By Keith Buglewicz
The BMW X6 marches to the beat of its own drum, and has since it was launched in 2008. Yet the funky shape and sporty handling of this big SUV has inspired the sincerest form of flattery: the Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe. The 2016 BMW X6 rolls on with a handful of upgrades to the basic package, such as upgraded Bluetooth and 4-zone climate control in V8 models. This is not a "utility" vehicle, as the smallish rear seat and cargo area will attest. And, it's a bit on the big side to be a real performance vehicle as well. Yet it somehow succeeds at both without mastering either, an odd trick, but one that has kept buyers coming here, and in overseas markets as well.
If you can forsake utility in the name of style, comfort in the name of performance, and your bank account in the name of individuality, then the 2016 X6 may just be the ticket.
With an all-new model last year, the 2016 BMW X6 gets a few around-the-edges upgrades. There's an improved Bluetooth system, and V8 models get standard 4-zone climate control. That, plus some rearranging of option packages is about the extent of the changes.
The 2016 BMW X6 is a big, heavy, odd-looking beast, which makes its on-road performance that much more impressive. This is especially true for the xDrive50i and its 445-horsepower twin-turbocharged...
... V8, which propels the X6 from a standstill to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds. Those big tires grip the road in a way that defies common sense, but apparently not physics. No, it's no 4 Series coupe, but it is more fun to drive than its X5 sibling. Round town the X6 stays comfortable, and thanks to its all-wheel drive and hill-descent control, the X6 can even crawl around steep terrain, as long as it's not so rough that the limited ground clearance becomes a factor. The sloped roof creates huge blind spots, making outward visibility terrible, and the start/stop system that idles the engine at traffic lights is jarring upon restarts. However, the engine-idle feature can be disabled.
10.2-INCH COMMAND SCREEN
Remember how awesome that new 72-inch flat-screen TV looked in your living room? You get the same impression from the new 10.2-inch command screen in the 2016 BMW X6. This high-resolution display sits high in the dash, crisply renders navigation, entertainment info and more, and looks elegant even when off.
BMW ULTIMATE SERVICE
With cars getting more and more complicated, it's nice to have something like BMW Ultimate Service, which grants four years/50,000 miles of complimentary factory-scheduled maintenance to the 2016 X6. The plan also includes four years/unlimited miles of roadside assistance. Together, they combine cost savings and peace of mind.
BMW owners will feel right at home inside a 2016 X6. The front seats are a comfortable and rewarding place to be, and the leathers are sublime and padded everywhere, and the trim and controls are all top-notch. Even though rear-seat passengers have decent legroom and their own dual-zone climate control (standard on the V8 models, optional on 6-cylinder models), the lack of headroom makes it a short-term proposition for most passengers. But just fold the seatbacks down -- you'll need the extra cargo space anyhow -- and pretend the X6 is the coupe it so desperately wants to be.
The BMW X6 is a love-it-or-leave-it design. For some it's big and bloated, and it looks bigger in person than it does it photos...where it already looks pretty big. The high-riding stance combined with the sloping coupe-like hatchback shape is just weird, and takes some getting used to. But others love it right off the bat. This 2nd-generation version goes a long way toward cleaning up some of the first version's cluttered lines, especially in back. And yes, there's even a bit of practicality thanks to high-illumination bi-xenon headlights and a power tailgate.
The base 2016 BMW X6 is the sDrive35i, which comes with a 6-cylinder engine powering the rear wheels (RWD); the xDrive35i and xDrive 50i both have all-wheel drive (AWD) standard. Other standard features include a leather interior, moonroof, power tailgate, parking sensors, 40/20/40-split folding rear seats, 10-way-power front seats with heat, and universal garage remote. A newly upgraded Bluetooth gives drivers better control over their devices, and integrates with the standard iDrive infotainment system that includes navigation, 9-speaker AM/FM/CD player with Bluetooth streaming, USB port and hard drive for music storage. The niche X6 M model has the lineup's most powerful engine.
The 2016 BMW X6 comes nicely equipped, but upgrade packages are available for those willing to pay. We suggest the Driver Assistance package that adds a rearview camera and head-up display; the Driver Assistance Plus package also adds blind-spot monitoring, bird's-eye-view camera system, active cruise control and lane-departure warning. A Bang & Olufsen sound system is available if the standard harman/kardon system isn't quite spectacular enough, and there are ventilated front seats, satellite radio, heated rear seats, and a heated steering wheel. M Sport and X Line packages feature 20-inch wheels and unique interior and exterior aesthetics.
There are three different turbocharged engines to choose from in the 2016 BMW X6. First is the 6-cylinder available in the RWD sDrive35i and AWD xDrive35i. The xDrive50i uses a twin-turbocharged V8, and the X6 M uses a higher-output version of that engine for ultimate go power. All models use an excellent 8-speed automatic transmission, and all also feature an auto stop/start function that stops the engine in situations such as traffic lights where it would otherwise idle. The startups can be jarring and, if frequent, annoying. Thankfully it can be disabled with the touch of a button.
3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6
300 horsepower @ 5,800-6,000 rpm
300 lb-ft of torque @ 1,300-5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/27 mpg (RWD), 18/27 mpg (AWD)
4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8
445 horsepower @ 5,500-6,000 rpm
480 lb-ft of torque @ 2,000-4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/22 mpg
4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8
567 horsepower @ 6,000-6,500 rpm
553 lb-ft of torque @ 2,200-5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/19 mpg
The least you can pay for a 2016 BMW X6, including the $995 destination charge, is the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $61,800 for a base-level X6 sDrive35i. In other words, you're paying about $6,000 more than a base X5. Add about $2,500 for all-wheel drive. If you want the V8-powered xDrive50i you're looking at nearly $76,500. And for the ultimate in ridiculous power in your SUV, the 2016 BMW X6 M starts at around $103,000. That's Porsche Cayenne money no matter how you slice it, and the Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe is in the same neighborhood. Before buying, be sure to check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others are paying for their X6. If past performance is any indicator, the X6's resale value is expected to be in line with Infiniti's coupe-like SUV rival and lower than that of the Porsche.