Test Drive: 2010 BMW X6 xDrive35i – Utility Hidden Under Sport

BMW X6 | July 6th, 2010 by 19
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We’ve heard it all these days, in regards to the X6. It’s the answer to a question no one was asking… What’s the point…? Bangle …

We’ve heard it all these days, in regards to the X6. It’s the answer to a question no one was asking… What’s the point…? Bangle ruined BMW…. But if you look closely, not too many out there have actually tried to review the X6.  At least not in a thorough fashion.

That’s why we are bringing you an article based review, with a video based review. We want to cover all angles for you. There’s no need to hide it, and this I shall get out from the beginning: the BMW X6 is expensive. Too expensive, I believe. But that doesn’t tell you anything about it.

So here’s the rest of the story…

To tell it the proper way, I must add that pretty much every fellow writer that I spoke with before getting the X6 from BMW, and each one I talked to while having it, told me that I was going to hate it, or strongly dislike it. I feel neither of those emotions is at all true from this writer. I came out enjoying the X6 as if it were a vehicle I would go and buy myself. I drove the X6 xDrive35i from Newark, NJ, stopping off in Columbia, MD to visit some family, and then down to my home in Raleigh, NC. In total, I covered roughly 1,500 miles between driving it down and then back up.

Test Drive: 2010 BMW X6 xDrive35i   Utility Hidden Under Sport

In the amount of time I had the BMW X6, I realized, it packs a lot of punch for something that’s only meant to carry four people and a little bit of cargo. The 2010 X6 xDrive35i has the N54 twin-turbo inline-6, making 300hp and 300lb-ft of torque (the 2011 will have the N55 single turbo).

However, we know from past experiences that the N54 can actually make closer to 360hp and 350lb-ft of torque at the crank. That’s roughly what the 4.8-liter V8 from the E60 550i and E65/E66 750i/Li had. All-in-all, the twin-turbo six will haul the X6 to 60 in about 6-seconds with the Sport Package. Impressive for a car that weighs just shy of 4800lbs.

I was able to haul people 6-feet tall and under in the back seat with room to spare for their legs and heads. However, any taller than 6-feet, and you’re pushing your luck. With that said, I was able to fit three medium to large roller suitcases in the back, and also allowed space for three full backpacks underneath the cargo area (the floor opens up to reveal this) in the back of the Sports Activity Coupe.

Test Drive: 2010 BMW X6 xDrive35i   Utility Hidden Under Sport

It was certainly impressive amounts of space for something that everyone told me before hand to be cautious of.

In the front, well, that’s where the fun is. The BMW X6 has many different things to play with. Whether it’s the iPod adapter, the revised iDrive control system, or just sitting back and relaxing in the comfortable sport seats. This X6 unfortunately didn’t come with iDrive navigation…

Overall Driving 4.5 out of 5:

Test Drive: 2010 BMW X6 xDrive35i   Utility Hidden Under Sport

The overall driving impressions of the X6, at first, were rather good. It took me a second to get used to where everything was and what it did.  When you do learn it -rather quickly with the revised iDrive- you enjoy the driving experience a lot more.

When I started my journey, I was in traffic on the NJ Turnpike. Not the most ideal place to be on a Friday at 5 o’ clock. But I learned a lot about the X6 driving it in traffic. For one, the xDrive35i may very well be the better of the two X6s offered (xDrive35i and xDrive50i).

I know that may sound crazy, but here’s why.

Driving along on the highway, I was returning, according to the trip computer on my way back from Maryland, about 23.5 mpg with an average speed of 54.3 mph. That was just 191 miles into the trip. Once it started with some hurricane style downpours continuing until I got home, I was going slower and returning about 21-22 mpg. Not bad at all for a utility vehicle doing 60-75 mph on I-95 and other various highways with similar traffic and speed limits.

