BMW could hot-rod a mud-caked tractor.
Seriously. You want straight-line scoot, a nice growl and maybe some capability in the curves from Farmer John’s old hay-hauler? Done.
Just take a look at the 2020 BMW X6 xDrive 40i, an awkward, strange 2.5-ton SUV “coupe” that aspires to be some sort of brash, high-riding car-thing.
And yes, you’re absolutely right: It is definitely not a tractor.
But the X6 proves – again – that BMW can somehow make ungainly, overweight vehicles flat plow some pavement.
I would have bet against it. When I first saw the refrigerator white X6 in my driveway, I thought some huge, angry bubble had drifted onto my driveway.
What are those zany, foot-loose Millennials up to now, I wondered?
Actually, with the 2020 model, BMW tried to give the polarizing X6 some styling love, making it a tad longer, a half-inch wider and slightly lower.
The luxury German brand, which helped establish SUV “coupes” -- or “scoupes” -- a decade ago, also sought to tighten the X6’s thick sides by carving them lightly.
“Scoupes” like the X6 tend to ride on the platforms of a regular SUV – in this case, the BMW X5 – keeping their development costs low and profits presumably high.
Still, the most frequently asked question from family and friends was: “What is that thing?”
Maybe it was the X6’s highly aggressive front-end, dialed up with oversized plastic twin-kidney grilles that bumped up against more graceful horizontal headlamps.
A long nicely shaped hood, meanwhile, truly looked BMW, while short overhangs front and rear also fed the German driving-machine vibe.
The heavy sides on the third-gen X6 did look a bit better, I admit, with a crisp line above the door-handles and a curved line down low that merged with a vertical indentation behind the front wheels.
In back, wrap-around taillamps sought to lighten the X6’s unflattering rear, with everything perching on nice-looking 20-inch alloy wheels shod with 275/45 tires.
The “coupe” part comes from the top, which curves sharply down in back to merge with a short hatchback.
Most of that style-stuff won’t matter once you push the starter button in the five-passenger X6, awakening one of BMW’s truly great engines – a turbocharged 3-liter six tuned to produce 335 underrated horsepower.
The silky engine, which has been around for decades and unlike me seems to just get better, was tied to an equally smooth 8-speed automatic and all-wheel drive.
Around town, the sophisticated six consistently felt bigger and more powerful than it was, making easy work of highway merges and stop-light acceleration.
In fact, the 3-liter six could shove the X6 to 60 mph in a physics-defying 4.7 seconds, pausing for a millisecond when prodded hard before winding up with a lusty growl to 6,500 rpm.
Just about as impressive was the vehicle’s overall fuel economy of 22 miles per gallon.
Though I had lower expectations for the bulky X6’s handling, it, too, felt pretty BMW-ish.
Despite some lean from the vehicle’s 66-inch tall body, the “scoupe” mostly kept its composure and grip, rotating through corners pretty cleanly.
Even the ride was OK – springy and a bit bouncy over bad pavement, but no AWD harshness.
As always with modern BMWs, though, the steering felt thick and numb, but at least was well-weighted and precise.
At $72,000, my X6 was definitely a luxury vehicle, offering a nicely appointed coffee-and-black interior that tended to soften the effects of the odd, bulky body.
A sloping black dashboard, for example, eased down and around a tablet-shaped 12.3-inch touchscreen that, naturally, required me to tune the radio through the screen.
However, it did offer Apple CarPlay compatibility, and somewhere in there were safety nannies such as front-collision warning; collision mitigation; lane-departure warning and cross-traffic alert.
The biggest pain up front was the electric shifter, which often needed multiple movements just to find “R” -- something we cave-men could accomplish with a simple mechanical “PRNDL.”
Worst of all, the “park” button was on the back side of the shifter, a decidedly strange spot for it.
Thankfully, a sleek, intuitive climate-control panel beneath the touchscreen eased some of my pain.
A broad console in coffee brown matched door panels in black and brown, as well as stunning seats in smooth, solid brown with decent bolsters and pleated centers.
As you might expect, the X6’s curving cool-jim top cuts into interior space, leaving it with no more head- or leg-room than a mid-size sedan.
But, hey, you’ll look like a semi-famous harmonica player when you drive it.
Unlike most German luxury vehicles, my X6 had just two big options, the parking assist package ($700); and the premium package ($2,300).
Looks are in the eyes of the beer-holder, I maintain -- a fact that has gotten me into trouble more than once.
I don’t care for the styling of the X6. You might. But we can probably agree that true to its roots, the X6 delivers BMW performance and handling – and that’s probably all that counts.
2020 BMW X6 xDrive 40i Review
- What I liked most: The X6’s wonderful twin-turbo 3-liter six, a stout, underrated engine that is used in lots of Bimmers and always delivers a powerful punch.
- What I would change: The puffy, clumsily bulked-up styling that screams something – I’m just not sure what.
- MSRP: Base price, $66,600; as equipped, $72,020.
- Official color: Mineral White Metallic.
- Fuel economy: 20 miles per gallon in the city, 26 on the highway and 22 mpg combined with filler on the right.
- Odometer reading when tested: 7,141 miles.
- Spare tire: Temporary compact.
- Weight: 4,713 pounds.
- Length-width-height: 194.8 inches long/78.9 inches wide/66.3 inches tall.
- Fuel-tank capacity: 22.4 gallons.
- Towing capacity: Up to 7,500 pounds.
- 2020 BMW X6 xDrive40i in a few words: Sure, it looks funny, but it’s got a great personality.
- Warranty: Four-year, 50,000-mile overall protection
- Final assembly location: Spartanburg, S.C.
- Manufacturer’s website: www.bmwusa.com
- E-mail me at email@example.com
- Up next: 2021 AMG E 63 S Sedan