Wednesday, December 24, 2008

2009 BMW X6 xDrive50i vs 2009 Infiniti FX50

2009 BMW X6 xDrive50i vs 2009 Infiniti FX50

That's a lot of money for a large truck with radical styling and only four seats. BMW knows this and acknowledges that the X6 is a low-volume, niche-market vehicle. The company expects to find homes for fewer than 10,000 X6s per year, compared with 30,000 X5s. Infiniti, on the other hand, hopes to sell 20,000 FXs annually.

The X6, although based on the X5 SAV (BMW-speak for "sports activity vehicle"), isn't an SUV at all. Nope, BMW says it's an SAC - a "sports activity coupe" - a new type of vehicle that's designed to appeal to buyers who would want a 6-series, had they not gotten used to their SUV's high seating position. So the SAC is the post-SUV SAV, if you catch their drift. We did - kind of - but still don't get the AMC Eagle styling and the fender gaps big enough for another set of wheels. The X6 would look a lot better with a three-inch lowering kit - but then BMW would have to concoct some other three-letter acronym to describe it.

SUV, SAC, or whatever, the X6 measures within an inch or two of the FX in every key dimension, inside and out. The X6 shares its wheelbase with the seven-passenger X5 but is about an inch longer, two inches wider, and three inches lower. Its radically sloping roof gives the impression that the rear seats are uninhabitable - but that's not the case at all. In fact, rear headroom suffers by only 1.2 inches compared with the X5, and the X6's rear seats are quite comfortable. You won't mistake legroom for that of a long-wheelbase 7-series, but four adults wouldn't be uncomfortable taking a long trip in the X6. Their luggage would fit, too - the X6 actually has more cargo space than the X5 (and even the FX) with the seats up. Of course, the sloping rear hatch means that tall items - like a washing machine - won't fit as easily. That's what rental trucks are for.

Up front, the X6 shares its basic dash layout, as well as its comfortable driving position and clear, easy-to-read instruments, with the X5. The controls are modern BMW, which means that the steering wheel is delightfully thick and offers excellent steering feel. The dreaded iDrive controller now has lost its ability to give force-feedback, making it even less intuitive than before. However, our test vehicle's optional leather-covered dashboard was beautifully upholstered, and the contrasting light-colored seats gave extra flair to what is otherwise a very all-business cabin. We highly recommend the optional rearview camera, since the X6's mail-slot rear window could obscure the large building you're about to back into.

Under the hood is an all-new, 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8 that produces 400 hp and 450 lb-ft of torque. BMW says that locating the turbochargers in the valley of the engine block (see Techtonics) helps reduce lag, but unfortunately, the V-8's throttle response is anything but linear. Off the line, moderate pedal inputs are met with lazy nothingness, followed by way more power than you thought you asked for. The new engine may be a packaging marvel and may have a broad torque plateau, but to the driving enthusiast, it's no match for Infiniti's normally aspirated music box. [source]



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