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2020 BMW X6 Review

LIKES
  • Distinct shape
  • Better look
  • Impressive performance
  • Available twin-turbo V-8 power
DISLIKES
  • Cramped rear head room
  • Expensive
  • Not practical for an SUV
  • Big rear blind spots
BUYING TIP
  • For stomach-dropping performance without the jaw-dropping M price, test drive the 2020 BMW X6 M50i.


The 2020 BMW X6 is the humpback version of the X5.

The BMW X6 crossover coupe’s always been ahead of the styling curve by defying both convention and practicality. Now, in a market awash with coupe-overs, the X6 still takes the lead. 

The redesigned 2020 BMW X6 looks sharper, is more powerful and more efficient, and comes loaded with more standard features. It earns a 6.6 out of 10.

The five-seat SUV sports the automaker’s big grille from its other models—including an optional light-up snout this time—that fronts the curvaceous four-door crossover with a bevy of tech inside. It’s longer and lower than the previous model, and that rounded turtle back looks more harmonious than the past two generations. 

There is nothing turtlelike about the way it drives. 

The third-generation X6 is available in rear-drive sDrive40i, all-wheel-drive xDrive40i, and V-8-powered M50i configurations, and starts at $65,295. The 617-horsepower X6 M Competition represents the performance peak for the line and starts just under $120,000. Stomach-dropping performance with jaw-dropping price tag was not part of the marketing spiel. 

An 8-speed automatic transmission drives the X6, which uses the latest iteration of the 335-hp turbocharged inline-6 in the sDrive40i in rear-wheel drive or the xDrive40i in all-wheel drive. A new 523-hp twin-turbo V-8 engine powers the M50i, as well as the X6 M and M Competition models. All models benefit from significant boosts in horsepower, torque, and even fuel economy over the outgoing second-generation X6. 

The base model comes well-equipped with standard active safety features, the latest iDrive 7.0 infotainment system with a 12.3-inch touchscreen and 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, leather upholstery, heated front seats, ambient lighting, and other optional goodies that range from the practical to the preposterous, and we’re not just talking gesture control.

Interior leg room gets a small improvement, but head room takes a hit, and the cargo area is better for longer items than tall. If practicality, in Bavarian form, were a shopper’s main concern, then the increased cargo volume and comfier rear of the X5 would be the way to go. But for a performance edge, as well as something a bit more distinct in a marketplace overrun by crossover SUVs, then the X6 is the choice.

Styling
The latest iteration of the X6 looks more unified in its humpback, and stands out more than the sea of other coupe-overs

The X6 is the turtlelike cousin to the boxed end of the X5, which some would call a traditional crossover SUV. The X6 stands out from a market overrun by crossover SUVs, for better or worse. Since its launch for 2009, the rounded roofline of the X6 has been a love-it-or-hate-it proposition. It once looked like the top-half of a four-door coupe was melded onto the body of an SUV, like an automotive franken-taur. Not a good look. But, now that nearly every luxury automaker has a coupe-over, the third-generation 2020 X6 appears much more unified and at home in its half-man, half-horse body. 

The 2020 X6 is longer, lower, and wider than before, with a sharper nose and a larger, bolder, kidney grille that is as in your face as diamond-studded teeth. That grille lights up now, too, in a light, almost Bavarian blue accent when so equipped.  

The body sides don’t deviate far from the X6’s formula: the descending roofline meets a small kickup in the windows toward the rear deck. Along the bottom of the doors, a sharper crease lowers the car’s visual weight and frames the wide and tall 20-inch wheels that are standard on all versions. The rear skirts in the rear fenders are cosmetic. 

Around back, the X6’s curviness changes to horizontal shelves with the decklid spoiler, rear taillights, and bottom liftgate, which all make distinct horizontal lines. The quad-tipped exhausts feature prominently at the rear end—the X6 has never been about efficiency anyway. Inside, the horizontal motif carries over in the X6, same is in the related X5 and X7 crossovers. A wide 12.3-inch touchscreen for infotainment headlines the dash, and on the same top line is a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, although it’s not the “wall of screens” found in rivals from Mercedes-Benz. The horizontally stretched layout feels as if the dash is reaching out in the key places where you need to make contact, such as steering wheel and touchscreen, then retreating in the corners. The dash is covered in soft-touch synthetic leather, and leather hides cover the sport bucket seats.

Performance
The X6 is the more performance-minded midsize crossover from the brand known for performance.

