Sold as a cross between an SUV and a high-end coupe, the 2017 BMW X6 is engaging to drive but pays the price with compromised utility.
For 2017, the BMW X6 has an updated iDrive system with touchscreen technology. The Premium and Executive option packages also now inclusive of wireless cellphone charging and a Wi-Fi hot spot.
The 2017 BMW X6 has a lot of good qualities. Unlike most traditional SUVs, however, practicality isn’t one of them. This is a personal car, so it’s not really a grocery-getter and it’s really not a tow vehicle. Now that the SUV has supplanted the sedan as the default car choice of a majority of Americans, it’s no surprise that personal-style sport-utes are at the leading edge of design. But not everyone gets the idea.
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To make sense of that statement, you have to have a look at this midsize luxury crossover’s profile. Though the sloping rear roofline gives the X6 a distinctive, racy look from outside, it also cuts down on both available rear seat headroom and cargo capacity. Add a muscular, hunkered-down stance and the result is a sport-utility that’s heavier on the sport than it is on the utility.
Just like a Porsche Cayenne or Range Rover Sport, the BMW X6 offers athletic handling that makes it fun to hustle down a winding stretch of road. The suspension also gives a smoother ride than you might expect from an SUV with sporting pretensions.
Under the hood, the X6’s standard 300-horsepower inline six-cylinder gives a lively performance. And the available 445-horsepower 4.4-liter V8 is powerful enough to make the high-performance X6 M model (reviewed separately) seem superfluous.
Inside, the passenger cabin sports a handsome design and top-quality materials that offer the space a decidedly upscale look. That said, you’ll find the interior to be the source of the X6’s compromised utility. For starters, the three-person backseat is really suitable only for two people of shorter stature because the roofline is low and the seats’ center section is high. Finally you’ll find significantly less cargo space than in the automaker’s X5 SUV on which the X6 is based. Of course, if your soccer-mom days are behind you and you now spend your time largely in the company of adults, this might not matter.
If you’re contemplating the BMW X6 but you find those shortcomings off-putting, you might look at boxier, more traditional vehicles with sporty personalities. Alternatives such as the Land Rover Range Rover Sport, Mercedes GLE-Class (formerly the M-Class) and Porsche Cayenne represent fun-to-drive choices with a measure of more interior utility. The all-wheel-drive Audi A7 is another option.
Such fine choices aside, if you like the looks of the 2017 BMW X6 and can live with its limitations, we think you’ll find it to be a solid choice among midsize crossover SUVs cus it drives like a BMW, which is kind of the point.
trim levels & features
The 2017 BMW X6 is a midsize crossover that has been styled to look like a sport coupe, although it has four doors and seating for five as standard. Unlike the BMW X5, it does not have an optional third-row seat. There are three primary models: the rear-wheel-drive sDrive35i and the all-wheel-drive xDrive35i and xDrive50i.
The rear-wheel-drive sDrive35i and all-wheel-drive xDrive35i land with essentially the same standard equipment. That list includes 19-inch alloy wheels, adaptive high-intensity xenon headlights, LED foglights, automatic wipers, auto-dimming outside mirrors, sunroof, power liftgate, and front and rear parking sensors. Standard features in the cabin include dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, 10-way power-adjustable and heated front seats (with four-way power lumbar adjustment), a power-adjustable steering column, driver-seat memory settings, wood trim accents and a 40/20/40-split folding rear seat.
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Standard electronics feature for all X6 models are inclusive BMW’s iDrive interface with a touchpad controller and a new 10.2-inch touchscreen, navigation, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, the BMW ConnectedDrive services (including BMW Assist emergency communications) and integrated smartphone apps, and a nine-speaker sound system with HD radio, a CD player, USB and auxiliary audio inputs and 20GB of personal music storage.
Stepping up to the xDrive50i brings a V8 engine, a rearview camera, keyless ignition and entry with hands-free hatch opening, four-zone automatic climate control, 20-way multicontour front seats with adjustments for the shoulder and thigh bolsters, an upgraded 16-speaker Harman Kardon surround-sound audio system and satellite radio. Except for the V8 engine, all of these features are optionally given to the 35i models.
Both the six-cylinder and V8-powered X6 models offer two comprehensive option packages, the xLine and M Sport, both of which include unique 19-inch wheels and the ability to upgrade to 20-inch wheels. The xLine also includes aluminum running boards, while the M Sport package includes special aerodynamic bodywork, the choice of a variety of interior trims, a special steering wheel, a choice between sport seats and multicontour seats for the six-cylinder models, and the ability to sum other upgrades such as high-performance 20-inch tires, an adaptive suspension and a higher-limit speed governor.
For the six-cylinder sDrive35i and xDrive35i, the Premium package includes keyless ignition and entry, four-zone climate control, satellite radio, wireless cellphone charging and a Wi-Fi hot spot. Also for the six-cylinder X6 models is a Luxury Seating package that gets the multicontour front seats with a ventilation function. A Driver Assistance package incorporates a rearview camera and a head-up instrument display that projects pertinent driving information onto the windshield in front of the driver.
