BMW calls the X6 a Sport Activity Coupe to emphasize its sporty car-like driving dynamics, ideal for active consumers. But the X5 might be a better buy - it costs less, seats more, has extra cargo space and is more fuel efficient than the X6.
The X6 does have something the X5 lacks - personality in its design and style. Clearly BMW is targeting an unconventional buyer with this distinct and eye-catching crossover.
The 2009 BMW X6 comes in two trims - an xDrive35i, which costs $63,900, and an xDrive50i at $78,100. In comparison, the base X5 xDrive30i costs $58,200; the top xDrive48i is $71,500; and there's also a diesel version, the X5 xDrive35d, which sells for $62,200.
The X6 only seats four, but those riding in the rear will be super comfortable in their individual sport seats. There's plenty of head, leg, and shoulder room in the back.
A funky red shade of Nevada leather in my tester adds a sporty, modern flavour to the cabin, which complements the exterior design nicely.
The front sport seats are 10-way power adjustable with a memory feature for the driver. They're also heated, with three different settings so you can find a suitable temperature. From the driver's seat, outward visibility is excellent, although the rear view is slightly hampered by thick pillars and small windows.
A backup camera, which is part of a $3,600 premium package, comes in handy when parallel parking. The package also includes an automatic tailgate, soft-close doors and heated rear seats for added comfort.
The cargo capacity is 570 litres in the X6, which is less than the X5's 620 litres. Drop the rear seats and the X6 has 1,450 litres of space; the X5 is significantly more with 1,750 litres of room.
But the X6's design is a big selling point; it's identifiable and stands out amid the sea of similar-looking SUVs and crossovers on the road. Its larger coupe-like frame is unique and bold.
My tester, an X6 xDrive50i, gets titanium-look kidney bars on the front grille instead of the black kidney bars you'll find on the base model and split single rectangular exhaust tips in chrome. White turn signal indicator lenses and a third light integrated into the rear window help others spot your every move.
The inside is modern and upscale - open the front door and BMW in chrome appears on the entry sills, adding elegance. The interior is well laid out; the controls easy to find and operate. Separate temperature controls keep the driver and front passenger equally pleased.
It also has iDrive: While it's simpler to use than earlier versions, it still takes time to scroll through options and requires your undivided attention.
The audio system is fantastic. It includes a HiFi 12-speaker sound system with two subwoofers and a CD player with MP3 capability.
A sunroof, heated three-spoke leather sport steering wheel that tilts and telescopes, dynamic stability control, dynamic brake control, dynamic traction control, hill descent control, ABS, a tire-pressure monitoring system and six airbags are all standard equipment.
You can add options, but be careful with the extras. It'll push the price up fast. My tester rings in at $83,900. The 20-inch star-spoke alloy wheels are attractive, but they're part of a $2,200 sport package. You can get individual options such as manual sun shades for $250, a head-up display in the windshield for $1,500, or a DVD rear-entertainment system for $1,950.
At 2,390 kg, the X6 xDrive 50i is a heavyweight. But it has plenty of power coming from an all new twin-turbo 4.4-litre V-8 engine that delivers 400 hp and 450 lb-ft of torque. It's fast: Hit the throttle and it'll launch from 0 to 100 km in only 5.6 seconds. Mated to the engine is a six-speed automatic transmission with gear-shift paddles so you can manually change gears.
The base xDrive35i gets a twin-turbo 3.0-litre inline-six with 300 horsepower and 300 lb-ft of torque, which is still plenty enough to get around town.
The ride and handling are true to BMW's driving dynamics - firm and tight, yet comfortable. The all-wheel-drive system is fantastic, especially on rain-slicked roads.
The cabin remains quiet at all times, without any outside noise from the wind or engine seeping in. The X6 xDrive50i, however, is thirsty; it is rated at 14.1 litres/100 km combined driving, although I averaged 15.1 L/100 km. On the other hand, the top X5 xDrive48i gets better fuel economy from its 4.8-litre, 350-hp V-8; it is rated at 13.3 L/100 km combined driving. As expected, premium fuel is required.
The X6 is an attractive, unique-looking vehicle with style and pizzazz, but it might be a hard sell since the X5 offers an equally impressive package for less.
2009 BMW X6 xDRIVE50i
Type: Luxury sport crossover
Base Price: $72,100; as tested, $83,900
Engine: 4.4-litre, twin-turbo DOHC, V-8
Horsepower/Torque: 400 hp/450 lb-ft
Transmission: Six-speed automatic with Steptronic
Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 16.6 city/10.9 highway; premium gas
Alternatives: Mercedes-Benz ML-Class, Infiniti FX, Volvo XC90, Audi Q7, Lexus RX, Acura MDX, Lincoln MKX, Cadillac SRX, Porsche Cayenne
- Innovative exterior design
- Firm ride and handling
- Comfortable cabin
- Only seats four