New & Used BMW X6: In Depth
2015 BMW X6 with BMW M Performance upgradesEnlarge Photo
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The BMW X6 is a coupe-like four-door SUV with an emphasis on performance and design over utility. It shares much of its core structure and components with the X5, giving it off-roady qualities, while focusing on its road-going ability. Aside from its distinctive shape, the X6 does get several unique features to set it apart from the X5, including an available torque-vectoring rear differential. The BMW X6 has few natural competitors due to this unusual combination of aspects—Acura tried and failed with its short-lived ZDX competitor—although Mercedes-Benz recently announced its GLE-Class, which will go up against the second-generation X6 very soon. The X6's popularity has also spawned a smaller version within the BMW lineup, the X3-based X4.
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 forced-induction six-cylinder and eight-cylinder engines, with the top V-8 found in 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 QX70 (formerly the FX) and the Land Rover Range Rover Sport.
From launch, the X6 was available in two configurations. The xDrive35i featured BMW's turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six engine, generating 300 horsepower. The xDrive50i used a 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V-8 making 400 horsepower. Both used a six-speed automatic transmission through 2010, and both sent power to all four wheels through a BMW 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.
BMW has also announced that the X6 M (and its X5 M sibling) will return for 2015. Powered by an uprated version of the last X6 M's V-8 engine, this new iteration promises to be the quickest X6 yet. Output now stands at 567 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque. All of that is put to the ground through an eight-speed automatic equipped with launch control and standard all-wheel drive. It offers the torque vectoring differential as standard equipment and should be plenty of fun on a road course.
In addition to the X6 M, BMW is offering a full complement of M Performance parts for the X6. Items include purely aesthetic upgrades, aero kits, wheels, interior trim, and suspension parts. And at long last, Mercedes has announced its X6 competitor, the GLE Coupe, which arrives as a 2016 model.