2010 BMW ActiveHybrid X6

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BMW has released a variety of new models and engines in the U.S., including turbocharged V-8s, diesels and now hybrids. The first hybrid to go on sale in the U.S. will be the 2010 ActiveHybrid X6 SUV. The pricey X6 won’t be a hybrid to challenge the Toyota Prius; no, BMW has teamed the hybrid system here with its top-of-the-line twin-turbo V-8, which puts out 400 hp on its own. The full hybrid system has two electric motors good for bumping that power to 480 hp. Torque is a whopping 575 pounds-feet.

While that’s more than three times the power of a Toyota Prius, the BMW can do something the Prius cannot: It travels on just electric power up to 1.6 miles at speeds up to 37 mph. The Prius can only manage 25 mph for about a mile.

Of course, folks buying the ActiveHybrid X6 will care more about the zero to 60 time of 5.4 seconds than the 20% better fuel economy versus the non-hybrid V-8. Official numbers aren’t available yet, but considering the non-hybrid X5 with the twin-turbo V-8 gets 15 mpg combined, a 20% bump would be 18 mpg. That would qualify it for Clunker status.

We’ll have more information on pricing and official mileage closer to the on-sale date in late 2009. More photos below.

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Former managing editor David Thomas has a thing for wagons and owns a 2010 Subaru Outback and a 2005 Volkswagen Passat wagon. Email David Thomas

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