Germany's aspirational, rolling status symbol, better known as BMW, includes a nice variety of coupes, sedans, convertibles and crossovers this side of the pond. Now, it's fine-tuning a sub-set genre begun a decade earlier.
For years, BMW proudly offered a wide selection of 'Sport Activity Vehicles' (SAV's), the brand's in-house descriptor of body styles sporting a rear hatch and four side doors; not so different from the common man's (or woman's) crossover.
Refining and defining even further, BMW describes its smart-looking X6 as a 'Sport Activity Coupe' (SAC) even though four side doors clearly adorn the mid-sizer, not two as with traditional coupes. Its roof apex hits just beyond the A pillar, gracefully sloping downward at a sharper 'fastback' angle than a conventional mid-size five-door crossover (such as BMW's X5).
The 2020 model year welcomes an all-new, third-generation X6 execution. This Gen Three edition promises improved aerodynamic output from Gen Two (2014-2019) thanks to a lower center of gravity delivered by a longer wheel base (distance between front and rear axle), overall length that's grown by an inch, and a slightly broader (.06) stance. In addition, overall height reduces by .07 inches.
Tucked in the northwest corner of South Carolina is BMW's sprawling five-million square-foot Spartanburg assembly complex, production home of all 'X' sport activity and coupe vehicles. It's the German automaker's largest production plant worldwide with capacity to churn out a healthy 450,000 units annually. Approximately 70 percent of vehicles produced in the Palmetto State get exported to 140 markets worldwide.
The five-passenger X6 shares prime assembly time here with alpha-numeric X-factor family members such as X3, X4, X5 and X7. Both X6 and the smaller, compact X4 fall into the fastback SAC category with X3, X5 and X7 qualifying as crossovers, or SAVs in BMW speak.
The 2020 X6 boasts new notable nuances right up front in the form of an illuminated, slightly tweaked twin port kidney grill. In 2020, the twins nuzzle closer together forming a single entity. Daytime running light technology now shines upon the grille, while the vehicle remains in motion and during locking and unlocking commands. If desired, spotlighting may manually deactivate.
The X6 shares multiple similarities with its X5 stablemate, including wheelbase, transmission, engines and overall platform design. BMW's X5 earned its next-generation redesign in 2019. It's up to consumers to decide which five-door style best mates with their own personality; a dare to be different fastback X6 SAC or X5 SAV. Most choose a traditional route.
Total 2019 X6 sales (the Sport Activity Coupe) reached 4,240 units in the U.S., significantly trailing X5's (the Sport Activity Vehicle) 54,595. Total BMW U.S. sales in the 2019 calendar year reached 324,826, up from 2018's mark of 311,014.
The X6 offers two inline six-cylinder trims and one V8 banger. Both the rear-wheel X6 sDrive40i and all-wheel drive X6 xDrive40i boast BMW's new 3.0-liter twin port turbo inline six-cylinder producing 335 horsepower, 33 better than 2019's inline six. Our all-wheel drive xDrive40i tester launched from zero to 60 in a strong 5.2 seconds, 0.8 seconds faster than the 2019 engine before morphing into a comfortable, quiet ride.
More need for speed? Check out BMW's new 4.4 liter eight-cylinder twin power turbo charger inside the all-wheel drive X6 M50i delivering 523 horsepower, up 78 horses from the previous model's output. All three mate to an eight-speed automatic transmission.
Pricing starts at $64,300 for a nicely equipped rear-drive X6 sDrive40i, $66,600 for an X6 xDrive 40i (about $6,000 more than an X5 xDrive 40i SAV) and $85,650 for an X6 M50i.
Our mineral white metallic X6 xDrive 40i's bottom line reached $72,020 after a $995 destination charge and smattering of options. A $875 upgraded Harman Kardon sound system, $700 radar-inspired parking assist package, $2,300 Premium Package (four-zone climate control, heads-up windshield display, wireless cellphone charging and gesture control monitoring audio functions) along with $550 for the ultra-white paint rounded out the extras.
The stubby electronic gear shift knob resembles a scaled-down upside down three-wood (the golfer's fairway club of choice) head. Press a left side push panel and move to gently forward activate reverse, or back to signal drive. Park is found via a push button on the club head itself. To the right is a column of selectable drive modes (Sport, Comfort, Eco, etc.) each of which orders up differing color schemes in the highly digital, 12.3 inch instrument panel.
Of identical 12.3-inch dimensions; the in-dash, relatively well executed multi-function monitor home to the latest version of BMW's iDrive infotainment system. Apple CarPlay Smartphone interaction comes standard while Android Auto customers must wait for another day. Touch the screen to select a command or rotate a multi-function circular iDrive chrome dial located an easy chip from the three-wood shaft shifter between front bucket seats Quick-command media, navigation and home buttons reside in front of the dial.
Volume levels adjust from a multitude of factions including the optional motion sensor interacting with a rotating finger (sometimes). The most efficient continues from a secondary steering wheel push buttons on the steering wheel's 9 o'clock face working in tandem with a thumb scroll for selecting radio or satellite stations.
Below horizontal air vents separate the screen from a row of tiny brushed aluminum push buttons operating most HVAC controls. Flanking the bright aluminum squares are another set of black buttons monitoring fan direction, heated seats and maximum A/C.
Row two supplies its own set of surprises. Despite the long, harshly angled power-operated hatch, occupant headroom remains pleasantly plentiful. While marketed as a mid-sizer capable of handling three business folks in back, two CEOs fit more comfortably, especially when egress and ingress get compromised by a narrow entry way tough on long-inseam body styles. Folding down the center arm rest divides the region up, but a fold-forward dual beverage caddie is flimsy, notchy and so un-BMW like.
Cargo space behind the second row gets significantly sliced when measuring against the more traditional X5; in effect 27.4 cubic feet vs. 33.9 cubic feet. For privacy purposes, X6 includes a long, retractable hatchback shade cover.
Other artfully-executed exterior visuals include dual, squared inboard exhausts with chrome-like framing. The large, square, tinted hatchback glass, planed at a 45-degree angle, ends with a curved frame which gently lips up. This window's larger than what X5 provides, but the X6 is sans a wiper, missed when late April snow showers unexpectedly arrive. The rather bulbous back end gets some slimming characteristics via narrow wrap around tail lamps.
The fuel tank accommodates a healthy 21.9 gallons of recommended premium unleaded fuel (for optimal engine results). Both rear-wheel and all-wheel drive X6 six-cylinder choices average 26 miles per gallon highway. City mileage for our all-wheel drive X6 averaged 20 mpg with rear-drive models generating one mile better.
All BMWs purchased or leased from authorized dealerships immediately receive enrollment in BMW's Ultimate Care Coverage. This no-cost perk covers a three-year or 36,000-mile time/mileage frame of brake fluid changes, engine oil and air filter changes, spark plug maintenance and general vehicle checks. This program remains non-transferable to second owners.
2020 BMW X6
Price as tested: $72,020
Engine: Inline twin turbo six
Overall length: 194.8 inches
Overall width: 78.9 inches
Overall height: 66.8 inches
Wheelbase: 117.1 inches
Curb weight: 6,173 pounds
Fuel Economy: 20 mpg city, 26 mpg highway
Assembly: Spartanburg, South Carolina