KBB Editors' Overview
By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 5/26/2011
When BMW introduced the X6 Sports Activity Vehicle, people immediately either loved it or hated it. But if the vehicle's role in life was in question, its performance and overall curb appeal were not. It features a laundry list of technological features, not least of which is BMW's xDrive all-wheel drive, which not only transfers torque from the front to the rear, but also side-to-side to optimize its capabilities in all directions. The X6 is available as the xDrive35i with a turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine, the xDrive50i with a turbocharged V8 and the ActiveHybrid. Since the X6 effectively blurs vehicle segment lines in its overall quirkiness, its competitors range from traditional premium SUVs like the Porsche Cayenne or even BMW's own X5 to other low-roof crossovers like the Acura ZDX and Infiniti FX50.
You'll Like This Car If...
If you're looking for an undeniably sporting drive in an SUV format, the BMW X6 is right up your alley. Its uniquely dramatic styling means you're bound to make a grand entrance wherever you go and it's actually really fun to drive.
You May Not Like This Car If...
Although the xDrive AWD system is fairly sophisticated and assists the vehicle quite well in its on-road behavior, it isn't really meant to be taken off that road. The low roofline compromises rear storage somewhat compared to more upright vehicles like BMW's own X5.
What's Significant About This Car?
For 2011, a new rear-seat variant will be available, enabling the X6 to accommodate up to five adults rather than just four. The transmission will feature shift paddles on the steering wheel that operate like those in the company's M cars; the right paddle for upshifts, the left for downshifts. The choice of alloy wheels has been extended and BMW ConnectedDrive also becomes available as an option.
True to its Bavarian heritage, the BMW X6 drives like few other SUVs or crossovers on the planet. This is due in large part to its sophisticated all-wheel drive, which constantly adjusts itself to the driving situation, and generous running gear that can be made even more generous with various wheel options from BMW. The engines are quite up to the task of moving the vehicle's considerable mass with authority, the xDrive35i less so than the xDrive50i or ActiveHybrid but, still, its 300 horsepower is more than adequate because the 35i version is significantly lighter than the other two. The seating positions, from a sporting driver's point of view, are as good as they come in vehicles of this type. And, even if you don't care to horse something of these dimensions anywhere near its limits, there's still the comfortable, leisurely drive down the boulevard, where you're bound to attract more than a few inquisitive stares.
The X6's spacious interior, while not as roomy as the X5 or 5 Series GranTurismo in terms of vertical space, offers a nice place to spend an evening or afternoon. The new five-seat option expands this capability and makes the X6 about as accommodating as anything that might go up against it.
Found in the xDrive35i and xDrive50i (the ActiveHybrid X6 gets seven forward gears), the eight-speed transmission is a wonder of German engineering. Absolutely smooth and composed during normal driving or even hard acceleration, it is the perfect match for either engine's generous power and torque output.
If you're familiar with BMW vehicles, you'll find yourself at home in the X6. The seating position is good and fairly sporty for an SUV and the cabin is intimate and cockpit-like, impressive for a vehicle this size. Like all new BMWs, the once-reviled iDrive control cluster on the center console has become more intuitive and user friendly, with a cluster of direct-function buttons to assist the control knob.
BMW set out to create a Sports Activity Vehicle with the sexy, sporty coupe roofline and largely succeeded in that endeavor. From the front it is every bit a sport SUV crossover, while the roofline that plunges toward the rear, a somewhat bulbous rear end and undeniable BMW design elements like the forward kidney grilles and slightly upswept rear gate make the X6 look like virtually nothing else on the road.
Notable Standard Equipment
The incredibly advanced all-wheel drive system tops the list of standard equipment on the BMW X6, transferring torque fore and aft and left and right to optimize the car's acceleration and road-holding ability. Also standard on the xDrive35i and xDrive50i is an eight-speed transmission, while the hybrid retains a seven-speed. The iDrive information interface is also standard, enabling users access to all dash-mounted functions such as audio and climate control and vehicle communication systems, as well as satellite navigation if the vehicle is equipped with that option.
Notable Optional Equipment
Several package bundles are available, including Technology, which includes navigation with real-time traffic information and voice-command capability; Cold Weather, with heated front seats and steering wheel and retractable headlight washers; a Premium Sound Package; a Premium Package with ambiance interior lighting, Bluetooth and a universal garage door opener; and Sport packages with 19-inch or optional 20-inch Y-spoke alloy wheels, sport seats and special upholstery appointments. Stand-alone options include Active Steering, Adaptive Drive, a head-up display that projects on the windshield and safety systems, including Lane Departure Warning.
Under the Hood
The X6 xDrive35i receives a version of BMW's TwinPower Turbo inline six-cylinder engine that produces 300 horsepower. The X6 xDrive50i receives a TwinPower Turbo V8 that ups the ante to 400 peak Horsepower. The ActiveHybrid X6 also utilizes the turbocharged V8, which is further paired with dual electric synchronous motors that can move the vehicle on their own or assist on acceleration, producing a maximum 485 horsepower. The two gasoline-powered variants both use an eight-speed automatic with Steptronic shift capability (via paddles mounted on the steering wheel), while the hybrid uses a seven-speed automatic.
3.0-liter twin-turbocharged in-line 6
300 horsepower @ 5800 rpm
300 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1200-5000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/23
4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8
400 horsepower @5500-6400 rpm
450 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1750-4500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/20
4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8, dual electric synchronous motors
485 horsepower @ 5500-6400 rpm (hybrid mode)
575 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1750-4500 rpm (hybrid mode)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/19
As its premium SUV status would denote, the 2011 BMW X6 doesn't come cheap. The base X6 xDrive35i, with a turbocharged inline-six and 300 horsepower, starts under $60,000. The X6 xDrive50i, with turbocharged V8 and 400 horsepower, is around $70,000. The high-tech ActiveHybrid X6 tops the range both in terms of power output and price: 485 horsepower and close to $90,000. Still, even at these prices, the X6 remains fairly competitive with other premium European offerings from Porsche or Audi.