BMW's latest foray into SUV territory comes in the form of the X6, 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 it comes with a few new performance tricks. 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.
New for 2009
There aren't any significant changes for 2009, but some of the X6's option packages have been modified, including the Premium package, which now includes an automatic tailgate.
If you took BMW's Z4 coupe, 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
- xDrive50i gets titanium-colored trim and chrome window moldings
- 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 much-maligned iDrive system operates the navigation and entertainment systems. There's 25.6 cubic feet of luggage space behind the second row, which handily beats the X5's 21.9 cubic feet. With the seats folded, maximum capacity expands to 59.7 cubic feet. That compares favorably with the X5 (61.8 cubic feet) but falls short of the smaller X3 (71.0).
- Stitched trimming on the dashboard is an upscale touch you won't find in some pricier BMWs
- Curvy gear selector finished in galvanized metal
- Three-spoke steering wheel with paddle shifters and radio controls
- Available four-zone climate control with separate settings for each rear passenger
- Available power-operated steering column
- Available power tailgate
- Available heated front and rear seats
Under the Hood
Both engines incorporate direct fuel injection and two turbochargers. As with other BMWs, the numbers on the trunk don't have much to do with the engine size. The xDrive35i uses a 3.0-liter inline-six-cylinder, while the xDrive50i uses a 4.4-liter V-8. 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)
- Six-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
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