What's New for 2010
The 2010 BMW ActiveHybrid X6 is an all-new hybrid model.
The BMW X6 is already a bit of an odd duck. This crossover's got a sporty nature and aggressive styling for sure, but it doesn't offer much in the way of utility. Well, for the 2010 ActiveHybrid X6, BMW has turned the oddity factor up to 11. This may be BMW's first ever hybrid vehicle, but compared to the base six-cylinder X6, the ActiveHybrid costs a whopping $32,400 more, yet delivers only 1 mpg more in combined city/highway driving. Crunching the numbers reveals that driving an average of 15,000 miles per year with fuel costs at $3 per gallon, it would take a comical 349.8 years to recoup the hybrid premium price.
Adding insult to injury, the ActiveHybrid X6 does not offer any appreciable gains in terms of feature content or performance. Almost all of the hybrid's standard features are available as options on the base X6. With this in mind, the break-even time for a similarly equipped six-cylinder X6 drops to a still ridiculous 181.7 years. Performance from the Hybrid is more impressive, but it still falls short of the standard gasoline-powered V8 model. Handling is also likely to suffer, since the Dynamic Performance Control found in the "regular" X6 has been eliminated to make way for the hybrid powertrain components.
What you do get is plenty of technology. The 2010 BMW ActiveHybrid X6 is the result of BMW's participation in a consortium of automakers including General Motors and (then) DaimlerChrysler that's since been disbanded. Like vehicles such as the Chevy Tahoe Hybrid and the new Mercedes-Benz ML450 Hybrid, the ActiveHybrid X6 is a full hybrid, meaning it can accelerate on battery power alone. A specialized transmission (that's paired to the gasoline turbocharged V8) combines both fixed gear ratios and the properties of a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Add it all up and you've got 5,765 pounds of hybrid goodness.
But wait, there's more in the way of odd. Like the other X6 models, the ActiveHybrid is also handicapped by its reduced cargo capacity and cramped rear quarters -- a byproduct of the sweeping rear roof line. Dig a little deeper and you'll also realize that many of the X6s underpinnings are shared with the less expensive X5. Considering that the X5 is offered with a more fuel-efficient yet still powerful diesel engine and boasts a bit more rear seat comfort and cargo utility, you have to wonder why BMW created the ActiveHybrid in the first place.
We're quite certain that your distant descendants won't be interested in inheriting a strange SUV powered by fossil fuels in the year 2360, so we suggest looking elsewhere for a car with green intentions. The Lexus RX 450h would seem to be a more logical choice since it costs about half as much as the ActiveHybrid X6 and actually provides a notable improvement in fuel economy. For those desiring a more Germanic feel with an eye on fuel economy, the diesel Audi Q7 TDI and Mercedes-Benz ML350 Bluetec, along with the aforementioned X5 diesel, make much more sense than the oddity that is the 2010 BMW ActiveHybrid X6.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2010 BMW ActiveHybrid X6 is a midsize luxury crossover SUV that is offered in a single, well-appointed trim level. Standard features include 20-inch alloy wheels, a sunroof, running boards, a power liftgate, a self-leveling suspension, soft-close automatic doors, auto-dimming mirrors, 16-way power-adjustable multicontour heated front seats, leather upholstery, dark wood trim, four-zone automatic climate control, parking sensors, automatic adaptive xenon headlights, a head-up display, Bluetooth and a rearview camera with a top-down view. Also standard are the iDrive controller interface, a voice-activated hard-drive-based navigation system with real-time traffic and a 12-speaker audio system with a six-CD changer, digital music storage and iPod integration.
Buyers may also select the optional Active Ventilation Seat package, which adds ventilated front seats and an active driver seat that shifts the cushion to reduce long-distance fatigue. Also available is a Cold Weather package that includes a heated steering wheel, a ski bag, heated rear seats and retractable headlight washers. Stand-alone options include 19-inch alloy wheels with all-season tires, automatic high beams, rear side window shades, sport seats, aluminum or dark bamboo interior trim, satellite radio, a rear-seat entertainment system, smart phone integration and an upgraded sound system.
Powertrains and Performance
Powering the 2010 BMW ActiveHybrid X6 is the combination of a traditional gasoline engine and two electric motors that are integrated into the transmission. The gas-powered engine is the same 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 found in the X6 xDrive 50i that produces 400 horsepower and 450 pound-feet of torque. With the added output from the electric motors, combined power output jumps to 480 hp and 575 lb-ft of torque. The only transmission available is a specialized seven-speed automatic unit with manual shift control that sends power to all four wheels.
BMW claims a 0-60 time of only 5.4 seconds, which is only a tenth of a second slower than the standard V8-powered X6 and about a full second quicker than the six-cylinder model. Fuel economy, however, is unimpressive by hybrid standards. EPA estimates stand at 17 mpg city/19 mpg highway and 18 mpg in combined driving. By comparison, the gas-powered six- and eight-cylinder models achieve 15/21/17 mpg and 13/18/15 mpg, respectively.
Standard safety features on the 2010 ActiveHybrid X6 include antilock disc brakes, stability control, traction control, trailer stability control, hill descent control, adaptive headlights, front-seat side airbags, front and rear side curtain airbags and active front head restraints.
Interior Design and Special Features
Inside, the 2010 BMW ActiveHybrid X6 is almost identical to other X6 models. As such, aggressive seats make the cabin look more like a sport sedan than an SUV. Luxurious leather upholstery is standard throughout the cabin, as is dark wood trim for a decidedly upscale flavor. The rear seats only accommodate two passengers, since the large rear center console is not removable. The rear seats, however, are comfortable and supportive, though headroom feels a bit cramped for taller passengers.
One drawback to the X6's dramatic roof line is that it reduces the cargo area, which only holds about 60 cubic feet with the rear seats stowed. Cargo capacity is sufficient for occasional hauling, but with the seats up, capacity is limited to a relatively shallow 25 cubic feet. That roof line also reduces rearward visibility, as do the thick rear pillars -- forcing the driver to rely on the rearview camera when backing up. Unlike many hybrids or alternative-fuel vehicles, the ActiveHybrid X6 does not require sacrifices in cargo space for battery packs or natural gas tanks. BMW managed to tuck the hybrid battery pack under the cargo floor.
The 2010 BMW ActiveHybrid X6 provides a surprising amount of performance considering its size, weight and eco-friendly leanings. The Dynamic Performance Control all-wheel-drive system that is offered on "regular" X6s is not available on the hybrid model, so we expect handling to suffer slightly, especially in low-grip conditions or at high speeds.
Driven conservatively, the ActiveHybrid X6 can propel itself under electricity alone up to 37 mph, at which point the gas-powered V8 takes over. Some drivers may find the ActiveHybrid's acceleration a bit unusual, though, due to the added powertrain complexity. Off the line, forward motion is initially met with a pregnant pause before it gets underway -- otherwise, acceleration is brisk. Braking also takes some getting used to because of rubbery and inconsistent pedal feel.