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BMW X6, 2012: sturdy crossover has keen craftsmanship, hefty price

Now approaching its fourth birthday, the BMW X6 is touted as a Sports Activity Coupe. It's a mixed, odd offering — a small, luxury sport utility vehicle meshed with a high-performance sports coupe. It's built with the X5, it similar sibling (they share platforms) in Greer, South Carolina.

In addition three standard offerings, including a turbocharged V8, a hybrid X6, called the BMW Concept X6 ActiveHybrid, debuted in 2009.

The Weekly Driver Test Drive

In its assessment, U.S. News & World Report noted: "If you’re in the market for a practical SUV, the BMW X6 definitely isn’t it."

Rarely has so much been said in a car review in so few words.

During my week with the base model xDrive35i, the automatic transmission shifting never felt comfortable. It's a high-tech vehicle, too, course. Which meant, during routine driving scenarios — some city driving, some freeway treks — the car's proximity sensors were constantly squawking.

Then again, it's a BMW and that means superior engineering and handling. On the open road, BMW stands alone. The X6, like other BMWs, is firm, confident and safe.

The latter came into abrupt focus during a recent storm. While returning from dinner and approaching a freeway exit, the vehicle to immediately left hit a puddle, most of which suddently covered the BMW. I braked hard while driving blindly for a few seconds. The X6 remained steady, unimpressed by pending disaster. If the  BMW had swerved a foot either way, I would hit concrete barriers.

The BMW X6 features a turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine with 300 horsepower. Standard features include 10-way power-adjustable leather front seats, a power tailgate, front and rear parking sensors and a 10-speaker audio system with AM/FM radio, CD player and iPod integration.

Likes:

Surprisingly quick for a vehicle weighing more than 5,000 pounds.

Great heated seats, front and back.

Backlighted door handles for night convenience.

Signature BMW handling.

Luxurious interior, particularly keen leather quality.

Techo-friendly navigation system.

Dislikes:

Expensive base price.

Poor rear visibility. What was BMW thinking?

Tight rear seats.

Overtly sensitive proximity sensors.

Too much gadgetry.

Unattractive sideboards.

Hatchback has limited opening.

Facts & Figures: 2012 BMW X6

Acceleration: 0-60 mph, 4.5 seconds.
Airbags: Driver and passenger front, side and side head and rear.
Antilock brakes: Standard.
First aid kit: Not available.
Fuel economy: 16 mpg (city), 23 mpg (highway).
Government Safety Ratings: Not yet tested.
Horsepower: 300
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (range): $58,900—$89,500.
Manufacturer's Web site: www.bmwusa.com
Price As tested: Unavailable.
Warranty: Bumper to bumper, 4 years/50,0000 miles; Powertrain, 4 years/50,000 miles; Corrosion, 12 years/unlimited miles; Roadside Assistance, 4 years/unlimited miles; Roadside assistance: 4 years/unlimited miles; Full maintenance, 4 years/50,000 miles.

What Others Say:

"X6 is a study in compromises. It accelerates and handles like a sporty coupe, but it will never be as agile due to its sheer size and heft. Its hatchback design makes it slightly more versatile than a sedan, but X6 is neither as roomy nor as comfortable as a sedan or SUV." —- Consumer Guide.

"With barely enough room for four and even less cargo space it's difficult to see where the X6 fits and even more difficult to figure out who would need let alone want something like this." –— Motor Trend

What The Wife Says:

"I liked the dials and easy of use of the navigation. Other than that, I have no comment."

The Weekly Driver’s Final Words:

"Despite stellar BMW engineering, the X6 seems like a nomad. In short, what user group will embrace a crossover with limited back seat room, limited visibility and an expensive price tag?"