2011 BMW X6 Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Nelson Ireson Nelson Ireson Senior Editor
February 17, 2011

The novelty of the four-door coupe/SUV is wearing off, but the X6's combination of utility and composed driving style still pleases.

It has been called an oddball, an outcast, a bender of genres. But whatever you call the BMW X6, which has elements of coupe, sedan, SUV, and sports car running through its hoses, you'll find it fits a niche you didn't know was there. As such, it competes with a wide range of vehicles, from the Land Rover Range Rover to the Infiniti FX and the Porsche Cayenne.

The unique styling is a love it or leave it affair for most; there aren't many people that are neutral on the X6's looks. That's a definite positive for those in the "love it" camp--it has the power to turn heads and wag tongues, even after several years on the market.

From the base six-cylinder to the ferocious M model, the X6 has more than a sprinkling of performance in its DNA. It's still a tall, heavy vehicle, however, and ultimately handling and fuel efficiency reflect that.

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Inside, the X6 is a nice place--for front passengers. It's not quite as nice for taller rear passengers, though materials and construction are typically solid BMW work.

If there's something that doesn't come standard or can't be added as an option to the BMW X6, it's probably best left out of a vehicle entirely; you will not want for options and configurability. What you may lack, however, is the bankroll to add every cool feature or option available.

On the green side of things, the ActiveHybrid X6 is curiously the least efficient of the non-M offerings on the highway. Perhaps it's not as curious when you consider the hybrid's 480-horsepower output, but that fact alone tells you: the X6 is about performance and style; efficiency is a secondary concern.

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2011 BMW X6

Styling

The 2011 BMW X6's dual-purpose design is controversial, with the question of its beauty (or lack thereof) still unsettled.

It has been called an oddball, an outcast, a bender of genres. But whatever you call the BMW X6, which has elements of coupe, sedan, SUV, and sports car running through its hoses, you'll find it fits a niche you didn't know was there. As such, it competes with a wide range of vehicles, from the Land Rover Range Rover to the Infiniti FX and the Porsche Cayenne.

Above the beltline, the 2011 BMW X6 is an athletic, coupe-like hatchback or sedan. Below the beltline it's all high-riding SUV. Some people will love the combination, others won't. Inside, the design is much less controversial and much more conventional BMW, though the high-performance X6 M may take the carbon fiber-look panels a bit far. TheCarConnection.com notes that the high-mounted center console gives a tighter, closer feel to the cockpit than you might expect from a large vehicle.

The overall effect of the half-sport-coupe, half-SUV X6 is divisive: some find it macho, manly, and bold; others find it too much of too many things to be attractive at all. There isn't much grey area.

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2011 BMW X6

Performance

A beefy V-8 engine and a smooth inline-six give the 2011 BMW X6 serious performance chops, and the X6 M takes it to near-sports car levels-but it's still a big, heavy SUV.

There are four versions of the X6, and every one is a performer. The turbocharged inline 3.0-liter six-cylinder in the X6 xDrive35i offers 300 horsepower, 23 mpg, and standard all-wheel drive. The twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V-8 in the xDrive50i ups the output to 400 horsepower, still manages 20 mpg highway, and uses the all-wheel drive to deliver blistering acceleration for an SUV. Step up to the X6 M and your frame of reference will be forever altered: this 555-horsepower, twin-turbo V-8 beast does things you only expect from the finest sports sedans, and does them all without blinking. For those with greener tastes, but who also still hanker for fun, the ActiveHybrid X6 mates a turbocharged V-8 with a hybrid drive system for 17 mpg city, 19 mpg highway, and 480 horsepower.

The xDrive35i and xDrive50i X6s both use a new eight-speed automatic transmission to deliver the power, enhancing smoothness and acceleration, while also boosting efficiency. The ActiveHybrid X6 uses its own seven-speed gearbox with Sport and steptronic manual shift modes, including steering-wheel paddle shifters. The X6 M gets a six-speed transmission to handle its huge output. No matter which model you choose, you'll get a brilliant set of electronic assistants that not only improve safety, but help extract the most out of the X6's prodigiously capable chassis. The X6 M, with M Dynamic Mode, takes this to another level.

All X6s are surprisingly capable, accelerating briskly, turning and handling well, especially for their size, but even faring fine against much smaller competition. Steering can be a bit vague at times, but almost always feels natural and direct.

