The second generation of BMW’s distinctive X6 came online for model year 2015, and has now been part of the scene for five years. Advancing on the original X6 on all fronts, the second-generation machine featured numerous revisions, new features, new power, and new performance attributes – all while maintaining the X6’s distinctive and unique appearance.
Look for xDrive AWD as standard on all models, with both six- and eight-cylinder turbo power on offer. For this guide, we’ll focus on the mainstream versions of the X6, and leave the high-performing X6 M variant for its own story.
Shoppers after an all-season capable crossover that’s big on luxury and uniqueness tend to gravitate towards the X6, and while an X5 might make a better choice for rear-seat comfort and visibility, the more-striking X6 is a worthy people-and-gear-hauler that’s ready for action, all year round.
Feature content included things like the iDrive infotainment console, a head-up display (HUD), Bluetooth, navigation, advanced safety features, a sunroof, climate-controlled leather seating, push-button start, premium stereo and lighting equipment, and more. A powered tailgate and a multi-mode drive selector system were also available.
Look for a 3.0-litre straight-six, turbocharged for 300 horsepower, or a 4.4-litre V8, twin turbocharged for nearly 450 hp. With the latter engine, the X6 was capable of 0–60 in under 5 seconds. With six-cylinder power, expect the 0–60 blast in about 6.5 seconds. All units ran an eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters.
What Owners Like
Most X6 owners say that a combination of BMW luxury, high-tech feature content, and this model’s unique and distinctive looks helped attract them for a closer look, with a solid and confident on-road feel helping to seal the deal. Expect generous performance in all driving conditions (with appropriate tires), and a generous cargo hold to help tailor the X6 to whatever activity is at hand. The lighting system is also noted to be powerful and effective, while many owners also rave about the drive-mode selector, which allows the X6 to be fine-tuned to whatever sort of driving is at hand.
What Owners Dislike
Common complaints include a sometimes fussy-to-use infotainment system, a too-stiff ride on some models (skip the X6’s biggest wheels for a smoother ride), and a general wish for less complexity to some of the control interfaces. Some owners report that the X6’s rear seats can be awkward to enter and exit, and that rearward visibility is extremely limited without using the back-up camera.
Pro Tip: Certified Pre-owned
For maximum peace of mind when buying a high-end luxury vehicle like this one, consider opting for a unit sold as part of a dealer certified pre-owned (CPO) program if it’s in, or near, your budget. Typically, dealer-sold CPO vehicles are fully inspected, updated, and reconditioned by the selling dealership. Buying a used CPO X6 means the vehicle has typically undergone a more careful reconditioning process and inspection than a unit sold privately, or through a non-BMW dealer.
Buying a CPO-certified X6 also typically means that maintenance, recall work, and software updates (which can prevent headaches) have all been brought up to date. Extended warranty coverage may also be included or available. Ditto extended roadside assistance coverage.
You might spend a few bucks more on a CPO-certified X6, though many owners find it a worthy investment.
Pro Tip: Extended Warranty
If in or near your budget, a vehicle like the X6 makes a worthy candidate for extended warranty coverage, and especially if it’s the shopper’s first foray into the used luxury vehicle market. The right extended warranty package can provide worthwhile protection against heavy repair bills down the line – so it’s worth considering, and even more so if you’ll keep your X6 for the long haul once any remaining factory warranty has expired. Just be sure to ask what’s covered, what’s not covered, and what the deductible is.
Pro Tip: Premium Maintenance Costs
Understand the costs before you buy – and especially if the used X6 will be your first luxury vehicle. The cost of replacement tires, fluid changes, all other maintenance requirements, replacement lighting system provisions, and replacement brake parts should all be fully understood before purchase. Also, the X6 requires premium-grade gasoline, which is pricier than the regular-grade fuel used in other machines.
As a high-end vehicle, your investment in driving a BMW X6 does not stop at the purchase price. Note that skipping maintenance or using low-quality replacement parts can void remaining warranty and decrease resale value. Translation? Make sure your bank account can handle the asking price of the X6 you’re considering, as well as the ongoing cost to run and maintain it.
The Test Drive
Most X6 owners have had no issues with their transmissions, though some haven’t been so lucky. At the first appearance of a “Transmission Malfunction” warning message in the instrument cluster, make tracks to your local dealer to have the transmission diagnosed as quickly as possible.
