The X6, one of BMW's recent forays into SUV territory, is a tallish fastback that the company calls a sports activity coupe. With seating for four, it's basically a midsize SUV with four doors, extroverted styling and a choice of two powerful engines. The X6 competes roughly with the Porsche Cayenne and Mercedes M-Class. BMW's xDrive all-wheel drive is standard, and the X6 comes in two trim levels: the xDrive35i and xDrive50i. Both models seat four, and the xDrive50i's V-8 will propel the SUV from zero to 60 mph in just 5.3 seconds.
(Skip to details on the: BMW X6 M, BMW ActiveHybrid X6)
New for 2011
A new eight-speed automatic transmission is standard on the 2011 models and replaces a six-speed automatic. The xDrive35i has BMW's new single-turbo 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder (replacing a twin-turbo). Tapping technology normally found in hybrids, the 2011 X6 gets regenerative braking that charges the battery only when the car is braking, coasting or decelerating. BMW says this improves fuel economy up to 3 percent.
If you took BMW's Z4, raised it up and lengthened the rear quarters to add two more doors, you would get something of the X6's profile. The scalloped headlights, twin kidney grilles and stacked tail are classic BMW.
- Black moldings around the grille
- Both models have a monotone front bumper, which is an upscale departure from the black inlays used on the X3 and X5
- 19-inch wheels and run-flat tires
- Available 20-inch wheels
The four-seat interior incorporates a shelved dashboard that houses the navigation display without adding an extra hump in the center, as many BMW dashboards do. Metallic rings grace the dual-zone climate controls, and BMW's iDrive system operates the navigation and entertainment systems.
- Stitched trimming on the dashboard
- Curvy gear selector finished in galvanized metal
- Three-spoke steering wheel with paddle shifters and radio controls
- Standard power liftgate
- Available four-zone climate control with separate settings for each rear passenger
- Available power-operated steering column
- Available heated front and rear seats
Under the Hood
Both engines incorporate direct fuel injection and turbocharging. The xDrive35i uses a new 3.0-liter inline-six-cylinder with one turbocharger, while the xDrive50i uses a 4.4-liter V-8 with two. Power ratings are unchanged on the new six-cylinder, but BMW says it is more efficient. BMW says both engines promise minimal turbo lag and a flat torque curve that begins under 2,000 rpm.
- 300-horsepower, 3.0-liter six-cylinder with 300 pounds-feet of torque (xDrive35i)
- 400-hp, 4.4-liter eight-cylinder with 450 pounds-feet of torque (xDrive50i)
- New eight-speed automatic transmission
- xDrive's Dynamic Performance Control doles out power from front to rear and side to side, at least among the rear wheels
- Differential electronically varies power proactively from a full 50/50 lock to as much as 100 percent going to either wheel to enhance performance and safety
- Adaptive Drive system electronically alters suspension's stiffness between sport- and comfort-oriented settings to suit different driving conditions
The xDrive50i has upgraded brakes with aluminum calipers. BMW's Integrated Chassis Management coordinates the Dynamic Performance Control differential with stability and traction control systems to optimize the X6's stability. Safety features include:
- Four-wheel-disc antilock brakes
- Traction control
- Electronic stability system
- Side-impact airbags for the front seats
- Side curtain airbags for both rows, including a tip sensor that makes them deploy for several seconds during a rollover
BMW X6 M
The X6 M steps up from the 400-hp, 4.4-liter V-8 to a twin-turbocharged version making 555 hp. Torque is rated at 500 pounds-feet. BMW says the zero to 60 mph time is 4.5 seconds. A six-speed automatic is the only transmission offered with M-tuned Drive, Sport and Manual modes, the latter of which is activated with the console shifter or aluminum steering-wheel paddles. For 2011, there are no significant changes.
In addition to revised suspension geometry, bushings and tuning, the M suspension lowers the X6 by almost a half-inch. BMW has also tweaked the stability system and xDrive all-wheel drive to maximize performance, more proactively shifting torque rearward when called for. A display on the instrument panel shows the driver how much power is going to each wheel. The brakes are also beefed up, with larger discs and calipers.
The X6 M doesn't hide its special status — especially with its huge air intakes in the front bumper for cooling the brakes, water-cooled turbo intercoolers as well as the engine. The M also features unique 20-inch wheels, front fender vents, quad tailpipes and rear diffuser. The side skirts are also body colored rather than black. Back to top
BMW ActiveHybrid X6
Like other so-called two-mode hybrids, the ActiveHybrid can accelerate gradually on electric power alone, up to 37 mph in the X6's case. All-wheel drive and a seven-speed automatic are standard. Because the high-voltage battery pack is under the cargo floor, no hatch volume is sacrificed. But at nearly 5,800 pounds, the X6 ActiveHybrid weighs considerably more than even the X6 xDrive50i. With a combined 480 hp, the car hits 60 mph in 5.4 seconds, BMW says. Combined EPA mileage is 18 mpg — more than the 16-mpg xDrive50i, but short of the 19-mpg xDrive35i.
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