2024 BMW X6

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It used to be said that speed was just a question of money: How fast do you want to go? It’s a little different today – as far as crossovers, which are the dominant species of vehicle in the showroom.

Today, it’s utility – which is just a question of style.

How different do you want to look?

The  BMW X6 is for the person who would rather have a more stylish crossover. Even if it costs them some utility – in the form of less rearseat headroom and cargo-carrying capacity.

What It Is

The X6 is a more stylish version of BMW’s X5 mid-sized crossover. Its roofline is lower by about two inches and it has fastback rear styling.

Both are similar mechanically – sharing the same standard turbocharged in-line six cylinder (and optional turbocharged V8) engines, with the chief difference being the the X5 comes standard with rear-wheel-drive while the X6 comes standard with BMW’s xDrive all-wheel-drive system.

Prices for the X6 start at $73,900 for the turbo-six-powered xDrive40i; the turbo V8-powered M60i stickers for $93,600.

What’s New for 2024

The standard turbocharged in-line six produces 30 more horsepower this year and all trims receive front and rear styling updates.

What’s Good

More stylish than other crossovers.

Standard six (and available V8) make it stand out from other crossovers – including Benz GLE (which comes standard with a four).

Capable of towing up to 7,200 lbs.

What’s Not So Good

Mandatory AWD is grippier – but rear-drive is more fun (and less expensive).

Lower, sloping roofline means less second row headroom – and cargo room behind the second row.

Thick B pillars and thick second row seats impinge on visibility to either side.

Under The Hood

Unlike a growing number of even luxury-priced crossovers – that’s you, Mercedes GLE – the X6 still comes standard with a six cylinder engine rather than a 2.0 liter turbocharged four cylinder engine.

It’s also an inline six cylinder engine, which is even more unusual – chiefly because most crossovers are built on FWD-based, car-type platforms and a six is too long to fit sideways in the engine compartment. (FWD-based vehicles have their engines mounted sideways; rear-drive-based vehicles have their engines mounted front-to-back.)

BMW can fit a six under the hood of the X6 because it’s built on s sport sedan-like rear-drive layout; in fact, it shares a lot of its under-the-skin architecture with BMW’s rear-drive sport sedans, including the 5 Series. The latter – sadly – no longer comes standard with a six. It’s still available, at least. But the interesting thing is the X6 – with its standard six – is now arguably more of a sport sedan than BMW’s four cylinder-powered sport sedans.

The six also gets an infusion of 30 horsepower more for the new model year, bringing it up to 375 vs. 335 previously. This is output comparable to what you used to get from a V8 and – remarkably – with an increase in gas mileage.

Last year’s X6 with the six and 335 horsepower rated 21 city, 25 highway. The just-uprated X6 with the 375 horsepower six rates 23 city, 26 highway. This is made possible by the mild-hybrid side of the powertrain, which uses a 48 volt electrical system and high-powered starter system to cycle the six off as often as possible, as when coasting, decelerating or when the X6 isn’t moving.

It’s also worth a mention here that the Benz GLE’s standard 2.0 liter four – which is also paired with a similar mild hybrid set up – only manages 20 city, 27 highway, less than the BMW’s six delivers. Yet the BMW’s six has two more cylinders and 120 more horses. The reason for the disparity probably has to do with the Benz’s engine being too small for the GLE – which has a curb weight of 4,916 lbs. That’s a lot of GLE for 2.0 liters – and just 255 horses. That little engine has to work hard all the time to move all that GLE. The BMW’s six only works hard when you’re wanting it to move. The distinction is important – if you care about mileage.

Also, more-than-likely, longevity.

An engine as small as the GLE’s 2.0 four struggling (under boost) to move that much Mercedes is probably not going to last as long as as a six that doesn’t have to work so hard all the time just to get the vehicle moving.

The X6 is also available with a V8 – an engine type that’s become as rare as V12 used to be about a decade ago. It’s got a pair of turbos and makes 523 horsepower – as well as 569 ft.-lbs. of torque. This version of the X6 can make the 0-60 run in 3.8 seconds.

Regardless of engine, the X6 comes with an eight speed automatic and xDrive all-wheel-drive.

