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A Week in the 2020 BMW X6 xDrive40i: Not For BMW Enthusiasts—Perfect For the Rest?

Existential dread in a crossover-coupe sport sedan.

Todd LassaWriterManufacturerPhotographer

As I spent a week testing the 2020 BMW X6 xDrive40i, I naturally thought of my recent time in the 2020 Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S Coupe. I had noted the fact some of my auto journo peers, generally the ones on the older end of the spectrum, will never accept the possibility that a coupe can have more than two doors. For them, there is no type of vehicle between a car and an SUV, and for some even "SUV" is a fabricated term. They insist light vehicles are simply cars or trucks.

So, here I am staring at a refrigerator-white 2020 BMW X6 xDrive40i, which is a "sport activity vehicle" in BMW marketing terms. It's a sport sedan—no, it's not a sport sedan but rather an SUV that's, no, wait, a crossover. But it's a coupe. As such monstrosities go, it's not unhandsome. For the record, this is no direct comparison with the GLC 63 S Coupe. The Mercedes is, after all, an AMG-tuned, V-8 powered compact CUV, while the X6 is a midsize CUV, and my tester was not an M version. The direct Mercedes competitor would be the GLE Coupe.

2020 BMW X6 xDrive 40i: A BMW For the 2020s

Whatever you care to call it, the BMW X6 in general is a highly desired vehicle these days, and yet as a sport sedan, it's no 3 Series or M2. As a crossover with a coupe-like roofline, it's no 8 Series, nor does it have anything near the cargo capacity as an X5. Perhaps that makes it the perfect BMW for a lot of people's taste in the 2020s.

Normally, anything in the luxury segment with 8.1-inches of ground clearance automatically would have some sort of all-wheel-drive system standard, but BMW, to its credit, starts with the X6 sDrive and power going to the rear wheels only, shaving 97 pounds off my 2020 BMW X6 xDrive 40i tester's weight.

I don't know that BMW ever will put an X6 sDrive 40i in the press-car test fleet, particularly in northern cities, but I'd like to think some throttle-steering fun might be had in that car. In xDrive form, the X6 handles well—if you add the eternal qualifier, "for an SUV. " The "ride" side of the equation is compromised by the optional 21-inch staggered performance tires, 275/40 front, 315/35 rear; at least it didn't have the top-spec 22s. With such rubber at each corner of the longish 117.1-inch wheelbase, the 2020 BMW X6 xDrive 40i rides freeway expansion strips like a buckboard, which I guess is the original SUV experience, after all.

Big Wheels and Tires, and a Ride to Match

The 2020 BMW X6 xDrive 40i is not as stiff as the dramatically sportif Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S Coupe, but it's not the sort of ride-quality seasoned BMW acolytes would expect, which leads me to wonder whether younger buyers raised on SUVs might never know the difference. If you buy into my admittedly arbitrary wheelbase-to-wheelsize ratio theory, introduced in the GLC 63 review, the BMW betters the Mercedes-AMG, 5.58:1 vs. 5.39:1. However, if you opt for the 22-inch wheels, the X6's ratio drops to 5.32:1 (the higher the ratio, theoretically, the smoother the ride).

2020 BMW X6 xDrive 40i: Decent Cornering Grip

On my standard off-ramp "handling" test (hey, this is Metro Detroit), I hit Sport+ on the dynamic-drive control by mistake, and the big coupe thing handled the right-left corners nicely, neutrally, with the sort of mild yaw angle that would otherwise promise good ride quality. Back in "Sport" for a halfway decent right-turn sweeper on-ramp, the X6 xDrive held on with the expected mild but persistent understeer, which is reassuring in a tall, two-and-a-quarter-ton sport sedan.

The engine is a disappointment, too, unfortunately, with herky-jerky throttle response around stoplights. This has been an Achilles heel for stop/start equipped BMWs for years. Combined with the peaky turbocharger, it diminishes some of the I-6 engine's inherent smoothness.

Then there's the steering. Perhaps more than any other dynamic component, BMW set a standard 20 or 25 years ago with its steering gear. In the 2020 BMW X6 xDrive 40i, steering midway through those on- and off-ramps, as well as on straight roads, requires lots of tiny little corrections. Again, the big wheels and tires are at least partially to blame, but the race among automakers to ADAS (advanced driver assistance systems) must share the guilt. As you'll experience in many modern BMWs, the lane-keeping assist is way too active, kicking the steering wheel of this 78.9-inch-wide coupe back toward the middle of a freeway lane with too much enthusiasm.

Ultimately, BMW enthusiasts will want to stick with cars like the 2 Series or the 3, 4, or 5 Series. For the rest of today's population, the 2020 BMW X6 xDrive 40i might very well be their idea of a fantastic modern carrier of the Roundel.

2020 BMW X6 xDrive 40i Pros:

  • Most handsome-looking four-door crossover luxury coupe
  • Cornering ability
  • Typical comfortable and luxurious BMW interior

2020 BMW X6 xDrive 40i Cons:

  • Harsh ride
  • Turbo inline-six not as smooth as it should be
  • Not enough utility to recommend it over BMW's more traditional car models
2020 BMW X6 xDrive 40i Specifications
ON SALE Now
PRICE $67,595/$77,020 (base/as tested)
ENGINE 3.0L turbocharged DOHC 48-valve I-6/335 hp @ 5,500-6,500 rpm, 330 lb-ft @ 1,500-5,200 rpm
TRANSMISSION 8-speed automatic
LAYOUT 4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, AWD SUV
EPA MILEAGE 20/26 mpg (city/hwy)
L x W x H 194.8 x 78.9 x 66.3 in
WHEELBASE 117.1 in
WEIGHT 4,687 lb
0-60 MPH 5.2 sec
TOP SPEED 130 mph