SUVs

2020 BMW X6 prefers form over function

The third-generation BMW X6 is still as swoopy as ever, and hey, now its grille lights up.

BMW's X6 sports activity vehicle has been driving a wedge between enthusiasts since 2008, and now it's entering its third generation.

Andrew Hoyle/Roadshow

BMW's X6 "sports activity vehicle" has been both a success for the brand and a wildly polarizing model since it made its debut back in 2008. Since then, it's seen several refreshes, including a second generation which came out in 2014, but it's high time that BMW came out with a new version.

Thankfully that's exactly what it's doing with the third-generation 2020 BMW X6, which the company announced on Tuesday. The new car has all the same lifted coupe on big wheels styling that customers want but gets the same excellent upgrades that we saw on its sister model, the X5 SUV.

The 2020 X6 will be available in three flavors, depending on how much performance you need and how much cash you're willing to part with. The base model is the sDrive40i, followed by the xDrive40i and the M50i. Don't let that M in M50i fool you though. This is just an M Performance trim level and not a full-fat M vehicle.

The sDrive40i is rear-wheel drive and makes a healthy 335 horsepower and 330 pound-feet of torque. The xDrive40i is similar but also drives the front wheels. The M50i model is where things start to get really spicy though because its 4.4-liter turbocharged V8 produces 523 horsepower and 553 lb-ft of torque. That's a lot of jam, friends.

Power in all models is sent through BMW's eight-speed automatic transmission. Nothing shocking there. Speaking of shocking though, BMW's X6 is equipped with active roll stabilization which is powered by high-voltage electric swivel motors that work to smooth out rough pavement and keeps the SAV flatter in the corners, despite its tall bulk.

The 2020 X6 gets the massive kidney grilles that are currently adorning the noses of the X7 and X5, but these ones are illuminated.

Andrew Hoyle/Roadshow

Also on the options list for xDrive models is active four-wheel steering. This is thankfully an individual option and not bundled with other stuff, because making a big SUV more maneuverable in tight spaces should be of interest to everyone. Buyers can also opt for height-adjustable air suspension at all four corners, which should add further comfort to the Bimmer's ride.

The interior of the 2020 X6 has a few exciting updates including a panoramic glass roof that's 83% larger than previous sunroof offerings. It can also be had with a feature that BMW is calling the Sky Lounge. This takes your sexy glass roof and adds around 15,000 individual points of light (think Rolls-Royce Starlight headliner) that look like a night sky.

If having a fancy glass roof isn't enough for you, BMW is allowing buyers to add an optional glass shifter, iDrive control knob, start-stop button and volume control knob. You can also get heated and cooled cupholders and a wireless charging pad, but you're going to pay for them.

The X6 gets the latest version of iDrive, which is still one of the best infotainment suites in the business as well as Live Cockpit Professional. This allows the BMW -- among other things -- to detect who is driving the car and adjust a large number of settings to their tastes automatically.

One of the other more interesting optional features on the X6 is called Back-up Assistant. This system stores the steering inputs you made to get into a parking space and when engaged, will mirror these movements while you modulate the throttle and brakes to help make getting out of a space easier. It sounds cool, at least in theory, but we'll have to test it in person before we pass judgment. It's a part of the larger Parking Assistance Package.

The new X6's interior is typical BMW but can be had with a number of glass touches including a starry panoramic glass roof.

BMW

When it comes to more safety-oriented driver assistance systems, the X6 can be had with just about all the bells and whistles you could want. There are plenty of standard features on-hand thanks to the Active Driving Assistant which includes blind-spot warning, lane departure warning, rear collision detection with cross-traffic alert, frontal collision warning which detects pedestrians and cyclists and speed limit information.

The optional Driving Assistance Professional package adds more features which, in our opinion, should be standard for a car in the X6's price category. These include adaptive cruise control with stop and go traffic capability and lane-keep assist. It also adds Extended Traffic Jam Assistant which augments the adaptive cruise system and only works on limited-access highways and freeways at speeds under 40 mph.

Outside, the X6 is slightly larger than the model it replaces in every dimension except height, where it's just under an inch shorter than its predecessor. One of the most significant visual changes and the one bound to make a polarizing vehicle even more polarizing is the premiere of BMW's light-up kidney grille. That's right, in addition to being HUGE, it's also illuminated so now even people in passing aircraft will be able to see that you're driving a new BMW.

The rest of the exterior moves the model in-line with BMW's current design language and is generally better-looking than the outgoing second-generation car, in our opinion.

Pricing for the base model sDrive40i starts at a rather robust $65,295 including destination. From there it's a small leap of $2,300 to get the all-wheel drive xDrive40i and a much bigger jump all the way to $86,645 for the V8-powered M50i version. BMW expects the 2020 X6 to hit showrooms in November of 2019.