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- Highs Choice of two strong and smooth engines, luxurious interior, a wealth of standard features.
- Lows Polarizing coupe-like design, lack of driver engagement, less cargo space than many rivals.
- Verdict The 2018 BMW X6 spoils occupants with a posh cabin and a host of standard features, but its unusual styling and so-so handling might put off some buyers.
The 2018 BMW X6 combines a coupe’s fastback roofline and a crossover’s high-riding capability—with polarizing results. The unusual styling results in reduced cargo space, which is the Achilles’ heel of the X6, but those seeking a nontraditional aesthetic in their SUV may be willing to live with less practicality. The X6’s road manners illustrate that the BMW badge no longer represents the benchmark for driver engagement, although the company still builds superb engines. These include the X6’s strong and smooth turbocharged six- and eight-cylinder powerplants, which pair with a terrific automatic transmission and available all-wheel drive. The X6 supports its luxury bona fides with a beautifully crafted interior and a robust infotainment system. Too bad it’s so easy to balloon the bottom line with options. While the X6 makes a strong visual statement, crossover buyers will pay more for less with this bemusing Bimmer.
What's New for 2018?
The first X6 appeared in BMW showrooms in 2008, essentially inciting the fastback-crossover trend. As with today’s version, it shared many components with the BMW X5, such as its chassis and powertrain options. The X6 was totally redesigned for 2015, but the updates for 2018 are subtle. These include new trapezoidal tailpipes on six-cylinder versions and the option of 21-inch wheels with run-flat performance rubber for M Sport models.
- sDrive 35i: $63,945
- xDrive 35i: $66,245
- xDrive 50i: $78,695
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Engine, Transmission, and Performance
BMW has a reputation for exceptional powertrains, and the X6 is a good example of that. Its 300-hp turbocharged inline-six has lots of power and delivers it in a silky gush. While the potent 445-hp twin-turbo V-8 version is a pricey option, it undercuts the outrageous 567-hp BMW X6 M by about $27,000. Both the six- and eight-cylinder X6s partner with an excellent paddle-shifted eight-speed automatic transmission. Available with either rear- or all-wheel drive, the standard turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six is smooth and subdued. It is responsive at all speeds, and the exhaust crackles deliciously between upshifts in Sport and Sport+ drive modes. Our all-wheel-drive X6 xDrive35i test car was 0.5 second quicker from zero to 60 mph than the 333-hp Audi Q7, and it nearly matched the 362-hp Mercedes-AMG GLE43 coupe between 50 and 70 mph. Too bad the Bimmer can’t tow as much or handle as well as these rivals. Although the X6 fails to fulfill the sporty nature implied by its BMW badge and fastback styling, it has a comfortable ride and compelling powertrains. Its multiple drive modes and available adaptive dampers can vary the driving dynamics. It drove crisply enough around town, but “verve” is not a word that comes to mind when you whisk the X6 down a winding road. Our X6 xDrive35i test car had the optional adaptive dampers and rear air suspension, but even in the firmest setting its body listed around sharp corners. We appreciated how well it rode in the default Comfort mode; however, the pleasure diminished on uneven surfaces. Still, it kept passengers protected from most harsh impacts and road noise. Although the steering effort increased in the sportier drive modes, the effect hardly improved driver interaction. The X6 is certainly quick and comfortable, but several alternatives are simply more fun to drive.
EPA fuel economy testing and reporting procedures have changed over time. For the latest and most accurate fuel economy numbers on current and older vehicles, we use the U.S. Department of Energy's fueleconomy.gov website. Under the heading "Find & Compare Cars" click on the "Compare Side-by-Side" tool to find the EPA ratings for the make, model, and year you're interested in.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
With a mix of rich materials and luxurious standard features, the X6's cabin delivers an upscale experience. Too bad the back seat has tight dimensions, and rear visibility is inhibited by the coupe-like roofline. A leather interior is standard on the X6, but certain upholstery combinations cost extra. The interior of our test car was lined in handsome Cognac Dakota leather at no cost and was fitted with the Premium and Executive packages. Together they include four-zone automatic climate control, a head-up display, and soft-close doors, among other features. The glossy wood trim, stitched surfaces, and uniform panel fit were well executed and verified the X6’s luxury status. The dash featured a cool digital gauge cluster that changed color with the drive modes, but we wish the head-up-display adjustments weren’t buried in the touchscreen menus. The X6 has plenty of spots to stow a variety of items. Highlights include a compartment under the dash near the driver’s left knee and useful bins on either side of the rear outboard seats, as well as a center-console bin that splits in the middle to open like bomb-bay doors. The rear cargo area has bins on both sides and a massive storage space under the floor that’s lined with carpet to quiet possible rattles from items stored there. The BMW actually has more cargo volume behind its back seat than the Maserati Levante and the GLE43 coupe. Compared with most other rivals, however, it has far less cargo space. In fact, the BMW X5, the X6’s squareback sibling, has another 17 cubic feet of max cargo volume.
Infotainment and Connectivity
Every X6 has a 10.2-inch touchscreen complete with versatile controls and an assortment of standard features. BMW’s iDrive infotainment system is attractive and easy to operate thanks to a litany of input options. The large high-resolution display can be customized with a split-screen mode and personalized information. The X6 also comes with BMW’s ConnectedDrive as standard. In addition to customer support and roadside assistance, it includes a smartphone app that can monitor vehicle diagnostics, lock and unlock the doors, set the climate control, and more. Buyers won’t need to pay extra for navigation or real-time updates, but desirable upgrades such as wireless charging and a 4G LTE mobile hotspot require the Premium package. Apple CarPlay compatibility can be bought separately, but Android Auto is not available.
Safety Features and Crash Test Ratings
Some older vehicles are still eligible for coverage under a manufacturer's Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) program. For more information visit our guide to every manufacturer's CPO program.