To hear BMW tell it, the X6 combines the presence of an X5 with the sporty elegance of a coupe. The X6 does indeed have the presence of the X5, on which it is based. It is similarly sized, offers the same up-high seating position, and comes with four-wheel drive. As for sporty elegance, we’ll leave that to you to decide. Undeniably, the X6 is heavily restyled compared to its more conventionally shaped sibling, with a lower roofline and a more sloped hatchback. Those changes make for reduced interior volume. The X6 was designed as a four-seater, although now it can be had with a fifth set of seatbelts. The squashed roofline and the high beltline make the X6 hard to see out of; the backup camera and available blind-spot assist are essentials. The X6 handles less like a tall, heavy SUV and more like a sport sedan; its sophisticated all-wheel-drive system can send power not only from front to rear but also from side to side to aid cornering. The downside is a fairly stiff ride. The base 300-hp, 3.0-liter six is turbocharged. The 4.4-liter V-8, also turbocharged, adds 100 horsepower and 150 lb-ft of torque. Then there’s the X6 M, with a seven-speed automatic and an over-the-top 555 horsepower and 500 lb-ft of torque from its turbo V-8. The other X6 engines get a smooth eight-speed automatic. The rather puzzling and pricey ActiveHybrid model, which got virtually the same gas mileage as the six-cylinder but cost many thousands more, is now out of production.

Drive: 4-wheel
Trim levels: xDrive35i, xDrive50i, X6 M
Body style: SUV/crossover, 4- or 5-passenger
Engines: 3.0L turbo I-6, 300 hp, 300 lb-ft
4.4L twin-turbo V-8, 400 hp, 450 lb-ft
4.4L twin-turbo V-8, 555 hp, 500 lb-ft
Transmissions: 7- or 8-speed automatic
Passenger volume: 97.7 cu ft
Capacities: Towing 6000 lb; cargo (rear seats
up/down) 25.6/59.7 cu ft

Most of the changes to the X6 for 2012 have to do with the standard and optional equipment. Now standard on all models are BMW Assist, an iPod/USB adapter, lumbar support, ambient lighting, privacy glass, auto-dimming mirrors, and heated front seats. The X6 can be personalized with the newly available BMW individual package, which includes richer leather, specific interior trims, and unique interior and exterior colors.

Front, side, and side curtain air bags; front-seat active head restraints; traction and stability control; ABS with panic assist; adaptive brake lights; and xenon adaptive headlights are standard. Rearview and sideview cameras are available. BMW Assist, with automated crash response, is standard.

All: 12-16 mpg city/17-23 mpg highway

  • Handling belies size/weight
  • Plush interior
  • Fast — particularly the M
  • Much smaller inside than X5
  • Hard to see out of
  • More expensive than the X5

A less-practical, more-expensive mutation of the BMW X5.

  • Acura ZDX
  • BMW X5
  • Infiniti FX
  • Porsche Cayenne
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