Practicality and performance are two ideas that don't often intersect — a fact that makes the 2017 BMW X6 M a bit of an anomaly.
These two disparate qualities come together in this midsize crossover because it combines a reasonably practical SUV-like body with the heart of a high-performance sports car. The result is a vehicle that can haul just about anything that needs hauling from Point A to Point B in one heck of a hurry.
To say that the X6 M's fastback design is a case of style over substance is a bit of an understatement. Though its sloping roofline gives the exterior a racy look, it also compromises rear-seat access and headroom, plus it limits cargo capacity. Nevertheless, this coupe-style ute does stand out in a crowded sport-utility field, and now that a majority of American drivers prefer SUVs over sedans, style counts for a lot.
On the performance front, the X6 M is defined by a 567-horsepower V8 that gives this sizable SUV a zero to 60 mph time of 4 seconds flat, a result that makes it just a hair quicker than the automaker’s acclaimed M4 sport coupe. In the handling department, the X6 M's adaptive suspension allows the big machine to corner like a much smaller sport sedan. Stopping distances are equally impressive with the huge disc brakes and wide tires bringing this 5,000-pound beast to a halt without the slightest hint of drama.
There are downsides to such speed tuning, of course. First, the ride quality delivered by that adjustable sport-tuned suspension translates to a pretty firm experience thanks to those big, stiff tires, even in the suspension's most comfort-oriented setting. The throttle is also downright touchy, and the aggressive engine response makes it hard to pull away from a stop sign smoothly. Then there's the aforementioned sloping rear roofline that makes both the rear seat and cargo area somewhat less practical, although perhaps this is important only if you carry rear passengers (rarely) or fill the cargo area to the roof (never).
If this last point sounds like a deal-breaker, we recommend you check out the virtually identical BMW X5 M, which offers a more practical backseat and cargo hold. Or you might want to consider other high-performance SUVs with conventional silhouettes, including the 550-hp Land Rover Range Rover Sport SVR, 550-hp Mercedes-Benz AMG GLE63 and 520-hp Porsche Cayenne Turbo.
Even among this overachieving crowd, however, the 2017 BMW X6 M offers a balance of practicality and performance that earns it a uniquely adventuresome appeal.
The 2017 BMW X6 M includes stability and traction control, antilock brakes, automatic brake drying (for enhanced wet-weather response), front-seat side airbags and side curtain airbags that cover both rows, a rearview camera, and front and rear parking sensors. Also standard are the BMW Assist eCall and BMW Remote Services emergency communications systems, which provide automatic crash notification, stolen vehicle recovery, remote locking and unlocking, a smartphone app with remote vehicle functions and on-demand emergency response via an SOS button.
With the optional Driver Assistance Plus package, the X6 M also comes with lane departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, forward collision warning, forward collision mitigation with automatic braking, and side- and top-view cameras.
trim levels & features
The 2017 BMW X6 M is a high-performance midsize luxury crossover SUV with seating for five. It's offered in a single, well-equipped trim level.
Standard equipment includes 21-inch alloy wheels with summer performance tires, sport-tuned adaptive suspension dampers, rear air suspension, active body-roll stabilization, torque-vectoring sport differential, special M brakes, adaptive high-intensity xenon headlights, LED foglights, power-folding and auto-dimming heated outside mirrors, automatic wipers, a panoramic sunroof, roof rails for cargo, a hands-free power liftgate with a foot sensor, front and rear parking sensors, keyless entry and ignition, quad-zone automatic climate control, extensive leather upholstery, 18-way power-adjustable and heated front sport seats (with four-way power lumbar adjustment), front-seat memory settings, 40/20/40-split folding rear seatbacks, a synthetic-suede headliner, adaptive cruise control, hill descent control, ambient interior lighting, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with wheel-mounted shift paddles and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.
Cabin technology highlights include a rearview camera, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, iDrive infotainment system with a 10.2-inch central touchscreen and a touchpad-equipped controller, navigation system, online services (including weather and news), smartphone-app integration, voice controls and a 16-speaker Harman Kardon sound system with a CD player, satellite and HD radio, a USB port and an auxiliary audio input jack.
With all of that included as standard, the X6 M has a short options list compared to most BMW models, starting with just two packages. The Driver Assistance Plus package adds a variety of advanced safety features, while the Executive package throws in adaptive LED headlights with automatic high-beam control, power-closing doors, a head-up instrument display, heated steering wheel, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, manual rear-window sunshades, wireless cellphone charging and a Wi-Fi hotspot.
Stand-alone options include 20-inch alloy wheels, aluminum-look exterior trim, an automated self-parking system, a 16-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system, and a rear-seat entertainment system with twin 9.2-inch screens.
The all-wheel-drive 2017 BMW X6 M is powered by a turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 rated at 567 hp and 553 pound-feet of torque. The only transmission available is an eight-speed automatic.
BMW estimates the X6 M can sprint from zero to 60 mph in 4.0 seconds, which puts it between the 2017 Porsche Cayenne Turbo and Cayenne Turbo S when it comes to acceleration. EPA fuel economy estimates are 16 mpg combined (14 city/19 highway).
On the road, it quickly becomes clear that the 2017 BMW X6 M is a vehicle that's designed to be driven hard. Which ultimately means that there's a downside, namely that the only place you can safely explore its limits is on the racetrack.
Topping the list of X6 M's good qualities is quick steering that offers excellent feedback. Handling is remarkably composed with a planted feeling and a total absence of body roll in corners. The adaptive suspension, massive brakes and rear-biased all-wheel drive with torque vectoring all work together to make this two-and-a-half-ton SUV seem more like a big sport coupe. Add the 567-hp turbocharged V8 with its hair-trigger throttle and you have a vehicle that launches ferociously from a stop.
Because most of your daily driving will presumably be a lot more relaxed, it pays to take the suspension's firm ride quality into account. Even on its most comfortable setting, the three-mode suspension delivers a ride that feels a little stiff even by performance SUV standards. The BMW X6 M is indeed more like a sport coupe than a sport-ute, and this is both a good thing and a bad thing.
Inside the passenger cabin, the 2017 BMW X6 M offers an undeniably elegant experience. From the stylish design to the top-notch materials to the hushed ambiance, this is a space that is a pleasure to spend time in.
Up front, the well-bolstered 18-way power sport seats make it easy to get comfortable. The rear seat is another story, however, due to the sloping rear roofline that makes for tricky entry and exit as well as cramped headroom. It also should be noted that though the backseat is set up for three passengers, it's really better suited to two because the deeply contoured outboard positions mean the center seat is just an uncomfortable hump. Visibility out the back can also be an issue.
Basic gauges and controls — including the special M performance-oriented instrument cluster — are logically arranged and easy to see. The audio and climate controls are fairly intuitive, but there are an awful lot of buttons that can be confusing at first. The iDrive system's large 10.2-inch high-resolution touchscreen is a plus, though the interface does take awhile to get the hang of and requires a few too many twirls of the central control knob to achieve the desired result compared to similar systems.
Out back, the cargo hold offers 26.6 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats. Folding all three sections of the 40/20/40-split rear seatbacks down gets you 59.7 cubic feet of overall cargo room. To numbers are a few cubic feet shy of what other luxury SUVs with conventional squared-off silhouettes offer.
edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.