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2012 BMW X6 Overview

Just because it looks like a hatchback and has a hatchback’s cargo capacity, don’t call the 2012 BMW X6 a hatchback. Beemer has the entire automotive world believing that this four-passenger, four-door people-hauler is a midsize SUV that’s touted to fill the niche between the traditional SUV and the sport-oriented luxury coupe or sedan. Granted, this pseudo-ute, which comes in two trims, the base xDrive35i and the xDrive50i, is delivered with standard full-time intelligent all-wheel drive (AWD), but then Audi’s A3, for instance, a true hatchback, comes with standard AWD, as well. Few hatchbacks, however, pack turbocharged engines, and fewer still boast a sport-tuned suspension, not to mention a base MSRP of just under $59,000.

In any case, cargo area for Beemer’s Euro-ute is some 25.6 cubic feet behind the rear seats, and 59.7 cubic feet with the rear seatbacks folded. As is traditional with BMW’s high-end lineup, this hefty hatchback/SUV is loaded with good looks, cabin ambiance and creature comforts. Additionally, a braking regeneration system, introduced for 2011, keeps the alternator from overextending itself and combines with more efficient drivetrains to help the X6 pass by at least a few extra gas pumps.

As far as competition is concerned, the Acura ZDX comes closest to the X6, concept-wise. Any midsize luxury SUV, however, will likely compare to Beemer’s quasi-ute in price and beat it for utility, while BMW’s own 3 Series, 5 Series, and M sedans and coupes provide significantly more driving bang for the buck than does the M6.

Power for the 2012 X6 xDrive35i comes in the form of a 300-hp turbocharged inline 6-cylinder (I6) engine. Mated with a standard 8-speed shiftable automatic transmission that boasts a brake hill holder and descent control, the six-banger throws down 300 lb-ft of torque, good enough to haul 6,000 pounds of trailer with the proper equipment - something the average hatchback can rarely accomplish. Variable valve timing (VVT), meanwhile, keeps mileage a so-so 17 mpg city/25 highway using only premium unleaded.

The 2012 xDrive50i trim is delivered with a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 that combines with the 8-speed shiftable automatic for 400 hp and 450 lb-ft of torque. Also capable of towing a maximum of 6,000 pounds, the V8 again sports VVT, but mileage drops considerably to 14/20. Both trims, meantime, feature BMW’s intelligent AWD system (xDrive), skippered by a mechanical center differential and center and rear limited-slip differential, as well as its over-hyped Dynamic Traction Control system.

Appearance, forms and functions, creature comforts, and techno-gizmos are, of course, major reasons folks buy a luxury SUV, and the 2012 X6 doesn’t disappoint in this regard. The base xDrive35i mounts standard 19-inch alloy wheels, and sports a standard power sunroof, power rear liftgate and trailer wiring (but, curiously, no hitch). Leather upholstery complements leather, alloy, and wood cabin accents, a leather steering wheel, and alloy-clad shifter knob, while the sport front bucket seats are heated and, naturally, power-adjustable, with power-adjustable lumbar supports as well. Remote power door locks, power windows and heated power exterior mirrors with passenger-side reverse-tilting feature are all standard, as are cruise control and a telescoping and tilting steering wheel that mounts paddle shifters and audio controls. Further standard goodies include front and rear parking assist sensors, dual-zone climate control, extended cabin heating, and memory for two drivers' seat, mirror, steering wheel, audio and climate control settings. Entertainment consists of a 205-watt stereo with an MP3-capable single-CD player, 10 speakers, iPod input, and a USB connection. Techno-gizmos include BMW Assist telecommunications, using Bluetooth hands-free technology. The V8-powered xDrive50i, meantime, adds 20-position, multi-contoured power front seats, a universal garage door opener, and standard voice-activated navigation.

Options for the xDrive35i include the Premium package, which adds virtually all of the xDrive50i’s standard add-ons. Other options available to both trims include Active Steering and Adaptive Drive (both of which can also be had in the Sport Package), rear-seat DVD entertainment, BMW Apps (which can be used to access Facebook, Twitter, etc.), a rear-view camera with top-down view, head-up windshield information display, multi-contour and massaging seats and Active Cruise Control, which maintains vehicle spacing on the road despite increases and decreases in speed.

Option packages are varied, and some include a number of the above standalone options as well as goodies such as heated and cooled front and rear seats, heated steering wheel, satellite radio, upgraded 20-inch wheels, Nappa leather upholstery, four-zone climate control and a side-view camera. Online information services, auto-dimming headlights and a premium hi-fi system are also available in various packages.

Standard safety features for the 2012 X6 include four-wheel antilock brakes (ABS) with emergency braking preparation as well as traction and stability control. Occupant protection features, meanwhile, include front side-mounted airbags, front and rear head airbags, and front head-restraint whiplash protection. Daytime running lights, front fog/driving lights, cornering lights, self-leveling high-intensity-discharge (HID) headlights, a post-collision safety system and a remote antitheft alarm complete the list of standard safety items, while a Lane Departure Warning system is optional for both trims.

Owners of the 2011 X6 give it poor marks for its cramped rear seat, but praise its over-the-top luxury features. Mileage could be improved, according to many owners, but both powerplants are lauded for superb response and acceleration. Some complicated controls and systems, not to mention a somewhat dated dashboard layout, have a few owners scratching their heads, though this sport-ute wannabe’s head-turning looks mitigate many of its perceived interior faults. Despite complaints from a few owners that the X6's AWD system is a bit skittish in the snow, all praise the added grip and agility the xDrive system brings to everyday driving. In any case, luxury is luxury, and Beemer is Beemer; virtually all owners of the X6 realize one equates with the other.


Have Laptop. Will Travel. I'm retired and travelling the country in a 34' motor home. I'm really digging meeting people . . and sometimes their cars . . . getting a sense of what makes this nation tick. The plan is to visit all the national parks in the continental US, then cruise to Alaska to visit Denali, and to Hawaii to check out Haleakala and the Hawaii Volcano's national parks. Anyhow, when I'm not horsing the motor home around the roadways, I'm tooting around in the 2012 Ford Focus that we tow behind, or making runs to Home Depot and various malls with the 2004 F-150 that just won't die.

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