Review: 2020 BMW X6 doesn’t need the M package for greatness
Redesigned for 2020, the BMW X6 fits in the German automaker’s "sports activity vehicle" (SAV) range. Its wagon-like mixture of styling on a crossover-SUV body make it unique. As the third-generation for the X6, the 2020 model gets several good upgrades.
At A Glance
- Solid power output from both engine choices
- Excellent interior, at least up front
- M packages add a lot of good sport to the X6
- Still suffers from general issues all SAV’s face
The 2020 BMW X6 looks different both inside and out, and receives upgrades to its underpinnings and powertrains that boost muscle as well. It's also more livable on the daily, thanks to a more refined ride quality that gives up some of the sport-centric tuning of previous models in return for a smoother, quieter feel on the road.
The vehicle shares its platform with the more traditionally-styled X5. There are several differences between the two, beyond body styling, however, including the slightly more sport-centric chassis tuning and the wider windows of the X6 – the latter add a feeling of interior roominess, to make up for the loss of roominess in reality. All sport activity designs with this wagon styling are subject to the same problems: namely a loss of cargo space, a loss of rear seat headroom, and loss of rear visibility for the driver. These are tradeoffs made to get the sportier coupe-ish styling that these SAVs have.
The X6 is also sportier in feel than is the X5, though it shares engines and drivetrains with that larger SUV. Two engines are available for the X6, starting with the well-done 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six powering the standard models. Both the sDrive40i and the xDrive40i use this engine mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. The former is rear-wheel drive while the latter is all-wheel drive. The M50i model gets a twin-turbo 4.4-liter V8 and a lot of M treatment to the suspension, exhaust, brakes, and rear axle differential.
The six-cylinder engine isn’t a slouch, pressing out 335 horsepower and 330 pound-feet of torque. The big 4.4 offers 523 horses and 553 lb-ft, though, and a satisfying eight-cylinder grunt. The cost for that bigger engine is prohibitive, at about US$20,000 over the sDrive40i and near that for the xDrive40i. And with rear-wheel drive as the only option, some might balk at its lack of all-weather versatility. That’s before seeing the large fuel economy hit taken by going with the V8 growler. The damage can be over 8 mpg (29 l/100km).
Going without the M packaging doesn’t mean austerity in the X6, and the 40i trim lines have an M Sport package that adds some of the M50i’s package upgrades, including the better interior materials, seats, and driver assistance features. We found that driving the xDrive40i with this upgrade put it in the higher luxury classes and still kept the price tag under the $72,000 point. For that price, a very well-done, nicely-outfitted SAV results.
On the road, the 2020 BMW X6 xDrive40i feels confident, drives very well, and is sportier than most of the SUVs in this class. It’s quick on the corners, pumps up the turbos fairly quickly (even compared to other BMW models), and has a better interior than might be expected of a Bimmer. Although most BMW models trend towards blank austerity as their motif, the X6 offers some variance in the materials, adding a little more chic.
Standard features include a 12.3-inch infotainment screen and same-sized virtual instrument cluster. There are USB-A and USB-C ports throughout the car (four in our test model), and a full suite of advanced driver assistance systems via BMW’s Active Driving Assistant. Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and BMW’s own app are also standard equipment. Upgrades can include a lot of things such as the aforementioned M Sport package, which adds handling upgrades and some interior trim changes. Dual-zone automatic climate control is standard and four-zone is available for the X6. Wireless phone charging is also available.
Most of the driving dynamic is thanks to that upgrade via the M Sport package. It’s highly recommended for the 40i trims, adding an adjustable suspension with stiffer qualities for corners and smoother starts.
In all, while the idea of sport activity vehicles is generally lost on us, we do like the BMW X6 in this new 2020 model year. It adds a lot to the package and emphasizes the sport without losing so much usability that it becomes ridiculous.
Product Page: 2020 BMW X6