- Softly drawn shape -- above the shoulders
- Comfortable driver and front passenger seats
- Paddle-shifting automatic gearbox
- Extensive technology, from satellite radio to rearview camera
- Mismatched styling, top to bottom
- Thirst for premium fuel
- Stinging pricetag, especially for V-8 versions
A novel idea (unless you know the old AMC Eagle), the 2009 BMW X6 strikes us as a good-looking car flawed by its mismatched personalities.
TheCarConnection.com’s editors consulted a wide range of Web resources to produce our conclusive opinion on the 2009 BMW X6. We also drove the BMW X6 to be able to explain how different reviewers might come up with vastly different opinions and to explain features and qualities other reviewers might not have covered -- and to break ties where reviews didn’t agree.
The 2009 BMW X6 is an oddity: a sport-utility vehicle designed to have a coupe-like shape. It’s a derivative of BMW’s successful X5 sport-utility, built alongside it at BMW’s plant in South Carolina.
The 2009 BMW X6 comes in two versions: an XDrive 35i, powered by a 306-horsepower 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.
The X6 also entwines a host of electronic aids to make its engine and transmission work neatly with its all-wheel-drive system. Stability and traction control are standard, as is a system called Dynamic Performance Control, which distributes power to the wheels with the most traction. The 2009 BMW X6 also has a host of standard and optional features from curtain airbags to satellite radio and a navigation system.
It’s shocking how well the BMW X6 performs, but the notion of a four-door sport-ute with coupe pretensions is a little odd. The cargo area is greatly diminished, and though it’s fast enough, there’s no mistaking the tall crossover’s unorthodox genetic makeup. With a price tag of $54,000 for the least expensive six-cylinder version, the 2009 BMW X6 seems destined to be a rarity on and off-road.
2009 BMW X6
The 2009 BMW X6 has some striking elements, but is it really beautiful?
It’s a “sports activity coupe”—or so BMW wants you to think of the 2009 BMW X6, which marries the sport-utility architecture of BMW’s X5 SUV with a coupe-like profile.
Reviewers from around the Web were confused by the 2009 BMW X6. “Is the X6 beautiful? Ground breaking? Fashionable? Or does it come across as a lifted five-door hatchback?” Car and Driver asks.
“The front is all BMW with a big twin kidney grille and fighter-jet-size intakes at each corner,” Edmunds thinks. “The roof line goes on forever in profile, giving the X6 a hatchback-style look that's unique at best, a little too forced at worst.” Jalopnik says, “its looks are promising yet flawed,” and calls the rear end “huge”—while Edmunds believes it’s “kind of a supermodel from behind.”
The BMW X6’s roofline may seem familiar to sportscar fans. Truck Trend says “BMW designer Adrian van Hooydonk claims [it] is cribbed from the 6 Series.” They call it “striking”; so long as you “obscure the lower third of the X6,” it could pass as a sports coupe. Popular Mechanics goes to the extreme: “we think it’s positively dripping with machismo.” That machismo might be why Jalopnik notes, “that lip on the rear hatch is taller than an F-150's tailgate.”
Inside, the 2009 BMW X6 wears a more traditional outfit. The dash is similar to that in the X5, with dark trim pieces and lots of buttons and controls, though BMW’s iDrive handles much of the climate and entertainment functions. TheCarConnection.com notes that the center console rides up high, giving the cockpit a tighter and more claustrophobic feel.
2009 BMW X6
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.
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.
2009 BMW X6
Comfort & Quality
The 2009 BMW X6 has less room inside than BMW’s X5, but it’s still quite comfortable.
The 2009 BMW X6 trades some space for sex appeal, but other compromises to the car’s comfort and quality are few.
Up front, “The driving position is much more carlike,” Motor Trend observes. Edmunds agrees: “Up front, we don't notice a thing.” In back, there are only two bucket seats that are “far more comfortable,” they add, but there’s 2 inches less headroom than in the BMW X5. Car and Driver says it’s surprisingly “quite roomy inside,” and Jalopnik also finds plenty of room in the “incredibly spacious interior.”
The 2009 BMW X6’s shape, however, does cause some problems in parking and driving. “The svelte shape leaves plenty of room for six footers in the rear seats, but doesn't allow for rear visibility,” Jalopnik points out. Even with large mirrors, the $400 rearview camera’s a necessity, they add, and Car and Driver agrees.
Edmunds notes the X6 has 59.7 cubic feet of cargo space with the second-row seats folded, but the X5 has 75 cubic feet; “in terms of practical room for gear, the X6 is limited,” Popular Mechanics thinks. Motor Trend notes there’s “under-floor storage similar to the X5’s.”
The quality of the interior was widely admired in reviews from across the Web. Car and Driver liked the “identical interior to the X5, except for the incredibly tacky knee pads added for driver and passenger, supposedly to encourage sporty driving.” Truck Trend notes that few noises “permeate the X6's largely sound proof, leather-trimmed cabin.”
2009 BMW X6
The 2009 BMW X6 hasn’t been crash-tested yet, but it has cutting-edge safety gear.
Since the BMW X6 is a brand-new model, neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has yet crash-tested the BMW X6.
It’s structurally similar to the BMW X5, which gets mostly five-star crash scores from the NHTSA and is a Top Safety Pick over at the IIHS, but because it has a different roofline, the test scores cannot be assumed to carry over to the X6.
The 2009 BMW X6 offers standard front, side, and curtain airbags, as well as anti-lock brakes, traction, and stability control.
As previously mentioned, with the X6, BMW also incorporates its stability controls into the four-wheel-drive system through Dynamic Performance Control. Since it can send power to individual wheels, the BMW X6 can have a greater impact on safety than stability control alone can, Car and Driver notes: “DPC weighs an additional 26 pounds, and we found it to be worth every ounce.” Popular Mechanics feels that “in fast corners with abrupt steering maneuvers or when the driver suddenly lifts off the gas pedal, DPC simply improves stability.”
2009 BMW X6
The 2009 BMW X6 can be fitted with most every luxury option, but it gets very expensive.
The 2009 BMW X6 offers every imaginable luxury and technology feature, but ordering them sends its price skyward.
“The X6 also comes with every other conceivable kid of gizmo, which while impressive, would make us worry about buying an X6 as a used car in a few years' time,” Jalopnik warns. Upmarket options include a high-end audio system, a navigation system, Bluetooth wireless connectivity, and a choice of interior wood trims. “There's even a heater for the [steering] wheel if you desire,” Truck Trend says, and in between the rear seats, there’s a “handy console for drinks and gear.”
Car and Driver points out base prices of about $53,000 for the six-cylinder X6 and $64,000 for the V-8 version. Adding in Sport packages, navigation systems, and top-line stereos and the lesser version can top $70,000, they note. “Plan on $80,000 for one with all the goodies,” they add.
BMW’s controversial iDrive controller takes charge of the audio, climate, and navigation systems. And while it’s still a focal point for criticism in most of the reviews TheCarConnection.com sampled, one review thought it had improved. “The iDrive is better than ever as well,” Jalopnik believes. “Spend a few minutes getting used to it and you'll be rewarded with rapid, intuitive access to all the vehicle's settings.