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2012 BMW X6

Posted: 12/01/2011 - 9:03 PM ET

Theres a big buzz in the auto world over BMWs new X6. Auto writers dont know precisely how to peg it. Officially called a Sports Activity Coupe by its Bavarian maker, the X6 nearly crosses into SUV territory, but doesnt quite make the trip.

The BMW X6 is a brawny offering and its weight makes it just a little off-road shy. (Its probably a good thing too, since the dramatically rearward-sloping roofline limits the headroom and the storage aft. Knowing where to stow your camping gear could be a problem with the X6.) What it loses in tent-storage and trail savvy though, it more than makes up for in performance. The X6 with its standard all wheel drive and longer, broader wheelbase can intimidate mountain switchbacks and icy roads like a champ. Whatever you call it, this is a handsome vehicle with muscles galore and an attitude to match.

With two trim packages to choose from and prices beginning at $58,900, this is not your ordinary utility vehicle. BMWs Integrated Chassis Management and Dynamic Performance Control differential add stability and traction control. The X6 family all come with four-wheel-disc antilock brakes, side-impact airbags for the front seats and side curtain airbags around, the safety features of these head-turners havent been neglected.

The X6 Drive50i is powered by an all-new twin turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 which kicks out 400 horses at 5500 rpm, the X6 dashes from zero to 62 mph in a mere 5.4 seconds.

The Drive35i has a twin-turbo 3.0-lite inline six that produces 300 hp. As you might expect, the weight of the X6 is onerous at the gas pump. None of the 3 models exceeds 17 city and 25 highway mpg with the X6M, priced at $89,500, barely skating above 12 city and 17 mpg on the open road.

In addition, there are two other, more specialized models. The X6 M, the uber-performer in the family, weighs in at a hefty 5,300 pounds. Despite its obvious bulk it takes command at the junction of comfort and sport.

Also available is the "green" X6 the ActiveHybrid also features all-wheel drive and a seven-speed automatic transmission. The battery pack is stored under the cargo floor, so no trunk space is sacrificed. At 5,800 pounds, the ActiveHybrid a "two-mode hybrid" - is chunkier than even big brother M, but still sprints to 60mph in 5.4 seconds.

They are big. They have a distinctively different look and they are definitely NOT an economy vehicle. Still, drivers rave about these bold new Beamers. They are fast, powerful, agile and very confident in the curves. Its as if the BMW engineers put an SUV and a sports car in a blender, poured it all into a fastback mold, et voila! The X6 was born.

In spite of the headroom and cargo complaints, the pros like it. Car and Driver writes of the 2012 BMW X6, "Its a fully capable, beautifully finished, and superbly comfortable four-place sports car with a trunk big enough for almost any adventure and the ability to tow up to three tons of what wont fit inside."

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