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Is the BMW X6 just a less practical and more expensive X5, or is the BMW X5 a boxy three-row X6? They are the same vehicle and are the same in many respects. But they are destined for different buyers. The X5 is more of a traditional SUV with some soft-road ability, good cargo holding capacity, and even room for three rows of seats. The X6 has a sloping rear roof line that and a bulldog front end that gives it a stance to go with its retuned suspension and steering. But which is which?

BMW calls its even-numbered X vehicles Sports Activity Coupes, and its even-numbered versions Sports Activity Vehicles, while everyone else calls them SUVs. The odd/even formula works for BMW and helps it make six different vehicles from three different platforms. The X1, X3 and X5 are the SUVs and the X2, X4 and X6 are the SACs.

Consumer Reports calls the X5 “one of the best”

The BMW is the brand's second-best selling SUV, behind the smaller X3.

Consumer Reports recommends the 2022 X5. BMW isn’t changing the X5 for 2023, other than a few different options. The 2023 BMW X5 comes in five flavors: the $61,600 sDrive40i, the $63,900 xDrive40i, the $65,700 xDrive45e, the $85,400 M50i, and the hotrod M for $108,900.

The base models make 335 horsepower, but those are some of the smoothest horses in the business thanks to BMWs tried-and-true straight-six engines. The xDrive45e is a plug-in hybrid that makes 389 horsepower. The M50i comes with the beastly 4.4-liter V8, but the truly demonic pick the M which has 600 horsepower. In BMW speak, sDrive trim levels are two-wheel drive while xDrive means all-wheel drive.

The X5 has more SUV utility

Rear angle view of white 2023 BMW X5, highlighting its release date and price
2023 BMW X5 | BMW

The X6 holds 59.6 cubic feet of stuff with the seats folded, which is quite a bit less than the X5 SUV, but quite a bit more than a similarly sized sedan’s trunk. The X6’s steering is also tuned to be sportier than the X5s. The X5’s taller rear quarters allow it to hold 72.3 cubic feet of stuff, and you can pack a third row of seats in the back. The 2023 X5 can tow up to 7,200 pounds of stuff, too, while BMW doesn’t list a tow rating for the X6.

The X6 is the nonconformist’s SUV

202 BMW X6 in a city at night

The X6 takes the X5 and adds some rebelliousness. The big difference is the sloping back end, which definitely gives it a different look and puts it in the same category as the Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe. The X6 comes in three flavors, the $67,350 X6 xDrive40i, the $86,250 X6 M50i, and the $109,600 X6 M.  The XDrive 4.0i gets 21 city and 25 mpg on the highway, while the X6 M50i gets 16 mpg in the city and 22 on the highway. The X6 M with the big 4.4-liter V8 gets 13 in the city, and 18 on the highway and is certainly more sports car than SUV.

The X6 xDrive40i combines an inline 6-cylinder engine with a 48-volt mild-hybrid that boosts power. Just to confuse things, there is an M Sport trim offered on the base xDrive40i that is a $3,450 option.

The BMW X6 can be highly customized

The BMW X6 can be ordered in 5 different interior colors, and two different textures.
BMW X6 Hybrid interior | BMW

Odds vs. Evens: The Differences Between BMW X SUVs

In X6, you can pick from five different colors of leather trim, in two different patterns. Running boards, multi-contour seats, a glass control panel, heated seats steering wheel, and armrest, as well as four-zone climate control. Fun fact: you can choose blue or red M Sport brake calipers at no charge. Either is a $650 option on the base model.