2011 BMW X6 M

Whenever I see a BMW X6, in any guise, I can't help but remember the time I walked by two people in a country-club parking lot looking at an X6 quizzically. One of them turned to the other and asked, "What is this car trying to be?" That's a very good question, and one I still ask myself about the X6. And I wonder even more about the X6 M, which takes what is already a vehicle that fits in the tiniest of niches and adds an excessive amount of power and performance at a price approaching six figures.

Yes, the X6M is fast, and it handles extremely well for a high-riding crossover. But it's a big vehicle that only carries four passengers and has a fairly limited amount of cargo capacity for its size. Admittedly, it's well put together, and its DNA is unmistakably BMW, which is definitely not a bad thing. But there's still something about the X6 M that makes me wonder exactly what it's trying to be and for whom. As the old saying goes, "Different strokes for different folks." I guess I'm just not different enough to wrap my head around the BMW X6 M.

Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor

Web editor Donny Nordlicht and I and another friend drove our BMW X6 M to downtown Detroit, and it was an appropriate conveyance for arriving at the Detroit Opera House for Mozart's "The Magic Flute." I am always struck when I get into an X6 just how athletic it is despite its height, weight, and size. It's a remarkable engineering exercise to have created a vehicle that performs extremely well on not only the open road but also, according to my colleagues, on the racetrack, with an athletic chassis and a very sophisticated rear differential that funnels the torque from side-to-side to aid cornering. And, of course, there's that turbocharged V-8 engine: It's worth remembering that the X6 M is the first vehicle made by BMW's M division with two features: a turbocharger and all-wheel drive, so it broke a mold there, which at the time seemed perhaps alarming to some purists but I believe eventually will seem to be a footnote in M history, because BMW is clearly moving toward artificial aspiration for its engines, both for its conventional vehicles and for its M cars.

I rode in the back seat on the way home, and I was disappointed that the seatbacks don't recline. But other than that, the back seat is a very commodious, comfortable area for two people (this is a four-passenger vehicle, not a five-passenger one, which narrows its customer base even further). If you're one of the few, hey, you'll probably love the BMW X6 M.

Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor

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