The all-weather, year-round traction of all-wheel drive will soon grace BMW's upscale 6-series. The automaker recently announced its high-end 6-series coupe and convertible are available with all-wheel drive for 2012.
Starting at $86,000 for the 650i xDrive coupe or $93,500 for the convertible, the all-wheel drive 6-series models cost $3,000 more than the rear-wheel drive versions. But in addition to two extra drive wheels, the added expense buys improved acceleration. BMW says the all-wheel drive 6-series coupe is one-tenth of a second quicker from 0 to 60 mph while the convertible is two-tenths of a second quicker to 60 mph.
By adding all-wheel drive, the 6-series becomes yet another model in BMW's lineup to recently adopt the feature. The automaker added available all-wheel drive to its midsize 5-series in 2006, while coupe versions of the small 3-series gained the optional feature for 2007. The 2010 model year also saw all-wheel drive offered on the upscale 7-series, which had been rear-drive since its debut in the early 1980s.
But BMW isn't alone in jumping on the all-wheel drive bandwagon. Audi has long been known for its Quattro all-wheel drive, Mercedes recently began offering its "4Matic" system in a growing number of models, from the small C-class to the upscale S-class luxury sedan. And Japanese luxury brands like Lexus and Infiniti have also recently increased the number of models in their lineups that offer the all-weather feature.
While the growing adoption of all-wheel drive among luxury automakers is a notable trend, it's not surprising. Practical year-round driving in areas like Chicago, New England, or the Rocky Mountains requires all-wheel drive - which, for years, meant eschewing a luxury car in favor of an SUV or crossover. But as more automakers offer all-wheel drive, more drivers can remain in the car of their choice - and for many consumers looking for a new car this winter, that will mean considering a 2012 BMW 6-series for first time ever.