by Roger Biermann
The 2019 X6 Coupe is what BMW calls a Sports Activity Coupe (SAC), instead of an SUV. The idea is that you get an SUV, but with car-like handling and driving dynamics and a coupe design. It's part of the second generation X6 introduced in 2016 and while the shape is certainly divisive, there have been so many sales that arch-rival, Mercedes-Benz, has designed an imitation in the form of the AMG GLE coupe, just to compete. Facing off against the German manufacturing-trinity, including said Merc and the popular Audi Q8, the X6 has two brilliant powertrains to offer. Available in three models, the rear-wheel sDrive35i, all-wheel xDrive35i, and the top-of-the-range xDrive50i, the 35i variants are fitted with a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine, while the range-topping xDrive50i has a turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 at its core. Apart from the controversial sloping roof, the X6 is known for its nimble handling and luxurious interior, but at the cost of practicality, is it all worth it?
For the 2019 model, BMW has added Apple CarPlay as standard, although this is subscription-based after the first year. Significant updates include more standard safety features from last year's optional Active Driving Assistant package, such as blind-spot monitoring, forward collision warning, and emergency braking with pedestrian detection, which are now included across the range.
The front profile of the X6 resembles most BMWs from this year's range and is almost identical to the X5 on which it's based. The molded bumper has chiseled air intakes, with round fog lights sitting above them for a sporty touch. What could be one of the last of the normal-sized kidney grilles sits in the center of the two LED headlight clusters. With any of the 19, 20, or 21-inch wheels available, the X6 has a unique stance thanks to its trademark sloping roof design. Sleek taillight clusters and double exhausts complete the rear end, where a prominently small rear window is overshadowed by an oddly-proportioned lower bumper.
The X6 sits firmly in the midsize SUV territory, despite its alternative self-imposed title; with a length of 193.8 inches set on a 115.5-inch wheelbase, as well as a mirror-inclusive width of 85.4 inches, the big X6 stands 67 inches in height. Naturally bulky, the X6 is surprisingly light in its entry-level guise, weighing in at 4,585 pounds - a good 160 lbs lighter than the GLE 400, and 220 lbs less meaty than BMW sibling the X5. The top-end xDrive50i has a curb weight of 5,080 lbs. For the X6, 8.3 inches of ground clearance is standard; not quite as much as the X5 has, but an inch more than the GLE.
The X6 is available in a range of metallic and non-metallic colors, as well as some exclusive colors from the BMW Individual range. Alpine White and Jet Black are the two standard non-metallic colors that come at no extra cost. Exclusive metallic colors include Dark Olive, Carbon Black, Atlas Cedar, Flamenco Red, and Space Gray, as the most distinctive - variations of silver, white and gray are also available, all at the extra cost of $550. The colors in the BMW Individual range come at a $1,950 premium and allow for three exclusive options: Azurite Black, Pearl Silver, and Ruby Black.
Both the sDrive35i and xDrive35i use the same turbocharged 300 horsepower engine and eight-speed transmission with the only difference between them being the drivetrain, the sDrive derivative sending power to the rear wheels, making the X6 unique amongst its all-wheel-driven peers. All-wheel-drive is also available though on the two xDrive badged derivatives. Performance from all models is impressive, with the base engine's 295 lb-ft of torque feeling lively, especially for a vehicle of this weight; it will likely be the most popular choice. It never feels underpowered, and importantly, it manages the 0-60 mph sprint in a respectable 5.8 seconds. Thanks to the quick-changing eight-speed automatic transmission used in all the models, there's always the right amount of torque for any situation. Stepping up to the xDrive50i gives you a 445 horsepower monster with the turbocharged 4.4-liter V8. Belting out 479 lb-ft of torque, it manages the race to 60 mph in just 4.7 seconds. The xDrive50i is a fantastic option when looking for a powerful SUV that handles like a car. It actually seems like a bargain at $78,300, compared to the insane 567 pony-producing X6 M, priced at almost $30k more.
The 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine found in both the sDrive35i and the xDrive35i makes 300 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque and will put smaller BMW models like the 3 Series to shame. It seems like the perfect fit for the X6, delivering the right balance between power and practicality for most drivers on the market. Both the 35i models are equally at home on the freeway, or around town, never running out of steam and managing passing maneuvers without missing a beat.
The xDrive50i is an entirely different type of beast. The turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 makes a massive 445 horsepower and 479 lb-ft of torque, and is always up for the challenge of eating up the tarmac. There's almost instant torque at most engine speeds and an addictive nature to the way it sucks you back into your seats. At low speeds and around town, the V8 is capable, but it feels like a caged animal waiting to break out. When it finally does break out on the highway, there's no end to the power. Overtaking, even at high-speed, is a breeze with an overflow of acceleration available for the most part.
