We recently took the 2009 BMW X6 xDrive50i for a test drive in the Blue Ridge Mountains while visiting BMW’s Spartanburg manufacturing plant. Our Publisher, Charlie Romero, was quite impressed with this new segment, saying that the X6 could be the best-handling SUV from BMW. He even went so far as to say it handled better than a standard 5 Series.
The X6’s great handling may have something to do with BMW’s intelligent xDrive all-wheel-drive technology, which is a standard feature. The 2009 X6 is also the first vehicle in the world to offer Dynamic Performance Control for unique agility, tracking stability, precision, and traction abilities. Dynamic Performance Control allows the engine to apply torque to each of the wheels as needed, with a gauge in the front dash to show how the power is being applied and distributed.
The new X6 is very quick, coming with two gasoline engine choices. The xDrive35i is powered by the inline-six cylinder with twin turbo technology that produces 300 horsepower at 5,800-6,250 rpm and 300 lb-ft of torque at 1,400-5,000 rpm. We tested the X6 xDrive50i that has the V8 with twin turbo and direct injection. This brand-new engine produces 407 horsepower at 5,500-6,400 rpm and 442 lb-ft of torque at 1,800-4,500 rpm. Both engines are mated to the same 6-speed tranny that is in the X5. Paddle shifters, in addition to the electronic shifter, are standard in conjunction with the 6-speed automatic transmission. These shifters, however, are dual action paddle shifters, meaning that you can downshift or upshift on either side.
The X6 has the same wheelbase as the X5, though the exterior design is a bit deceiving, giving the illusion that the X6 is shorter than the X5. This wheelbase has a very sharp turning radius making ingress and egress from parking spaces an easy task. The exterior design of the new X6 is meant to maximize on aerodynamics but that design does not hinder the very aggressive styling. The X6 has a sporty stance thanks to the muscular wheel arches and bulging fenders at the front and rear of the vehicle, making up some of the unique proportions and lines that are clearly visible from the side view of this SAC. Function, in addition to aggressive styling, was also taken into consideration when designing the X6. Numerous air intakes are built into the front fascia, with every styling feature having a purpose like cooling the turbochargers.
The interior of the X6 is clean and futuristic, leaving out unnecessary fluff. It is crafted with high-quality materials like the dark wood-grain in our tester and double-stitched leather on the dash. The cockpit of the X6 has a seating position more like that found in a sports coupe while the rest of the vehicle keeps the unique utility features of a SUV. Like most SUVs today, the rear hatch closes with the touch of a button. The storage area is already outfitted with hooks to secure cargo, giving the driver typical trunk capacity by today’s standards. The backseat passengers each have separate seats and climate controls, unlike the X5’s SAV’s bench seating. Even Charlie, at 6’3”, fit in the back with enough space for comfort during a day’s-long road trip.
For those who are looking to customize their purchase, the X6 has numerous upgrade options from HD radio, Satellite radio, Nappa leather, dark wood or bamboo trim, navigation, and running boards to name a few. The package options include: rear climate, premium sound, cold weather, active ventilated seats, sport, and technology. However, be prepared for those options to add up. Base price will start around $63,900, hopefully topping out in the ballpark of $75,000 with the addition various options.
If the estimated fuel economy ratings of 13 mpg in the city and18 mpg on the highway is not that appealing you can wait for the hybrid drive, which will be available in 2009.