The BMW X6 may have started life out as an awkward and rather unsightly coupe-styled SUV, but it has since become a popular offering from the Bavarian brand and has seen many try to imitate its arresting looks. It's still not outright pretty, but it's not the hideous monstrosity it started out as either. For those seeking something a little less conventional than the X5, the X6 offers athletic design and sporty driving chops, too. Considered separately to the X6 M, there's still lots to love about the regular X6, from its base rear-wheel-drive variant to its range-topping X6 M50i model, which produces more than enough power to make the X6 M seem a little irrelevant. However, despite being one of the first to do it, is the SUV-coupe niche better represented by competitors like the Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class Coupe?
For the 2021 BMW X6, upgrades include the long-awaited addition of Android Auto compatibility, as well as standard SiriusXM 360L functionality with a one-year subscription, a 48-volt mild-hybrid system on 40i models, and on the M50i model, ventilated front seats and remote start. Trailer hitch prep has been removed though, and the trailer hitch is optional. Other changes include alterations to the aesthetic and other options.
The exterior of the BMW X6 is still rather polarising, with a love-it-or-hate-it look that is certainly unique. The front is rather normal, with large kidney grilles framed by adaptive LED headlight and LED fog lights, while the hood is straked as usual. The top of the car features a panoramic sunroof while the slope of that roof is complemented by meaty fenders that house 20-inch wheels as standard, with 21s or 22s available. At the rear, a subtle double roof spoiler is visible along with a hatch spoiler, elongated adaptive LED brake lights, a faux diffuser, and a dual-exit exhaust system. For the M50i model, a special M Sport body kit is fitted that adds a little more aggression.
The dimensions of the BMW X6 are rather typical for the class. Length measures 194.8 inches with a wheelbase of 117.1 inches while the width is measured at 78.9 inches excluding mirrors. Height starts at 66.3 inches with the M50i model at 66.8 inches. The base RWD model's curb weight is rated at 4,758 pounds while the M50i model increases in heft to 5,115 lbs. Ground clearance, although likely insignificant to most buyers, is 8.1 inches for the regular models and 8.5 inches for the M50i.
As is typical with BMW, the only standard colors on offer are Alpine White and Jet Black. If you'd prefer a metallic finish, you'll have to fork out an extra $550, which gives you access to Carbon Black, Black Sapphire, Dark Graphite, Mineral White, Flamenco Red, Arctic Grey, Manhattan Green, and Phytonic Blue - the latter replacing Riverside Blue for 2021. On the M50i variant, Jet Black is not available, and nor is Dark Graphite. However, all the charged metallic finishes on the base model are free here and you get access to the stunning Tanzanite Blue II and Ametrin metallic finishes at $1,950 each.
Performance is a big part of BMW's DNA, and that's especially true with a vehicle that is intended to evoke a sporty feeling. Even without the top M50i model, the stats on the regular X6 are impressive. The two 40i models, with sDrive and xDrive prefixes, are each powered by a 3.0-liter turbocharged straight-six combined with a 48-volt mild-hybrid system that produces a total of 335 horsepower and 331 lb-ft of torque. This helps the RWD sDrive variant accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds while the AWD model can do it one-tenth quicker. Top speed is limited to 130 mph, but that can be upped to 151 mph with the right tires and an increased top speed limiter.
If you really want to go fast though, the X6 M50i variant is the one to pick. This model features a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8, much like the X6 M, albeit with less power. There's still plenty of motivation though, as you get 523 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque. This model is only available in AWD configuration and as such, it doesn't struggle with traction. The result is a 0-60 mph sprint in just 4.1 seconds and a top speed of 155 with performance tires. We have no doubt that the M50i is capable of higher speeds, but that would cause it to step on the toes of the X6 M. Despite this impressive performance ability, you can spec a trailer package and lug up to 7,200 pounds behind you, too. Not bad for a sporty SUV.
The standard engine in the BMW X6 is a 3.0-liter turbocharged straight-six that generates 335 hp and 331 lb-ft of torque. Whether power goes to the rear wheels alone or to all four, an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission helps manage the power. Thanks to the twin-scroll design of the turbocharger, lag is nonexistent and the delivery of power throughout the rev range is strong and smooth. It's not a huge fan of revving all the way to the red line, but it is responsive and powerful, and the short ratios of the sharp and smooth automatic are a perfect companion. Acceleration from the line or on the freeway is good, which helps one forget just how heavy this SUV is.
