What's New for 2013
For 2013, the BMW X6 M gets LED taillamps, optional adaptive LED headlights and minor styling changes.
Truly rational car buying results in the purchase of a humble minivan or anonymous family sedan. It includes trade-offs and prioritizing things like mpg, cubic feet and residual value. On the opposite side of the spectrum we find the 2013 BMW X6 M, which takes rational car buying, sticks it in a burlap sack, beats it with a crowbar and tosses it off a 12-story bridge into the waiting jaws of ill-tempered crocodiles.
This bonkers-performance M version of the BMW X6 sport-utility seats only four people in its standard configuration, and those in back will find limited headroom and a seatback that doesn't recline. Moreover, the X6 M's cargo capacity is not only vastly less than the mechanically identical 2013 BMW X5 M, but also this vehicle is actually less spacious than compact SUVs like the Hyundai Tucson. Plus, the aggressive slope of its roof line makes it difficult to bring home that tall TV box from Best Buy. Then there's the price. With an MSRP of nearly $100,000, the M6 M is a lot cheaper than the also-bonkers 2013 Porsche Cayenne Turbo, but it's still more expensive than any number of sports cars or high-performance sedans that generate more thrills and are just as impractical.
Having said all that, the 2013 BMW X6 M is one of the most impressive feats of automotive engineering sold today. Yes it weighs 5,300 pounds and has the footprint of a midsize SUV, but with a 555-horsepower twin-turbo V8, the X6 M goes from zero to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds. That's quicker than a Porsche 911 and any number of other sporting cars. However, any good old boy can stuff a too-big engine into something inappropriate and make it crazy quick. So BMW also employs every technological and suspension-tuning weapon in its extensive arsenal to produce stellar handling. And not "stellar for a 5,300-pound SUV," but stellar, period. On a wide-open track, the X6 M has a good shot of keeping up with those same M3s and 911s.
However, the idea of any SUV on a track seems patently ridiculous. Plus, the world isn't a wide-open track, and any tight, winding road complete with overgrown shrubs, ditches and rock walls will instill a sense of paint-scraping anxiety. In other words, the X6 M is brilliant in theory, but you're unlikely to test its capabilities.
Of course, the same could be said of SUVs like the Range Rover Sport, which boast incredible off-roading talents few suburb-dwelling owners will ever exploit. That doesn't mean the 2013 BMW X6 M makes sense, however, and we can't imagine anything ever will. If you've fallen in love with the styling, performance or the sheer indulgence of such a vehicle, then who are we to argue? Just be prepared to toss rationality to the crocodiles.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 BMW X6 M is a performance-oriented version of the BMW X6. Four seats are standard, but a rear middle seat is an option.
Standard equipment includes 20-inch wheels, performance tires, adaptive dampers, active stabilizer bars, a self-leveling rear air suspension, bi-xenon headlights (automatic, adaptive and auto-leveling), automatic wipers, auto-dimming and power-folding mirrors, a power liftgate, front and rear parking sensors, rear privacy glass and a sunroof. Inside you get cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated 14-way power front seats with adjustable bolsters and lumbar, leather upholstery, the BMW iDrive electronics interface, Bluetooth phone connectivity, a navigation system, real-time traffic, voice controls and a 16-speaker sound system with a CD player, HD radio, an auxiliary audio jack and an iPod/USB audio interface.
The Cold Weather package adds heated rear seats and a heated steering wheel. The Active Ventilated Seat package adds ventilation and massage functionality to the front seats. The Rear Climate package gets four-zone automatic climate control and manual rear side sunshades. The Driver Assistance package adds a head-up display (available separately), rear- and top-view parking cameras and automatic high beams. The Premium Sound package gets satellite radio (available separately) and an upgraded 16-speaker sound system.
Stand-alone options include keyless ignition/entry, automatic soft-close doors, a sideview parking camera, LED headlights, extended interior leather trim, a rear-seat entertainment system, a six-CD/DVD changer and the BMW Apps suite of iPhone integration features.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2013 BMW X6 M is powered by a twin-turbo 4.4-liter V8 good for 555 hp and 500 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive are standard.
In Edmunds performance testing, the BMW X6 M reached 60 mph from a standstill in just 4.3 seconds. This makes it not only the quickest SUV we've ever tested but also quicker than many dedicated sports cars. The BMW X6 M can also tow 6,600 pounds.
The trade-off for so much performance is fuel economy -- the X6 M has EPA-estimated fuel economy ratings of 12 mpg city/17 mpg highway and 14 mpg combined.
Every 2013 BMW X6 M comes standard with traction and stability control, antilock brakes, automatic brake drying, front side airbags, side curtain airbags and adaptive brake lights. The latter flash the taillights under sudden extreme braking as a warning to trailing motorists. Also standard is the BMW Assist emergency communications system, which provides automatic crash notification, stolen vehicle recovery and on-demand roadside assistance.
In Edmunds brake testing, the X6 M came to a stop from 60 mph in an exceptionally short 107 feet.
Interior Design and Special Features
Besides unique M bits that include special seats, badges and color combinations, the 2013 BMW X6 M seems quite familiar. From the front seats, it looks nearly identical to the X5 upon which it is based. Beyond that, the materials are top-notch and the whole thing is put together beautifully in BMW fashion. There are also a slew of available electronics features controlled through the complicated but customizable iDrive interface.
The big differences come into play behind the front seats, mostly due to the sloping, coupe-style roof line that reduces rear headroom by about 2 inches. In standard form, there are two individual rear seats with a permanent center console, much as you'd expect in an exclusive touring car. These seats are comfortable enough, but headroom is a tad tight, there are no reclining adjustments and a fifth passenger will obviously have to take a cab instead. An optional middle seat at least takes care of the latter problem.
Besides limited backseat headroom, the dramatic roof line also reduces visibility and cuts into the cargo area. Cargo capacity is sufficient for occasional hauling, with a decent 25 cubic feet with the seats up, but with the rear seats stowed, the X6 holds only 60 cubic feet (compared to the X5's 75 cubes). That's less capacity than you'll get out of a Hyundai Tucson.
The 2013 BMW X6 M weighs 5,256 pounds. It's also a crossover SUV, so its center of gravity isn't exactly like a sports car's. So how does this beast manage to handle like a sports car? Technology -- lots of technology. There's "Active" this and "Dynamic" that in just about every area of the X6 M's operation, a battalion of high-tech aids designed to keep the laws of physics at bay. The results are stunning. Our seasoned professional test-drivers are amazed at this massive BMW's neutral handling, prodigious grip and athletic character. However, on a tight road, no amount of athleticism will be able to hide just how big the X6 M is.
Then there's the power. Turbo lag is nonexistent and acceleration is at once awe-inspiring and giggle-inducing. Press the driver-programmable M button on the steering wheel and the throttle becomes more sensitive, shifts become more rapid and the exhausts let out a gnarly bark during upshifts under full throttle. The X6 M may not be a classic performance machine, but it's certainly a riot.