Sometimes, the issue is a fluke, and the warning never reappears. In other cases, dealers have tried various fixes, culminating in the need to replace the transmission. This is extreme, and often, a dealer-installed software update, or some attention to a corroded electronic grounding point is the answer. Still, have any such issues investigated and documented by the dealer as quickly as possible, as this may help speed future warranty claims (if applicable).
Check the Electronics
Ensure no warning lights or messages are present in the instrument cluster, and then quadruple-check the navigation, Bluetooth, and climate control systems for proper operation. Run the climate control through all settings. Ensure all features work as expected. Try every single button, lever, stalk, and control within the cabin, including the steering-wheel-mounted controls, power seat controls, all windows and locks, the power liftgate, the sunroof, the reverse camera system, and all exterior lighting. Pair any multimedia devices and confirm that operation is consistently smooth, quick, and seamless when making phone calls, playing back media from a thumb-drive, or streaming audio via Bluetooth.
In this step, the goal is simple: try everything in the X6 that runs on electricity, to ensure that everything is operating as expected. Now’s the time to figure out if any of the systems above is in need of repair.
Wonky Back-up Camera
Some owners have reported wonky back-up cameras, possibly evidenced by an image feed that cuts in and out, and perhaps especially in very hot weather. Many owners choose to simply live with this glitch, which seems to be temperature related. Other owners have had camera system wiring replaced by dealers, and others still have removed wiring connections, cleaned the contacts with electrical cleaner, and re-seated the connectors with some success. Check the back-up camera system fully before buying, ensuring a consistent feed from each of the available cameras.
Other Useful Checks
This generation of X6 was subjected to five safety-related recalls, designed to fix latent safety defects. Dealers perform recall work to correct these defects free of charge. Some specific copies of a used X6 have multiple recalls, while others have none. Ask your dealer service department to look up the VIN number of the X6 you’re considering to determine what (if any) outstanding recall work needs to be performed, and plan to have the work carried out as soon as possible for maximum peace of mind.
Buying a used X6 without a complete diagnostic scan by a dealer technician is not advised. In moments, the attending technician can electronically “read” the X6’s computer brain, which can reveal a perfectly healthy vehicle – or thousands of dollars worth of potential issues that may not be instantly apparent to a test-driving shopper. This scan may cost a few dollars, but it could save you from buying a used X6 that needs thousands in repairs – thereby saving you time and hassle. For maximum peace of mind, consider this diagnostic scan to be mandatory ahead of your purchase, and that’s whether or not a Check Engine light is illuminated.
Given the relative newness of this generation, there’s a solid chance that the unit you’re considering is still covered by some portion of its factory warranty – provided a former owner hasn’t done anything to compromise it. The warranty does not cover wear, malfunction, or damage caused by a failure of the past owner to properly maintain the vehicle, or by the use of any non-factory parts or software, even if these are subsequently removed.
Translation? Ensure the X6 you’re considering has never been modified, and that no servicing intervals have ever been stretched or skipped. Here’s an entire discussion forum dedicated to modification of the BMW X6. Many of the products discussed within that forum can void the warranty coverage of the vehicle in question.
Do not underestimate the ability of a former owner to nuke existing warranty coverage, and assess all service records (with the help of a BMW service advisor, if needed) to ensure you’re not buying a used X6 with a voided warranty.
Some owners of the first-generation X6 have reported engine-related issues, and it seems like much of these have been remedied for the engines used in the second-generation of this machine. Still, shoppers are advised to hire the services of a BMW dealer technician to assess the powerplant in the X6 they’re considering. A full check of the cooling system, fluid levels and condition, and a full diagnostic scan (as mentioned above) can go a long way in fending off potential issues.
On models with the 3.0-litre engine, ask the technician to assess the fuel system, with attention paid to the possibly problematic high-pressure fuel pump (HPFP), which was a trouble-spot for some earlier versions of this engine in this and other applications.
The V8-powered X6 should have its cooling system inspected in full, as earlier versions of this engines sometimes suffered from a potentially pricey-to-repair coolant leak from a coolant line tucked between the turbochargers and cylinder heads.
Though owner reports are too sparse to draw any conclusions for this generation of X6 powerplants, note that a thorough assessment from a BMW technician can go a long way to protecting yourself from potential issues.
For maximum peace of mind, shop for a used X6 patiently. You’re best with a CPO unit, or a sold-privately unit that’s familiar to a local dealer and sold with full service records that indicate no maintenance has been skipped. Running a unit with the most current system software updates, and one that’s still covered by any portion of remaining factory warranty, is best. Buying a used X6 without a full inspection by a BMW technician is not advised.