a flat floor, BMW's designers had more room to play around with.
You notice the results as soon as you step inside. The rear-middle seat has actual legroom. There are various additional storage spaces scattered throughout the cabin. Look underneath the major controls in the iX, and you'll see two more cupholders and another storage space. This is a significant advantage because space plays an important role in luxury.
We also dig all of the new interior colors and surfaces BMW created for the iX. The Stonegrey Microfiber/Wool Blend seats and Titanium Bronze trim look spectacular.
Both models carry the same badge. The X5 is available with a smaller 40i engine, but the M50i retails for the same price as the xDrive50i iX.
The two powertrains also deliver the same sort of power. BMW's twin-turbo 4.4-liter V8, as found in the M50i X5, produces 523 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque. The latter figure arrives at 1,800 rpm, which is remarkably low.
The iX has two electric motors, driven by a 111.5 kWh battery. The result is 516 hp and 564 lb-ft of torque. That thrust is available within an instant, which means the iX gets to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds. The X5 is still quicker, however.
Why? The X5 M50i weighs 5,260 lbs, while the iX tips the scales at 5,659 lbs.
The X5 M50i is a bit of a gas-guzzler. According to the EPA, it consumes 16/22/19 mpg city/highway/combined. With the standard 21.9-gallon tank, it can go 394 miles between refills. When it's empty, you pull up to the pump, fill it back up, and go on with your day. It's a five-minute task at the most.
BMW claims a driving range of 324 miles for the iX. That's enough for most daily tasks. It's also worth remembering that you won't drain the battery every single day, and you charge a car like you charge a phone.
The BMW iX's battery pack can be charged from 10% to 80% in 40 minutes using DC fast charging. Using a Level 2 charger at home, it can go from drained to full in 11 hours. Most of the time, owners won't be charging from 0%.
Still, 40 minutes remains a long time compared to a five-minute pit stop.
Because of their unique skateboard layout, EVs tend to have more cargo space than ICE cars.
This is not the case with the iX. Unlike most EVs, the iX does not have a frunk, and the trunk is not as big as we expected.
It has 35.5 cubic feet to work with and an underfloor compartment for all the paraphernalia you need to charge it. The X5 has a 33.9 cube trunk. Once again, not a big enough difference to sway a customer's mind either way. The X5 also has a split tailgate, which means you have somewhere to sit when watching polo.
It seems BMW's main focus was improving interior space, which is 100% fine with us given the segment.
The iX xDrive50i has an MSRP of $83,200, but we all know that BMW's starting prices are just basic guidelines. Once you add all the goodies, the price increases to $97,325, that's including all of the luxury features, a nice color, and the Sport Package.
We also included a Qmerit Charge@Home Premium Installation Service because most owners will likely opt for the fastest possible home charging method. The government's $7,500 federal tax credit is still available for the iX, so you're looking at just under $90,000. That's roughly $10,000 less than a Tesla Model X, by the way.
Adding the same amount of goodies to the X5 M50i results in an asking price of $92,900 and no federal tax break.
Extremely close, but for a good reason. BMW is essentially offering a product to both traditional buyers and early adopters. It has all the bases covered.
Despite the iX's controversial looks, we're leaning towards EV on this one. To us, an SUV in this price range should be a luxury experience, and in that department, the iX has the X5 licked. Electric motors and luxury cars go together like cherry pie and vanilla ice cream.
If this were a case of choosing an only car, our verdict would swing the other way. But if you have $90k to drop on a luxury SUV, there's a good chance you have the means to buy something else as well.
We'd have an iX for the daily grind and a BMW 3 or 5 Series in reserve for longer trips. Heck, you could even go way cheaper and get a large SUV like a Chevy Traverse for much cheaper. Or you could rent a car for the two weeks a year you drive far from home.
If you live in the city, an EV makes much more sense daily, and that's why we'd go with the iX. The times have changed, but just like 20 years ago when the X5 shook things up, this time, the iX is doing the same.