2014 BMW X6 M Review

X6 M

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2014 BMW X6 M Overview

BMW sure has a way with names when it comes to describing the various body styles of vehicles bearing its signature dual-kidney grille. For instance, the automaker refers to its 4-door crossover SUVs, like the X1 and the X5, as Sports Activity Vehicles (SAVs), while it calls the new 4-door M6 Gran Coupe a "sport coupe," obviously ignoring the fact that coupes traditionally have 2 doors rather than 4. So it should come as no surprise that BMW labels its 4-door X6 M crossover SUV as a Sports Activity Coupe. In fact, in BMW's world, the description makes perfect sense, although it might confuse auto buyers just a bit.

The X6 M, and the standard X6 on which it's based, breaks the mold in another way, by offering a unique exterior design that's reminiscent of a fastback sport coupe. However, the X6 M sits higher than a low-slung coupe and comes equipped with all-wheel drive (AWD) and a rear tailgate, as well as all the mechanical and technical goodies that are included on any bimmer bearing the M nomenclature. Those upgrades include an M-Power twin-turbocharged V8, an M sport suspension with self-leveling and electronic damping control, M-tuned steering and M antilock brakes, as well as M sport seats, leather upholstery, a navigation system and a 600-watt audio system, to name just a few features.

The X6 M certainly has a distinctive look, thanks to its dramatically sloping roofline, which gives it a sporty profile. In some ways, thanks to that unique roofline, the X6 M resembles a late-60s Mustang fastback on steroids. Minor updates in 2013 added a powerdome hood and revised headlights and taillights. The new HID headlights out front now feature auto-leveling, corona light rings and retractable headlight washers, while rain- and speed-sensing windshield wipers ensure a clear view at all speeds and in all types of weather. Large black mesh air intakes on the lower front fascia add an aggressive touch, while sculpted sidelines improve aerodynamics and help streamline the vehicle. An integrated roof spoiler, wraparound taillights, M quad exhaust pipes and 20-inch double-spoke light-alloy wheels complete the look.

Under that new powerdome hood, BMW drops its M TwinPower Turbo 4.4-liter 32-valve V8, which also drives the M6 Coupe, Convertible and Gran Coupe, as well as the M5 Sedan. While the V8 produces up to 575 hp in other M vehicles with certain design tweaks, for the X6 M it generates a slightly lower but still impressive 555 hp. Torque tops out at an equally noteworthy 500 lb-ft, channeled through a 6-speed M Sport automatic transmission with Sport and M Manual shift modes, as well as Adaptive Transmission Control and steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters. Working together, the V8 and automatic push the X6 M from 0-60 in just 4.5 seconds, with no trace of turbo lag. BMW also equips the X6 M with its xDrive AWD system, specially tuned for M vehicles. With all that hardware, as well as a hefty weight of 5,324 pounds, fuel economy numbers naturally suffer, clocking in at 13 mpg city/17 highway.

Although the X6 M rides on the same platform as the more traditionally shaped X5 M, it measures 2 inches wider and nearly 1 inch longer. However, it also offers less cargo and interior space, prompting many reviewers to question its practicality. With its boxier shape, the X5 provides up to 75.2 cubic feet of cargo space. That drops to 59.7 cubic feet for the X6 M, thanks to the X6's sloping roofline. The sportier roofline also seriously cuts into headroom for rear-seat passengers. The X6 M seats 4 passengers in its standard configuration, although owners can opt for a 3-passenger rear seat. Split/folding rear seats come standard.

The X6 M gets high praise from testers for its agile handling, which matches or beats the best in its class. That's due in part to the X6 M's M sport suspension, which features a self-leveling air suspension system in the rear. BMW also includes its Adaptive Drive system with electronic damping control and Active Roll Stabilization, which automatically makes adjustments to the suspension depending on driver inputs and road surfaces to counteract body roll, pitch and yaw, ensuring optimal stability and a smooth, comfortable ride. The system includes Comfort and Sport settings, allowing drivers to adjust the suspension's firmness. An advanced Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) system, which also comes standard, includes an M Dynamic Mode, which overrides the system for drivers who want to push the vehicle to its limits. The M Servotronic power-steering system remains speed-sensitive with variable-assist and includes Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus settings, while the M brake system features Brake Energy Regeneration, which converts kinetic energy into electrical power for use throughout the vehicle.

Despite its sloping roofline and lack of rear-seat headroom, the X6 M offers a large cabin with plenty of upscale and comfort-oriented features for its 4 passengers. Merino leather upholstery covers the seats, while the dash and center console get Nappa leather trim. The multicontour M sport seats in the front include 20-way power adjustment and a 3-stage heating system, as well as driver's-seat memory. Owners can add perforated Merino leather upholstery and front ventilated seats as an option. Aluminum interior trim comes standard, although owners can opt for Carbon Leather, Red Brown Grained Wood or Piano Black interior trim at no extra cost. The 3-spoke leather-wrapped M sport steering wheel includes audio, cruise and Bluetooth controls, as well as M Drive controls to adjust the various vehicle settings. An engine start/stop button, a 2-way power glass moonroof, automatic climate control, an automatic tailgate, auto-dimming mirrors and ambient lighting are also part of the standard package. Additional options include a heated steering wheel, soft-close automatic doors and 4-zone climate control.

Tech features abound in the X6 M. The standard navigation system includes voice capabilities and real-time traffic, and it integrates with the automaker's iDrive on-board controller with 8 programmable memory buttons. Park Distance Control in the front and rear also comes standard, along with a 16-speaker 600-watt audio system with a 6-DVD changer and an iPod port. SiriusXM satellite radio remains a dealer-installed option. Owners can also add such options as a rear-seat entertainment system and an upgraded 825-watt audio system.

In addition to Dynamic Stability Control, safety features include dual front and side-impact airbags, as well as 4-wheel antilock brakes with Dynamic Brake Control, brake-fade compensation and brake drying. BMW also includes its Assist Safety Plan, which includes such features as automatic collision notification, roadside assistance, remote door unlock and stolen vehicle recovery. Although the X6 was not safety-tested by the IIHS, the X5, upon which it is based, received a top rating of Good for protecting passengers during side-impact crashes.

In addition to the X5 M, which offers more cargo space, competitors to the X6 M include the Porsche Cayenne Turbo, the Range Rover Sport and the uniquely styled Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class Shooting Brake, another "4-door coupe" with a wagon-type body and a rear tailgate.


Rob has been a contributor to CarGurus since 2007, and an automotive test-driver and writer since the early ’90s. He’s test-driven everything from BMWs and Jags to Bentleys and Saabs, with an occasional Range Rover, Ferrari, Porsche or Lamborghini thrown in. He also created the annual Car of the Year and Exotic Car of the Year awards for Robb Report magazine. He currently resides in Florida.

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