On The Road

Driving the X6 is a trip down memory lane – to a time when sixes were common and V8s weren’t rare. You know, circa about five years ago.

The X6 is not an inexpensive way to take that trip – but it’s money well-spent. However quickly battery powered devices may accelerate, the experience is both bland and common. Bland – because it’s all the same.

And common, because they’re literally all the same.

The X6 is different on account of the six it has that no other vehicle that isn’t made by BMW has. It is not only different in the literally true sense – i.e., that a BMW in-line six is not the same as any other brand’s in-line six – but also in the intangible sense.

It sounds like a BMW six.

Remember the days when you could identify a vehicle’s make and model by sound – before you saw it? Air-cooled VW Beetles, for instance. Nothing else sounded like them – because nothing else had a Beetle’s air-cooled flat four engine. This uniqueness accounts for our affections. It is the same essential reason why we prefer our dog or cat to just any dog or cat. Our dog or cat is not like any other dog or cat and so we become attached to it for just that reason.

Its personality connects with our emotions.

Battery powered devices will never do that. They are appliances to be used and discarded without emotion when they no longer work. Or are no longer the latest thing. No one feels affection for their smartphone.

It is just another phone.

The X6 is not just another crossover. The six – and its sounds – make it something else.

The available V8 even more so.

BMW mated the six with a mild-hybrid set-up to make it feasible to offer the six in this political-regulatory climate – rather than a turbo four. See that part above about gas mileage. Also, “emissions” of the bogeyman gas (CO2) that – like the ‘Rona – must apparently be reduced to zero and never mind whether anyone’s dying.

The hybrid side of the drivetrain is noticeable only when the X6 isn’t moving – because the six isn’t idling. The system shuts off the engine whenever the X6 is stopped – as at a red light – or when it is decelerating/coasting. But you only feel this – and don’t hear this – when the X6 is stationary. The system is basically a more sophisticated form of the automatic stop-start “technology” many other vehicles that aren’t mildly hybridized have. The main advantage of the BMW system is it restarts the engine extremely quickly and without the usual engine-start noise and vibration.

The downside, of course, is that you can’t hear or feel the engine when the X6 is “idling.”

But you’ll hear it when you’re rolling – and especially when you’re really rolling. And if you’d prefer to hear more – and without interruption – there’s always the V8.

And, of course, you’ll feel it – with either.

There is substance here. As opposed to the lack thereof – for the money – in rivals such as the Benz GLE. All you get is a four? Unless you pay a lot more? Well, at least you get that big plastic three-pointed star, eh?

The one thing you don’t get is a function of what you do get. The X6 comes standard with AWD, with either of its two available engines. Which means that what you don’t get is the ability to get a little sideways, if you like, when accelerating from zero to sixty. In a rear-drive vehicle – with all of the engine’s power flowing to the rear wheels – you can hold the brake, bring up the revs and (with the traction control off) spin the tires a little, make some smoke – and then let off the brakes and let ‘er rip.

You can’t do this with an AWD car because slippage at the rear is compensated for up front; all you’d do by holding the brakes while stepping on the gas is load the drivetrain and – if you don’t let up – probably end up breaking something.

On the upside, the X6 has grip – and not just in a straight line. AWD systems increase lateral grip – as when cornering fast. The more sophisticated systems (like BMWs) can also increase stability while cornering via the distribution of inside or outside wheels, to counteract what would otherwise be too much oversteer or understeer.

At The Curb

The X6 is the same size as the X5 – but the two closely related crossovers are shaped differently. The X5 has the familiar rounded rectangle shape that makes crossovers spacious inside, both for people and cargo. The X6 tapers to the rear – and the top of its roof is 2.2 inches lower (66.9 inches off the ground) than that of its X5 sibling (69.1 inches off the ground).

This makes for a much more dramatic side-profile. And – as you’d expect – less headroom inside for the second row occupants especially. There’s about two inches less back there (37.5 inches, to be exact) than there is up front (where there’s 39.3 inches) and less of both than in the taller-roof’d X5, which has 40.7 inches of headroom up front and 38.7 inches for the backseaters.

