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2010 BMW ActiveHybrid X6 – Short Take Road Test

by The Review CrewJune 29, 2010

As an all-terrain sport-utility “coupe” that looks like a gerbil head and offers up to 555 horsepower, BMW’s X6 seems like an exercise in absurdity. To elevate it to an elite stratum of insanity, however, BMW conjured up the X6 ActiveHybrid. Here, the mid-level X6’s 400-hp, twin-turbo V-8 is mated to a transmission shared with the Chevrolet Tahoe hybrid. This tranny stirs in conventional automatic and CVT functionalities with two electric motors, for a total system output of 480 horsepower and 575 pound-feet of torque. Fat lot of good that did—we averaged only 14 mpg.

Another shocking number: This thing weighs 5741 pounds, 500 more than a regular V-8 model. However, the extra quarter-ton is only slightly more conspicuous than stray Popsicle spittle on a Jackson Pollock. The X6’s remarkable responsiveness is barely dulled, and the hybrid still posted 0.86 g on the skidpad.

But hybridization affects the X6 in other ways. Both the brakes and the newly electric power steering are drained of feel. The binders are terribly grabby at low speeds, and the pedal sinks all the way to the floor in a panic stomp. Still, the hybrid’s 163-foot stop from 70 mph is heroic for something this massive.

Acceleration, too, is strangely disconnected. At 5.3 seconds to 60, the hybrid is slower off the line than the standard V-8 model, but it catches up before 100 mph. Blame for the lazier git-go lies with the transmission, which runs through seven pretend ratios to mimic an automatic. It’s either a bad impression, or a good impression of a bad transmission. Shifts are rubbery and unevenly spaced, and power takes a second to come on after the throttle is popped.

Price, though, is the hybrid’s biggest hurdle. At $89,775 to start, it’s a Benjamin shy of the 555-hp X6 M. If you want an efficient X6, get the six-cylinder. If you want a fast or bizarrely expensive one, the V-8 or the M will do. If you think you can have it all with no compromises, you’re wrong.

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The Review Crew
The Review Crew is a group of beat editors, writers, and consultants that have been working together for years. They know just about everything about everything collectively and have published their collective work under the Review Crew brand moniker for almost 20 years.