What's New for 2010
The 2010 BMW X6 receives an update to its iDrive and navigation systems. HD Radio is now standard, as is a power liftgate. An optional performance upgrade boosts power output slightly for both engines, and the Technology package now includes a top-view camera. Also, a few optional and standard features have been shuffled throughout the X6 lineup.
Think of the 2010 BMW X6 as one of those hybrid mythical creatures -- the Minotaur, a griffin or a mermaid -- that combines several elements to make up one unique beast. You could say it's part SUV, part hatchback and part coupe. Actually, BMW defines the X6 as a "Sports Activity Coupe," but considering the X6's four doors, limited cargo space and elevated ride height, we're not too sure that's a very accurate description.
Placing BMW's X6 into a category is no easy task, but we can tell you that underneath the X6's aggressive-looking sheet metal is essentially the same chassis used for the X5. This mechanical relationship isn't readily apparent, as the X6's wider stance, artfully sculpted body panels and graceful sloping rear roof line give it a unique and athletic appearance. Backing up the muscular styling are two engine choices -- a competent 300-horsepower six-cylinder or a wild 400-hp V8. The X6's exceptional styling and gruff V8 growl are sure to turn heads, but its nearly $9,000 premium over the X5 is likely to make heads spin.
Besides the monetary penalty, owners must contend with other side effects. The fastback-like rear reduces cargo space and rear headroom while also limiting rear visibility. The newly optional top-view camera should help improve the latter by taking a lot of the guesswork out of maneuvering in tight spaces. Another improvement this year is an updated iDrive system -- its expanded controls and new menus reduce the aggravation and complexity found in previous models. The optional navigation also receives an update with improved graphics.
Even after the improvements for this year, it's hard to get over the feeling that buyers will be paying more and getting less. The 2010 BMW X6 seats only four, while other SUVs seat five (or more, with third-row seating). Then there's the aforementioned lack of utility. The closest competitor to the X6 is the Infiniti FX50, which also favors form and performance over function. The sporty Porsche Cayenne and Range Rover Sport are similarly priced and worth consideration as well. All things considered, we'd probably opt for a fully loaded X5 if it were our money.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2010 BMW X6 is a midsize luxury crossover SUV that is offered in two trim levels. The base xDrive35i trim comes standard with 19-inch alloy wheels, a sunroof, automatic adaptive xenon headlights, rain-sensing wipers, leather upholstery, power front seats, driver memory settings, parking sensors, dual-zone automatic climate control, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a power liftgate, the iDrive multimedia interface and a 12-speaker audio system with a CD/MP3 player, HD Radio and an auxiliary audio jack. The xDrive50i trim level includes all of the above and adds multi-contour seats, a sportier steering wheel and voice-activated navigation with real-time traffic (all of which are available on the xDrive35i as options).
A wide array of options that are grouped into packages can be added to the X6. The Premium package includes auto-dimming mirrors, ambient lighting, front-seat lumbar adjustment, a cargo-area rail system, a mirror-mounted compass and Bluetooth. The Sport Activity package adds dark exterior trim and front sport seats. The Sport package includes those items and adds adaptive suspension dampers and stabilizer bars. A Premium Sound package is available that upgrades the audio system with 16 speakers, a six-CD changer and an iPod/USB adapter. Other optional features found in packages include rear-seat climate control, heated seats, ventilated and massaging front seats, and a heated steering wheel.
Stand-alone options include active steering, 20-inch wheels, an engine performance upgrade, running boards, soft-close automatic doors, automatic high beam operation, keyless ignition and entry, a top-view camera, upgraded leather upholstery, a head-up display, satellite radio and a rear-seat entertainment system.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2010 BMW X6 xDrive35i is powered by a 3.0-liter twin-turbo inline-6 that produces 300 hp and 300 pound-feet of torque. In our testing, this X6 accelerated to 60 mph from a standstill in an impressive 6.3 seconds. The xDrive50i comes with a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 that generates 400 hp and 450 lb-ft of torque; BMW claims a 0-60 time of only 5.3 seconds. Both engines route power to all four wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission with manual shift control. New for this year is a performance upgrade option that boosts the output of the inline-6 to 320 hp and the V8 to 440 hp.
Fuel economy registers an EPA-estimated 15 mpg city/21 mpg highway and 17 mpg in combined driving for the xDrive35i, while the xDrive50i manages only 13 mpg city/18 mpg highway and 15 mpg in combined driving.
Standard safety features on the 2010 BMW X6 include antilock disc brakes, stability control, traction control, hill descent control, front-seat side airbags, side curtain airbags and active front head restraints. Also included is BMW's advanced Dynamic Performance Control (DPC) that greatly enhances directional stability and traction by redirecting power to individual wheels.
Interior Design and Special Features
From the front seats, the BMW X6 is nearly identical to the X5 upon which it is based. The X6 adds details like sportier seats and steering wheel, which make the cockpit feel more like a sport sedan's than an SUV's. Cushioned center-console sides (to help protect knees during aggressive cornering) are also unique to the X6. Luxurious leather upholstery is standard throughout the cabin, as is dark wood trim for a decidedly upscale flavor.
The big changes happen behind the front seats, mostly due to the sloping roof line that reduces rear headroom by about 2 inches. The rear seat is also only capable of accommodating two passengers, since the large rear center console is not removable. The rear seats however, are comfortable and supportive, though legroom feels a bit cramped when compared to the X5's. The dramatic roof line also 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). Carrying around big bulky items is not its forte.
The 2010 BMW X6 delivers an astonishing amount of performance considering its size and weight. Cornering prowess is impressive, thanks to a nearly perfect 50/50 weight distribution, wide, sticky tires and the Dynamic Performance Control all-wheel-drive system that vectors engine torque automatically to any of the wheels to improve traction and handling balance.
Acceleration is brisk with the V8, thanks to quick yet smooth shifts from the six-speed automatic, though the shift paddles have a flimsy feel about them. Braking power is remarkably strong and fade-free, especially considering this big Bimmer's heft. Despite the X6's athletic performance, ride comfort does not suffer. In everyday driving, the cabin keeps road and wind noise to a minimum, while the suspension soaks up road imperfections with ease.