2014 BMW X6 M

The X6 M is the high-performance variant of BMW's controversial X6 crossover. Mechanically identical to the more conventionally-styled X5 M, the X6 M uses a potent version of BMW's twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8.

Output is pegged at 555 horsepower at 5,750 rpm and peak torque is 501 pound-feet, available between 1,500 and 5,650 rpm. The car can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds, according to the automaker. Fuel economy is rated at 12 mpg in the city and 17 mpg on the highway.

BMW is referring to the new 4.4-liter motor as its "M TwinPower Turbo" unit. The name reflects the fact that the motor features Twin Scroll Twin Turbo Technology and a common exhaust manifold encompassing both rows of cylinders.

The X6 M and X5 M are the first xDrive all-wheel-drive vehicles from BMW to sport the "M" badge. Coupled with special "M" air suspension featuring Adaptive Drive and the newly developed Servotronic power steering, the performance 'ute promises very competent handling. Other high-tech features include launch control for maximum acceleration and an "M" six-speed automatic optimized for performance. Drivers can manually select gears using either paddles or an an electronic gear selector lever.

Electronically controlled, variable power distribution to the front and rear axle prevents even the slightest tendency to over- or understeer right from the start, before DSC Dynamic Stability Control is even required to cut in.

Although traction control is standard, the M Dynamic Mode (MDM) greatly reduces the aggressiveness of the system. The MDM setting allows the driver to enter a controlled drift and push the vehicle's handling to the limit. There's also a DSC-Off Mode for drivers seeking a more purist experience.

Interior options are what would be expected from a true luxury maker such as BMW, and include an interior much more like BMW's 7-series sedans (in execution, if not in size) than a sport-utility. All materials are top quality, and the perforated upholstery is soft and comfortable. Second row seating is spacious, but the third-row seats are best left to the children. Climate and audio can be controlled independently, as well as by that iDrive single-knob computer-screen system (standard on both models) which has been the object of much criticism, but does make the navigation system easy to operate.

Also note that the iDrive system (4th generation) received substantial overhauling for the latest model year -- intended to improve user friendliness. The new iDrive system features new graphics, controls, improved menu structures, more functions and more intuitive function.

A lengthy list of options and features includes steering-linked headlamps, multi-adjustable front seats, satellite navigation, rear seat entertainment system, back-up camera, full-roof sunroof, heated and ventilated front seats, driver's seat massage, front and rear climate zones and more.

Key Competitors
Though no performance crossover can quite offer the styling drama (love it or hate it) of the X6 M, rivals to the BMW include the Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG, the Porsche Cayenne Turbo, the Range Rover Sport Supercharged and, at the lower end of the price spectrum, the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8.