While its sister model, the X5, is new for 2014, the X6 is in what is likely to be the final year before it, too, is redesigned. As a result, changes to the X6 this year are few. In fact, there are only two: the 50i adds a universal garage door opener and an interior mirror with compass to its standard-equipment list...
The BMW X6 is basically an X5 with a different body. Whereas the X5 has a traditional SUV shape, the X6 has a lower roofline and a more radically sloped rear hatch. The resulting proportions are somewhat odd, and they make for a much less roomy vehicle. BMW positions the X6 above the X5 in its model lineup, so the X6 is priced at a premium to its more practical sibling.
The X6 -- a high-riding four-door with a fast roofline and all-wheel drive -- is BMW's attempt to fuse SUV and coupe. The mashup doesn't work so well. The X6 is genuinely sporty to drive, but no more so than the X5. Handling is amazingly good for such a tall, heavy vehicle, but the brutish X6 isn't exactly fun to drive and ride quality can be poor, particularly with the larger wheel sizes. The X6 does offer plenty of straight-line speed from its three available engines. The X6 35i uses BMW's 300-hp, 3.0-liter turbocharged straight six. Paired with a responsive, eight-speed automatic transmission, the engine hustles the X6 from 0 to 60 mph in 6.3 seconds. Those with a greater need for speed will be drawn to the X6 50i and its V-8 engine -- also turbocharged -- that spins out 400 hp and 450 lb-ft of torque. The X6 50i zooms from 0 to 60 mph in only 5.2 seconds. Besides the $10,000-plus price premium, the 50i also costs you at the pump, where it drinks premium fuel at a rate of one gallon for every 21 miles in highway driving or one gallon for every 14 city miles. The most extreme version of the X6 is the X6 M. It gets 555 hp from its turbo V-8 and drops the 0-to-60-mph time to 4.5 seconds. Not surprisingly, fuel economy also drops, to an estimated 13/17 mpg city/highway. All three versions of the X6 come with standard all-wheel drive.
As impressive as those powertrains are, they're essentially the same offerings you find in the more practically shaped X5. (Plus, the X5 also offers the option of a fairly economical turbo-diesel six.) The more extreme proportions of the X6 do nothing to enhance its driving characteristics, but they do a lot to diminish its usefulness. Don't expect to put more than two people in the rear seat, for example, and the low roofline menaces the heads of those who do sit back there. The squashed bodywork also means that the X6 doesn't carry as much cargo as the X5, and it seriously constrains the view to the rear. The rear-view camera and blind-spot warning system are essentials.
Since you can't see much out of the X6, it's a good thing the view inside is quite nice. The cabin is extremely well finished, and buyers who are willing to pay up can choose from rich, premium leathers in a variety of interesting colors, including two-tone arrangements. Be careful how deeply you delve into the extensive options list, however, as the price can quickly climb close to six-figure territory.
- BMW X5
- Infiniti FX
- Porsche Cayenne
- Range Rover Sport