New & Used BMW X6: In Depth
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The BMW X6’s shared core with the full-size X5 SUV give it the off-roady bones it needs to ride so high, but the swoopy, coupe-like design adds a marked dash of sport to the formula, too. While those curves may compromise utility and cargo space, its driving dynamics are impressive. Combining coupe, crossover, and luxury sedan elements, the BMW X6 has few natural competitors, though Mercedes-Benz is working on a new coupe-crossover of its own.
See our 2015 BMW X6 preview for information on what's coming to the X6 lineup, and check out The Car Connection's coverage of the 2014 BMW X6 for pricing with options, gas mileage, features, and more.
New in 2008, today's X6 gets its power from a range of engines, six-cylinders and eight-cylinders alike, all the way through to the massively powerful X6 M. With a base price tag from about $60,000 to almost $90,000, the X6 has its chief rivals in the Porsche Cayenne, the Infiniti FX (soon to be the Infiniti QX70) and the Land Rover Range Rover Sport.
In its launch year, the BMW X6 was available in xDrive35i and xDrive50i trims with a choice of an in-line six-cylinder twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter engine rated at 300 horsepower or a 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V-8 engine rated at 400 horsepower, respectively. A six-speed automatic transmission was the only option for 2008-2010 models of any trim or engine package, paired to BMW's xDrive all-wheel-drive system.
Subsequent model years saw the introduction of the X6 M in 2009, which turns up the power on the twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V-8 to 555 horsepower. Upgraded suspension, larger wheels and tires, more capable brakes and advanced performance-tuned traction and handling electronics combine to make an impressive performance vehicle despite its size and weight. For the 2010 model year, the ActiveHybrid X6 offered a combination of power and efficiency that erred on the side of performance. Rated at 480 horsepower, it was an upgrade of 80 horsepower over the standard V-8 X6, yet delivered one more mpg on the highway.
Upgrades for the 2011 model year saw the introduction of a new entry-level six-cylinder engine that goes to a single-turbo, twin-scroll configuration with direct injection that maintained the same performance levels as the previous twin-turbo engine while reducing complexity and cost. Also on the docket for the 2011 model was a three-passenger rear seat option, which increased the X6's capacity to five in total from the prior four-seat configuration. An eight-speed transmission became standard equipment for all but the X6 M, which retained its robust six-speed drivetrain. The new eight-speed's smooth shifting and slightly improved fuel economy make it a noticeable upgrade.
The X6 returned for the 2012 model year, though the ActiveHybrid model was dropped from the lineup. None of the X6 family are particularly efficient, however, rating between 16/23 mpg city/highway for the 2013 xDrive35i, 14/20 mpg for the xDrive50i, and a thirsty 12/17 mpg rating for the X6 M. For the 2013 model year, the X6 range received a mildly updated exterior look, with the X6 M getting its own unique touches, plus the addition of an M Performance model, new paint colors, and available adaptive LED headlights. In the 2014 model year, the X6 saw only minor updates and equipment changes.
The 2015 BMW X6 received a moderate exterior redesign, sharpening its lines and updating its themes to better match the rest of the recently-refreshed BMW lineup. Other changes for the 2015 model year include an available rear-drive version of the six-cylinder model, called the X6 sDrive35i; while the X6 xDrive50i’s 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V-8 gains 50 hp for a total of 450 hp. The 2015 X6 also offers some advanced technology features, including night vision with pedestrian and animal detection, head-up display, and adaptive headlights. The 2015 arrives in U.S. showrooms in late 2014.