Expert Insights

Electric Or Gas? BMW iX X50 vs. X5 M50i

Laurance Yap
June 15, 2023
We've taken the electric BMW iX X50 and gasoline BMW X5 M50i side-by-side to see which SUV is better. BMW claims that the iX X50 SUV built on a dedicated EV platform, is built without compromise. Here, we test whether that claim is true.
Picture of a BMW iX X50 and a BMW X5 M50i parked next to a building

Electric iX X50 vs Gas X5 M50i: Overview

You’re in the market for a new premium SUV – but maybe you’re also thinking about electric. In the past, going electric meant making compromises; maybe you had to spend more to get the same level of performance and features, or maybe you had to accept compromises in range and usability. BMW claims that its new iX, an all-new all-wheel drive, fully-electric SUV built on a dedicated EV platform, is a no-compromises vehicle. We’re here to test whether that claim is true.

BMW iX driving out of forest on highway

BMW iX X50 vs. X5 M50i: Performance

Unless you move up to the extreme – and much more expensive – X5 M Competition, with its 600-horsepower V8, the X5 M50i is BMW’s top-performing, fastest SUVs. Its turbocharged V8 produces 523 horsepower, which when combined with an eight-speed automatic gearbox and standard xDrive all-wheel drive, helps it rush to 60 mph in just 4.1 seconds. On its own, it’s a thrilling drive, and surprisingly fast for an SUV.

The iX X50, however, can easily keep up with the X5 M50i – while using no fuel and emitting no harmful greenhouse gases. Its twin electric motors produce 516 hp – just 7 down on the X5 M50i – but actually produce more torque, 564 lb-ft. Because it is heavier, the iX is just a little bit slower to 60 mph, at 4.4 seconds – but that’s performance that would still blow most conventional sports cars into the weeds!

The numbers only tell part of the story, though. It’s the instantaneous torque and the seamless rush of power that make the iX more exciting to drive. It’s fast off the line, but it’s shockingly responsive when you’re rolling – the power is just there anytime you need it, because you’re not waiting the transmission to decide which gear to be in for optimum acceleration. And the iX’s electronic all-wheel drive system can direct power to where it’s needed instantaneously, without having to rely on complex mechanical differentials to react to wheel spin.

The iX sits a little lower to the ground than the X5, and its center of gravity is much lower thanks to the battery’s position, making it more confident and secure in the corners as well.

Interior Dash and Technology

Comparing Interior Space and Technology

The BMW iX X50 is built on the company’s “Neue Klasse” (new class) platform, which has been developed specifically for electric vehicles. That means its overall package is tailored around the flat, 105.2-kWh battery and compact electric motors – liberating more space within its 195-inch length for people and cargo. Despite being roughly the same length as the BMW X5 M50i, which measures 194.3 inches, the electric iX has far more interior space – a whopping 77.9 cubic feet with its rear seats folded compared to 72.3 cubic feet for the gasoline SUV.

The numbers don’t even tell the full story: step inside the iX through large door openings, and it truly feels like a vehicle from the class above, particularly in the back seat, where headroom and legroom are far superior to the X5. The electric iX’s overall design is also next-generation, feeling more open and inviting than the more traditional X5. The shapes are less complex, the materials and finishes are more modern, and the glass area is bigger. Overall, the iX feels more casual than the X5; a forward-looking take on luxury without sacrificing the superb quality and materials you would expect from BMW.

The feeling of openness and reduced complexity extends to the dashboard, and all of the technology available to the driver. BMW’s familiar iDrive controller is still present – this time in crystal! – but it perches on a slim center console that seems to float between the two front seats, and the controls surrounding it are actually haptic, embedded into a recycled wood panel – very cool to look at and nice to touch as well. In front of the driver are two large screens set into a single curved panel; while their operating logic is very similar to the X5, you get next-generation graphics and features, and all of the systems are super fast and responsive.

Both the X5 and iX come with a huge number of active-safety features (and offer even more as options) including adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, lane-keeping assist, automatic emergency braking, and multiple cameras that keep an eye on what’s going on around you. Thanks to the iX’s all-electric, all-electronic architecture, those systems all speak to each other much more quickly – and can react more quickly when needed.

$600 in a green envelope

BMW iX X50 vs. X5 M50i: Savings and Incentives

The luxurious BMW X5 M50i starts at $82,800; tick all of the options boxes and you’re looking at just under $95,000 for a fully-loaded V8-powered SUV with impressive performance. The electric iX xDrive50 starts at $83,200 – just $400 more than the gasoline X5, and can be loaded up to just over $95,000. Basically, the two vehicles are the same price.

This is actually a watershed moment in luxury SUVs, where you are not paying a significant price premium to drive an EV. With these two BMWs, the choice between electric and gas really becomes about which vehicle fits your lifestyle and needs better.

And that’s before you factor in the additional savings of going electric. The iX X50 is no longer eligible for the $7,500 federal rebate, but regional and local incentives may still be available. You can easily find out which specific incentives you qualify for by using the GreenCars EV incentive tool. With gas prices rising every day, you will also save a huge amount of money on fuel – the more you drive, the more you save. The X5 M50i has an EPA-estimated combined rating of 19 mpg and annual fuel costs of $3,350.

Charcoal Gray BMW Parked in Driveway

Which Driving Experience is Right for You?

It’s getting increasingly easier to make the switch to electric driving, and the BMW iX is proof. The German brand’s latest SUV, the iX has similar performance to the hot-selling gasoline X5, while offering superior space, a higher level of technology, and significant cost savings up-front as well as down the road. And the BMW iX’s 324-mile EPA-estimated range and fast-charging capability make range a non-issue too. It’s easily our winner in this comparison.