On the X6 M50i, there's a stunning 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8 under the hood. It is also paired with the same eight-speed automatic from ZF and generates 523 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque. This engine is just incredible, and although you rarely want for more in the base X6 variants, driving the M50i model makes those lesser versions seem almost lethargic. Acceleration and power at any engine speed are brilliant, and the X6 M50i feels like a properly sporty machine. As we mentioned earlier, the existence of this variant, which is both comfortable and powerful, makes one question why the need for an X6 M exists at all.
Despite its sporty styling and performance-minded deposition, the X6 is remarkably compliant and comfortable. This is thanks to the standard fitment of adaptive dampers that help smooth over small bumps and big undulations with ease, but those more accustomed to the lavish ride of your typical Mercedes-Benz offering will note a hint of harshness that may not suit everyone. For this reason, we recommend a test drive before signing on the dotted line, as some of the X6's competition may offer a softer feel. However, we must also mention that going on such a drive may just make you fall in love with the way this large machine handles, as the steering is sharp and the nose goes exactly where you place it. Sure, there are occasions where some common sense will need to be applied to avoid dangerous understeer, but for the most part, the overall experience is simply mesmerizing.
This hefty SUV handles a lot better than it should, and its rivals from Ingolstadt and Affalterbach are less engaging in the corners. Overall, the blend of grip, steering accuracy, and minimal body roll makes the X6 a brilliant vehicle to play with. Even so, things can get even better if you opt for the Dynamic Handling package that adds active roll stabilization and Integral Active Steering - only available from the xDrive40i upwards. For an electrically-assisted steering setup, this is brilliant. Two-axle air suspension can further enhance the comfort and performance characteristics of the vehicle, but the X6 M50i is the ultimate in the range with the availability of an optional electronic M Sport rear differential. It also features Snow and Gravel modes, but although good, there are rivals like the Range Rover Sport that will always outperform it when traversing unpaved landscapes. Regardless of which model you opt for, braking is good and easy to modulate, with the mild-hybrid system's brake regeneration system failing to disrupt the experience in any noticeable way.
Gas mileage is rarely a concern for the premium luxury SUV buyer, but it's still good to know what to expect. On the base RWD X6, the EPA estimates that the SUV is capable of 21/26/23 mpg city/highway/combined. With a 21.9-gallon gas tank, it will achieve around 504 miles of mixed driving range. In comparison, the AWD 40i model is slightly worse, achieving figures of 21/25/23 mpg on the same cycles. However, the M50i variant is a lot less economical, with figures of 16/22/18 mpg and an average range of around 394 miles.
The interior of the X6 is quite spacious and attractive, although those in the rear seats would certainly appreciate rather being in an X5 due to diminished headroom from the sloping roofline. Nevertheless, there's plenty of legroom and the mix of Vernasca leather on the seats and door panels combined with SensaTec faux leather on the dash makes this a very luxurious place to be. Dual 12.3-inch screens for driver info and infotainment mix well with the aesthetic of the cabin and add a high-tech look to it, while 16-way power front seats with heating ensure that journeys are comfortable and relaxing.
The BMW X6 coupe seats five in relative comfort, but six-footers will not appreciate being consigned to the second row on longer journeys. There's enough legroom back there, but the sloping roofline does take its toll. In front, there's plenty of space for passengers of any size, and the standard 16-way power front seats ensure that anyone can find a comfortable and commanding driving position. Getting in and out is easy too, but the roofline once again has a negative impact. Visibility is also impacted as looking out the back or checking blind spots is a little tricky, but otherwise, but sitting in the X6 is an otherwise enjoyable experience.
Vernasca leather is standard in the 2021 BMW X6 SUV, with SensaTec faux leather adorning the dash and wood or aluminum accents adding contrast. There's quite a bit of choice on offer, with six colors available as standard. These include Ivory White, Canberra Beige, Tacora Red, Coffee, Cognac, and Black. Premium Merino leather is also available for $1,000, with a choice of Ivory White/Night Blue, plain Ivory White, Black, Coffee, and Tartufo. Trim elements available include Fineline Stripe Brown High Gloss Wood, Brown-Metallic Ash Grain Wood, Aluminum Dark Mesh, and Aluminum Tetragon. The X6 M50i also has access to carbon fiber at $300, and Individual Piano Black or BMW Individual Fineline Black at $1,080 each. However, some of the more premium options will require the addition of other packages too, so the real price can be much higher.
