Reviews researched by TheCarConnection.com find the BMW X6's power and handling to be good not just for an SUV, but surprisingly good, period. The 2010 BMW X6 comes in three versions: the XDrive 35i, propelled by a 306-horsepower 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged inline-six; the XDrive 50i with a 400-horsepower, 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V-8; and the new-for-2010 BMW X6 M, featuring a brawny 555-horsepower version of the 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V-8. The only transmission available is a slick and stout six-speed automatic.
Jalopnik prefers the V-6, despite the fact that, "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 leans toward the standard V-8 because it "sounds more like a carbureted big block than a sophisticated twin-turbo engine with direct injection." Despite the V-8 preference, Edmunds thinks the claimed 0-60 time for the V-8 is too optimistic, since the figure "is only 0.3 second slower than the last [BMW] 135i we tested, and the tiny coupe weighs 1,906 pounds less." The X6 M, on the other hand, even at 5,324 pounds, is "more than capable" of the BMW-claimed "0 to 60 mph run of 4.5 seconds" says Autoblog.
The automatic transmission has both fans and foes. Car and Driver has "no complaints" about the transmission, and Popular Mechanics calls it a "fast-shifting six-speed automatic with shifter paddles on the steering wheel." Edmunds, on the other hand, finds "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." In the X6 M application, Autoblog declares "the transmission is excellent," praising the paddle shifter layout as "easily snatched for passing power on demand." Motor Trend likes the shift action, but says, "One thing we'd like to see BMW add is shift lights."
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.
The 2010 BMW X6 "isn't great on a racetrack," Jalopnik remarks, but Edmunds disagrees, calling it "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." The X6 M is the track-day toy of the lineup; however, Autoblog finds "the X6 M's natural tendency is towards understeer."
BMW's Dynamic Performance Control deserves a lot of the credit for the good handling traits according to most reviews. DPC, which is a version of four-wheel drive with integral stability control, uses electronics to send power to different wheels to maximize stability. "It makes the X6 handle incredibly well and incredibly safely in any condition without cutting power or hitting the brakes to interfere," says Jalopnik. Truck Trend contends "fancy electronics can't overcome the laws of physics," though. In the X6 M, "with M Dynamic Mode (MDM) engaged, the ghosts in the machine allow for a limited amount of rear slip," but the real fun is to be had when you "defeat the traction control completely" enabling the X6 M to reach slip angles that induce "cackling like a demented five-year-old with a gross of firecrackers."