2009 X6 New Car Test Drive
So called crossover SUVs are becoming more like cars and the BMW X6 pushed this idea further with the X6. BMW calls it a Sports Activity Coupe. The BMW X6 is a high-riding, four-passenger, four-door coupe, a combination of sports car and SUV.
The X6 is offered in two twin-turbocharged models, with inline-6 or V8 power. Both engines provide ample power for everyday use and even for towing. The V8 makes the X6 a hot rod, but we recommend the inline-6 because it has plenty of pep and is more fuel efficient. Shifter paddles on the steering wheel add to the sporty character of the X6.
We found the X6 handles well on the road and on the track. It's better than any SUV but not as good as BMW's own sporty coupes and sport roadsters. It corners with little body lean, but the stiff suspension makes the ride somewhat harsh, especially with the Sport Package and optional 20-inch wheels. We recommend buyers test these options before they buy.
Inside, the ambience is upscale, with lots of leather and soft-touch surfaces. BMW's iDrive control system is standard. It can complicate some interior controls, but programmable buttons are provided to ease control of some of your favorite functions.
Front-seat passengers have plenty of room, though visibility to the rear is restricted by a small, flat rear window. Two rear-seat occupants should be comfortable, too, provided they're not tall.
The rear hatch lifts up and the rear seat folds down to give the X6 a nice amount of cargo storage space. It's on par with other hatchbacks but isn't as good as an SUV. Also, the liftover is higher, so you'll have to lift cargo higher when loading.
The X6 was all-new for 2008, and only minor changes in equipment have been made for 2009: A power liftgate has been added to the Premium Package, and the Cold Weather Package now comes with heated seats for everyone, not just the front-seat passengers.
It's hard to pigeonhole the X6. It rides high, so it doesn't handle as well as a sport coupe, and it doesn't have the cargo and people carrying capacity of an SUV. Overall, it's a fine vehicle. Pricing is high, especially for the V8 model, so we recommend the six-cylinder model for anyone considering this vehicle.
The 2009 BMW X6 is offered in two models, both with xDrive all-wheel drive. The X6 xDrive35i uses BMW's twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 that makes 300 horsepower. It is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission that can be controlled manually via the shifter or a pair of steering wheel paddles. xDrive is meant for street use and lacks low-range gearing.
The X6 xDrive35i ($55,900) comes with leather upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, power tilt/telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, cruise control with brake function to maintain the set speed down hills, 10-way power-adjustable front seats, interior air filter, 60/40 split folding rear seat, power mirrors with tilt-down back-up aid, power windows, power door locks, remote keyless entry, power sunroof, six-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 stereo, auxiliary input jack, outside-temperature indicator, rain-sensing variable-intermittent wipers with heated washer nozzles, rear cargo shade, bi-xenon adaptive automatic headlights, theft-deterrent system, front cornering lights, fog lights, and P255/50R19 run-flat tires on alloy wheels.
The X6 xDrive50i ($66,650) has a twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 engine that produces 400 horsepower. It uses the same six-speed automatic and comes with xDrive. To all of the xDrive35i's conveniences it adds 20-way power multi-contour front seats, and a navigation system with voice activation and real-time traffic information. (It no longer comes with a load-leveling suspension.)
Several option packages are available. A ventilated seat package ($1,100) for the xDrive50i adds front ventilated seats and an active driver's seat that subtly changes the contours of its left and right halves periodically to reduce body fatigue. The same package for the xDrive35i ($2,100) also has 20-way adjustable multi-contour seats. A Cold Weather package ($1,250) has a heated steering wheel, heated front and rear seats, retractable headlight washers, and a ski bag for the rear seat pass-through. A Premium package ($2,200) now adds a power rear liftgate, plus a universal garage door opener, auto-dimming rearview mirror, power folding and auto-dimming exterior mirrors, four-way power adjustable lumbar support for the front seats, a digital compass for the rearview mirror, ambient lighting, a rear storage system, a Bluetooth cell phone link, and BMW Assist emergency and concierge service. The Premium Sound package ($2,000) has a 600-watt audio system with 16 speakers and two subwoofers, digital equalizing for each seating position, a 6-disc CD/DVD changer, and an iPod and USB adapter. The Rear Climate package ($900) includes rear side window shades, four-zone automatic climate control, and privacy glass. A Technology package for the xDrive35i ($2,000) adds a rearview camera and the navigation system.
A Sport package is offered for each model. Three versions are offered for the xDrive35i. The basic package ($3,700) comes with P255/50R19 all-season run-flat tires on light alloy wheels, BMW's Adaptive Drive with Active Roll Stabilization and Electronic Damping Control, 10-way power adjustable front sport seats, Shadowline exterior side window trim, and an anthracite headliner. P275/40R20 front and P315/35R20 rear run-flat performance tires ($950) can be added to the package, as can BMW's 20-way adjustable multi-contour seats ($1,200). The xDrive50i has sport, multi-contour seats standard, but otherwise the Sport package ($3,200) items are the same.
Additional options: rear DVD entertainment ($1,700), BMW's Active Steering ($1,500-1,550), BMW's Comfort Access keyless entry and starting ($1,000), soft-close automatic doors ($600), running boards ($300), a rearview camera ($400), heated front seats ($500), multi-contour front seats ($1,200), heated rear seats ($350), a navigation system ($1,900), a head-up display ($1,200), BMW Assist with Bluetooth ($750), HD radio ($350), Sirius satellite radio ($595), space-saver spare tire ($150), and upgraded Nappa leather ($2,400). This last now includes a leather-covered instrument panel, which is also available as a stand-alone ($1,900).
Safety features include dual front airbags; front side-impact airbags; curtain side airbags with rollover deployment; tire-pressure monitor; front and rear park assist; traction control; electronic stability control with cornering brake control and Trailer Sway Control; Hill Descent Control; Hill Start Assist; and ABS with electronic brake force distribution, brake assist, brake drying and brake fade compensation. The only safety option is the rearview camera.