Cargo space is part of the reasoning behind choosing an SUV over a sedan or hatchback. However, the X5 is a better choice here, with 6.5 cubic feet more volume than the X6's 27.4 cubic feet. Although that's still enough for weekend luggage for each occupant and a little more, you may prefer to fold the 40/20/40 rear seats to open up a space of 59.6 cubic feet for larger items.
In the cabin, both rows get a pair of cupholders, while those up front also get center armrest storage and a spot in the center console along with a glovebox. Each door also has large door pockets.
All new X6 models are well-equipped with standard features, including launch control, power-folding heated wing mirrors, dynamic cruise control, adaptive dampers, a 12.3-inch digital driver display, keyless entry with push-button start, a power tailgate with remote release, rain-sensing wipers, a panoramic sunroof with a power sunshade, configurable multicolor ambient lighting, heated power front seats, parking sensors front and rear, a rearview camera, and adaptive LED headlights and brake lights. You also get forward collision detection, blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning, dual-zone automatic climate control, and a crash preparation system. The X6 M50i model adds to this with 20-way front seats, quad-zone climate control, and wireless charging. Available packages will add combinations of features such as remote start, a head-up display, gesture control, LED headlights with laser light, a panoramic LED roof lighting system, massaging front seats, traffic jam assist, lane keep assist, and an evasion aid. You can also spec a parking assistant, and surround-view camera, heated rear seats, heated front armrests, and a heated steering wheel.
Infotainment on the new BMW X6 is handled through a 12.3-inch touchscreen display with voice control and the iDrive 7.0 operating system. It includes HD Radio, SiriusXM satellite radio, Apple CarPlay, and at long last, Android Auto. You also get Bluetooth and two USB ports, navigation, and a 32GB hard drive. A ten-speaker sound system is standard, while a Wi-Fi hotspot, wireless charging, and a 16-speaker Harman Kardon sound system are available as part of the available package upgrades. You can spec a Bowers & Wilkins 20-speaker setup on the M50i model to turn things up a little louder. As usual, the system's graphics are clean and sharp and display vibrant images, and the interface is easy to adapt to and understand.
Reliability is an important part of our research, and in review of the BMW X6's time on the market thus far, there are indications that things aren't quite perfect. So far, the 2021 variant has been subject to two recalls, one for headlights with non-conforming lenses, and another for potential loss in tire pressure due to inner tire layers failing. Additionally, 2020 models were recalled for a further two issues pertaining to a rear spoiler potentially detaching and failure of the rear back-up camera to display relevant images. Still, J.D. Power awarded the 2020 variant a superb quality and reliability rating of 90 out of 100.
In terms of warranty coverage, the X6 comes with a four-year/50,000-mile limited warranty and four years of unlimited roadside assistance. Maintenance is covered for the first three years or 36,000 miles.
Thus far, neither the NHTSA nor the IIHS has yet rated the safety of the X6 in the USA, but the very similar X5 has performed very well in reviews conducted by both agencies.
As standard, the X6 comes with a multitude of safety features that include adaptive LED headlights with auto high beams, adaptive LED brake lights, rain-sensing wipers, dynamic cruise control, front and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, forward collision alert, blind-spot monitoring, and lane departure warning. You also get a collision preparation system that closes windows and tightens seatbelts if a crash is imminent. You also get frontal, side-impact, and overhead airbags to tally six, while options include park assist, a surround-view camera, and traffic jam assist.
The BMW X6 series of vehicles, which starts at a rear-wheel-drive variant and ends with an M-fettled model, is more compelling than ever before, especially now that Android users have been accommodated. However, these SUVs are also inherently flawed, with that swooping roofline detracting from the practicality for which SUVs are usually chosen. Nevertheless, its popularity highlights that some people want coupe styling in a big, brutish package. However, while others may be mostly show and little go, the X6 backs up its sporty styling with brilliant handling and a truly engaging drive. In addition, it comes with a long list of standard features and plenty of customization options, especially when it comes to color schemes, both inside and out. We would recommend visiting a dealer to see the upholstery options in person as pics don't quite do them justice. But, no matter what you opt for, the X6 is luxurious, powerful, and exciting. The infotainment system is brilliant too, but is the cost of the BMW X6 worth it over that of the X5 while getting less out of the experience? On paper, the answer is no, but if you want something that looks unlike anything else on the road, the X6 is very tough to pass on.
