2009 BMW X6 xDrive35i

Sam Smith

So here I am, the die-hard BMW freak, the guy with the hood from a 1976 2002 on his office wall, the token in-office blau-mit-weiss dude. And I am both amazed and a little dumbfounded: amazed at the X6's capabilities, amazed at its refinement, amazed at its easy speed and magic rear differential; and dumbfounded as to why on earth my favorite car company would produce something so out of step with the times.

There's no denying that the X6 is a hulking beast of a vehicle - a nearly 5000-pound curb weight ain't nothin' to sneeze at - and you can feel its heft in everything from its steering response to the way its chassis reacts to pavement heaves. In a time of $140-a-barrel oil, something so frivolous, so at odds with itself, so patently ridiculous (they're calling this a coupe?) just seems like blind, raw hedonism. Especially from a company that once prided itself on producing small, light, efficient sport sedans.

Nevertheless, the X6 has a lot going for it, and I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that, like most BMW products, it's amazing to drive. It's kind of remarkable, in fact, how well it performs. BMW's latest SUV pounds down a heaving country highway with more composure and more tail-wagging sureness than a 335xi or an X5, and more speed than some purpose-built sports cars. The steering is a tad on the heavy side, ride quality is a little harsh on broken pavement, and few people would call the back seat anything but claustrophobic, but other than that, there are relatively few complaints. It's like an X5 that's had Magic Chassis Dust sprinkled on it from bumper to bumper. (And the X5 is pretty dang good to begin with.)

Sam Smith, Associate Editor

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