What's New for 2013
The BMW X6 gets a mildly reworked front-end design for 2013 along with new LED taillamps and optional LED headlights.
We can only assume that you're reading this because something about the 2013 BMW X6 appeals to you on an emotional level. Maybe it's the unique styling. Perhaps it's the idea of a sporty-handling SUV. Or maybe you're just looking to one-up the neighbors and their X5. Whatever the reason may be, there's really no point in trying to refute such emotional connections.
Yet in the spirit of Mr. Spock, let's toss out emotion for a moment and focus on the X6 from a logical level. BMW labels it a "Sport Activity Coupe" despite the X6 having four doors, an approximate 5,000-pound curb weight, an elevated ride height, all-wheel drive and a cargo area accessed through a large hatchback opening. That doesn't sound very coupelike to us, and with its dramatically sloping rear end, diminished trunk space and standard two-person backseat, the X6 isn't much of an SUV either.
If that sounds like a worst of both worlds scenario, we agree, although the Acura ZDX is proof that there are deeper degrees of "worst." Now, there is no denying that the X6 handles remarkably well for such a large, heavy vehicle. It also moves with authority thanks to its turbocharged six- and eight-cylinder engines. And there are certainly no complaints to be made about its well-crafted and well-equipped cabin.
However, all of that also applies to the more practical BMW X5 as well, and quite simply, there's no logical reason why someone would purchase an X6 instead. The Porsche Cayenne, Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 and Range Rover Sport are hardly what we'd consider "practical purchases," but these sport-tuned SUVs certainly offer more practicality than the X6. If style and performance are greater priorities, the Audi A7, Jaguar XF and Mercedes-Benz CLS definitely deliver something different from the norm while being far more coupelike than the X6.
So, there's the logician's case against the 2013 BMW X6. If that doesn't dissuade you, then we'll simply add that it looks pretty cool in red.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 BMW X6 is a midsize SUV with coupelike styling. It seats four people standard and a middle rear seat is optional. There are two models: xDrive35i and xDrive50i. The xDrive bit refers to its standard all-wheel drive, while the last three digits refer to engine choice.
The xDrive35i comes standard with 19-inch wheels, automatic and adaptive xenon headlights with auto-leveling and LED halo running lights, foglamps, power-folding and auto-dimming mirrors, automatic wipers, a sunroof, a power liftgate, and front and rear parking sensors. Inside you get keyless ignition, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated 10-way power front seats with four-way lumbar adjustment and driver memory functions and leather upholstery. Electronics features include the iDrive interface, Bluetooth phone connectivity, BMW Assist emergency communications, and a 10-speaker sound system with a CD player, HD radio, an auxiliary audio jack and an iPod/USB audio interface.
The xDrive50i adds a more powerful engine, 14-way "multicontour" front seats with adjustable bolsters, and a navigation system with real-time traffic and voice controls. Besides the engine, these items are available on the xDrive35i.
The Premium package adds keyless ignition/entry, four-zone automatic climate control, rear- and top-view parking cameras, manual rear side sunshades and, on the 35i, the navigation system, voice controls and real-time traffic. Opting for the Luxury Seating package gets you ventilation and massaging for the multicontour seats (included on xDrive50i). The Cold Weather package adds a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats and headlight washers.
For more equipment you can choose the Technology package that includes a side-view parking camera, a head-up display and automatic high beams. The Dynamic Handling package adds an adaptive suspension and enhanced speed-sensitive steering. The Premium Sound package includes satellite radio and a 16-speaker sound system that can be further upgraded with an extra 825 watts of power. The BMW Individual Composition package increases the color choice selection and also includes a leather-trimmed dash and multicontour seats.
The Sport Activity package gets special 19-inch wheels (20s can be added for a price), darkened exterior trim and sport seats. The multicontour seats can be added to this on the xDrive35i. The M Performance package is similar but gets the 20-inch wheels, performance tires and a sport steering wheel.
Stand-alone options include LED headlights, a lane-departure warning system, power soft-close doors, running boards, adaptive cruise control, keyless ignition/entry, the sport seats, head-up display, extended leather trim, a rear-seat entertainment system, satellite radio and the BMW Apps suite of Internet-based smartphone features.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2013 BMW X6 xDrive35i comes with a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6 that produces 300 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque. As with the 50i, all-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic are standard. BMW estimates that the X6 35i will go from zero to 60 mph in 6.3 seconds. EPA-estimated fuel economy stands at 16 mpg city/23 mpg highway and 19 mpg combined.
The BMW X6 xDrive50i gets a 4.4-liter turbocharged V8 good for 400 hp and 450 lb-ft of torque. BMW says it'll hit 60 mph in 5.2 seconds. Its estimated fuel economy stands at 14/20/16. If this sort of power still leaves you wanting, there's also a 555-hp X6 M that is covered in a separate review.
Every BMW X6 includes stability and traction control, antilock brakes, automatic brake drying, front side airbags, side curtain airbags and adaptive brake lights. The latter flashes 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, an X6 xDrive35i came to a stop from 60 mph in a very short 111 feet.
Interior Design and Special Features
From the front seats, the 2013 BMW X6 is nearly identical to the X5 upon which it is based, though sportier seats and a cushioned design for the center console (protecting knees during aggressive cornering) are unique to the X6. In BMW fashion, the materials are top-notch and the whole thing is put together beautifully. There are also a slew of available electronics features controlled through the complicated but customizable iDrive interface.
The big changes happen behind the front seats, mostly due to the sloping roof line that reduces rear headroom by about 2 inches. In standard form, the rear seat has a large center console and accommodates just two passengers; you can opt to have a three-person bench instead. The outboard rear seats are reasonably comfortable but they lack any sort of adjustment.
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). That's less capacity than you'll get out of a Hyundai Tucson.
The 2013 BMW X6 delivers an astonishing amount of performance considering its size and weight. Cornering prowess is impressive thanks to balanced weight distribution, wide tires and an all-wheel-drive system with lots of electronic aides. The steering is great when going fast, but the effort level is a bit too heavy at low speed. However, don't be fooled into thinking this is a sport coupe that simply has the height of an SUV. It's big and heavy, and it's hard to escape that feeling when a winding road narrows.
Acceleration is brisk with either of the available engines. Braking power is remarkably strong and fade-free, especially considering this big Bimmer's heft. And despite the X6's athletic tuning, 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.