2020 BMW X6 40i – Off-Road Test Review – By Matt Barnes

Sports Car in a Crossover’s Clothes: the New BMX X6

German vehicle manufacturers have recently been flooding the US market with a variety of crossovers; Audi offers six, Mercedes offers eight, and BMW offers seven. For BMW, they offer their SUVs as wagons and coupes. The X1 is the wagon and X2 the coupe riding on the same platforms. This goes for the X3 and X4, and the X5 and X6. The only wagon without a coupe is the new X7 as there is no X8 available yet.

BMW was kind enough to give us a week with an X6 xDrive 40i for our review. As noted above, the X6 is the coupe version of the X5. The 40i comes with the same 3.0 liter turbocharged inline six cylinder that is used in the Toyota Supra and a variety of BMW products. In the X6 it makes 335 hp and 330 ft-lbs of torque, which doesn’t sound amazing. However, don’t let the numbers fool you, the torque reaches its peak at 1500 rpm, which makes the X6 feel like it has a lot more power than it does.

BMW X6 Off-Roading Video


Just like all other BMW’s, there is a distinct kidney shaped grill in the front. While many other vehicles are almost anonymous because they look so similar to each other, BMW has a standout grill that can’t be confused with any other vehicle. Everything blends well on the front with the grill, headlights, and bumper all working together. The lower corners of the front bumper have large openings that aren’t actually open on this model, and below those sit the LED fog lights. As we’ve seen with so many other manufacturers these aren’t actually fog lights as the headlights have to be on in order to turn the fog lights on.

From the side, the X6 looks smooth and rounded on the top but a little boxy and stout on the bottom. It is reminiscent of a turtle shell, but not in an ugly way. With this being the coupe version, the roof begins sloping at the B pillar just above the driver’s head. This slope is carried all the way through to the rear hatch.

There is a lot going on at the rear, but just like the front it looks great and distinctive. At the belt line, the tail lights swoop in from both sides, leaving only a small space in the middle for the BMW badge. Lower down is a grey U-shaped plastic trim that breaks up the rear even more. In the bumper, there are dual exhaust ports, although the 40i only uses the passenger side outlet.


BMW falls into the luxury brand category and it certainly delivers. High quality leather abounds and comfort features are plentiful. The front seats are roomy, and two adults can fit comfortably in the back as long as they aren’t too tall. Four zone climate control is available to give everyone the option to have the exact level of comfort they desire. There are three separate fans: one for the driver, one for the front passenger and the third for the rear seats.

The iDrive infotainment system works very well and has a variety of ways to adjust the settings. Next to the shift lever, there is a system with buttons and a dial to manage the infotainment system, the screen is a touch screen, and there are limited functions that can be done using gesture controls.

The instrument cluster can almost be avoided with use of the HUD (heads up display) that is clearly projected onto the windshield directly in front of the driver. The HUD is very clear and provides all the essential data for driving.

The cargo area is a bit cramped due to the slant back design, but there is still plenty of space for baggage for four people. The rear seats are split 40/20/40, which allows for long items to be passed through the middle seat in the second row while keeping the two outboard seats intact. This makes for a great ski trip vehicle.


BMW has always done well with making driver’s cars. Their “Ultimate driving machine” slogan was created for a reason, and with the X6 it holds true. As a highway cruiser, the ride is a little harsh when compared to other luxury vehicles. Everywhere else the X6 performs very well. It stays flat and composed in the corners. When going beyond the limits of the driver, the traction control kicks in to keep everything under control. It does so in a manner that doesn’t ruin the driving experience.

The 20-inch rims are about the right size for performance and comfort. They keep the tire sidewall small enough that there isn’t much give in the corners, but aren’t so large that potholes and speed bumps are harsh jolts. Having xDrive engaged all the time makes accelerating at any speed strong and controlled. There is no noticeable torque steer from the power going to the front wheels, but what is noticed is the amount of traction and grip the X6 has.

The X6 has standard adjustable dampers which adjust depending on which drive mode is selected. There are five drive modes: Comfort, Eco, Sport, Sport +, and Adaptive. If the off-road package is selected, four additional modes are available: Snow, Sand, Gravel, and Rocks. Each drive mode adjusts throttle, steering, and damping. Each offroad mode adjusts those same three features along with the ride height via air suspension.


Our test model did not come equipped with the off-road package, which includes air suspension, the M sport rear differential, and the additional aforementioned drive modes, yet its capability still surprised us.

Our test model was equipped with xDrive. xDrive works by using a servo motor to apply force on a wet clutch for the center differential. In normal driving, there is always a 40/60 power split front/rear. This can be adjusted to 50/50 or 0/100.  The rear drive is directly connected and cannot be disconnected, however the front can be. On road, this helps with accelerating and cornering, but offroad it helps when climbing. To transfer power side to side, the ABS is used to apply the brakes on the wheels without traction to transfer power to the wheels that do have traction.

As far as we could tell, xDrive quickly transferred front to rear, and then focused on side to side traction. Sometimes it took a minute to get things right, but we were able to climb all of the obstacles we faced, some of which other vehicles have failed on.

Sports cars have some design features that also help offroad and the X6 is no exception. The flat underbody keeps the vehicle from getting hung up on rocks and the sports tuned suspension keeps it planted when driving at higher speeds.


The base price for an X6 xDrive40i is $66,600. Our test model included: Mineral White Metallic paint for $550. The Parking Assistance Package which comes with the surround view cameras for $700. The Premium Package that includes remote engine start, four-zone climate control, HUD, wireless charging, gesture control and others for $2,300. The Harman Kardon surround sound for $875. Finally the destination charge of $995. This brought the MSRP up to $72,020. Only use colon in list,


BMW strives to make their vehicles the “Ultimate Driving Machine” first, and then all else comes into play. The X6 certainly has competitors in the Porsche Cayenne Coupe and Mercedes GLE Coupe, but they all have their different strengths. The Cayenne is tuned more for sportiness and the GLE is more tuned toward luxury, with the X6 slotting somewhere in the middle.


Matthew Barnes is an experienced towing expert. He works as a mechanical engineer and his day job involves testing a variety of vehicles while towing trailers of all types and sizes. Matt shares his knowledge by writing for automotive news outlets in the evenings. When he’s not working he can be found spending time in the great outdoors with his family. He enjoys camping, hiking, canyoneering, and backpacking. Whenever possible he spends time riding in or on any power sports vehicle he can find and claims he can drive anything with a motor, which probably isn’t true.

Matt lives in the Utah mountains and often posts cool off-roading videos to his Instagram and YouTube channel.

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