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2022 BMW iX is the first vehicle to debut in a new generation of BMW cars

The BMW iX will arrive in the U.S. late next year.

Photo courtesy of BMW

It's what's next. The BMW iNEXT concept SUV has become the BMW iX, the first of a new generation of vehicles for the German automaker as its turns its attention toward electrification in earnest.

The iX is BMW's new technological flagship. Built on new, modular and scalable architecture, the SUV was designed from the ground up as a purely electric vehicle.

The iX is about the same size as the BMW X5 (length and width) and X6 (height). The available 20-inch, 21-inch and 22-inch wheels, meanwhile, bring to mind the BMW X7. The company says that it delivers the "sporting nature" of the X6 with the "visual impact" of the X7.

2022 BMW iXThe SUV boasts X7-like looks.Photo courtesy of BMW

At its front, however, the redesigned BMW 4 Series (and it's enormous grille) come to mind. Unlike in the 4 Series, the kidney grille here is completely closed off because there is no engine that requires cooling. Instead, it serves as what BMW calls an "intelligence panel". Camera tech, radar functions, and other sensors and integrated into the grille behind the surface. Heating elements and a sensor cleaning system are also present.

On either side of the grille are the slimmest headlight units to ever be featured on a series-produced BMW. Daytime driving lights, with integrated turn signals, feature as two-dimensional strips along the upper edge of the headlight units. The iX comes standard with full-LED headlights. They sit back and are only visible when turned on.

Like the Toyota Venza, the iX features an available panoramic glass roof with electrochromic shading. BMW's is one piece and is the largest glass roof ever fitted to a model in the BMW Group.

Contrasting color electric door handles fit flush into the door surfaces while doors with frameless windows make their debut in a large BMW SUV with the model. Customers looking to add more eye-catching elements to their model can add design accents in high-gloss black or in signature BMW I blue.

2022 BMW iXThe car's grille is not traditionally functional, serving as an information center instead.Photo courtesy of BMW

BMW powers the car using its fifth-generation eDrive technology, which has been honed by years working with models including the i3 and i8. In the new model, eDrive consists of two electric motors, power electronics, charging technology, and the high-voltage battery.

In recent years, the concern over the mining of materials for the batteries in electric cars has grown. BMW says that the materials in the eDrive technology were manufactured sustainably without the use of rare earth raw materials. In a release, the company said that the batteries, "are designed as part of a long-term resource cycle and allow for a very high recycling rate".

Though specific numbers are not yet available, BMW says that the car's powertrain will allow for around 500 horsepower allowing the iX to get from zero to 62 mph in 5.0 seconds. The SUV is expected to have around 300 miles of range in EPA testing.

WIth the new model, BMW has focused on charging, a main pain point for customers. The BMW iX enables DC fast charging up to 200 kilowatts. The battery can be charged from 10 to 80 per cent capacity in under 40 minutes. In just ten minutes, enough energy can be fed into the battery to increase the car's range by around 75 miles. It takes less than eleven hours to charge the high-voltage battery from 0 to 100 per cent at 11 kW Level 2 charging station.

2022 BMW iXThe SUV will be able to be charged via the EVgo network.Photo courtesy of BMW

BMW is partnering with EVgo to offer charging solutions. EVgo is the nation's largest public fast charging network and the first in the U.S. to be powered by 100% renewable energy. Charging will be linked to an app to ease use. Additionally, upon purchase, fully electric BMW models will receive $100 in EVgo charging credit that can be used through the BMW Charging app at EVgo and partner network stations.

Starting in December 2020, new electrified BMW model owners will be able to sign up for the BMW Charging Powered by EVgo program using the Personal Activation Code provided in a welcome email upon the purchase of their new vehicle. By downloading the BMW Charging App, users will be able to find available chargers, swipe to start their charging sessions, and access account information on their mobile phone.

The minimalistic cabin of the iX features unique colors and materials. Door pulls are integrated into a diagonal accent strip that houses the button for activating the electric door opening function. Buttons for adjusting the seat position are located on top of the front doors while memory buttons are positioned directly alongside. The passenger-side armrest incorporates a compartment for holding a mobile phone while the audio system's midrange speakers are embedded beneath the door panels' fabric trim, hidden from sight.

2022 BMW iX

2022 BMW iX

Photo courtesy of BMW

The SUV features newly developed seats for the driver and front passengers with integrated head restraints. BMW will offer them with integrated speakers, a trend that started in earnest with the Nissan Kicks. The seats also feature multi-way electric adjustment as well as seat heating. Seat ventilation and massage functions are available. The seat belts are available in the buyer's choice of black or BMW i Blue.