Both engine variants share BMW's trusted ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic transmission, which is renowned for its smooth and precise changes. The same transmission is used in many BMW models, and in the X6 it feels like it's going about its business with no strain at all.
BMW has always been about driving dynamics, and in the X6 they've put their experience and skills to good use. When they say the X6 is actually a Sports Activity Coupe, they're one of the few who place an emphasis on the 'Sports' side of things. It never feels like a 4,500-pound vehicle because of its deft handling and minimal body roll while cornering. Sure, it's heavy, and you can never escape the sense of weight and height, but against rivals, this is the sportiest of the lot. The steering isn't the most responsive and can do with additional feedback - it's light, to begin with, and tightens up a bit when thrown into Sport mode, which does help a little. Thankfully, the ride is not too soft, like many SUVs out there, but not overly firm either. Once again Sport mode helps to bring some taut control to the drive, especially in high-speed corners. The brakes feel light and responsive, rarely seeming to struggle at immediate use - although tending to fade a little after overuse - the X6's weight coming to the fore.
With 8.3 inches of ground clearance, the X6 might seem like a potential off-roader, too, but make no mistake, it's no Jeep Wrangler, and it's really best suited to light gravel work rather than rock-climbing. It manages loose pebbles, gravel, and dirt roads just fine, but we wouldn't take it deeper into the woods ourselves. Still, the X6 is an easy car to drive thanks to the combination of brisk engines and nimble handling. The only petty gripe is the lack of visibility. The sloping roof and small back window do it no favors, and with rear passengers, there's almost no visibility at all.
Thanks to the two engine options available, buyers have some options when it comes to fuel economy. Both the sDrive35i and xDrive35i achieve the same EPA estimates of 18/24/20 mpg city/highway/combined, while the xDrive50i fares slightly worse, but only by a little, attaining 17/22/19 mpg. All models in the range have a 22.4-gallon tank. Based on the combined figures, the sDrive35i and xDrive35i both have a range of 448 miles, and the xDrive50 has a range of 425 miles.
For the X6, BMW has stuck to what works for them and has kept the interior similar to other cars in their range. That's not a bad thing at all, as the formula they have is a pretty good balance of practicality and class. The dashboard has a combination of solid, hard, and soft-touch materials, mixed with premium quality wood. Leather abounds throughout. The buttons on both the multifunction steering and the dashboard are well-placed and intuitive to use and also have a durable feel to them. The 10.2-inch touchscreen is well-placed and easy to use thanks to the iDrive controller system. Dakota leather seats come standard, with the options of Nappa and Merino leather also available.
The X6 is a five-seater, although if seating three in the rear, those passengers will need to be on the short end of the spectrum to make do with the limited headspace; the sloping roofline will have them cocking their heads if they are close to six foot tall. Rear passengers get only 37.9 inches of headroom and 35.6 inches of legroom, which is quite a bit less than what the GLE and X5 have. In general, it will be tight for most in the back, although kids will feel right at home. By contrast, the front is spacious and roomy, with 39.3 inches of headroom and 40.3 inches of legroom, which is a fraction more than Merc's rival, but not quite as comfortable as the X5. Ingress and egress are effortless - for the front passengers, that is. With wide-opening doors and a raised ride height, it's not a problem for the driver and front passenger. The rear passengers are not so lucky. The door opening is minimal, and with the odd angle of the roofline, it makes it slightly awkward to just hop in and out.
The dashboard and cabin-front are laced with chrome accents on black that look durable and solid. To create - and enhance - the premium feel, a range of trims in both metal and wood finishes are available. Metal trims like Brushed Aluminum and Aluminum Hexagon both come at no extra cost, as well as certain wood trims like Poplar, Fineline Oak, and Fineline Striped Wood. Only Piano Black costs $1,080 extra.
Dakota leather for the seats comes standard in colors like Ivory White and Black, Black, and Cognac. Combinations of Canberra Beige and Black, or Coral Red and Black are also available. Nappa leather can be optioned no extra cost in Ivory White with Black, and Cognac with Black. Top-class BMW Individual Merino leather options come at a $3,700 premium and include Criollo Brown, Taupe, Amaro Brown, Nutmeg, and Smoke White.
As far as cargo space goes, the X6 doesn't offer terrible practicality, but it certainly doesn't stand out. With only has 26.6 cubic feet to work with, the X6 bests the GLE Coupe by three cubes, but it pales in comparison to the 38.2 cubic feet on the standard GLE and the almost 34 cubic feet on the X5. Still, with the rear seats up, it does increase to 59.7 cubic feet. In addition to the regular trunk space, there is also a small storage compartment under the trunk floor that can be accessed by lifting the floor-panel. While the cargo space itself has average volume, it also has an awkward shape because of the slanted roof, which makes it difficult to load larger items and makes us wish the "utility" wasn't replaced "activity" in BMW's self-imposed categorization.
