2011 X6 New Car Test Drive
The BMW X6 blurs the line between car and SUV and for this reason is known as a crossover. The X6 is much more car than sport-utility. We think of it as a high-riding car, a four-passenger, four-door coupe, a combination sports car and SUV. We call it a coupe-like SUV thing. Or an SUV-like coupe thing. BMW calls the X6 a Sports Activity Coupe.
For 2010, the BMW X6 M joins the lineup, which includes the X6 xDrive35i and X6 xDrive50i models. M is easier to remember, but the other models are nice to drive and there's no need to cite these model designation.
The new BMW X6 M uses a more powerful version of the 4.4-liter V8 from the xDrive50i model tuned to a whopping 555 horsepower. X6 M comes standard with BMW's xDrive all-wheel-drive system, stiffer suspension, sport seats, and various exterior cues that show this vehicle means business, and that its business is performance.
All BMW X6 engines are twin-turbocharged with inline-6 or V8 power, and all provide ample power for everyday use and even for towing. The V8s make 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. The new X6 M handles and stops even better.
Inside, the ambience is upscale, with lots of leather and soft-touch surfaces. BMW's iDrive control system is standard. Now in its fourth generation, iDrive can still complicate some interior controls but this version is easier to use and more intuitive. It also features programmable buttons to provide one-touch control of some of your favorite functions.
Front-seat passengers have plenty of room. Drivers of the M are hugged by thickly bolstered sport seats. M drivers also get a sporty M steering wheel and unique gauges. In all models, visibility to the rear is restricted by a small, flat rear window. Two rear-seat occupants should be comfortable, 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 defies categorization. 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 50i and M models. We recommend the six-cylinder 35i model.
New for the 2010 X6 are some equipment upgrades and changes in the packaging. A power tailgate and HD radio are now standard, and automatic high beam headlights are offered as a stand-alone option. The rear-view camera adds a Top View feature and X6s with iDrive get the fourth generation of the system, which includes an 8.8-inch screen and an 80-gigabyte hard-drive to hold navigation information and music files.
Coming in fall 2010 is the X6 ActiveHybrid. The hybrid will be powered by the same twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 from the xDrive 50i, a nickel-metal hydride battery pack, and two electric motors inside a dual-mode hybrid transmission. The transmission, which was developed with GM, Chrysler and Mercedes, uses three planetary gearsets and four multi-plate clutches; BMW calls it a seven-speed automatic. BMW says the X6 ActiveHybrid can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds and it will get about 24 mpg.
The 2010 BMW X6 is offered in three models, all 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 lacks low-range gearing and is generally meant for street use but the X6 does have some off-road capability.
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 407 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 hard-drive-based navigation system with voice activation and real-time traffic information.
The X6 M ($88,900) uses a 555-horsepower version of the 4.4-liter V8 and the same six-speed automatic transmission. It also features M sport seats, an M steering wheel, the M Drive control system, 12-speaker audio, self-leveling air suspension, sport suspension, larger brakes, and P275/40R20 front and P315/35R20 rear tires.
Option packages: 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 Sport 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; it's a great safety feature that can reduce the chance of backing over a child or pedestrian.