KBB Editors' Overview
By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 12/8/2011
To its credit, in the evolution of its sport-sedan fleet BMW has come a long way. Although some might take issue with the 1 Series sheetmetal when compared to an early 2002, few would argue with the dynamic improvements. BMW's recent foray into the SUV market is something else altogether, and nothing in its lineup is so egregious – to the BMW faithful – as the X6 and its many derivatives - including a 6-cylinder version, a wicked-powerful hybrid model and the 547-horsepower twin-turbocharged X6 M. What the Bavarians describe as the "first ever Sports Activity Coupe" is – in our view – the answer to a question too few have asked. Built atop the BMW X5 platform in Spartanburg, South Carolina, the X6 enjoys the unique distinction of weighing slightly more than the X5, costing significantly more and transporting significantly less. It is – again, in our view – a lose/lose/lose proposition, but then, enthusiasts of the 2002 (or, for that matter, today's 1 Series Coupe) are probably not on the X6 team's marketing radar.
You'll Like This Car If...
If you regard traditional 2-box SUVs as smacking of a minivan or mom-mobile, but still need some balance between people and cargo, the rear hatch and folding rear seats of the X6 provide more utility than a traditional sedan, and the higher hip point of the driver's seat suggests enhanced control in congested environments. Finally, BMW's xDrive all-wheel drive provides enhanced control in rural environs.
You May Not Like This Car If...
If you seek an SUV for its practical application in hauling people and/or cargo, the 2012 X6 falls woefully short. Better, we think, to invest in a 3 Series wagon and, with the change, someone's pre-owned Jeep. The X6 suffers from not enough ground clearance for going off-road, and not enough headroom for carrying four to five passengers in real comfort.
What's New for 2012
For the 2011 model year the X6 received both a new in-line-6 and 8-speed automatic transmission. The only significant addition to the 2012 BMW X6 is the availability of a split-folding rear seat, enabling three passengers to sit abreast when, of course, said seat isn't folded. This increases the X6 passenger volume by 25 percent, a nod to practicality you won't find elsewhere in the X6 architecture.
The X6 platform benefits from all those well-engineered chassis that went before it. And while it sits higher than a 3 Series or 5 Series sedan, a rigid body structure, all-independent suspension and xDrive all-wheel drive effectively mask its oh-so-obvious mass. In point of fact, you'll probably not take note of the X6's basic inefficiency until you stop for gasoline, where its most efficient variant – the ActiveHybrid – won't achieve 20 miles per gallon. The V8 versions are thirsty, but you have the benefit of more urgency. Drink up!
xDrive All-Wheel Drive
If selecting an SUV (or SAV), the vehicle's additional weight should at least be offset by some all-season capability. And few all-wheel-drive systems are more capable than BMW's xDrive all-wheel drive. Despite the additional hardware, the X6 – in most versions – still enjoys an almost ideal 50:50 weight distribution. Even in the Sunbelt, the very occasional rain or snow will only reinforce your purchase decision.
Historically Good Resale
There is absolutely no rational reasoning behind the purchase of BMW's X6. It is an impulse buy, and as such, you should prepare yourself in advance for buyer's remorse. Happily, the X6 should still provide a reasonable return on your investment. If you're leasing rather than purchasing, however, we'd advise a short-term lease, after which you can find a true sport sedan. Or true SUV.
Inside you'll find traditional BMW strengths in the area of driver ergonomics and - if you can overlook the lack of rear-seat headroom - passenger comfort. The view from the driver's seat is not unlike that of the 6 Series until, of course, you try to view what's behind you in the next lane. Then, the blind spot that is the 2012 BMW X6 fastback profile makes itself known. To its credit, everything is well crafted, and the tighter cabin dimensions convey an intimacy rarely offered in more traditional SUVs.
Beauty, we'd agree, is in the eye of the beholder. With that, behold a "sporty" fastback roofline atop an SUV platform. With the end result weighing some 5,000 pounds it becomes hard to fully appreciate the execution when built on such a shaky assumption. To its credit, the X6 is less awkward than Honda's Crosstour, but we're damning the 2012 X6 with very faint praise.
Notable Standard Equipment
Those with a need for all-season mobility can revel in the addition of xDrive all-wheel drive to all variants of the X6 architecture. With its ability to transfer engine torque the system optimizes control in virtually any road condition. Add to that BMW's attention to on-road dynamics and an extremely rigid body shell, and you have the makings of a 4- to 5-passenger GT. The addition of an 8-speed automatic in 2011 aids in both responsive acceleration and efficient cruising; it is standard on both xDrive35i and xDrive50i.
Notable Optional Equipment
Most significant options are bundled into various packages, and include Active Ventilated Seat Package, Cold Weather, Premium, Premium Sound, Sport/Sport Activity and Technology. Given the X6 mission of combining all-season capability with sports coupe demeanor, we believe one of the two Sport packages goes a long way in enhancing the X6's sport-oriented presence. Among stand-alone options, BMW's Active Steering enhances maneuverability at lower speeds, while the Chateau Nevada Leather (in red) enhances eye appeal at any speed.
Under the Hood
In its entry-level xDrive35i form, the 2012 X6 benefits from the delightful strains of BMW's turbocharged (300 horsepower/300 lb-ft of torque) in-line-6. And despite wonderful performance numbers – a 0-60 time of just over six seconds and an electronically limited top end of 130 – the 5,000 pounds of the X6 will be felt with a full passenger and cargo load. Opt for the xDrive50i and you'll enjoy some 100 more horses and an extra 150 lb-ft of torque, which is probably the sweet spot in the X6 lineup. Both the ActiveHybrid and X6 M offer more go, but they also both start north of $90,000. The xDrive35i and xDrive50i are connected to 8-speed automatic transmissions, the hybrid receives a 7-speed automatic and the "M" makes do with six. But at 150 mph, who's counting?
3.0-liter turbocharged in-line-6
300 horsepower @ 5,800 rpm
300 lb-ft of torque @ 1,300-5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/23
4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8
400 horsepower @5,500-6,400 rpm
450 lb-ft of torque @ 1,750-4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/20
4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8, dual electric synchronous motors
480 horsepower @ 5,500-6,400 rpm (hybrid mode)
575 lb-ft of torque @ 1,750-4,500 rpm (hybrid mode)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/19
4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8 (X6 M)
555 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
500 lb-ft of torque @ 1,500-5,650 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 12/17
As noted earlier, the BMW X6 shares its basic platform with the X5. What BMW regards as its more "sexy" sheet metal doesn't, however, come cheap, adding some $10,000 above the cost of a base X5 to become the base X6. You'll invest just over $60,000 for the xDrive35i. Opt for the V8-equipped xDrive50i and you'll spend upward of $70,000, and the ActiveHybrid X6 begins at $90,000. That $90K figure is, coincidentally, also where the X6 M begins, and can quickly accelerate – literally and figuratively – into six figures. Go figure... Of course, BMW typically enjoys best-in-class resale. And check Kelley Blue Book's Fair Purchase Option for an idea of what consumers are paying for the same car in your area.