Not everyone gets the 2017 BMW X6. After all, the U in SUV stands for "utility," something the fastback X6 appears to lack. Ah, but BMW doesn't call the X6 an SUV; the automaker calls it an SAV, for "activity." No question, the X6 isn't much for utilitarian attributes: It's shy on rear seat and cargo room, and it can't really tow. But as a personal vehicle, it's a heck of a lot of fun.
Muscular, hunkered-down and racy, the X6 really emphasizes the S in SUV. For such a big beast, it's an athletic handler, and the ride is more serene than you might expect given the X6's sporting pretensions. The steering doesn't offer as much feedback as the setups in our favorite sport sedans, but the brakes certainly work just as well — in Edmunds testing an X6 xDrive35i drew down from 60 mph in 108 feet, a very short distance for a heavyweight luxury SUV.
The X6 offers two engines: a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six that produces 300 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque and a 4.4-liter turbo V8 that puts out 445 hp and 480 lb-ft. The six is quick, making the 0-60 mph run in 5.8 seconds during Edmunds performance testing, and the V8 is even quicker with a 4.6-second time. BMW offers the six with both rear- and front-wheel-drive; EPA estimated fuel economy is 21 mpg combined (18 city/25 highway) for the rear-wheel-drive models and 1 mpg lower with all-wheel-drive. The V8 comes exclusively with rear-wheel drive, and the EPA estimates its fuel economy at 17 mpg combined (15 city/21 highway).
Inside, the X6 isn't lacking for luxury; we like the design and the high-quality materials. BMW continues to improve its iDrive infotainment system, and though we approve of the 10.2-inch touchscreen and simplified interface, it's still more complicated to use than competing systems. In terms of practicality, the X6 is almost completely oblivious: Though partitioned for three, the X6's backseat is barely roomy enough for two, with a low roofline that limits headroom. Cargo space is also very tight thanks to the steeply raked rear window. This is not an SUV — sorry, SAV — for families, but if your child-rearing days are either behind you, way ahead of you, or never going to happen, the X6 makes more sense.
The X6 comes in three models: the rear-wheel-drive six-cylinder sDrive35i, all-wheel-drive six-cylinder xDrive35i and the V8-powered xDrive50i (along with the X6 M, reviewed separately). Most options are bundled into packages, though the V8-powered model also gets more creature comforts. Which is the best one? Edmunds can help find the perfect 2017 BMW X6 for you.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.