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The BMW X6 blurs the line between car and SUV and for this reason is known as a crossover. The X6 is much more car than sport-utility. We think of it as a high-riding car, a four-passenger, four-door coupe, a combination sports car and SUV. We call it a coupe-like SUV thing. Or an SUV-like coupe thing. BMW calls the X6 a Sports Activity Coupe.
For 2010, the BMW X6 M joins the lineup, which includes the X6 xDrive35i and X6 xDrive50i models. M is easier to remember, but the other models are nice to drive and there's no need to cite these model designation.
The new BMW X6 M uses a more powerful version of the 4.4-liter V8 from the xDrive50i model tuned to a whopping 555 horsepower. X6 M comes standard with BMW's xDrive all-wheel-drive system, stiffer suspension, sport seats, and various exterior cues that show this vehicle means business, and that its business is performance.
All BMW X6 engines are twin-turbocharged with inline-6 or V8 power, and all provide ample power for everyday use and even for towing. The V8s make the X6 a hot rod, but we recommend the inline-6 because it has plenty of pep and is more fuel efficient. Shifter paddles on the steering wheel add to the sporty character of the X6.
We found the X6 handles well on the road and on the track. It's better than any SUV but not as good as BMW's own sporty coupes and sport roadsters. It corners with little body lean, but the stiff suspension makes the ride somewhat harsh, especially with the Sport Package and optional 20-inch wheels. The new X6 M handles and stops even better.
Inside, the ambience is upscale, with lots of leather and soft-touch surfaces. BMW's iDrive control system is standard. Now in its fourth generation, iDrive can still complicate some interior controls but this version is easier to use and more intuitive. It also features programmable buttons to provide one-touch control of some of your favorite functions.
Front-seat passengers have plenty of room. Drivers of the M are hugged by thickly bolstered sport seats. M drivers also get a sporty M steering wheel and unique gauges. In all models, visibility to the rear is restricted by a small, flat rear window. Two rear-seat occupants should be comfortable, provided they're not tall.
The rear hatch lifts up and the rear seat folds down to give the X6 a nice amount of cargo storage space. It's on par with other hatchbacks but isn't as good as an SUV. Also, the liftover is higher, so you'll have to lift cargo higher when loading.
The X6 defies categorization. It rides high, so it doesn't handle as well as a sport coupe, and it doesn't have the cargo and people carrying capacity of an SUV. Overall, it's a fine vehicle. Pricing is high, especially for the 50i and M models. We recommend the six-cylinder 35i model.
New for the 2010 X6 are some equipment upgrades and changes in the packaging. A power tailgate and HD radio are now standard, and automatic high beam headlights are offered as a stand-alone option. The rear-view camera adds a Top View feature and X6s with iDrive get the fourth generation of the system, which includes an 8.8-inch screen and an 80-gigabyte hard-drive to hold navigation information and music files.
Coming in fall 2010 is the X6 ActiveHybrid. The hybrid will be powered by the same twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 from the xDrive 50i, a nickel-metal hydride battery pack, and two electric motors inside a dual-mode hybrid transmission. The transmission, which was developed with GM, Chrysler and Mercedes, uses three planetary gearsets and four multi-plate clutches; BMW calls it a seven-speed automatic. BMW says the X6 ActiveHybrid can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds and it will get about 24 mpg.