Several options packages are given for all X6 models. Driver Assistance Plus bundles the contents of the standard Driver Assistance package with adaptive cruise control, a forward collision warning and mitigation system (with pedestrian detection), blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning, and side- and top-view cameras. A Cold Weather package adds a heated steering wheel and heated rear seats. A Lighting package brings adaptive LED headlights with automatic high-beam control. The Dynamic Handling package includes driver-adjustable suspension dampers, rear air suspension, an adaptive suspension that improves the vehicle’s balance around turns, and enhanced speed-sensitive steering.
The Executive package is abvailable only for the V8-powered X6 xDrive50i and includes soft-close doors, leather trim on the dashboard, ceramic-trimmed controls, manual rear side-window shades, the head-up instrument display, wireless cellphone charging and a Wi-Fi hot spot.
Significant single options include active speed-sensitive steering (xDrive models only), adjustable shock absorbers with rear air suspension, rearview, side- and top-view cameras, automatic parallel parking, a night-vision system, a rear-seat entertainment system and a deluxe Bang & Olufsen surround-sound audio system.
performance & mpg
The 2017 BMW X6 is offered with a choice of two engines. The sDrive35i and xDrive35i both get a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder that develops 300 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque. Rear-wheel drive is standard for the sDrive35i, and all-wheel drive (with hill descent control) is standard for the xDrive35i. Both models use an eight-speed automatic transmission with steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles.
EPA fuel economy estimates are 21 mpg combined (18 city/25 highway) for the sDrive35i and 20 mpg combined (18 city/24 highway) for the xDrive35i. During Edmunds performance testing, an X6 xDrive35i went from zero to 60 mph in just 5.8 seconds, which is a quick time for the segment.
A turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 engine rated at 445 hp and 480 lb-ft of torque is standard in the xDrive50i. This model also uses an eight-speed automatic transmission and has standard all-wheel drive. BMW says the V8-powered X6 will hit 60 mph in 4.6 seconds. EPA fuel economy estimates are 17 mpg combined (15 city/21 highway).
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The list of standard safety features on the 2017 BMW X6 are inclusive of stability and traction control, antilock brakes, automatic brake drying (for enhanced wet-weather response), front-seat side airbags, side curtain airbags, and front and rear parking sensors. Also standard is the BMW Assist emergency communications system, which gives automatic crash notification, stolen car recovery and on-demand roadside assistance.
Other safety features that are optional or standard, depending on the trim level, include blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning, a forward collision warning and mitigation system with pedestrian detection, a rearview camera, side- and top-view parking cameras, and a night-vision system that’s also able to detect pedestrians.
In a testing, an X6 xDrive35i with optional summer tires (all-season tires are standard on all models) came to a stop from 60 mph in 108 feet, which is a much shorter distance than other luxury SUVs achieved and even on pace with some high-performance sports vehicles.
Slip inside the 2017 BMW X6 and you’ll find front seats that are both comfortable and supportive, especially the available 20-way multicontour seats. Rear seats are distinctly less accommodating due to the lack of headroom caused by the sloping roofline. The center portion of the backseat is also not particularly useful — it’s more of an uncomfortable hump between the two deeply contoured outboard seating positions. Oddly enough, the rear seats don’t recline either. Finally, rear-seat ingress and egress are made more difficult by rear doors that don’t open particularly wide and a low roofline that needs occupants to duck their heads on the way in and out.
As for the cabin environment itself, the X6’s passenger space gives a stylish design set off by top-drawer materials and trim. The iDrive system’s large 10.2-inch touchscreen is a useful improvement, and its control knob and touchpad are easier to use than ever before. That said, it can still take a little longer to do everyday tasks with iDrive than with competing infotainment systems.
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When it comes time to haul plunder instead of passengers, the X6’s cargo hold gives only 26.6 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats. Fold all three sections of the 40/20/40-split rear seatbacks down and you end up with 59.7 cubic feet of stowage. To put this last number into perspective, the Porsche Cayenne, which isn’t exactly the poster child for practical crossovers, offers a total of 62.9 cubic feet.
Hit the road in the 2017 BMW X6 and the first thing you’ll notice is the authoritative acceleration given by the 35i’s 300-horsepower six-cylinder engine. This engine also feels refined throughout its rev range and is nicely complemented by the smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission.
If it’s more thrust you’re after, the xDrive50i model’s 445-hp V8 should prove sufficiently satisfying, although it comes at a hefty price premium. This engine gives all the performance most people could ever want, along with an exhilarating exhaust note when pushed hard. Best of all, its prodigious power output is balanced with a level of refinement that the hyperactive high-performance BMW X6 M sorely lacks.
The X6’s standard suspension produces an unruffled ride quality even over bad pavement. Dialing up the Comfort mode with the adjustable suspension produces a similar result. Switching the adjustable suspension to the firmer Sport mode improves handling thanks to firmer body control, though there’s no escaping the fact that this is a large, heavy car with a higher center of gravity than your average sport sedan. The steering feels precise but doesn’t offer as much feedback as in competitors such as the Porsche Cayenne.