Apart from the trunk, there are two cupholders and a large storage bin in the center console; door pockets are available on all four doors and are surprisingly big. Two more cupholders and another storage bin in the rear armrest. Both front seats also have rear storage pockets.
There's a multitude of standard features in the X6, as well as many optional add-ons. As is expected on this caliber vehicle, both the sDrive35i and the xDrive35i have a sunroof, power liftgate, leather upholstery, dual-zone climate control, ten-way power-adjustable heated seats, adaptive xenon headlights, and a power-adjustable steering wheel. Driver aids are plentiful, with lane departure warning, blind-spot detection, rear cross-traffic warning, forward collision warning, and low-speed automatic emergency braking as standard. The range-topper, the xDrive50i, builds on what is available on the lower spec models and adds keyless ignition and entry, four-zone climate control, 14-way power-adjustable seats with driver's thigh extension, as well as upgraded leather upholstery.
All models are equipped with a 10.2-inch touchscreen which is connected to the BMW iDrive system. The system is outfitted with a CD player, Bluetooth connectivity, a rearview camera, USB and AUX inputs, onboard navigation, HD radio, and a nine-speaker sound system. The xDrive50i, at the top of the range, gets the Harman Kardon 16-speaker upgrade which includes a 600-watt stereo output, surround audio functionality, as well as SiriusXM Satellite Radio with a one-year subscription.
A rather obvious oversight is the omission of Android Auto, which isn't available at all; and, unlike many car manufacturers who don't charge for Apple CarPlay, BMW equips the X6 with the iPhone-interface, but only as a one-year trial, after which it costs $80 a year. As part of the Premium Package, wireless charging, a Wi-Fi hotspot, as well as a surround-view camera can be added.
The 2019 BMW X6 has had one recall for a problem with the pivot bolts on the upper control arm, that may have been improperly hardened. If they break it could theoretically affect the vehicle's handling and increase the chances of a collision. J.D. Power scored the X6 with a predicted reliability rating of three and a half out of five, which is about average for this segment. Like most BMWs, the X6 has a basic and powertrain warranty of four years/50,000 miles. It also has a 12-year/unlimited-mileage warranty on perforation and corrosion, as well as roadside assistance for four years and unlimited mileage. BMW Ultimate Care takes care of the maintenance for three-years/36,000-miles.
Neither the NHTSA nor the IIHS has any test information available regarding the 2019 BMW X6. BMW has a fantastic safety record and the X6 is expected to emulate the mechanically similar X5, which was awarded a 2019 Top Safety Pick by the IIHS and had top crash test results of Good in all areas, and Superior for front crash mitigation systems.
The X6 comes with the usual safety features expected from a BMW, as well as some optional extras. This includes stability control, traction control, four-wheel ABS, tire pressure monitoring, adaptive headlights, and six airbags comprised of dual front, front side, and side curtain airbags. The X6 is also fitted with a rearview camera, lane departure warning, forward collision warning, blind-spot detection, front and rear parking sensors, and low-speed automatic emergency braking. A surround-view camera, night vision, a head-up display ,and adaptive cruise control are also available as part of the add-on packages.
The X6 is designed for those who favor style over practicality, and who think the controversial sloping roof looks good. To those who hate the look, as well as the idea of a coupe SUV, the X6 is simply an ugly wannabe-SUV that makes no real sense - the argument is, therefore, that is would be a terrible buy. This is categorically untrue. Styling issues aside, the X6 proves to be an excellent car with a luxurious and comfortable interior; it features the latest technology and safety features, and can be further embellished with add-on packages. It comes with two practical engine options, both of which are brilliant in their own right. And while fuel economy is not its forte, it manages EPA estimates that are not nearly as woeful as some rivals. The option of rear-wheel-drive versus all-wheel-drive is also a bonus. While the current X5 is newer and cheaper and has more space, that's not the point. The point of the X6 is to look stylish and have nimble handling that a conventional SUV can't provide. Consequently, the X6 is a good car for the people who will appreciate it. For everyone else, it's a waste of time, and isn't that the point of a niche car?
The cheapest model in the BMW X6 range is the sDrive35i, which starts at an MSRP of $63,550. The xDrive35i is next in line at a price of $65,850. At the top of the range is the powerful xDrive50i, which has a price tag of $78,300. These prices exclude tax, registration and licensing fees, as well as the destination fee of $995.
The BMW X6 range is comprised of three models: sDrive35i, xDrive35i, and xDrive50i.