There’s a lot to like about the X6, and most of that comes from behind the wheel. There are five models based on two engines choices tuned to four different moods, and with a range of costs that starts with reasonable and nearly doubles “reasonable” into “are you kidding me?” 

We rate it a 7 of 10 overall, based on the volume xDrive40i model, but would add a point for the M50i if it were rated separately. 

At a starting point of $65,295 (including $995 destination) the X6 sDrive40i is powered by a 335-horsepower 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6 to drive the rear wheels. Mated to an 8-speed automatic on all X6s (and most other BMWs), it generates 330 pound-feet of torque as early as 1,500 rpm. The new turbo-6 makes 33 hp more and 35 lb-ft more torque compared to the outgoing turbo-6. Getting it in all-wheel drive, which BMW calls xDrive40i, adds $2,300. BMW says both models will accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in about five seconds; xDrive40i takes just 0.1-second longer because it’s heavier by about 200 pounds. 
We spent our time in the middle of the range, in the no-compromise compromise known as the the M50i, which comes standard with all-wheel drive and starts at $86,545, including destination. That might not sound like a compromise but it comes with the new 523-hp 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8 of the X6 M without a sixth figure in the price tag. Mechanically the same as the X5 M50i, the X6 uses a new engine that generates 78 hp and 74 lb-ft of torque more than the outgoing model. It propels the X6 M50i from 0 to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds, half a second faster than the 2019 model. It can take your breath away or, at the least, kickstart an ear-to-ear grin. With the 8-speed, it makes 553 lb-ft of torque from 1,800 to 4,600 rpm. The twin turbochargers ensure there’s no lag, and the V-8 provides a soundtrack that is tuned to more refinement than in American muscle cars. It’s a German thing. The 8-speed automatic is quick but smooth, and limits the temptation to use the paddle shifters. The steering can feel light while cruising, but provides more feedback the more the wheel is turned. 

Then there are the X6 M and M Competition models due out in summer of 2020. Let your jaw and stomach drop in equal proportion. Starting at $109,595, the M uses a retuned version of the twin-turbo V-8 in the M50i to make 600 hp and 553 lb-ft from 1,800 to 5,690 rpm, which represents a 33-hp increase over the old X6 M. It hits 60 mph in 3.8 seconds, according to BMW. 

That’s stunning for a mid-size crossover, but then BMW out-BMW’s itself with the $118,595 X6 M Competition, which makes 617 hp and hits 60 mph in 3.7 seconds. Technically, the Hellcat-powered Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk is quicker and priced more like the M50i. But BMW has their reasons for charging more than 40 percent more than that American thing. 

The structural changes to the 2020 X6 of a lower ride height and lower center of gravity make the X6 a little lighter on its heavy feet, but it is a crossover, no matter how much magic BMW puts into the suspension with the available Active Roll Stabilization. 

All X6 models use adaptive dampers to vary the stiffness of the suspension, although some models can be equipped with an air suspension that will raise or lower the car by 3 inches for more ground clearance for better road-holding. 

This year, the X6 can be equipped with rear-axle steering that can virtually shorten the wheelbase of the car or carve a tighter line through corners, or an off-road package that adds underbody protection and an electronically controlled rear differential.

Comfort & Quality
Longer, wider, lower, the 2020 X6 is only marginally roomier inside.

The 2020 X6 is 1 inch longer than the model it replaces, including 1.6 inches added between the wheels. It’s fractionally wider and lower too, reportedly for better aerodynamics in the big, heavy crossover. 

The standard 16-way power front seats have more leg room than the outgoing model but less head room. With the standard panoramic moonroof, even the tallest drivers would have a tough time noticing the reduction in head room. The standard sport buckets are firm and bolstered without being too rigid, providing a nice balance of support and comfort. 

Rear-seat passengers get 35.7 inches of leg room—up incrementally over the outgoing version—but even less head room than before, too. The turtleback of the X6 pinches rear vision, but at least the driver shouldn’t have to look past the bowed heads of rear-seat passengers, who shouldn’t be adults over 6 feet tall. 

Cargo room is up slightly this year; 27.6 cubic feet with the seats up, 59.6 cubes with the second row folded in 40:20:40 configuration. The X6 isn’t as practical as the X5 from which it’s based (and has 72.3 cubic feet of cargo room with the seats down), although buyers don’t seem to much notice anymore. 

Safety
The 2020 BMW X6 has not and will not be crash tested, but it’s loaded with active safety tech.