The SUV's rear bench seat has been designed for three passengers. The two outer seats feature integral head restraints, while the center seat has a head restraint that can be folded down to improve the view to the rear. A pair of USB-C ports can be found in each of the front head restraints. The 40/20/40 split-folding rear seats can be specified with a heating function.

A slim, curved instrument panel rises toward the front of the vehicle appearing freestanding while housed in magnesium. It features a 12.3-inch driver information display and the center 14.9-inch control display to form a single unit that is angled toward the driver. A head-up display is available.

Like other models in the BMW lineup, the iX comes with an iDrive controller which forms the main control element on the center console. There, it is surrounded by a high-gloss black frame while the number of buttons surrounding it aid in vehicle functionality. A start/stop button and rocker switch (replacing a shifter) are nearby, as are two cupholders, a wireless charging tray, a 12-volt power outlet, and two USB-C ports.

The BMW iX is the first model from the BMW Group to be fitted with a hexagonal steering wheel, which affords the driver a better view of the section of the Curved Display positioned directly behind the steering wheel.

The BMW iX comes with either 2.5-zone or four-zone automatic climate controls. Nanofiber filter technology is used to purify the air inside the car. Pre-heating and pre-conditioning functions are standard.

BMW has given the SUV a standard Harman/Kardon Surround Sound System with a seven-band equalizer, eighteen speakers, 655 watts of audio power, and sound adjustment based on the car's dynamic performance level. A Bowers & Wilkins Surround Sound System is available and includes a seven-band equalizer, 30 speakers, and a 1,615-watt amplifier output.

BMW will build the SUV at its Dingolfing plant beginning in the second-half of 2021. It's expected to launch in nearly 2022 in the U.S.

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The Hemi Orange package brings unqiue style to the Durango.

Dodge

The Dodge Durango isnt the newest or most refined SUV on the market, but it offers great comfort, good tech, and a handful of raucous powertrian options. The long-running family hauler is due for an update, but in the meantime, Dodge has given it a new Hemi Orange package with unique styling touches.

Dodge already offers the Hemi Orange package fo the Challenger and Charger, and now it's available for the three-row Durango. The package is available for the R/T trim, which comes with a 5.7-liter V8.

Dodge Durango Hemi OrangeDodge offers four exterior colors with the package. Dodge

Much of the Orange package's content comes on the outside, where Dodge adds orange and gunmetal hod stripes, black taillights, and grey/orange badging. The SUV rides on black 20-inch wheels, and Dodge offers different black "Lights Out" 20-inch wheels. Four exterior colors are available: Destroyer Grey, Diamond Black, Octane Red, and White Knuckle. Inside, the Durango gets orange sticthing and unique patterns in the upholstery. Dodge says the stitching extends throughout the interior, including to the gauge cluster, armrests, console lid, and steering wheel.

Two upgrades are available for the Hemi Orange Durango. The first is the Orange Plus Package, which adds a power sunroof, a 19-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, and a load of driver aids. The Tow N Go package is available for four-wheel drive models, and brings the 20-inch Lights Out wheels, orange brake calipers, and a Bilstein high-performance suspension system.

The Durango R/T Hemi Orange is available now. It carries a price tag of $1,995. The Orange Plus package costs $4,500 and the Tow N Go package costs $5,095.

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The CX-50 is surpsingly capable off-road.

Mazda

I have driven all of the Mazda vehicles that have been sold in the US market over the past three decades. On everyday roads and on racetracks. I’ve appreciated their “zoom-zoom”. Good power. Punchy torque just where it was needed. Well-balanced and sporty handling. A bit of growl for the versions that called for it. Plus, tasteful-but-modest styling and more or less elbow room, depending on the model. Mazda’s have been made for sports-car enthusiasts and to ferry families. But, I had never known a Mazda called an “overlander”. Until now.

2023 Mazda CX-50Towing capacity extends to 2,000 pounds.Mazda

The 2023 Mazda CX-50 moves this traction-sophisticated automaker into the lands where the pavement ends and now takes the brand ‘off-track’. Although it’s not a new thing for many of today’s carmakers to add a backcountry model or two to their lineup, it’s new for Mazda. I traveled to Santa Barbara, California to check out this all-new crossover built on Mazda’s seventh-generation small SUV platform that is shared with the smaller CX-30. This 5-passenger utility is longer, lower and wider than the CX-5 that rides on the previous generation’s underpinnings. The CX-50 has been crafted with a roomier second row and more cargo room for the goods and gear that weekend warriors and adventurers want to carry.

