$16,970 - $21,249

2011 BMW X6 Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2011 BMW X6 was new.


Performance: 8.7

Reviewers just love the way that the X6 drives. Many say that it’s not only car-like, but even sports-car-like, which is high praise for an SUV. All trims come standard with xDrive, BMW’s all-wheel drive system. The ActiveHybrid X6, the hybrid trim, also has standard all-wheel drive. The X6 is available with an I6 engine, a V8, and a surprisingly powerful hybrid powertrain. However, the hybrid comes with a $31,000 price increase, which many reviewers say is not worth the slim increase in fuel economy.

  • "Packing turbocharged six- and eight-cylinder engines connected to a new-for-2011 eight-speed automatic transmission, the X6 is remarkably quick for its size and weight. BMW estimates that even the six-cylinder will go from zero to 60 mph in a rapid 6.3 seconds.” -- Edmunds
  • "The sport suspension smothers pavement imperfections fairly well. Rougher roads bring out unwanted side-to-side body motions and some impact harshness.” -- Consumer Guide
  • "On the surface, the X6 ActiveHybrid feels much like the all-wheel-drive X6 xDrive50i on which it's based. And that's a good place to start, because although we still find the vehicle's overall design and purpose confusing, it's fast, agile, and immensely capable, despite weighing in excess of 5200 pounds." -- Car and Drive

Acceleration and Power

Reviewers agree that for such a heavy vehicle, the BMW X6 has plenty of get-up-and-go with either of its engine options. The X6 is available with three powerplants, all of which feature xDrive, BMW’s all-wheel drive system: a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six on the xDrive35i, a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 on the xDrive50i and a gas-electric hybrid turbo V8 on the ActiveHybrid model. The 35i’s engine makes 300 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque, and gets 16 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway, according to the EPA. The 4.4-liter V8 that comes with the xDrive50i makes 400 horsepower and 450 pound-feet of torque, while getting 14/20 mpg city/highway.

Reviewers love that the ActiveHybrid X6’s engine makes 400 horsepower and 450 pound-feet of torque, which is an unusually large amount of power for a hybrid. However, keep in mind that opting for the hybrid powertrain will run you $31,900 above the X6’s base price and the return lower fuel economy ratings than the base 35i. The ActiveHybrid gets 17/19 city/highway and 18 mpg combined.

Out of the three drastically different models, reviewers prefer the xDrive50i. They feel that the ActiveHybrid offers too little for its sky-high price, and that the base xDrive35i’s inline-six engine is not quite as powerful as they would like. The xDrive50i is a good compromise between powerful performance and a reasonable price.

If you’re looking for a luxury SUV with good economy, but without the exotic-sports-car price, consider the Volkswagen Touareg TDI. The TDI’s turbocharged diesel engine gets 19 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway, with a sticker price of $47,950. If you have your heart set on a hybrid, take a look at the Lexus RX450h hybrid, which starts at $$45,525, about $43,400 less than the ActiveHybrid and gets much better fuel economy.

  • "You have a variety of engine options for the BMW X6; from the 300 horsepower, 3.0-liter I-6, to the awesome 555-horsepower, twin-turbo 4.4-liter V-8 found in the X6M. It doesn't matter which you choose, all will put a smile on your face.” -- Motor Trend
  • "Acceleration is brisk with either of the available engines -- the 35i is definitely more than enough." -- Edmunds
  • "With the 6-speed automatic transmission, xDrive35i and xDrive50i have strong acceleration from a stop and in highway passing and merging. Neither engine shows any noticeable turbo lag. Both models suffer from non-linear throttle response.” -- Consumer Guide

Handling and Braking

The gas-powered BMW X6’s handling is especially sporty for an SUV, with good cornering and excellent grip. However, some reviewers say that its sporty ride may be a downside for shoppers looking for a comfortable commuter vehicle. For better performance on its non-hybrid models, BMW offers two different sport packages that offer features like run-flat tires, adaptive drive controls and sport seats. The automotive press agrees that the all-new 2011 X6 ActiveHybrid model handles almost as well as the gas-powered models in every respect except for its brakes. Some mention that the ActiveHybrid’s brakes are too soft for an SUV.

  • "Cornering prowess is impressive thanks to a nearly perfect 50/50 weight distribution, wide, sticky tires and the Dynamic Performance Control all-wheel-drive system. The steering is another standout when going fast, but at slower speeds, it can be a tad too heavy… Despite the X6's athletic performance, ride comfort does not suffer. In everyday driving, the cabin keeps road and wind noise to a minimum, while the suspension soaks up road imperfections with ease.” -- Edmunds
  • "Dry-road grip and balance are very good on X6 models with the sport suspension and 20-inch wheels. On wet surfaces, X6s so equipped become more skittish, with lots of slowing required before entering corners. Some testers find the steering to be too heavy at low speeds. One test X6 suffered from touchy brake-pedal action, making it difficult to stop smoothly.” -- Consumer Guide
  • "Unlike the 7-series hybrid's electrically assisted brakes, which we said remained firm and linear despite their regenerative capability, the X6 hybrid's felt rubbery and isolated. We eventually got used to them, but the initial lack of confidence wasn't good in something approaching three tons." -- Car and Driver

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