Before BMW started filling every possible gap between cars and SUVs, before nearly every model had spinoffs in the form of Gran Coupes and Gran Turismos and Active Tourers, there was the BMW X6. For 2015, the X6 is completely redesigned, marking the second-generation of what BMW calls its first “Sports Activity Coupe.”
The 2015 BMW X6 looks bolder, sexier and more athletic than the outgoing model, though to the average eye, it’s still an odd combination of car-meets-SUV. Highly sculptured lines give it a more aggressive look, and a new face brings it more in line with BMW’s other X vehicles, including the smaller X4 and the roomier X5. The X6 also grows slightly in size. Though it rides on the same wheelbase as the outgoing model, the second-generation X6 is two inches longer and about a half-inch taller.
Built on the same bones as the utilitarian X5, the four-passenger BMW X6 challenges traditional notions of utility vehicles with its low, coupe-like roofline and refined driving dynamics, while retaining the high seating position and increased ground clearance of an SUV. But while the X6’s sleeker shape certainly makes it more alluring than its more upright counterpart, it also makes it less practical, with reduced rear headroom and cargo space in comparison.
Entry-level models are powered by BMW’s 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6, good for 300 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque. Choices include the rear-wheel-drive sDrive35i, and the all-wheel-drive xDrive35i. The best performer is the X6 xDrive50i, powered by 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8 that makes a hearty 445 hp and 480 lb.-ft. of torque. All models get an eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters.
With most of its underpinnings shared with the X5, the X6 is a capable performer, considering its hefty weight. Though it can’t handle a racetrack like a true sport coupe, the X6 performs better than most SUVs, staying surprisingly composed around demanding turns and down steep, rocky hills.
But the X6 is only at its best when loaded up with pricey options, like the Dynamic Handling Package, which includes torque vectoring control, a technology which automatically varies the power sent to each wheel for maximum stability and traction. For a cushier ride, optional air suspension has an automatic self-leveling system in the rear, while the adaptive M Sport suspension keeps the X6 firmly planted around twisty corners. Active steering varies the ratio according to vehicle speed. All of these greatly improve the X6’s handling, but can add thousands to the sticker price. Our xDrive50i test car priced out at more than $90,000, a lot of dough for a midsize crossover.
Inside, the X6 gets vast improvements in interior design and materials, as well as new standard features like a digital instrument cluster display, enhanced Bluetooth audio streaming and an automatic tailgate. Rear seats get increased headroom and two more inches of rear legroom, making the second-generation X6 a more realistic choice for carrying backseat passengers. However, it also loses a substantial amount of cargo space, down to 20.5 cubic feet from the first generation’s 25.6 cubic feet with the rear seats in place. Thus, despite its handling capabilities, the X6 remains more about style than utility.
A new suite of optional safety features also makes its way to the 2015 BMW X6, including lane departure warning and a pedestrian and collision warning system. The Active Driving Assistant uses active cruise control and a front camera to automatically start and stop the car in slow-moving stop-and-go traffic. BMW’s Night Vision can detect people and animals on dark roads and display their outlines on the center display screen.
Thanks to improved efficiency and aerodynamics, the 2015 BMW X6 achieves better fuel economy over the outgoing model. EPA ratings for the rear-wheel-drive sDrive35i are 19/23 mpg City Highway. The AWD xDrive35i is rated at 18/27 mpg City/Highway (up from 17/24), and xDrive50i models achieve 15/22 mpg City/Highway (up from 14/21).
Until now, competitors to the BMW X6 were virtually nonexistent, but that will soon change as more automakers throw their hats into the coupe-SUV ring. These include the forthcoming Range Rover Sport and the future Mercedes-Benz MLC-Class, which are scheduled to launch in the next model year.Read More at New Car Test Drive