The Car Connection BMW X6 Overview
The BMW X6 is a four-door, mid-size luxury coupe with a stylish roofline and a high-performance variant. It borrows much of its running gear from the X5 but adds an on-trend coupe-like shape and trades off-roadability for fashionable curb appeal.
With the X6, BMW has few true rivals, due to its unusual combination of performance and design over utility. Mercedes-Benz now sells a coupe version of its GLE-Class, and BMW also uses the same idea with its X3-based X4.
MORE: See our 2021 BMW X6 review
The X6 asks for a few compromises for its dramatic roofline. Interior space isn't significantly better than a comparable-size sedan, and compromised rear vision means that it's tricky in parking lots.
The X6 was redesigned in 2020, following in the heels of the related X5, with an emphasis on interior tech and an imposing grille up front. For 2021, BMW added a mild-hybrid system to 40i models, and made satellite radio and Android Auto standard, while it deleted the off-road package.
The new BMW X6
The 2020 BMW X6 is the third generation of the curvy crossover coupe, although the formula has remained constant throughout the generations.
Like its predecessors, it's powered by a turbocharged 6- or 8-cylinder engine that filters through a standard 8-speed automatic. The X6 sDrive40i is the rear-drive base model powered by a turbo inline-6 and the xDrive40i adds all-wheel drive. A 523-hp twin-turbo V-8 on the X6 M50i shuttles power to all four wheels via its standard all-wheel-drive system. BMW says inline-6 models run up to 60 mph in about 5 seconds, the M50i does the deed in 4.1 seconds.
The new X6 is longer, lower, and wider than the model it replaced, although that may be news to passengers. The X6 isn't as spacious as the X5 and it compromises head room to pay for its seductive shape.
Automatic emergency braking is standard on all models, although the X6 is unlikely to be crash-tested by any major safety rating organization due to its low volume.
BMW X6 history
From its initial launch, the X6 was available in two configurations. The xDrive35i featured BMW's turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6, that generated 300 horsepower. The xDrive50i used a 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V-8 making 400 hp. Both used a 6-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 additional variants. First was the X6 M in 2009, which turned up the power by way of a re-engineered twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V-8, for a total of 555 hp. Upgraded suspension, larger wheels and tires, more capable brakes, and advanced performance-tuned traction and handling electronics combined 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 hp, it was an upgrade of 80 hp 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 6-cylinder engine that went 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 8-speed transmission became standard equipment for all but the X6 M, which retained its robust 6-speed drivetrain. The new 8-speed's smooth shifting and slightly improved fuel economy made 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 were particularly efficient, however, with ratings of 16 mpg city/23 mpg highway for the 2013 xDrive35i, 14/20 mpg for the xDrive50i, and thirsty 12/17 mpg ratings for the X6 M. For the 2013 model year, the X6 range received a mildly updated exterior look, as well as an additional M Performance trim level, new paint colors, and available adaptive LED headlights. For the 2014 model year, the X6 saw only minor updates and equipment changes.
The second-generation X6 was new for 2013 and got its power from a range of forced-induction 6- and 8-cylinder engines, with the top V-8 found in the massively powerful X6 M. Considering its range of performance and base price tags of about $60,000 to almost $90,000, the X6 has its chief rivals in the Porsche Cayenne, Infiniti QX70 (formerly the FX), and Land Rover Range Rover Sport.
For 2015, the BMW X6 received a moderate 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 included an available rear-drive version of the 6-cylinder model, called the X6 sDrive35i; while the X6 xDrive50i’s 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V-8 gained 45 hp for a total of 45 hp. The 2015 X6 also offered some new advanced technology features, including night vision with pedestrian and animal detection, a head-up display, and adaptive headlights.
BMW also revamped the X6 M (and its X5 M sibling) for 2015. Powered by an uprated version of the last X6 M's V-8 engine, this new version has become 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 8-speed automatic equipped with launch control and standard all-wheel drive. It offers the torque vectoring differential as standard equipment.
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.
The 2015 model arrived in U.S. showrooms in late 2014. The 2016 version offered few changes. For 2017, BMW added its touchscreen version of iDrive in addition to the touch puck controller and in 2018 the automaker shuffled a few options around.