One of the major feature upgrades in the 2024 BMW iX models, including the M60, is the improved Driver Assistant Pro package. The semi-autonomous driving system includes the Highway Assistant feature that allows the driver to take their hands off the steering wheel and let the car handle the speed, steering and lane changes on highways.
The previous version of the Highway Assistant, which is offered in the 2022 and 2023 BMW iX models, had a speed limit of 40 mph and required the driver to keep their eyes on the road at all times. The new version, however, will increase the speed limit to 85 mph and use an advanced eye-tracking system to monitor the driver’s attention level. This means that the driver can relax more and enjoy the ride, as long as they are ready to take over when needed. BMW’s Highway Assistant requires MGU5 hardware, present in cars produced from March 2023 and onward.
In this latest version, the driver can also enjoy the hands-free driving experience for prolonged times since a push on the drive or brake pedal won’t immediately disable the Level 2+ features. But it rather revers to Level 2 functions. During a recent road trip, I had the chance to sample the updated Highway Assistant in our long-term tester BMW iX M60. The Level 2+ functions are smoother than before and truly makes a difference during boring stretches of road.
How Does It Work?
The Highway Assistant is designed to work only on controlled access highways, where there are no pedestrians, cyclists or intersections. The system also relies on high-definition maps, sensors and cameras to navigate the road conditions and traffic situations. First, you need to press the I/O button on the steering wheel and you will now have two options to select: Driving Assist and Assist Plus.
Once the Level 2+ system detects that the road conditions are suitable for hands-free driving, it will display a message on the dashboard indicating that “Driving Assist Plus” is available. The steering wheel is equipped with two LEDs on both sides that illuminate in green when hands-free driving is active, at which point you can safely remove your hands from the wheel.
Of course, it works during nighttime journeys as well, as long as road markings are clear. There was a single instance where the system faced some challenges: during heavy showers, likely because of its inability to clearly identify the road markings. In this case, the system reverted to the Driving Assist functionality.
Highway Exit – Another Cool Feature
Another cool feature in the autonomous driving package is the Highway Exit. While driving on the freeway, my BMW iX M60 will autonomously transition to the right lane when an upcoming exit approaches. Similarly, if an onramp leading to another freeway is nearing, the vehicle will automatically switch into that lane. This system initiates its own turn signal and changes lanes when it deems the conditions safe. Naturally, you have to use the car’s own navigation in this case.
Automatic Lane Changes
Lastly, I’m also using more often the automatic lane changes feature. I was reluctant initially, but over time, I have developed a high level of confidence in my car’s capabilities. For lane changes, you will need to manually initiate them by using the turn signal, and the car will execute the lane change on your behalf, ensuring it is safe to do so.
There is a difference though in the speed at which lane changes are permitted in the United States versus Germany. In the European Union, they adhere to stricter regulations, so changing lanes is a bit slower. I recently sampled this in the BMW i7 M70 and new i5.
Priced at $2,300, the Driving Assistance Professional Package may seem a bit steep, but it’s unquestionably the one feature I would personally choose to include in my iX. If you frequently travel on highways, it’s a clear-cut choice and easily one of the most frequently used features.