Interestingly – given the X6 and X5 are so closely related – the X6 has a bit more legroom up front (40.1 inches vs. 39.4 in the X5) and about two inches less backseat legroom (35.7 inches vs. 37.4 in the X5). This probably has to do with the necessity of mounting the second row seats in the X6 a little farther forward – to clear the radically sloping rear roofline.

How radically it slants can be quantified by the difference in cargo space behind the second row. The more boxy X5’s got 33.9 cubic feet back there. The more stylish X6 has 27.4 cubic feet. But that’s still a lot more than you’d have available in a mid-sized sedan such as the 5 Series (which only has 18.4 cubic feet available in its trunk.

Still, there’s a price to be paid for style. Just the same as there’s a price to be paid for performance.

And one other way you pay for it here is in the form of decreased visibility to the rear and to the sides, because of the sloping roofline and abbreviated glass area, which tapers sharply from the B pillar back. This is compounded by thick B pillars and thick seat headrests.

Look twice before you pull out into traffic from a side street.

The Rest

Both X6 trims come standard with a wide-screen LCD panel, a panorama sunroof and both types of USB ports as well as a 12V pigtail-style outlet that is becoming harder to find in new vehicles, which makes it harder to use accessories that have pigtail-style plugs, such as radar detectors.

The base-trim xDrive40 also comes standard with a very good 10 speaker audio system, wireless phone charger and an adaptive suspension system that allows driver-customization of ride firmness.

The main thing you get when you buy the V8-powered M60 xDrive is, of course the V8 – along with upgraded brakes, sport-tuned exhaust and an even better Harman Kardon audio system.

The Bottom Line

The X6 answers the question about style vs. practicality.

How different do you want to look?

. . .

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20 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Eric

    I have read a lot of your articles and a recurring theme regarding small displacement turbocharged engines is the stress that is put on the turbo and its potential to fail prematurely. Turbo diesels have been around for decades. This is a genuine question as I am ignorant on this topic. Is this a common occurrence with those types of engines? I have a 2015 VW Passat TDi. Should I be worried about the turbo failing?

    Very Respectfully

    Rick Smith

    • Hi Rick,

      Diesels are (traditionally) different. More finely, built differently. They have historically had stronger blocks and internals to cope with the stress of very high compression. They also burn diesel fuel, which is both a fuel and a lubricant. Gas is a fuel – and a solvent. It can wash away lubrication on cylinder walls, etc.

      Now, it is possible to build a “tough” gas-turbo engine – but the truth is we won’t know how tough these engines are until after they’ve been in common and widespread use for at least a decade.

      So – we’ll see!

  2. Where I live its like the BMW capitol of the US or something. Also, Range Rover, Mercedes, Porsche, Audi. Even Lamborghini and Ferrari and not so uncommon. Corvettes etc. It’s a wealthy area with a lot of car crazy folks. So forget being “standing out” here unless you invest 100K or more. Saw an Alpina the other day.
    Anyway, I have come to dislike these people. Few of them are “good” drivers. Most have more money than sense. The kind of people that drive fast on small residential streets, just because. I think “assholes” is the word I’m looking for.
    When I look, the only BMWs or cars mentioned above that I would want are 85K or more. Because why would you want any of THOSE cars with without 6 cylinders or more, sport suspension etc. So lets suppose you pony up 100K, you are still buying car that literally dies when it stops. Ridiculous. And now they eliminating work arounds. Forget it man. They aren’t worth it at that price anymore.
    And know you folks have me actually considering just buying an older car that has power, reliability and forget about looks and all that. So, I ask: what are some of your favorite older cars that perform well and can sort of pass for a family car. Something that can be had for like 40K or less, cash.

  3. Minor nit but I always heard the saying as “How fast do you want to spend?”

    Anyway, great review. And brings up the question of just why we can’t have hybrids? Why all or nothing, if the planet is in such peril? I think a lot of people are in “moonshot” mode, where setting a date (2030) and a goal (zero CO2 emissions) is the only thing that matters. But assuming CO2 is actually going to boil the oceans and burn the land, well, wouldn’t a dramatic reduction be good enough? Maybe until we get there?

    No, everything, and all at once. Or Al Gore’s prophecy will come true.

  4. It’s pretty, but $100K is mind-boggling. I wonder how many of these are leased – I gotta believe it’s a significant majority.

