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PERFORMANCE | 7 out of 10
“the inline-six is livelier”
“sounds more like a carbureted big block”
“can't overcome the laws of physics”
“amazing turn-in and grip”
Car and Driver
The reviews researched by TheCarConnection.com found plenty of approval for the BMW X6’s power and handling, and lots of surprise that an SUV could handle as well as the X6 does.
The 2009 BMW X6 comes in two versions: an XDrive 35i, powered by a 306-hp 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged in-line six, and an XDrive 50i with a 400-hp, 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V-8. A six-speed automatic is the only transmission offered.
Jalopnik says, “on paper, the V-8 is the clear winner, delivering a 0-60 time of 5.4 seconds and a top speed of 155 mph. In practice however, the inline-six is livelier, weighing down the X6's front end considerably less and not suffering from the bigger engine's turbo lag. At 6.5 seconds to 60 mph and topping out at 149 mph, it's far from slow as well.” Edmunds found an important reason to choose the big V-8 over the six: it “sounds more like a carbureted big block than a sophisticated twin-turbo engine with direct injection.” But they doubted BMW’s performance claims: the claimed 0-60 time for the V-8 “is only 0.3 second slower than the last [BMW] 135i we tested, and the tiny coupe weighs 1,906 pounds less.”
The automatic transmission, Popular Mechanics says, is a “fast-shifting six-speed automatic with shifter paddles on the steering wheel.” Edmunds had issues with its performance, observing that “the six-speed automatic transmission shifts tentatively, as if it's worried that unleashing too much force at one time might eat a driveshaft or two.” Car and Driver had “no complaints” about the transmission, though.
In terms of handling, the 2009 BMW X6 “isn't great on a racetrack,” Jalopnik thinks, while Edmunds disagrees: it’s “shockingly agile,” with “quick steering” and “little body roll.” Car and Driver concurs: “for something this big and heavy, the X6 has amazing turn-in and grip, and the brakes never overheated.”
Part of the handling magic, most sources said, comes from Dynamic Performance Control. A version of four-wheel drive with integral stability control, DPC uses electronics to send varying amounts of power to different wheels and to help with stability. “It makes the X6 handle incredibly well and incredibly safely in any condition without cutting power or hitting the brakes to interfere,” Jalopnik thinks. Truck Trend says, “fancy electronics can't overcome the laws of physics,” though.
A snorting V-8 engine and a smooth in-line six give the 2009 BMW X6 a big performance leg up—but it’s still a big, heavy SUV.