The X6 is BMW’s “Sports Activity Vehicle.” It’s like putting an SUV, crossover, sedan, coupe and hatchback into one German automobile. The X6 gets redesigned for 2020 and is now in its third generation. It’s longer, wider, shorter (to improve aerodynamics) and quicker than the outgoing model.
The X6 is available in three trims: sDrive40i, xDrive40 and the M50i. Starting prices are $64,300, $66,000 and $85,650, respectively. The sDrive40i and the M50i are rear-wheel-drive. The xDrive40 has all-wheel-drive. If you don’t want the M50i but still want some M features, you can get an M Sport Package.
The five-passenger X6 has the same platform, powertrains and technology as the X5 but has a different attitude and sleeker looks than its cousin. It boasts sportier performance but has less cargo room. The raking roofline also reduces headroom in the second row. The X6 has BMW’s first optional illuminated kidney grille, lighting up with the daytime running lights.
The X6 has two engines. The sDrive40i and the xDrive40 get BMW’s 3.0-liter twinpower turbo in-line six-cylinder that makes 335 horsepower and 330 pound-feet of torque, paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. The M50i gets a 4.4-liter V8 twinpower turbocharged engine that produces 523 hp and 553 pound-feet.
BMW says the xDrive40 can go from zero to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds which is about half a second faster than the 2019 model. This thing can zoom like a rocket, which can be a little surprising for a vehicle that looks like a giant BMW hatchback. While acceleration is brisk, the X6 isn’t as nimble when cornering as there’s noticeable body lean. The ride is very comfortable and smooth, perfect for a long drive. All in all, this is a fun ride. While it’s not exactly the ultimate driving machine, the X6 will put a smile on your face. Visibility is limited to the sides and rear due to the large rear pillars.
Fuel economy is okay for a luxury SUV. EPA ratings for my tester are 20 mpg city and 26 mpg highway for a combined rating of 22. I got 22 mpg during my week with a mix of city and highway driving. Premium fuel is required.
The interior is modern and upscale with high-quality materials. The cockpit is geared to the driver. A massive 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster and 12.3-inch touchscreen for the iDrive infotainment system are standard. Seats are very supportive and comfortable. Adults in both rows of seating have decent legroom, but as noted above, headroom is limited in the second row due to the sloping roofline.
There’s a long list of standard features including proximity keyless entry, push-button start, rearview camera, LED headlights, automatic climate control, Vernasca Leather, Sport seats, 16-way power adjustable front seats, heated front seats, Sensatec covered dashboard, 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, iDrive infotainment system with 12.3-inch touchscreen, navigation, 10-speaker audio system, HD Radio, Bluetooth, USB and USB-C ports, Apple CarPlay (and a subscription is no longer required), gigantic panoramic glass roof, and ambient lighting, which includes the Welcome Light Carpet. This feature lights up the approach to the doors when they are unlocked or opened. Android Auto will be standard later this year.
Standard driver assistance technologies include blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, forward collision warning, forward automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, rear cross traffic alert, speed limit recognition, power-folding and heated outside mirrors, rain-sensing windshield wipers, adaptive headlights, automatic high-beam headlights, and front and rear parking sensors.
Available features include 20-way power-adjustable multi-contour front seats, ventilated front seats, massaging front seats, quad-zone automatic climate control, satellite radio, 16-speaker Harman Kardon surround-sound audio system, 20-speaker Bowers & Wilkins surround-sound audio system, wireless device charging, Wi-Fi hot spot, rear-seat entertainment system, and heated and cooled cupholders.
There’s also an optional Panorama glass roof called Sky Lounge with more than 15,000 illuminated graphic points in the glass roof which generate a display that looks like a starlit sky. Six different colors are available for the illumination of the Panorama glass.
The iDrive infotainment system is controlled via the touchscreen, steering wheel controls, voice commands and a rotary knob located on the center console between the two front seats. The graphics look great on the huge screen – they’re crisp and sharp. But the system takes getting used to. You must wade through menus and submenus. There are buttons but they are small so it’s easy to tap the wrong one.
My tester has the optional “gesture control” which lets you control some functions with hand movements. For example, you can adjust the volume by circling your finger. Sure it’s gimmicky but it’s also a lot of fun.
The X6 has less cargo space than traditional SUVs and crossovers. There are 27.4 cubic feet behind the second row and 59.6 cubes with the second row folded. The sloping roof limits room for large or bulky items. A power liftgate is standard.
Strong engine choices
Fun to drive with sports car-like handling
Comfortable and smooth ride
Driver-focused, upscale interior
Tons of standard and available tech
Subscription no longer required for Apple CarPlay
Price can climb quickly with options and packages
Sloping rooflne limits cargo space and second-row headroom
Rear visibility is hampered
Infotainment system has steep learning curve
My tester starts at $66,600. Mineral White Metallic paint is $550. Parking Assistance Package is $700 and includes Parking Assistant Plus, Active Park Distance Control and Surround View with 3D View. Premium Package is $2,300 and adds remote engine start, four zone climate control, head-up display, satellite radio, wireless charging, gesture control, Wi-Fi Hotspot, and enhanced USB and Bluetooth. Harmon Kardon surround sound audio system is $875. Destination charge is $995 bringing the grand total to $72,020.
The X6 is a bit of a head scratcher. Does one really need a BMW hatchback-coupe-wagon-SUV? Ok, so the styling is an acquired taste. But there are lots of reasons to like the X6. It’s different than your standard SUV, fun to drive and has an upscale and driver-centric interior.