Getting back into North Carolina, I filled up the following day and realized that I had gone a total of 431 miles on one tank of gas, with 33 miles left, from Westchester, MD to Raleigh, NC. I had been driving in traffic on the highway, at various highway speeds, then into extreme rain and finally, city driving. According to BMW’s trip computer, I had successfully done 21.5 mpg on the dot, and kept an average speed of 49.9 mph. Maybe I should have slowed down a little more in the rain… but the BMW X6 gave me so much confidence in everything I drove in, that I never felt, at any time, I was in any sort of danger. The typical highway stuff of people cutting you off, dodging interesting things in the roads, and people even swerving to avoid something right next to you, not one time did I feel as if the X6 would do me any harm, or allow me to get hurt. It may sound hokey, but I mean it when I say, I’ve never felt so safe in any automobile.

I have heard some people who calculate their miles per gallon manually say that BMW’s trip computer can be up to 1.5 mpg better than in actuality. So with that, the X6 still did 20 mpg in all types of driving habits and styles.

Technology wise, BMW has been considered a pioneer and many times they have changed the way we drive each day. Some people hail it them as the killers of the turn signals, navigation and user controls, as well as the joystick drive system. All of these I disagree with, but there’s been one thing that I was pretty afraid of, and that was the push button parking brake. I was afraid that the e-brake was now no longer for emergency use, but just a push button for when you’re on a hill.

So if you actually do need it while driving, you can’t use it because the computer won’t let you… This isn’t the case.

At about 60 mph on a long stretch of back road, with no one around, I pulled the parking brake button towards me, and low and behold, it stopped the car in an emergency panic. Bless you BMW for not taking that one last thing away from us.

Comfort 4 out of 5:

Test Drive: 2010 BMW X6 xDrive35i   Utility Hidden Under Sport

Driving the X6 all that I did was fantastic. While continuing to feel safe and secure, I have also felt extremely comfortable. One wish that remained unfilled was sport seats offering a manual bolster setting, because I found myself wanting them to be a little tighter on my sides.

Also, even though the knee bolsters are fantastic, the X6 that I had seemed to have touchy ones. If you went to sit up, or reach over into the passenger or rear seats, the backs of your legs hit against the bolster and push them in to the point where it sounds like you have broken them. Maybe it was just the vehicle I had.

The back seat riders said they had good comfort, but wouldn’t have been comfortable for anyone too tall or big.

One more surprising thing about the X6 is the actual ride comfort. With the 20″ sport wheels, one would  have expected something much more harsh and choppy, but that’s not the case. The X6 xDrive35i with the Sport Package and big sport wheels rides like the proverbial Cadillac…

Sport Package 5 out of 5:

Test Drive: 2010 BMW X6 xDrive35i   Utility Hidden Under Sport

The BMW Sport Package is renowned for being the best blend of sport, luxury, safety and efficiency in all the world. Here is why: when driving any BMW, you feel alive. There is hardly ever a feeling that a computer can and will do it for you, or better than you for that matter. It  is the same in the X6 xDrive35i.

Except for one thing… you can turn it off.

Right behind the gear shifter sits a black button that has a green light when turned on. It says “Sport”. Turning this off, you can feel the steering loosen up around town, the brakes a little less touchy, and the accelerator pedal a little more relaxed. Gear changes also seem a little more at ease. So this is good news for anyone who wants a Sport Package without all of the stiff steering and other various inputs that used to come along with it. The guy can have his sports car, but the wife can have her comfy ride if needed.

The best of both worlds is what I call it.

Sound System: 5 out of 5:

Test Drive: 2010 BMW X6 xDrive35i   Utility Hidden Under Sport

Plain and simple, one of the best stereo systems out there. The Harmon/Kardon Premium Sound system is quite impressive and will satisfy any audiophile out there. You could literally sit an X6 on the stage at Madison Square Garden and power the sound of any rock concert you’d want to hear.

As I said earlier, there were some seriously heavy rains driving down from MD to NC, and the problem with rain is that you can always hear it from inside the car. You can hear it whooshing around the car, under the wheel wells, hitting the car as other cars drive by, etc…. But with my iPod hooked up to the X6 and the stereo turned up rather loud, you hear nothing. And I really do mean nothing. It’s quite amazing. I have yet to drive or ride in a car where the noise of the outside world didn’t at least interfere a tiny bit.

Pet Friendliness 3 out of 5:

Test Drive: 2010 BMW X6 xDrive35i   Utility Hidden Under Sport

Okay, so the title is weird, but here is what I mean: with the hatchback style rear on the X6, you are looking at a weird angle when larger dogs try to stand up. There is plenty of room back there for most dogs and any cat, but it is not going to be the most comfortable on long drives. In this case, you may want to look at the X5.

