The 2010 BMW X6 ActiveHybrid's saving grace is that unlike the General Motors hybrid SUVs and pickup trucks, there's no foot tall "hybrid" decal above the rocker panels (to be fair, you can get them without it). "ActiveHybrid," the BMW way of doing full hybrid powertrains, appears in subtle little chrome badges below the X6 moniker. This makes it hard for smug Toyota Prius drivers from getting angry over your "green" dual electric-motor crossover sport/utility coupe rated 18 mpg combined. They'll dismiss you as having another fast and expensive Bimmer, and they'll be accurate. Smoke a Prius from the stoplight with a 5.6-second 0-62 mph launch before the driver can read those little badges.
The introduction of the X6 ActiveHybrid -- BMW's first full, dual-mode hybrid -- begs for the same debate that has made GM's hybrid trucks anything but a Prius-like success. Why bother hybridizing such a big, heavy, powerful conveyance? Whether or not you think it's a good idea, the answers are obvious. A.) Because fuel efficiency that's just shy of 20 mpg is better than fuel efficiency that's just shy of 10 mpg, and B.) because BMW can, and it can do it without diminishing performance.
The X6 ActiveHybrid begins with BMW's smooth and powerful twin-turbo V-8, itself a bit of a fuel-saver in that it renders the automaker's even thirstier V-12 superfluous. On top of those turbos tucked into the eight's vee is a box containing high-performance electronics for the hybrid system. That explains the power bulge in the hood, the only visual hybrid hint beyond the subtle badges and optional Bluewater Metallic paintjob. A new "power-split" transmission has two electric motors and three planetary gearsets. BMW says the "power-split" transmission acts like a pair of CVTs, one handling lower speeds and the other handling the higher speeds, with seven-step gearing that can be controlled by the steering wheel controls. The two electric motors put out 91 and 86 horsepower.
The battery is nickel-metal hydride and liquid-cooled, capable of 2.4 kilowatt hours storage.
ActiveHybrid offers four drive modes; e-mode, or all-electric, up to 60 kp/h (37-mph) depending on the charging state, e-boost, which uses the battery to boost the twin-turbocharged engine, the power-generation or charging state, which of course includes brake regeneration, and the drive state, in which the internal combustion engine and the electric motors are putting their all into powering the crossover.