Welcome back to the long-term test of my 2024 BMW iX xDrive50, an all-electric SUV that I bought (or leased, at least) with my own money so you can be sure I'm shooting straight. In previous updates, we've talked about range, road-tripping and software. After that last update, I got a request on social media to provide some thoughts on the machine's ergonomics, particularly regarding the iX's questionable cupholder placement. 

So today, we'll focus on all that. The iX is not only an unusual-looking rig, but it's also a somewhat curiously proportioned one. Dimensionally, on the outside, it's about the same size as a BMW X5, coming in a mere 0.7 inches longer. On the inside, though, it's much roomier in every direction, offering more headroom, legroom, shoulder room and cargo space than the X5. I especially feel that up front, thanks to a dashboard that's pushed back and sweeps away from the passengers, creating a sense of roominess up front. 

Gallery: BMW iX Long-Term Test

Roomy, yes, but there's an oddly disorienting feel to the layout. Nothing here feels traditional—certainly not for BMW. For one thing, the seat controls are up on the door, Mercedes-style, rather than on the floor as per usual. The door pulls are integrated into the door cards just below that. They’re big, chunky and comfortable to use, but so far every passenger we've picked up has struggled to figure out how to open it again. Once you figure it out, though, the thumb button is logically placed for easy usage. 

The seats are likewise unusual yet comfortable. The base is almost flat, while the trapezoidal stitching adds an odd asymmetry to the upholstery that's in keeping with the unbalanced nature of everything in here. Though the base lacks bolstering, there's just enough support higher up on the seat to keep you in place in the corners, and a good amount of cushioning throughout. 

2024 BMW iX Long Term Update

The door-mounted seat controls.

The seats also offer quite effective heating, but the ventilation is more effective at making noise than it is at cooling your bottom. Likewise, the seat massaging is extremely basic, but I'm loathe to complain about that. We purchased the lower trim of the car with very few options, so it's a nice treat that massaging is even on the menu.

On even longer drives, with charging sessions along the way, these seats are very comfortable.  

2024 BMW iX Cupholders 009

Out back


The front seats are the best in the house, but the back seat isn't so bad, either. I'm writing from the second row, as a matter of fact, sitting with my laptop open behind the driver's seat as I would typically have it positioned, and I don't feel cramped at all. The only strange thing here is the way the seatbacks curve into the C-pillars, which pushes your outside arm forward slightly compared to your inside arm. It's not uncomfortable, just a bit curious.

There's a good amount of room for three adults across back here, and though I have no children with which to test them, the four LATCH anchor points look easily accessible. 

There's no seat heating or cooling back here for passengers, but standard four-zone climate control ensures they can at least get their air the way they want it. There's also a pair of focused reading lights aimed at rear-passenger laps, generating back-seat illumination without blinding the driver.  

2024 BMW iX Cupholders 010

Otherwise, it's a strictly BYO back-seat entertainment affair, but BMW does have some provisions for help. The back of both the front seats feature BMW's Travel & Comfort connectors, which are simple physical ports into which you can insert a few different, overpriced accessories, including a $250 tablet holder or a $47 plastic hook. As soon as I get a little free time, I'll see if I can't whip up something similar to the latter of those two on my 3D printer. 

BMW's thoughtfully put a USB-C port right there as well, so if you do splurge on a spendy tablet holder, you won't have to worry about your kids tripping over charging cables when they make a hasty exit in the drop off lane. 

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Cupholder concerns


So, now, what about those cupholders? They’re an oft-mentioned sore spot for iX owners and enthusiasts.

Passengers out back have four at their disposal. The biggest ones are integrated into the lower pockets in the door cards, which are made of hard plastic, so be ready for whatever you put in here to rattle a fair bit.  The other main cupholders are integrated into the fold-down armrest. Push a button and the cupholders extend with a nicely damped mechanism, popping to full deployment with far more fanfare than is required for such a mundane thing. Still, the spring-loaded arms will hold anything from small cans to Big Gulps without fuss, and there's just enough rubberized padding on here to keep anything still and quiet. 

2024 BMW iX Cupholders 001

Up front, you'll find another four cupholders with the same basic layout. Those in the door are wide and deep, big enough for your largest bottles. And I like how the shape of the door angles the bottle towards you. That angle means you won't want to put anything without a secure lid in here, but that's about the only limitation.

That leads us to the two central cupholders, which have given rise to endless discussions and complaints across all manner of BMW discussion channels. To put it simply, everybody hates the location of these, tucked down low and slightly beneath the extension on the front of the armrest, beneath the shifter and iDrive controller. 

2024 BMW iX Cupholders 006

Regardless of drink height, it's an awkward place to reach.

Maybe it's because I'm old enough to remember when the Germans wouldn't give us any cup holders at all, but the placement here doesn't bother me. Yes, it does require a bit of additional wrist action to get a bottle out of there and moving towards my face, but I find it to be a minor bother at worst.

The only time it's really an issue is if I'm sucking a giant cup from some fast food joint or another. In that situation, I'm so ashamed of myself that I consider the ergonomic challenges of accessing my high fructose vat to be the least of my worries.  

2024 BMW iX Cupholders 008

It's extra hard for tall and wide drinks, which have to be manuevered under the lip. 

If, however, this is a deal-breaker for you, I've seen plenty of folks experimenting with cup holder extenders like this monstrosity, which looks capable of readily elevating at least 2,400 calories worth of mobile regret. 

And when it comes to enjoying those ergonomics, my wife and I recently made another lengthy road trip. This one took us from our home in New York up to central New Hampshire, down through Hartford, Connecticut, and home again. Covering nearly 700 miles, mostly highway, the car delivered 3.3 mi/kWh and, at times, was showing over 400 miles of estimated range on a charge, way over the EPA's 307-mile estimate. After 8,100 miles, we're still quite enamored with BMW's oddball SUV. 

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