The CX-50 comes with a choice of two engines: a 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder engine with cylinder deactivation that gets 187 horsepower and 186 pound-feet of torque, and Mazda’s Skyactiv-G 2.5-liter turbo-charged powerplant with 256 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque; both shift through a six-speed automatic transmission. The sport ute can tow up to 2,000 lbs. with the naturally aspirated motor and up to 3,500 lbs. with the turbo-charged mill and Intelligent Drive Select (Mi-Drive) that brings a tow mode as well as Normal, Sport and Off-Road. The newest Mazda model has been made for North America only and is built in Alabama. It is the first Mazda vehicle with auto start/stop that can be deactivated.

2023 Mazda CX-50Mazda is a master of upscale interiors. Mazda

The new crossover starts at $26,800 and comes in S, S Select, S Preferred, S Preferred Plus, S Premium, and S Premium Plus with the base motor. Turb-charged versions come in Turbo, Turbo Premium, and Turbo Premium Plus that tops out at close to $42,000. A long list of technology and safety features are standard or available. Mazda says that Meridian, a fourth turbo trim will arrive soon with even more off-road cred; it will be set up with 18-inch black wheels AT, hood graphics and other backcountry goodies.

When you look at the CX-50, the first thing you’ll notice is exterior styling that speaks to its adventure-ready mission. Muscular bodywork, such as extra cladding, wide fender flairs and larger, more aggressive tires mean that this crossover has been designed not only to give a nod to the looks of a rugged crossover but to provide enhanced traction and a tad more suspension stretch for motoring over uneven terrain and along bumpy dirt roads. Planted on its haunches with functional air vents, it eschews minivan styling with a low and wide footprint that allows owners to have easy access to high-strength roof rails for loading gear on top; the roof has been made stronger than other Mazda crossovers to accommodate heavier loads, such as a roof-top tent. A panoramic moonroof- a first for Mazda- and attractive antiglare hood graphics and are tasteful additions.

The interior is attractive and roomy, with horizontal lines and “cleanable” surfaces as a nod to outdoor endeavors. Our Turbo Premium Plus model had bright orange reverse stitching that popped the cabin that has been crafted with uplevel trims and materials and brought heads-up display. A 7-inch infotainment screen is standard, while the top models get a 10.25-inch version. A wireless charging pad and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard on all trims. Of note, is the rear power and programmable liftgate to the wide and deep rear cargo compartment, with a load floor that flush with the liftgate opening to help slide heavy items in and out of the back. An available line of cargo accessories makes stowage easier.

2023 Mazda CX-50The CX-50 is family roadtrip ready.Mazda

How did it handle over the 200-plus miles of our ride and drive? The Turbo Premium Plus CX-50 offers a lot like; many of its driving attributes are consistent with Mazda’s tuning and handling priorities across its product line. Traveling along coastal highways, carving mountainous twisties with tight turns and accelerating on flat and straight well-graded pavement, it has great Mazda manners: i.e., there is enough power and torque in the right bandwidth to move it well; precise steering with a slightly heavily-weighted leather-wrapped steering wheel and well-modulated brakes, especially with towing a 3,500-lb. load. We enjoyed using Sport mode for carving corners, as it brings elongated shifts from the six-speed automatic; a crisp response comes when sport shifting in “manual mode” and provides a quick throttle response.

We tried out the Off-Road mode on a course that included flat and uneven dirt roads, as well as hill climb and descent. Although there is no downhill descent control system, the brakes worked well, along with manual gearing. Of note, Mazda would be wide to add downhill descent engineering for steeper and slicker terrain. We were able to test the difference between Normal and Off-Road over a special section of the course with sandy corners and a winding track at a speed of 30 mph showing the improved traction in the Off-Road programming and the aid of Mazda’s G-Vectoring Control that brings a bit of magic to transfer torque to the wheels where it is needed to keep the intended track-think of it like an enhanced traction control program that helps with steering and yaw control.

2023 Mazda CX-50The CX-50 comes with off-road driving modes. Mazda

Other aids for off-road and backcountry travel are: the i-Activ All-Wheel Drive system that is standard equipment on all CX-50s, with a 50/50ish power transfer front to back; 8.6 inches of ground clearance; an 18-degree approach angle and a 24-degree departure angle; and an optional 360-degree camera system.

*EPA reports: base motor fuel economy 24 city/30 highway mpg, while the turbo option gets 23/29 mpg and can run on regular or premium fuel.

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