The 2018 BMW X6 embodies the current fad for "4-door coupes" applied to a premium midsize crossover. And the mere fact of its existence upends the whole "practicality-versus-style" compromise that usually comes with the crossover territory.
The design of the X6 is undeniably distinct and actually quite imposing, but its roofline hinders rear headroom and cargo space. And its base price is higher than that of the X5, with which it shares the same 5 Series-derived platform.
On the plus side, the cabin is appropriately upscale, the driving position is suitably elevated, the engines are strong, and the on-road manners are typically BMW-wonderful. There’s always a place in the automotive world for quality, and the X6 has it by the ton.
What’s New for 2018?
The "entry-level" sDrive35i model receives a rearview camera and trapezoidal exhaust tailpipes as standard. A new design of 21-inch alloy wheel is also available within the optional M Sport package. See the 2018 BMW X6 models for sale near you
What We Like
Smooth and powerful engines; top-notch interior craftsmanship; leading technology features; confident handling
What We Don’t
Modest cargo capacity; pricier than the X5
The rear-wheel-drive sDrive35i packs a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six engine that delivers 300 horsepower and 300 lb-ft of torque. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the sDrive35i returns 18 miles per gallon in the city, 25 mpg on the highway and 21 mpg in combined driving.
The xDrive35i (BMW refers to its all-wheel-drive system as xDrive) has the same engine and nearly the same fuel economy, returning 18 mpg city/24 mpg hwy/20 mpg combined.
An 8-speed automatic transmission with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters is standard in every version.
Standard Features & Options
The 2018 BMW X6 is available in sDrive35i, xDrive35i and xDrive50i forms. A high-performance M version is reviewed separately.
The sDrive35i ($63,695) comes standard with the aforementioned trapezoidal tailpipes and rearview camera, plus 19-in alloy wheels, adaptive xenon headlights, LED fog lights and taillights, rain-sensing wipers, a sunroof, a power liftgate, parking sensors front and rear, self-dimming side mirrors, a digital instrument cluster, a power-adjustable steering wheel with paddle shifters, driver memory settings, adjustable drive settings (Driving Dynamics Control), heated/10-way power-adjustable front seats with driver’s-side memory settings, leather upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, wood trim, Bluetooth phone and audio, a USB port, HD Radio, an auxiliary audio input, a 9-speaker audio system, navigation and BMW’s iDrive infotainment system with a 10.2-in touchscreen.
The xDrive35i ($65,995) is similarly equipped and adds all-wheel drive.
The xDrive50i ($78,445) upgrades to the V8 engine, a hands-free power tailgate with a foot sensor, keyless entry/ignition, 20-way multicontour front seats, quad-zone automatic climate control and a 16-speaker Harman Kardon Surround Sound system.
Some of the standard equipment in the xDrive50i can be optioned in the lower models. As usual, BMW has an extensive list of extras. These include LED headlights, an aero body kit, 20-in alloy wheels, sport-tuned adaptive dampers with a rear air suspension, a self-parking system, power-closing doors, a leather-covered dashboard, ceramic-trimmed controls, ventilated front seats, a sport steering wheel, a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, wireless smartphone charging, Wi-Fi, a Bang & Olufsen Surround Sound system, a rear entertainment setup and advanced safety features (see the Safety section below).
Cargo space behind the rear seats measures 20.5 cu ft., a modest figure for a large crossover SUV. Folding down the 40/20/40-split rear seats opens that up to 53.9 cu ft., another humble measurement. The 4-door Volkswagen Golf compact hatchback has a similar amount of space.
The X6 comes standard with stability control, 4-wheel antilock disc brakes (with automatic collision preparation) and six airbags (front, front side and full-length side curtain).
The optional Driver Assistance Plus package includes a head-up display, a 360-degree parking camera system, blind spot monitoring, lane-departure warning and forward-collision warning with low-speed automatic braking. Adding adaptive cruise control also brings the forward-collision warning system with driver alerts. Night vision with pedestrian detection is yet another optional feature.
Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) have put the X6 through their crash-test programs yet.
Behind the Wheel
The X6 largely shares the X5’s dashboard and control layout. That’s a good thing. The digital instrument cluster is crisp and comprehensive, with a rapid refresh rate that enables the needles to keep up no matter how quickly the vehicle is accelerating. BMW has created a vaguely coupelike feel with the X6’s slightly lower seating position, but there’s still a commanding view of the road, along with world-class comfort and support with the available multicontour front seats.
The iDrive infotainment system has improved steadily over the years. The X6 gets the top grade, with a beautiful widescreen display, navigation, hard-drive music storage and an advanced controller with touchpad functionality.
Rear-seat comfort in the current X6 is significantly better than in the first generation; BMW made it a priority to accommodate larger passengers in the back. The bottom cushions have a pleasant upward tilt that provides welcome thigh support, while headroom is quite good considering the X6’s fastback roofline.
The X6 is inescapably huge, although BMW’s engineers have worked their usual magic with the steering and suspension. For a vehicle weighing between 4,600 and 5,200 pounds, it feels astonishingly nimble, with precise handling and excellent body control. Even though the ride is reasonably supple with the standard suspension, the optional adaptive dampers bring an excellent blend of comfort and sporty composure.
The xDrive50i’s twin-turbo V8 hurls the X6 from a standstill to 60 mph in just 4.6 seconds; it feels right to have a profoundly powerful engine in such a heavy vehicle. Still, the 6-cylinder is no slouch and achieves significantly better fuel economy.
Other Cars to Consider
2018 BMW X5 — It’s only reasonable to compare the X6 to its sensible sibling, and the X5 has a lot going for it, including relatively generous cargo capacity and an optional third-row seat.
2018 Infiniti QX70 — The QX has concept-car looks and optional V8 power in a crossover body style.
2018 Land Rover Range Rover Sport — Offers a lot of Range Rover luxury appointments and equipment, but in a smaller package.
2018 Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe — A natural rival to the X6, with arguably more agreeable styling.
2018 Porsche Macan — Smaller than the X6, but the driving experience is exceptional. Attractive interior as well.
Used Porsche Cayenne — Used examples of the more powerful Cayenne variants are similar in price to a new X6. This combination of practicality and performance is rare.