The IIHS and the NHTSA haven’t crashed the X6 in the name of safety, but the X5, which shares a platform and similarly sized as the X6, earned top ratings from both agencies. Still, we can’t give the X6 an accurate rating. 

Every X6 is equipped with automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitors, parking sensors, lane-departure warnings, high-beam assist, and adaptive LED headlights of the kind the IIHS usually requires for Top Safety Pick+ awards, like the one bestowed on the X5. 

Spend-up safety extras include active driving assistants with adaptive cruise control, active lane control, and lane change assist. A surround-view camera system is optional and a parking helper that remembers how drivers maneuver into a parking space is available, too.
loaading...
There’s plenty of gear to stay safe.

Features
Improved infotainment and more standard features define the X6.

Starting at $65,295 (including $995 destination) and ranging to nearly $120,000 with the X6 M Competition, the 2020 BMW X6 comes well-equipped and has more options than a hall of mirrors. The X6 M50i offers the best of the value and performance worlds, and with standard all-wheel drive it is our recommended X6. 

All X6s are equipped with 20-inch wheels, leather upholstery, panoramic moonroof, a 12.3-inch touchscreen for infotainment with Apple CarPlay compatibility (Android Auto coming in mid-2020), heated front seats, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, ambient lighting the kids love, parking sensors, a USB-C port, Bluetooth connectivity, automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitors, high-beam assist, and adaptive LED headlights. 

The touchscreen is part of the iDrive 7.0 infotainment system. It’s dense with options but relatively easy to use once you take the time to learn the language. Natural voice controls abet the simplicity, and eventually make it the only thing you need to use to sort through the most vital features. 

The speedo and tachometer wrap around the digital instrument cluster, which can be off-putting at first, but is a pretty economical way to open the interior real estate. The map display in the center is like a beta version of Audi’s superior Virtual Cockpit, but it’s still a nice improvement over iDrive 6.0. The best features are the twin torque and horsepower gauges on the right side of the cluster. 

Bring an adapter if you want to charge your phone because it’s USB-C or bust for the X6. Or get a better phone (talking to my employer, here) and opt for the available wireless charger. 

The options start with all-wheel drive, which adds $2,300 to the X6 sDrive40i. 

The M50i comes with all-wheel drive and upgrades to 20-way power front seats, Harmon Kardon 16-speaker system, a three-spoke leather-wrapped M steering wheel, and all the M suspension bits.  

Even though the package options have been streamlined in recent years, BMW has plenty of places for you to spend more money. Softer leather upholstery, deeper sport buckets, driving assistants, a head-up display, 21- or 22-inch wheels, light-up grille, glass controls, wireless smartphone charging, cooled front seats, heated rear seats, premium audio, and a night-vision camera are all on the options list. 

There’s more that take luxury to that next level. These include the Sky Lounge panoramic roof that has more than 15,000 illuminated points to simulate a night sky, like a Rolls-Royce headliner. There are heated and cooled cupholders, soft-close doors, massaging seats, and the illuminated kidney grille that can remain on night or day. OK, we like these features far more than gesture controls. 

More compelling available features include Laserlight headlights, which enable you to see twice as far down the road and is 10 times as strong as traditional LEDs, according to BMW. Another interesting feature is the heated front armrests that come standard on the M models. 

One other standard feature we can get behind is the 4-year/50,000-mile limited warranty including three years of complementary scheduled maintenance. 

With features like these, it’s easy to prefer the inside to the outside of the X6.

Fuel Economy
Though much improved, fuel economy in the 2020 BMW X6 is second to power.

Of all the improvements over the outgoing second generation, fuel economy may be the most pertinent when considering the potent powertrains. The 2020 BMW X6 is at least 2 mpg more efficient in the EPA’s combined rating in the higher volume models. The mid-size crossover SUV still has a ways to go when it comes to fuel economy. It rates 4 out of 10. 

The 2020 BMW X6 sDrive40i 21 mpg city, 26 highway, 23 combined. Adding all-wheel drive doesn’t lose much efficiency, with the xDrive40i version rated at 20/26/22 mpg. 

Then there’s the M variants, as in mmm, is it worth the dump in fuel economy? While the X6 M and X6 M Competition models haven’t been officially tested yet, the more modestly turned twin-turbo V-8 in the M50i gives a best-case scenario: 16/22/18 mpg. 

Expect the pure M models to take another 1 mpg hit. Such is the price of power.


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