The 2008 BMW X6 is not a sport utility vehicle - at least according to the people at BMW.
Officials at the German maker of sporty luxury cars, who have insisted for years that their high-riding, all-wheel drive X3 and X5 models are sport activity vehicles - not hated SUVs - want the new X6 to be known as a sport activity coupe.
Good luck with that.
Based on the X5, the X6 sets passengers up above the pavement and is longer and heavier than a Hummer H3.
Even though the X6 roof is rounder than that on the X5, there's still an X6 liftgate and up to 60 cubic feet of space in a flat, SUV-like cargo area, albeit with a lot plusher carpet than in most SUVs.
Fuel mileage for the X6 is definitely in SUV territory at just 15 miles per gallon in city driving and 20 mpg on the highway for the twin-turbocharged, six-cylinder X6 and 13/18 mpg for the X6 with V-8, according to the federal government ratings.
Starting manufacturer's suggested retail price, including destination charge, is $53,275 for a base 2008 X6 xDrive35i with 300-horsepower six-cylinder. A 2008 X6 xDrive50i with 400-horsepower V-8 starts at $63,775. All X6s come with standard all-wheel drive and automatic transmission.
Note the starting retail price for the X6 is $6,600 more than that for the X5. It's also $14,000 pricier than the 2008 Infiniti EX, which is another sporty, luxury SUV.
Yes, the X6 has only four seats like a sport coupe would.
And for all its bulk - the X6 weighs some 2.5 tons - it reacts with surprisingly quick power.
For example, the 0-to-60-miles-per-hour time for the six-cylinder vehicle is a noteworthy 6.5 seconds. It's an even sportier 5.3 seconds for the X6 with 4.4-liter, twin-turbocharged V-8.
The tester with 3-liter, direct-injection, twin-turbocharged, inline six cylinder produces 300 foot-pounds of torque starting at a low, 1,400 rpm. It moved forward smoothly in city traffic and on the highway. It was easy to pass other vehicles, too, on country roads, and the instant zip was satisfying.
It was difficult to keep this BMW within residential street speed limits, because the power came on so readily.
2008 BMW X6 xDrive35i
BASE PRICE: $52,500.
AS TESTED: $56,275.
TYPE: Front-engine, all-wheel drive, four-passenger, mid-size sport utility vehicle.
ENGINE: 3-liter, direct injection, twin-turbocharged, inline six cylinder.
MILEAGE: 15 mpg (city), 20 mpg (highway).
TOP SPEED: 130 mph.
LENGTH: 192 inches.
WHEELBASE: 115.5 inches.
CURB WEIGHT: 4,894 pounds.
BUILT AT: Spartanburg, S.C.
The X6 with V-8 and 450 foot-pounds of torque starting at 1,750 rpm is even more eager to rush forward with just a slight push of the accelerator pedal.
A six-speed automatic gearbox is in both versions of X6 and worked with silken precision in the test vehicle. The transmission was so well-programmed in shifting in regular automatic mode, I didn't feel much need to use the shift-it-yourself mode, though it's included.
Steering in this 16-foot-long BMW was responsive, and while road bumps came through via the 19-inch tires, the sensation was of the vehicle rolling over the top of them, not clunking heavily or shuddering.
Still, it's difficult to shake the feeling that there's a lot of mass that the X6 suspension has to manage, especially in aggressive curves and turns, and a driver doesn't expect the agility that the X6 can exhibit.
Tires gripped the pavement tightly on the test vehicle, as a new electronically controlled dynamic performance control (DPC) adjusted how much torque went to each wheel.
DPC isn't the same as electronic stability control, which is on many cars and is designed to avert skids by monitoring the car's direction and where the steering wheel is pointed and then applying braking power to the necessary wheels.
In an opposite approach to stability control, DPC allows a driver to maintain good speed in curves by automatically adjusting which wheels can safely get and use more power and still maintain the proper direction. DPC is bound to be a hit with enthusiast drivers, but regular drivers likely may notice DPC.
On-road capabilities for the X6 are complemented by BMW's xDrive all-wheel drive system that automatically adjusts power between front and rear axles when roads are slippery.
As for off-roading, BMW doesn't anticipate much of that for the X6, which rides a bit lower to the ground than the X5 does.
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