The entry-level sDrive35i is the base rear-wheel-drive model and comes with a turbocharged 300 hp 3.0-liter inline-six engine mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. It has standard 19-inch wheels, a power liftgate, leather upholstery, adaptive xenon lights, dual-zone climate control, and a ten-way power-adjustable and heated seats. The infotainment features include a 10.2-inch touchscreen connected to BMW's iDrive system, a rearview camera, Bluetooth connectivity, AUX and USB input ports, onboard navigation, CD player, HD radio, and a nine-speaker sound system. Apple Carplay is also standard with a one-year trial subscription. Lane departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert, low-speed automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, and blind-spot detection are some of the standard driver's aids. The xDrive35i makes use of the same powertrain and features but adds all-wheel-drive to the mix.
The top of the range xDrive50i is only available in all-wheel-drive and has a 445 hp turbocharged 4.4 liter V8 connected to an eight-speed automatic transmission. It includes all of the same features as the two lower-spec models but adds a Harman Kardon 16-speaker sound system, keyless entry and ignition, four-zone climate control, and 14-way power-adjustable seats with a driver's thigh extension.
There are a number of optional packages, not to mention standalone options, to customize the X6. The Premium Package, which costs $1,750, includes a surround-view camera, parking assistant, head-up display, wireless charging, and Wi-Fi hotspot.
For enhancements to comfort, the available Luxury Seating Package costs $4,350 and accords the X6 with multi-contour 20-way power-adjustable ventilated seats.
For die-hard M-sport fans, the X6 can be optioned with an M Sport Package for exclusive M-themed alloy wheels, keyless entry, four-zone climate control, Aluminum Hexagon interior trim, an aerodynamic kit, Shadowline exterior trim, M-sport steering wheel, hands-free trunk functionality, and SiriusXM Satellite Radio with a one-year subscription. It adds $4,350 to your total cost.
Other packages available include the Executive Package at $2,050, a Lighting Package priced at $1,900, a Convenience Package costing $1,150, as well as a Parking Assistance Package for $700.
Some of the popular standalone options include night vision with pedestrian detection at $2,300, a head-up display for an extra $1,100, or the upgraded Bang & Olufsen surround system at a hefty $4,500. There's also an Adaptive M Suspension kit that can be added for $900, or one could simply add heated steering alone for $190 extra, and heated rear seats for $350.
Both the sDrive35i and the xDrive35i are great cars for daily driving. They have decent power and luxurious and comfortable interiors. Both also have nimble handling that is more like a car than an SUV. With the number of packages and options available, both trims can also be customized with many more features, although this pushes up the price quite quickly. Between them, the price difference is only $2,300, which seems negligible if features are your main concern.
While both the 35i models are adequate, the xDrive50i is something special. The insane 445 hp V8 engine is just beautiful and makes every drive exciting. It also comes with more features that include four-zone climate control, a Harman Kardon sound system, and keyless entry and ignition. Since the concept of the X6 is based around being less practical and more daring, the xDrive50i is the one to choose.
The original X6 was the first car to usher in the era of SUV coupes, and rival, Mercedes-Benz, had no choice but to sit up and take notice. Their response is the GLE Coupe, which in the States is sold purely in AMG guise. The cheapest of the AMG line-up, and the one most comparable to the X6, is the 385 hp AMG GLE 43 which starts at $71,350.
So how does the GLE 43 stack up to the X6 range? Both the sDrive35i and sDrive35i come with 300 hp and cost $63,550 and $65,850 respectively. The top of the range xDrive50i makes 445 hp and costs $78,300. The GLE 43 sits between these two price ranges with power also splitting the difference. Compared to many other Mercedes models, the GLE 43 hasn't got the best interior, though, with the cheap plastic on the center dash being an eyesore and a remnant from the aging ML introduced in 2012. The handling also isn't on par with the X6. The Mercedes-AMG GLE 43 is a decent compromise for someone wanting power that sits between what's offered by the X6. However, the X6 has better driving dynamics and has more models to choose from - and, in our opinion, would be the better pick.
For 2019, BMW has presented an all-new fourth-generation X5, which means the X6 - still based on the previous X5 - is a bit of a dinosaur. It lacks the practicality of the X5, even more so with the new model offering even more cargo capacity and passenger space both front and rear, naturally making it less family orientated. It also does without the same engine innovations, relying on a 300 hp engine in base variants compared to the X5 40i's 335 hp from an updated turbo-six. The X5 50i makes more power from its V8, and the X5 range offers an M50i variant too. The X6 is good, but the X5 is simply better, more practical and more contemporary in its tech and performance. It'll be better to wait until next year, when the 2020 X6 will share underpinnings with the new X5, making the comparison fairer.