BMW's four-door-coupe-crossover-SUV has gone from being one of the more idiosyncratic luxury-vehicle choices to a trendsetter as other manufacturers are now introducing their own takes on its distinctive profile. The X6 still defies any attempt to slot it into a normal market category, but for a sizable niche of buyers this boldly-designed vehicle hits a sweet spot of upscale image and surprisingly lively on-road performance.

Pricing and Equipment

The X6 is available in three primary trim lines. The X6 sDrive35i leads off with an MSRP of $60,600; the step up to the X6 xDrive35i adds an extra $2,300, The X6 xDrive50i starts at $75,300. (The monstrously powerful and much more expensive X6 M is covered in a separate article.)

Power for the sDrive35i and xDrive35i comes from a 3-liter inline-six boosted by two turbochargers; the xDrive50i receives its substantial motivation from a 4.4-liter V8, which also wears a pair of turbos.The sDrive35i forgoes the all-wheel drive system of its xDrive sisters in favor of rear-wheel drive.

Underneath its teardrop roofline the X6 shares its platform with BMW's X5, which provides significant benefits (excellent handling) with some limits (no real off-road capability). After choosing your basic mechanics you then immerse yourself in BMW's complex -- and pricey -- option structure, starting with the choice of xLine (essentially base) or M Sport (bigger wheels, aero package and other styling tweaks) lines and proceeding through different interior treatments and tech packages.

  • Plenty of driver assistance electronics are available, including night vision and radar cruise control with a full-stop capability.
  • The M Sport trim line is an effective visual bridge between the normal X6s and the X6 M, upgrading the looks without breaking the bank.

Feel free to outfit the X6 with enough sensors and computer assists to manage a starship, but know that per upscale German tradition the added cost will be astronomical as well. A bit of restraint serves a buyer well here.

Performance Pros

BMW X6

Despite its imposing size and significant weight the X6 benefits from major doses of Bavarian vehicle-dynamics magic. Something this large and heavy has no right to drive this well.

  • The turbo six in the sDrive35i and xDrive35i provides plenty of smooth thrust; the boosted V8 in the xDrive50i pushes it firmly into muscle-car performance territory.
  • On twisty roads the X6, especially when equipped with the Dynamic Handling Package, acts like some kind of giant physics experiment. The high center of gravity and significant inertia are made almost irrelevant by the brilliant chassis tuning and large tires.
  • It won't be selected by many buyers, but the sDrive35i's rear-drive arrangement brings it even closer to traditional BMW on-road sweetness.
  • Given the X6's imposing size and weight, fuel economy with either powerplant isn't that bad.

Performance Cons

  • That weather-taming all-wheel drive system is for smooth-surface use only. The X6 is not designed for trails.
  • The X6 can't completely defy reality. The huge wheels and suspension tuning necessary to manage all that mass can make for a lumpy ride.

Interior Pros

BMW X6 Interior

The cabin is mainstream-modern-BMW: stylish, tech-heavy and made with high-quality materials. Last year's redesign did much to answer complaints about inadequate rear-seat room.

  • Options for personalization extend well beyond the color of leather on the seats. The ceramic secondary controls are an intriguing (if, again, expensive) idea.
  • BMW's partner in the upscale-vehicle audio war is Bang & Olufsen, whose $3,700 sound system brings 16 speakers and the ability to realign the atmosphere with equal force in each seat.

Interior Cons

  • Although the situation behind the front seats has been vastly improved compared to the original X6, the flip side of that signature roofline is still rear-seat room and cargo space that verge on the snug.
  • Features that seem expected in a modern all-weather luxury vehicle -- heated steering wheel, ventilated seats, headlight washers, smartphone integration -- are extra-cost options.

The Most Pleasant Surprise

We remain amazed at how something this large and heavy moves more like a well-damped (if somewhat tall) luxury sedan than a truck.

The Least Pleasant Surprise

The ability to choose is an innate good, but the need to specify and pay extra for some fairly ordinary luxury items is a bit irksome.

The Bottom Line

If the style of the X6 work for you -- and it does for many people -- the rest of the vehicle more than holds up its end of the deal.