Ever since the BMW X6 SAC (what BMW calls "Sports Activity Coupe"), we've wondered what BMW was thinking. Big, bulbous, and not especially attractive, the X6 certainly did something for BMW. It was ironically successful despite being too big on the outside and too small on the inside, hard to see out of, and generally odd. Based on the X5, the X6 was smaller, sportier, and far less sensible. Now, there's a third-generation model, the new 2020 X6.
BMW wants to further separate the X5 (redesigned last year) and the X6. The grilles on both vehicles are large (the surging trend among BMWs now, especially the X7 and 7-Series), but the X6's is more angular at the outer edges, as well as lower and wider. The air intakes in the lower fascia are also bigger than the X5's, giving the X6 a more aggressive appearance. The one feature the X5 doesn't have in the fascia that the X6 possess is the ability to illuminate (optional).
Even though we hate the fat, bulbous rear shape of the X6, at least the taillight treatment is better. The taillights are longer and leaner. The lower fascia, though much busier, breaks up the thickness of the bottom half with vents and creases to distract. It's still a very tall rear end, but it also looks distinct from the X5 in a more significant way. The roof spoiler is split, and the license plate is now in the lower portion of the tail, giving more room for the wide taillights.
The X6 shares the same powertrains as the X5, and there's an X6 Drive40i and and an all-wheel-drive xDrive40i. Both models get a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six with 335 horsepower and 330 lb-ft of torque, quite a bit more than 2019's 302 horsepower and 295 lb-ft. The V8-powered X6 M50i gets a twin-turbo 4.4-liter V8 shared with the X5 M50i and churns out a big 523 horsepower and 553 lb-ft. All X6s get the eight-speed automatic transmission and are electronically limited to 130 mph with all-season tires or 155 mph with summer rubber.
In terms of ride quality and handling capability, the X6 gets adjustable damping standard on the X6 with the Dynamic Handling Package. It also adds roll stabilization and the added agility of rear-wheel steering. Optional equipment includes self-leveling air suspension and the ability to tune the adjustable exhaust for more or less growl (we always vote for more). The M50i also comes with a standard electronically controlled rear differential that adds torque vectoring to the handling equation. It's optional on the lower trims.
In terms of safety features, the X6 comes standard with lane-departure warning and automatic emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection. Adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go and lane-keep assist will cost you extra. The X6's interior is more opulent and tech-laden. Dual 12.3-inch screens are optional and manage vehicle controls and the iDrive infotainment system. The styling inside the cabin looks a hell of a lot like the current X5, so BMW didn't go totally out of its way to differentiate.
The X6 will go on sale in 2019 as a 2020 model, and the starting price is $65,295 for the base X6 sDrive40i, a mere $750 bump over the 2019 X6. Jump up to the AWD X6 xDrive40i takes the cost to $67,595, and top-trim M50i starts at $86,645. There's no word on power or price on the X6 M, which will come a year or two later. Expect it to be even more insane than the current 567 horsepower version that costs a whopping $106,695.