With the 2009 X6, BMW has created a new category that falls somewhere between crossover utility vehicle and sports coupe. The German automaker calls the four-seat, four-door-with-a-rear-hatch the "world's first Sports Activity Coupe" and the vehicle certainly is the only player in this new segment, at least for now. The X6 offers room for four adults and a long list of advanced technology that is highlighted by an all-wheel-drive system that not only transfers torque front to rear, but side to side and to individual wheels to produce the best acceleration. It's hard to pinpoint competitors for this segment-blurring vehicle, but they can include such players as the Porsche Cayenne, Infiniti FX50 and Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8, not to mention the forthcoming Acura ZDX.
YOU'LL LIKE THIS CAR IF...
The 2009 BMW X6 will appeal to those looking for a sporty all-wheel-drive crossover utility vehicle and who don't need room for more than four people or loads of cargo. The vehicle's dramatic styling may also appeal to those who like to make a grand entrance everywhere they go.
YOU MAY NOT LIKE THIS CAR IF...
Although the X6 is equipped with a very capable all-wheel-drive system, it's not meant to be taken on the road less traveled. And, with only four seats inside, people-hauling abilities are severely limited. If you need a vehicle that can fit more than four and capably off-road, you might be happier with the Land Rover Range Rover Sport.
WHAT'S SIGNIFICANT ABOUT THIS CAR
For 2009, the BMW X6 carries over largely unchanged. However, it does see some adjustments to its equipment packages, with the automatic tailgate added to the Premium Package and heated rear seats now included in the Cold Weather Package.
The BMW X6 offers excellent ride control, though the optional sport suspension may be a bit stiff for many. Despite a curb weight of about 5,300 pounds, the 400-horsepower V8 coupled with all-wheel drive offers astounding acceleration: BMW claims 0-60 mph in less than 5.5 seconds. On the race tracks where we sampled theX6 we had previously driven many cars, and the BMW X6 xDrive50i's speed at the end of the straightaways rivaled that we recorded in a 1999 Porsche 911. However, the X6's all-season tires and higher center of gravity produced a radically lower level of cornering and stopping power than did the Porsche, as even BMW's extremely advanced all-wheel-drive system can't help when you enter a turn too fast. The BMW X6 xDrive35i, which is about 400 pounds lighter, provides more than adequate acceleration – about 6.5 seconds 0-60 mph – and handled better on the track.
OUR FAVORITE FEATURES
The BMW X6's spacious interior and cargo capacity separate it from two-door coupes and four-door sedans. The X6 can comfortably carry four full-sized adults and plenty of gear for an active outing.
Some say that there's no such thing as too much horsepower, but the 400-horsepower produced by the xDrive50i's 4.4-liter V8 comes close to proving them wrong. Torque is 450 pound-feet at just 1,750 rpm.
The 2009 BMW X6's interior is an intentional mix of varying shapes. These sometimes blend into one another and sometimes stop abruptly. While it's an artist's dream, it's also appealing to those who aren't styling aficionados. However, function follows form as several of BMW's controls are non-intuitive and awkwardly positioned. Case in point: we found ourselves constantly flashing the high beams when we wanted to cancel the cruise control. The multi-function and oft-criticized iDrive is definitely becoming more user-friendly, but still might frustrate folks who want to quickly find a song on their MP3 player.
BMW aspired for "sexy" styling in the 2009 X6, and the vehicle certainly boasts among the spiciest exteriors of all in the automaker's lineup. From the front, the vehicle looks every part the crossover, but focus beyond that and suddenly you're faced with a design that people are sure to love or hate. With a sweeping, plunging roofline, four doors and a rather bulbous rear-end, everything past the first two doors looks a bit like a coupe that tried to swallow an SUV.
NOTABLE STANDARD EQUIPMENT
Perhaps the most advanced all-wheel-drive system in production is the highlight of the 2009 BMW X6's standard features. The "intelligent" xDrive all-wheel-drive system transfers torque from front to rear and side to side to help put all that horsepower to the pavement. The rear differential moves torque between the rear wheels to help the car turn or remain stable in emergency maneuvers. Also standard is a six-speed automatic transmission with F1-like paddle shifters.
The biggest choice for 2009 BMW X6 buyers is between the V8 and in-line six engines. For most, the six offers more-than-adequate power. The X6 xDrive50i is also available with a sport package that offers 20-inch wheels fitted with high-performance tires, electronic damping control and sport seats. Other options include a navigation system with or without a rearview camera, an automatic tailgate that can be stopped at several positions to avoid impacting low garage roofs, a premium sound system and satellite radio.
UNDER THE HOOD
Both the 2009 BMW X6's 4.4-liter V8 and its 3.0-liter in-line six feature two turbochargers and variable valve timing. Both engines also have high-pressure direct-into-the-cylinder fuel injection. This allows the computer to squirt exactly the right amount of gas at the precise time to produce the best fuel economy, lower emissions and, when the driver demands, abundant power. The V8 makes a peak of 400-horsepower and tops out at a large 450 pound-feet of torque at a low 1,750 rpm, while the six produces a more-than-ample 300 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque. BMW says its technologies allow the V8's horsepower to remain constant from 5,500 to 6,400 rpm and the torque to be unchanged from 1,750 to 4,500. They say the six accomplishes a similar feat.
3.0-liter in-line 6 Turbocharged
300 horsepower @ 5800 rpm
300 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/20
4.4-liter V8 Turbocharged
400 horsepower @ 5500 rpm
450 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1750 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 13/18
The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price for the six-cylinder 2009 BMW X6 xDrive35i is about $57,000, while the V8-powered 2009 BMX6 xDrive50i begins around $67,500. Fully loaded with options, a BMW X6 xDrive35i can reach about $80,000, while the BMW X6 xDrive50i can go to $90,000. To find out what consumers are really paying for this vehicle, check its New Car Blue Book value before heading to your local BMW dealership. As for resale value, the X6's residuals are ahead of the pack and lead those of the Porsche Cayenne, Infiniti FX50 and Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8.