The 2021 BMW X6 is built for shoppers who want a mid-size luxury crossover with a sportier aesthetic. Although traditionalists might mock its fastback styling and decry its decreased practicality, they should remember that the more conventional BMW X5 still exists. Plus, BMW spearheaded the SUV-coupe movement with the original X6, so now it must defend its market share against spin-offs such as the Porsche Cayenne Coupe and Mercedes-AMG GLE-class. Not only does the X6 have an appropriately luxurious cabin and entertaining driving manners, it also boasts a set of quick and refined powertrains. The 523-hp twin-turbo V-8 is a lot more expensive than the standard six-cylinder engine, but it’s still a better value than the six-figure price that the 600-plus-hp X6 M commands. No matter its performance level, the 2021 X6 is a machine for people who like to be seen.
What’s New for 2021?
The 2021 X6 lineup adds some new standard features, drops some old ones, and gets revised option packages. The most notable new addition is Android Auto, which was previously not available and now comes standard. However, BMW eliminates previous options such as the acoustic glass, glass interior controls, rear-entertainment system, and night vision with pedestrian detection. The six-cylinder X6 now features a 48-volt hybrid system, and the V-8-powered version adds standard remote start and ventilated front seats.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
Despite the burlier sounds and gutsier acceleration that the 523-hp X6 M50i provides, we don’t need to spend the nearly $20,000 extra on it. Instead, we’d stick with the rear-wheel-drive, six-cylinder X6 40i. Those who want all-wheel drive can add it for $2300. We’d spring for the M Sport package that includes a snazzier body kit and exterior trim, an upgraded exhaust system, a retuned suspension, and a unique steering wheel. We’d also pay extra to avoid the no-cost white and black paint colors. We don’t think it’s necessary to upgrade to the richer Merino leather upholstery, but we would add the Premium package. It includes a head-up display, remote engine start, wireless charging, and more. The Luxury Seating package is a solid value that adds ventilated front seats with extra power adjustments and massage functions. Our other individual upgrades include the heated armrests and steering wheel, as well as the two-axle air suspension.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
The X6 40i is powered by a 335-hp turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six that features a 48-volt hybrid system and pairs with an eight-speed automatic transmission and either rear- or all-wheel drive. The M50i has the same transmission and standard all-wheel drive, but its twin-turbo 4.4-liter V-8 is significantly more powerful. Its 523 horsepower and 553 lb-ft of torque helped it rocket from to 60 mph in just 3.8 seconds at our test track. What’s even more shocking is that the X6 M has up to 617 horsepower and is even quicker. Still, the standard six-cylinder powertrain is plenty quick and velvety smooth. Both the X6 40i and M50i also have standard adaptive dampers and wheel sizes that range from 20 to 22 inches. Our test of the V-8-powered X6 revealed its impressive cornering grip and stopping power. Although its suspension is firmer than the setup found on the six-cylinder X6 we tested, it was never punishing. We also appreciated its adjustable steering heft and hushed interior at cruising speed.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
The EPA estimates the rear-drive X6 40i will earn 21 mpg in the city and 26 on the highway. The all-wheel-drive version has the same city rating, but its highway figure drops to 25 mpg. The much more powerful twin-turbo V-8 X6 M50i is rated at 16 mpg city and 22 highway. While the six-cylinder X6 with all-wheel drive exceeded the government’s expectations on our 75-mph highway fuel-economy route—part of our extensive testing regimen—earning 29 mpg highway, the M50i missed its mark by 2 mpg in the same test.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
Unsurprisingly, the X6 interior looks and feels like most other new BMW products. That means upscale materials and soft-touch surfaces abound, and two large 12.3-inch digital displays dominate the dashboard. While the instrument panel looks slicks, the gauges are a confusing mess. Thankfully, the optional head-up display is more straightforward. The rest of the switchgear is also smartly laid out. BMW’s gesture controls—which enable you to control certain functions like audio volume by waving your hand in front of the infotainment screen—are included but unnecessary. Plenty of standard amenities are offered, too, including 16-way power-adjustable front seats, customizable ambient lighting, heated front cushions, and passive entry. While the back seat is comfortable for two adults, its legroom and headroom shrink by about 2 and 3 inches, respectively, compared with the boxier X5. Likewise, the X6 has less cargo volume behind the rear seats. In our test, it only held nine carry-on suitcases back there; the X5 handled 11.
Infotainment and Connectivity
The standard 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It operates through various functions such as traditional buttons, voice commands, a rotary controller on the center console, and even hand gestures. The company’s iDrive interface has crisp graphics and immediate responses, but some of the layered menus can be distracting. BMW also offers upgrades such as built-in navigation, enhanced USB ports, wireless charging, and a Wi-Fi hotspot. The X6 can also be upgraded with a premium Harman/Kardon stereo or an even more premium Bowers & Wilkins unit.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
The 2021 X6 hasn’t been crash-tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Still, the Bimmer is available with a plethora of standard and optional driver-assistance technology. Key safety features include:
- Standard forward-collision warning and automated emergency braking
- Standard blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert
- Available adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go technology
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
BMW provides limited and powertrain warranties that align with rival luxury automakers such as Audi and Mercedes-Benz. However, BMW offers one of the best complimentary maintenance plans in the industry apart from Jaguar.
- Limited warranty covers 4 years or 50,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers 4 years or 50,000 miles
- Complimentary maintenance is covered for 3 years or 36,000 miles