My 70-lb German Shepherd was able to get into the back just fine, and had good comfort while laying down. But while shutting the door, I started to feel bad. When she stood up, her body was at a weird angle just so she could look out the back window. There is one thing that makes the X6 pet friendly, the tall rear bumper.

The rear bumper on the X6 is so tall, that animals have to jump a little higher to get in. But if you look closely, say someone rear-ends you… the impact would not drive into the cargo area. It would go underneath of the cargo area. So the rear hatch should remain unharmed, along with most things in the back.

Again, safety.

Final Verdict: 3.5 out of 5

Test Drive: 2010 BMW X6 xDrive35i   Utility Hidden Under Sport

The X6 xDrive35i is more sports car than SUV, but it is much more utility than anyone could expect. You can still tow 6,000lbs, for all you boat, Jet Ski or racing guys. It only seats  four people, but you know what? A Chevy Tahoe, an Escalade, GMC Yukon, Ford Expedition, and the Lincoln Navigator all only hold four people when equipped with captain’s chairs.

Yes, they do have a third row seat that seats two, but try putting anything behind those rear seats when going on a trip. This means that you have to put the rear seats down (in the Fords), or in the GM vehicles, unload the 80 lb third row (80 pounds for each seat! I know this all too well… I still have nightmares) and then put all of your luggage in. That’s only four-five seats. And those trucks don’t have much more room in the back than the X6.

So, the X6 isn’t an SUV, but it sure does all the same stuff people use them for these days.

But this brings us to a conundrum. As beautiful and great as this vehicle is, it is quite expensive. This xDrive35i came out to be $67,275 on its sticker, and that’s $10,000 too much. It’s an amazing vehicle, but I’d buy it CPO (Certified Pre-Owned) and let someone else taking the hit to their wallet. This X6 also didn’t include navigation in that price, and that’s a lot of money for a car these days that doesn’t have it.

With that said, we still recommend buying it, just maybe not brand new.

  • w

    I hate to troll, and this probably won’t get posted but you forgot:

    Douchebag/Tool Factor 10 out of 10: if you want to say I’m a giant douchebag with style, this is the car for you.

    • http://www.rawautos.com Josh

      See, that’s the weird stigma about the X6. But when you really go in and drive it, your whole attitude changes. Take what Jeremy Clarkson said out of your head. I had that in my head, too, when I was about to pick it up, but then I got in it and started driving it as my daily driver, living in America, and I came to the conclusion that it was far better than anyone gives it credit for.

    • Woo Hoo

      I’m fine with that. You probably can’t afford one anyway…jealousy….lol

  • Laszlo

    I don’t like it either, was one of them who said an answer to a question nobody has asked, etc. but having driven 3 of them for some time 4.4TT and 2 of the 3.0TT , they are great. They serve their purpose. Douchebag mobile ? Maybe but isn’t the US and most of the world are full with Douchebags ? This car/truck is a success and for a reason. Handling is awesome and styling is what people wanted.
    Sure I would not buy one, but I’m not the target market either.An E92 M3 is more of my choice and I’m more of a target for a 335i Wagon…. had it exist.

    so before you trash it, do yourself a favor and drive the thing. Its amazing what it can do. Sure the X5 is 98% same but still… its a one of its own.

    • http://www.rawautos.com Josh

      You know, I was afraid I was going to dislike the X6. From what everyone had told me, it was a pile of junk. But I couldn’t believe how familiar it is as a BMW, but how unique it is for a totally different person. I found myself realizing that it is exactly the type of utility vehicle I like. Lots of sport utility, but not a lot of Tahoe, if you know what I mean. It was small, but still very big. And oh my God! This 35i did things on the same back roads where I take my Bullitt Mustang and my father’s ’09 Z06. It outdid them both… Much faster and far more stable.

  • Doug

    Arrgghh, Josh — you had to bust on Bangle. I don’t like alot of his decisions either, but not because they were “bad”, but because I didn’t like the way they looked. He should be judged as an artist.

    However… great article. Lots of practical stuff that potential douchebags can make a buying decision based on.

