Deep Dive: 2014 BMW X5 and X6

Scott Olsen

The Xs will once again benefit from a full M division treatment. The next X5 M and X6 M retain the twin-turbo 4.4-liter V-8, which increases in performance from 555 to 565 hp. More important is the 10 to 15 percent gain in efficiency. At the other end of the scale, we find two new four-cylinder units, which are tipped to debut in the next X5/X6. A 2.0-liter diesel develops 245 hp and 260 lb-ft, while a 2.0-liter gas-fed four Europeans know from the X1 is good for 245bhp and 260 lb-ft (the U.S. market has not seen the X1 yet because BMW can barely meet current demand). Perhaps the most exciting engine BMW has up its sleeve, though, will be the twin-turbo diesel shoehorned into the X5/X6 50d. The high-performance oil-burning straight-six develops some 405 hp - enough to humble any diesel-powered V-8. Alas, it may not reach the U.S. market. Also earmarked for 2014 are plug-in hybrid variants of X5 and X6. It features a 110 hp electric motor housed into a ZF nine-speed automatic, and will initially be paired with a 350-hp inline-six. A diesel-electric hybrid may follow unless a rethink of European emissions regulations favors the gas engine.

Looking beyond the X5 and X6, BMW is likely to expand its all-wheel-drive lineup even further. Arriving as soon as 2012 is the all-new X3 M. While the bigger brethren share their engine with the M5, the X3 M uses a tweaked variant of the new M3 motor. Provisionally rated at 450 hp, the high-performance straight six may feature three turbochargers (one electric, plus a pair of exhaust-gas driven ones) and a slightly bigger displacement (3.2 instead of 3.0litres). The Bavarians are also thinking about a long-wheelbase X7 based on the X5/X6 platform. Codenamed F17, this stately seven-seater would take on the equally tentative Audi Q9 and the follow-up to the Mercedes-Benz GL. Trouble is, full-size crossovers are not exactly the flavor of the month anymore, and they don't look good on the CO2 balance sheet either. Just about the only way to make these big soft-roaders socially acceptable is by switching to an aluminum space frame architecture, which presently neither BMW nor Mercedes can muster, especially since these vehicles only appeal in three markets - China, Russia, and the United States. At the other end of the spectrum, BMW will incorporate all-wheel drive into the platform it's developing for the next generation Mini Cooper and 1-series.

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