    Although who knows. Prof StOnge in his video this morning noted that Lambo sold 10K units for the first time ever. Apparently this economy is friendlier to the rich!

    Excellent review as always.

  5. Happened to park next to an old BMW 325i at the supermarket this morning. Like today’s X6, it had a 3.0-liter inline six. But unlike today, buyers had a choice of a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic — rather than a silly 8-speed automatic tuned to eke out a few extra tenths of gas mileage on Govco’s CAFE test.

    Couldn’t help noticing the old 325i’s aftermarket 18-inch rims with ridiculous 35-profile tires, whose sidewalls looked to be about 2 inches tall — about the same height as the average rock in the unpaved roads around here.

    If the owner had appeared, I might have asked him, ‘You ain’t from around here, are ya, boy?’

  6. I was really starting to like this car until you said the mild-hybrid, shutting off engine, part.
    I guess there’s always the v8 if you can pony up for it.
    Great write-up Eric.

    • Thanks, Chris!

      And – yeah – I agree about the midl hybrid thing. Totally unnecessary except from the viewpoint of compliance with the regs.

    • ChrisIN: “…until you said the mild-hybrid, shutting off engine, part.”

      There are three driving modes – Eco, Comfort, and Sport. If in sport mode auto stop/start is
      neutered – doesn’t function. That will change in 2025 models, won’t shut off.
      I’ve test driven a couple X3 M40i, nothing better for what I want (382+ hp).

      • Now just another thing to add to my test drives “can this, or will you permanently disable this insane aSS thing?”
        Yes, maybe buy the car
        No, see ya, and why we’re leaving. and then every time they send me an email about their cars I will spend the extra minute to say why I will not buy their car(s).

        We must do this, or we lose. Majority don’t care, but if 10% or more then they will notice, and build in back doors that the dealer can fix. An example is FCA did and still does build in back doors to permanently disable the seat belt alarm/chime.

  7. I applaud the V8 availability.

    That’s all the positivity I can muster for a vehicle that is so out of the working man’s price range that it might as well be a spaceship capable of a round trip to Mars.

    • Yeah, right! My thoughts are the same. Remember when a working man could AFFORD a V8 equipped car? Remember how they were once common?

  8. BMW… the company that gave us a turbo charged 3 litre straight six petrol engine, in a tiny 1 series with rear wheel drive, they are great fun, especially if its had a LSD fitted 😉
    I’m not sure if you had the pleasure of these cars over there in the USA (M 135i and M 140i)

  9. This is a nice ride. I’m glad BMW seems to be holding it down for “luxury” cars. A real shame that you cannot even walk in the door for less than $74K, and that the ‘fun’ version is a cool $94K… yikes.

    But its a BMW, so nothing really new with that. I drove two M3s, neither was cheap to buy or cheap to own/maintain. BMW-> “Break My Wallet”.

    It has great lines and big powerful engines and in today’s world of anemic 4 bangers and “sameness” this stands out at least.

  10. My X3 is practical and sporty. Beemer is fun to drive but expensive to own. Guessing the ol’ 24-year-old Sierra will outlive the X3 as yours truly can shadetree wrench on the GMC.

  11. BMW makes great ice engines….

    Here is an ice BMW beating an EV…Tesla Plaid…..

    Drag Race: 1,000hp BMW M3 vs 1,000hp Tesla Model S Plaid

    EV’s have no top end power…ice engines do….electric motors have low end torque….then half way through the RPM range power starts to drop….electric motors are inferior to ice engines in many ways….an ice engine can be designed to pull right to redline…they are better then electric motors.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=siVI-x8sdS4

    • That Tesla Plaid covered the 1/4 mile in 9.7 seconds….this Audi RS3 with one little 5 cylinder engine is quicker…..

      EV’s are very slow compared to good ice powered cars…and are very boring…

      For example here is an Audi RS3 with 1300 HP…0 to 60… 1.6 seconds…1/4 mile under 8 seconds…it weighs 3000 lb…..far quicker then any EV….and is pure emotion, it has sound….EV’s are dead…for dead people….

      The Audi RS3 is powered by a little 2.5 liter…5 cylinder engine….one of the best engines on the planet…it is one half of a Lamborghini V10 engine….

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OmTqHWS7IeQ

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