When it first burst onto the scene in 2008, the BMW X6 caught the world off guard. Is it an SUV/coupe? A high-riding four-door coupe? And what is it for? While some of those questions might still be unanswered, the more important question has been answered clearly and resoundingly: is it any good? Yes, it is. Very good. MotorAuthority rates the 2011 BMW X6 a very solid 8 out of 10.
First and foremost, it's the 2011 BMW X6's styling that most people will notice. Some will like it and the quandary it poses, others will feel almost visceral hatred that can't be logically explained. From as neutral a point of view as possible, we find the design above the beltline to be in sharp contrast with what's below; up top, it's a sleek four-door coupe, but below, it's all bulges and flares, perhaps a bit too muscular to fit with the arching roof. Inside, however, the story is much more conventional, with traditional, somewhat conservative BMW style executed in very nice materials.
But what is this Griffin-like beastie like to drive, you ask? Amazingly, it's a lot like driving a high-riding sports sedan. The wide stance and surprisingly low center of gravity combine to deliver truly impressive handling for an SUV or crossover, and handling that puts it firmly in the middle of the class when it comes to luxury/performance sedans. It grips, it transitions, it even slides gracefully when you disengage the electronic aids. It's a driver's soft-roader. This is true even of the lowest, base X6, but when taken to ludicrous speed in the X6 M, things become almost surreal.
The X6 M offers a twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V-8 engine creating 555 horsepower, leveraging the standard all-wheel drive found on all X6s to accelerate with incredible tractive force. When the road, or track, turns curvy, the M Dynamic mode lets you play well over the limit, but still with a safety net. And when you come to the end of that 150-mph straightaway, the massive brakes haul you down to apex speed with face-sucking force. It's truly unbelievable until you experience it. In skilled hands, the X6 M will deliver high-speed four-wheel drifts on command--with four six-foot adults on board.
The other powertrains are less exciting, but no less worthy of praise for their intended duties: the xDrive35i model, with its 300-horsepower turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine is punchy and relatively efficient; the xDrive50i offers much of the M's raw power at 480 hp, but without the beefed up suspension or added cost; and the X6 ActiveHybrid offers a green route that's still high-performance, coupling a seven-speed gearbox with an electric drive assist system for a combined output of 478 horsepower and 575 pound-feet of torque--while delivering six-cylinder-rivaling fuel efficiency of 17/19 mpg city/highway.
There's much more to the X6 than raw performance, but it's so much more a driver's SUV than most other offerings, we can't help but dwell on its capabilities. For all the other details, including careful and detailed looks into its comfort, quality, safety, and available features, read the full review of the 2011 BMW X6 at TheCarConnection.