The X6 is available in three different configurations in the US, with the base model being the cheapest. It starts at a base price of $65,050 before a $995 destination charge, while the mid-range xDrive40i variant has an MSRP of $67,350. The price of a BMW X6 M50i is $86,250, but depending on how much you're willing to spend, that can be inflated considerably. A fully loaded model will carry a price in excess of $107,000.
Three models are on offer for 2021: sDrive40i, xDrive40i, and xDrive M50i (the X6 M is reviewed separately).
Both 40i models are powered by a 3.0-liter turbo straight-six developing 335 hp and 331 lb-ft of torque. The only difference is that the former model sends its power through a ZF eight-speed automatic to the rear wheels while the xDrive40i splits power between both axles. As standard, these trims come with Vernasca leather upholstery, adaptive LED headlights, adaptive brake lights, a ten-speaker sound system, a pair of 12.3-inch multimedia displays, power-folding heated wing mirrors, power heated front seats, a panoramic sunroof with a power sunshade, 20-inch wheels, a power tailgate, and dual-zone automatic climate control.
The X6 M50i model gets a host of upgrades that set it apart, including an M Sport body kit, wireless charging, quad-zone climate control, 20-way multi-contour front seats, adaptive M suspension, and an upgraded Harman Kardon sound system, and the option of more paint finishes and interior choices. Most notably, this model comes with a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 producing 523 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque.
Although the M50i variant gets an M Sport body kit as standard, it is available on the lesser models too at a cost of $4,500. For the 40i trims, there is a Convenience Package that can be had for $1,050, which equips remote engine start, four-zone climate control, wireless charging, and enhanced USB and Bluetooth capabilities. The available Premium Package adds these features as well as a head-up display, gesture control, and a 16-speaker Harman Kardon surround-sound setup for $2,800 to the two lower trims, too. This costs only $1,000 on the M50i. On the lower-tier models, you can also opt for the Executive Package for $5,100. This adds 11 features, including a head-up display, gesture control for the infotainment system, remote start, Icon adaptive LED headlights with laser light, glass controls and buttons, an LED roof lighting system, and quad-zone automatic climate control. This package also adds the M50i model's Harman Kardon sound system; on the top-spec trim, the Executive Package is priced at $3,300 as some of the features are already equipped to that model. Other options for the 40i trims include a Driving Assistance Package ($1,700), Luxury Seating ($1,600), and Parking Assistance ($800), while standalone add-ons include heated front and rear seats for $350, an Anthracite Alcantara headliner for $650, and M Sport brakes with either red or blue calipers for $650.
And, if you've decided on the M50i model already, upgrades for this model include the exclusive Dynamic Handling Package for $2,600, front massaging seats for $1,000, a leather dashboard for $850, and the spectacular Bowers & Wilkins sound system, which costs $3,400.
Although the lesser-powered models in the lineup are highly impressive, we're tempted to go with the thirstier M50i variant. The added performance that this model offers is simply exhilarating and makes the X6 M seem almost redundant. In addition, you get a number of features thrown in, including an M Sport body kit, a 16-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, wireless charging, and a Wi-Fi hotspot. The only option that we deem truly necessary is the parking assistant system, as looking out that letterbox of a rear window is a problem. Adding this option costs only $800.
The BMW X5 is the biggest problem that the X6 has to deal with. Not only does it offer broadly the same features as the X6 while also providing more cargo volume behind the rear seats, but it's also cheaper. While the 2021 X6 starts at over $65,000, the X5 is sold for a starting price of $59,400. It comes in the exact same configurations as the X6 but offers more practicality and better headroom for rear passengers. It also has an arguably more appealing overall aesthetic, although some will still prefer the oddball looks of the X6. Ultimately, there's no real difference beyond the obvious of the body style and the price with even fuel consumption figures being the same, so the choice will come down to personal preference.
If you're dead set on an SUV with coupe styling but can't quite look past that $60,000 price tag 0-60that accompanies the X6, you may be tempted by the X4, which starts at $51,600. However, those savings have their downsides. The X4's base variant is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-pot that produces 248 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. Like the X6, handling is brilliant and practicality is low, but the styling is a little better resolved in our opinion and the X4 looks much bigger than it feels on the road. The cabin is very much like a scaled-down X6, with a pair of digital screens, leather upholstery, and numerous options. It's a great vehicle and there's plenty to love about it, but we suspect the additional space and power of the X6 will be worth the added investment.