2020 BMW X6

By April 1, 2020

Since its inception as a 2010 model, the BMW X6 crossover has stood ahead of the styling curve. Defying both convention and practicality, the curvaceous X6 is a close relative of the X5, one that substitutes a bustleback rear end for the X5’s angular profile. Longer and wider than its predecessor, the mid-size 2020 BMW X6 is packed with technology.

Redesigned for the 2020 model year, the third-generation X6 looks sharper and boasts more standard features. They include variable damper control, adaptive LED headlights, blind-spot monitors, lane-departure warnings, and twin USB charging ports. A new Live Cockpit Professional system includes navigation, a 12.3-inch screen, and a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster.

Not only has power risen, it’s more efficient. Each version has earned notable boosts in horsepower, torque, and fuel economy.

Only two trim levels have been offered early in the 2020 model year: the 40i base model with either rear-drive or all-wheel drive, and a hotter-performing M50i with V-8 power, offered only with BMW’s xDrive all-wheel-drive system. Twin X6 M models are scheduled to arrive in spring 2020, with retuned V-8s making either 600 or 617 horsepower. Each engine mates with an 8-speed automatic transmission.

Each X6 comes with a welcome batch of active-safety technology, but neither of the two major safety agencies has crash-tested the new model—and they aren’t likely to do so. For what it’s worth, the closely-related X5, built on the same platform, has earned top ratings.

Every X6 is equipped with automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitors, lane-departure warnings, high-beam assist, adaptive LED headlights, and parking sensors. Safety and driving-assistance options include adaptive cruise control, active lane control, lane-change assist, and a surround-view camera system. Available Laserlight headlights provide a long view of the road ahead.

Model Lineup

Prices include $995 destination charge.

The X6 40i ($65,295 with sDrive rear-drive, $67,595 with xDrive all-wheel drive) is equipped with the turbo-6 engine, 20-inch wheels, leather upholstery, panoramic moonroof, heated front seats a 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen with Apple CarPlay compatibility (Android Auto coming soon), 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, ambient lighting, and collection of active-safety features.

The X6 M50i ($86,645) substitutes V-8 power for the inline-6 and comes only with all-wheel drive. Upgrades include 20-way power front seats, a Harmon Kardon 16-speaker system, a three-spoke leather-wrapped M steering wheel, and M suspension components.

The new X6 M ($109,595) features a 600-hp V-8 engine, and the Competition version ($118,595) gets a boost to 617 horsepower.

Exterior

In its freshly restyled and enlarged form, the sloped fastback roof looks more unified, standing further apart from rival coupelike crossovers. It’s quite a contrast to the related, boxy X5 with its traditional crossover SUV profile.

Modestly longer, lower, and wider than before, the X6 flaunts a sharper nose and a bigger, bolder grille—which can now be optionally illuminated. Body sides haven’t changed much. The descending rear roofline meets a small kickup in the back windows. Along door bottoms, a sharper crease helps make the X6 appear lower. Wheelbase has grown by 1.6 inches.

At the rear, X6 curviness turns into shelflike horizontal lines. Quad exhaust tips are prominent.

Interior

A slight increase in exterior dimensions hasn’t given the X6 much more passenger space. Leg room has increased slightly, but head clearance has gone in the opposite direction. Even tall drivers aren’t likely to notice the difference in clearance below the standard panoramic moonroof.

The horizontal exterior theme continues into the cabin. Soft-touch synthetic leather covers the dash, while sport bucket seats are upholstered with real leather. 

Five passengers fit into the X6. Standard 16-way power front seats are firm and helpfully bolstered, but not too rigid. They provide a welcome balance between support and comfort. Rear passengers can expect restricted head clearance, especially if they’re six-footers or above, though they get 35.7 inches of leg space. 

BMW’s iDrive 7.0 infotainment system, with 12.3-inch touchscreen, bests its predecessor. Though loaded with options, it’s relatively easy to use.

Cargo volume has increased slightly, to 27.6 cubic feet with all seatbacks upright. Folding the second row expands space to 59.6 cubic feet.

Driving Impressions

Structural changes to the 2020 BMW X6 results in a lower ride height and center of gravity, which make the heavy crossover feel a bit lighter.

Performance is a definite strong point. Output from the base engine has increased by 33 horsepower and 35 pound-feet, while the M40i’s V-8 has gained 78 hp and 74 pound-feet.

BMW claims that base models can accelerate to 60 mph in about five seconds. Moving up to the V-8 in the M50i drops that figure to 4.1 seconds, with no discernible lag from its twin turbochargers. 

In the M50i, BMW’s 8-speed automatic is quick-acting but smooth, making the paddle shifters unnecessary in most driving.

All X6 models use adaptive dampers to vary suspension stiffness, resulting in a comfortable ride under various pavement conditions. Some models can be equipped with an air suspension that can raise or lower the X6 by 3 inches, to improve roadholding.

Steering can feel light while cruising at steady speed on a straightaway, but it provides greater driver feedback as the steering wheel is turned. In addition to limited headroom, the X6’s sloping roof restricts vision to the rear.

Gas mileage has improved. The X6 sDrive40i is EPA-rated at 21 mpg city, 26 highway, 23 combined. Substituting all-wheel drive doesn’t affect it much, dropping to 20/26/22 mpg. With its twin-turbo V-8, the M50i sinks to 16/22/18 mpg—markedly better than the new X6 M, rated at a rapid-guzzling 13/18/15 mpg.

Final Word

No doubt about it, the stylish 2020 BMW X6 isn’t as practical as its boxy X5 counterpart. For buyers who prefer a distinctive vehicle, or who value performance more than back-seat and cargo space, the X6 is mighty tempting. Each X6 comes well-equipped, with a bountiful options list. The V8-powered X6 M50i with all-wheel drive provides the best blend of value and exuberant performance.

 

—Driving impressions by The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.

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