    Also… HAHAHAHA… 49.9mph… welcome to MD with its rediculous, revenue-generating 50mph speed limits.

    • http://www.rawautos.com Josh

      @Doug: I wasn’t busting on him. I love his designs. I was just adding that in there because that’s all I’ve heard. When people find out I’m a BMW guy, that’s one of the first things that come out of their mouths. Even worse, every person that talked to me about the X6 said all of those things in the first sentence. It was sad… And once I even proved to them how good the vehicle was, they still asked, “But why?” To which I would simply add, “If you ask why, then it’s not for you. It’s the car for the person is more into the ‘why not’ theory than the ‘why’.”

      Oh, and I’m from Ellicott City, brother. I know all about it, haha. The speed limits in MD are so ridiculous. What’s even more stupid is the traffic on 95 doing either 90 or 55…while in a 65!!!!! I wanted machine guns on the X6 so damn bad.

      • Doug

        Oh ok. You hear so much criticism about bangle you kind of expect it. I really like the X6… it’s a really odd animal, but clearly there’s a niche for it.

        Sure, I know Ellicott, I bike Patapsco all the time. Yeah, these roads and traffic are frustrating. They’ve arranged some of the most dangerous traffic patterns I’ve ever seen, but they want to enforce highway speed instead. I’d highly recommend 83 for driving – no shoulder, hiding spots or cameras, just lots of windy curves.

        . I’m in the City, but I come down to bike patapsco all the time. Those troopers are ruthless down there.

        • Doug

          argh… disregard last line.

  • Ronald

    good review. Took your time to get into understanding the car.

    One fault though. You mention the sport button next to the gear stick. This is for the adaptive drive shocks only. It doesnt do anything to the steering, brakes or acceleration!

    or am I wrong???

    • http://www.rawautos.com Josh

      @Ronald: I thought that, too. However, I kept turning sport on and off, and the steering and brakes definitely felt different. A bit lighter. Not too lazy, but just enough to feel a difference. The throttle and gear changes felt the same way, as well. All-in, I was very impressed with how well it was composed with or without sport. BMW hit a homerun with the X6, and I would buy one tomorrow, if I had the extra cash. I just bought an ’05 Mini Cooper S last week, so I doubt I’ll be getting one any time soon, though.

  • Ronald

    strange. i looked at the picture you have of the options and i do not see Adaptive Drive. Or was it in the Sports package?

  • badger

    great drivers car, but its still one of the ugliest cars i ever seen.
    This car is only for a small market.

  • Ronald

    @badger – its an interesting point you make. people mostly either really like the X6 or hate it. And from the huge global sales of the X6 you are clearly wrong that it is for a small market.

    I found that a lot of people who hate the X6 in europe also like the Citroen C6. If thats true, what does it tell you?

  • Dan

    If you average your scoring, then the final verdict would be 4.3 out of 5. Perhaps you forgot to mention it got a 0 out of 5 on price. Then it would be closer to a 3.5 out of 5.
    Regardless is look cool in white.!

    • http://www.rawautos.com Josh

      @Dan: That’s a good catch there, buddy. Thanks for clearing that one up for us.

  • badger

    does anyone know how many X6′s have been sold in the US? It would be interesting to see how many people would prefer the X5 or X6 here in the states.
    okay i didnt take in consideration the global market. The C6 isn’t sold here in the US so i have no idea what it looks like or how it drives.

  • BMfan

    can’t have enough of driving my X6 or appreciating it. its an experiencing worth having. ugly? thats clearly a minority opinion and i really dont understand how a beautiful and sexy car like X6 can be described as ugly but as they say ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’.

  • Ray Mac

    Appreciate the non bias review. I had been struggling with answering my friends who don’t “get” the X6. The same friends, who gush over a Cayenne, call the X6 ugly. I love your answer… “If you ask why, then it’s not for you”.

    I’m picking mine up in a few weeks. I’ve had an H2, Range Rover, Navigator, and an X5 in the last 10 years. The X5 was the most “fun”. I am looking forward to a lot of fun from the X6.

    One more thing about the price, if you’re a small business owner, the big engine qualifies for the full depreciation expense President Bush put in place, but it sunsets this year.

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