The BMW X6's performance is impressive in the standard variants and downright shocking in the case of the X6 M, but even after time on the track at Road Atlanta and BMW's Performance Driving grounds in both M and non-M models, the concept of a sport-coupe/SUV feels a bit foreign. Compromises abound to enable the X6 to meet its performance targets; the cargo area is comparatively small, and though it's very fast, there's no mistaking the tall crossover's parentage-it's no track-bred coupe.
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2011 BMW X6

Comfort & Quality

The 2011 BMW X6 isn't as roomy as the X5, but it's enough for most and well-made throughout.

If it's comfort you're after, the X6 asks you to ask yourself: comfort for whom? Up front, the X6 is every inch the luxurious SUV (though you'd be hard-pressed to tell it from a BMW sedan if you weren't paying attention when you climbed into it) and comfort, materials, and features reflect that. In the rear seats, headroom is at a bit of a premium, though it can fit even taller passengers if they're not put off by close spaces.

Fit, finish, and construction are all top-notch, and that's reflected in the amount of noise that seeps into the cabin: not much, until you get the wide tires and large side mirrors toward the upper end of freeway speeds. The cargo area isn't vast, restricted by the sloping roof, but it offers more space than a typical sedan--back to defying categorization. Visibility, especially rearward, can be a difficult due to the narrow glass areas.

The X6 has 59.7 cubic feet of cargo space with the second-row seats tucked out of the way, but the X5 adds 25 percent more room for a total of 75 cubic feet.

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2011 BMW X6

Safety

The 2011 BMW X6 hasn't been crash-tested yet, but it is chock-full of cutting-edge safety equipment.

Safety should be assured for X6 buyers. Though neither the NHTSA nor the IIHS have crash tested the X6, it's built on similar underpinnings to the X5, which scores top marks of "good" in all categories according to the IIHS.

The X6 also comes with a host of standard safety equipment, including a full complement of front, side, and curtain airbags, plus a range of stability and performance-tuned traction control. Optional upgrades like backup cameras and adaptive cruise control add to the protection.

BMW stability control takes advantage of the 2011 X6's four-wheel-drive system through Dynamic Performance Control. The ability to send power to individual wheels lets the BMW X6 have more direct impact on safety than stability control alone can.
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2011 BMW X6

Features

The 2011 BMW X6 can be as luxurious-and as expensive-as you want it to be.

There's also no shortage of standard features in the 2011 X6, though there are a multitude of options and packages that can quickly add to the price as well.

Every X6 offers 10-way power-adjustable seating for driver and front passenger, HD Radio, wood-grain trim, automatic front climate control, push-button start/stop, power tailgate, front and rear parking sensors, a 10-speaker stereo with two subwoofers, dynamic cruise control, and more.

Optional upgrades include four-zone automatic climate control, ventilated front seats, iPod and USB connectivity, a premium hi-fi stereo system, six-disc DVD changer, voice command, navigation, real-time traffic, a rearview camera, and a range of interior and exterior appearance packages.

A high-end audio system, a navigation system, Bluetooth wireless connectivity, and a range of wood trim make for a very configurable buying experience. 

Audio, climate, and navigation systems are all handled through BMW's capable but oft-criticized iDrive system, which had some rough patches in its infancy, but has matured in its latest iteration into a more user-friendly--if still complex--infotainment system.

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2011 BMW X6

Fuel Economy

Efficiency takes a back seat to performance and style with the 2011 X6, even in hybrid form.

When a carmaker adds a hybrid to a model lineup, it's usually to improve overall fuel economy ratings. That's not the case with the X6. It's a powerhouse, to be sure, but at 17 mpg city and 19 mpg highway, even the base six-cylinder gasoline engine does better: 16/23 mpg for 19 mpg combined, 1 mpg better than the hybrid. The V-8 xDrive50i scores just below the hybrid at 14/20 mpg for 16 mpg combined, and the X6 M dispense with pretense, trading 12/17 mpg ratings for 555 horsepower and raw, unfiltered fun.
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October 18, 2015
2011 BMW X6 AWD 4-Door 35i

Great but costly

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I love my car without a doubt but it has its flaws when the engine can't be cut in its damn near impossible to tow , and there's no indicator when certain parts need to be fixed such as your engine starter ... + More »
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