Standard features galore. After receiving a full redesign last year, the 2021 BMW X6 arrives with Android Auto compatibility as standard equipment. Getting smartphone compatibility for Android users may not seem like a big deal, but it certainly helps more buyers.
Every X6 comes with a 12.3-inch touchscreen and a 12.3-inch display in the instrument cluster. The central display can be used in various ways, including hand gestures, a rotary knob on the center console, natural voice commands, and touch. While some methods work better than others, BMW’s iDrive system has become one of the better ones on the market and few vehicles offer the same amount of usability.
In addition to the high-tech screens, the X6 also comes with a variety of standard convenience features. Vernasco leather upholstery, 16-way power front sport seats, a panoramic moonroof, heated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, a handsfree power liftgate, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror are all standard. The X6 may start at $66,045 including destination, but it’s a better value option than many other BMW vehicles.
Distinct styling. The X6 is part of the new craze of SUVs with coupe-like styling. While it shares a lot of design elements as the regular BMW X5, the X6 stands out because of its sloped roofline. The rear end of the X6 looks more like a sedan instead of a traditional SUV with a liftgate. It’s certainly funky and distinct, though it may not appeal to everyone.
Some may find the front end to be even more polarizing than the rear end. As a midsize crossover, the X6 wears one of the largest examples of BMW’s twin kidney grilles to date. BMW also offers a light-up grille, which highlights just how enormous they are. Massive air intakes, large haunches, and a chiseled hood are other standout elements that give the X6 its unusual look.
A few years ago, the X6’s odd silhouette would’ve made it an outcast. More recently, the design has become more common.
Updated powertrains. As with other BMWs on sale, there’s a wide range of available performance with the X6. The standard 3.0-liter turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine in the 40i model now comes with a 48-volt mild-hybrid system. With a rating of 335 horsepower, the hybrid system doesn’t boost performance or fuel economy, but has a smoother engine stop/start function.
Higher up the lineup, the X6 comes with a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8. With the M50i, the engine produces 523 hp. The X6 M gets a high-performance engine that generates 617 hp with the available Competition package. In the regular X6 M, the 600-hp engine is good for a 0-60 mph time of 3.8 seconds.
The X6 may tip the scales at over 5,000 pounds, but it feels sporty to drive. That may sound odd to hear, but BMW has worked its magic on the vehicle. Low trims come with adaptive suspension, while more powerful trim levels come with sport-tuned suspension and active roll stabilization to keep lean to a minimum around corners. Rear-axle steering is also available to help the X6 feel nimbler at lower speeds.
Limited cargo space, tight rear seats. As one would expect, the sloping roofline eats into the X6’s interior space. it offers just 27.4 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats and a total of 59.6. Those figures are less than the X5, which offers 33.9 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats and a total of 72.3.
While BMW doesn’t provide an actual figure for rear head room for the X6, it’s tighter than what passengers will find with the X5. Passengers over 6 feet tall will find that their head just touches the headliner in the back. For a midsize crossover, the X6 trades interior space for performance and design.
Final thoughts. With its unique look, small cabin, and sporty handling, the 2021 BMW X6 is a niche vehicle. It’s not going to appeal to everyone, but that’s the point. It certainly has an interesting design and enough performance to gain some looks of bewilderment.
As long as you know what you’re getting into with the X6, there are very few downsides – it’s a crossover that wears its heart on its sleeve. Moving up to higher trim levels costs quite a lot of money, and if you want blistering performance, you’re going to pay dearly for it. Other than that, the major issue is interior space.
The Porsche Cayenne Coupe has an even smaller interior than the X6, but offers better handling, more powerful engines, and a more upscale cabin. Porsche also offers the Cayenne Coupe in a plug-in hybrid powertrain.
If you’re looking for a larger cabin, the Audi Q8 is the way to go. It doesn’t have the same outlandish styling as the X6 and is more expensive, but it feels more luxurious and can hold more cargo. It isn’t as powerful, though.
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