Three core versions of the 2013 BMW X6 offer a powertrain combination to suit most tastes--even if the exterior doesn't.
Starting at the least-powerful, the X6 xDrive35i uses a turbocharged in-line six-cylinder engine to pump out 300 horsepower and 19 mpg average. All-wheel drive is standard in all X6s, and all non-M X6s get an eight-speed automatic transmission. New for 2013 is the M Performance Package, which adds 15 horsepower and 30 pound-feet of torque to the X6 xDrive35i, or 40 horsepower and 30 pound-feet of torque for the X6 xDrive50i. The Sport package will no longer be available.
Moving up to the V-8 range, the x6 xDrive50i generates 400 horsepower from a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8. Despite the larger power output, the xDrive50i still manages to turn in a combined gas mileage rating of 16 mpg--just 3 mpg worse than the xDrive35i.
The wildly quick X6 M's engine is the same size as the xDrive50i, but extracts a massive 555 horsepower from a more highly-tuned, upgraded engine. Due to the huge power output, the X6 M uses a more robust six-speed automatic transmission--and gets just 14 mpg combined.
Acceleration is brisk, steering feel is a bit weighty but natural, and ride quality doesn't suffer in the name of sport--except in the X6 M. The X6 M is more capable on track than you'd believe possible in a crossover or utility. Enabling M Dynamic Mode keeps a safety net in place while still allowing plenty of room of good, fast driving. The X6 M uses a more robust six-speed automatic transmission.
All X6s handle well, their somewhat carlike looks betraying their equally car-like on-road handling. Body roll is present, though much less so in the X6 M, and the eight-speed transmission in non-M models delivers smooth, quick shifts in either automatic or paddle-shifted manual modes.
The X6 is more capable off-road than you might expect (except for the low-profile-wearing X6 M), but it's still not suitable for expedition use--or anything that might require a low-range transfer case.