Introduced in 2008, the BMW X6 was a bit ahead of its time. Most SUVs looked more like the boxy CR-V instead of the actually pretty sleek design of the X6. It’s definitely an SUV, but it’s also sporty.
So does it take cheaper fuel like an SUV workhorse or premium fuel like you’d expect from luxury?
The BMW X6 owner’s manual recommends premium fuel with an octane rating of 91 (91 AKI / 95 RON). That’s true for every generation of the X6, except for the diesel models which need ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD). However, the owner’s manual does explain that the X6 can run on a minimum of 89 octane (89 AKI / 94 RON).
But while you can get away with 89 octane in a pinch, it’s the minimum recommendation by BMW- and who wants to stick with the bare minimum? You should also expect a drop in performance with 89 octane compared to more premium fuels.
That’s the quick answer and will get you fueled up and back on the road but if you want to dive deeper I’ll share everything you could want to know about fueling your BMW X6.
Fuel Requirements Based On Engine Type For All Generations Of BMW X6
Coming out and 2008 means we should expect several generations of the BMW X6 but unless it’s diesel, you’ll be good with 91 octane regardless of generation or engine. We’ll explain every engine type below but if you want the quick answer this table should help:
|First Generation BMW X6 (2008-2014)|
|xDrive35i and xDrive50i Gasoline Engines||Recommended: 91 octane (91 AKI / 95 RON)|
|xDrive35d and M50d Diesel Engines||Ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD)|
|ActiveHybrid X6 (2009-2011)||Recommended: 91 octane (91 AKI / 95 RON)|
|Second Generation BMW X6 (2014-2019)|
|xDrive35i and xDrive50i Gasoline Engines||Recommended: 91 octane (91 AKI / 95 RON)|
|xDrive30d and M50d Diesel Engines||Ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD)|
|Third Generation BMW X6 (2019-Present)|
|sDrive40i, xDrive40i, and M50i Gasoline Engines||Recommended: 91 octane (91 AKI / 95 RON)|
|xDrive30d, M50d, and M40d Diesel Engines||Ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD)|
|X6 xDrive45e Hybrid||Recommended: 91 octane (91 AKI / 95 RON)|
First Generation BMW X6 (2008 to 2014)
We see both gasoline and diesel options here.
xDrive35i and xDrive50i Gasoline Engines:
For the optimal performance of these gasoline engines, it is recommended to use 91 octane (91 AKI / 95 RON) fuel.
The minimum acceptable grade is 89 octane (89 AKI / 94 RON), but utilizing fuel of this grade can result in engine knocking sounds during startup, especially if it’s hot outside. The owner’s manual also emphasizes avoiding sulfur.
xDrive35d and M50d Diesel Engines:
For these diesel engines, it is recommended to use ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD) to meet the necessary fuel requirements and maintain optimal engine performance.
For the hybrid variant available between 2009 and 2011, it is recommended to stick to the guidelines for gasoline engines, utilizing 91 octane (91 AKI / 95 RON) fuel for the best performance.
Second Generation BMW X6 (2014 to 2019)
In this generation, we have a variety of both gasoline and diesel engines.
xDrive35i and xDrive50i:
These are the same engines we saw in the first generation so the same recommendations for 91 octane remain here too.
xDrive30d and M50d Diesel Engines:
For these models, utilizing ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD) is recommended to ensure the best performance and longevity of the engine.
Third Generation BMW X6 (2019 to present)
The third generation continues with a selection of powerful gasoline and diesel engines, providing high performance and efficiency.
Here are the fuel guidelines for the specific engines available during this period:
sDrive40i, xDrive40i, and M50i Gasoline Engines:
For these engines, sticking to the 91 octane (91 AKI / 95 RON) fuel recommendation ensures optimal performance and engine health.
xDrive30d, M50d, and M40d Diesel Engines:
As with previous diesel engines, using ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD) is the best choice for maintaining performance and respecting environmental standards.
X6 xDrive45e Hybrid:
For this newer hybrid model, the recommendation remains to use 91 octane (91 AKI / 95 RON) fuel to maintain optimal engine performance, aligning with the guidelines for the gasoline engine component of the hybrid system.
Does The BMW X6 Require Premium Fuel?
Yes, for the optimal performance of the BMW X6, especially for the gasoline engine variants, it is recommended to use premium fuel with a rating of 91 octane (91 AKI / 95 RON).
However, the owner’s manual says that a minimum of 89 octane (89 AKI / 94 RON) can be used but this can potentially lead to engine knocking sounds during startup in high-temperature environments and might not uphold the performance standards BMW that you expected when you bought the X6 in the first place.
Do Hybrid Models of the BMW X6 Use Different Fuel?
Nope, BMW recommends 91 octane (91 AKI / 95 RON) for these models too. Even though it’s a hybrid engine, it still relies on internal combustion for a portion of its power, which means it needs the same fuel quality as non-hybrid models.
Can I Use E85 In My BMW X6?
Nope, you cannot use E85 in your BMW X6. The owner’s manual specifies that fuels with a maximum ethanol content of 10%, i.e., E10, may be used for refueling. Using a fuel with a higher ethanol percentage than recommended can damage the fuel system and engine. E85 contains up to 85% ethanol, which significantly exceeds the vehicle’s specified limit.
What Types of Fuels Can and Can’t Be Used in the BMW X6
We’ve covered the basics, like unleaded gasoline and diesel, but this section will dive a little deeper into some of the more common options you might be considering. I’ll go into details below but if you’d rather just get the quick answer, you can refer to this table:
|Gasoline With Added Materials||Unleaded recommended; TOP TIER beneficial.|
|Gasoline With MMT||Avoid metallic additives; can damage engine.|
|Gasoline with Alcohol or MTBE||Up to 10% ethanol (E10) suitable.|
|Methanol Blends||Avoid due to potential corrosion.|
|Ethanol Blends||Max 10% ethanol (E10) advised.|
|Flex Fuels||Not designed for E85; Max E10.|
|Biodiesel||Up to 7% blends; possibly 15% briefly.|
|Reformulated Gasoline||Max E10; use 91 octane (91 AKI / 95 RON).|
Gasoline With Added Materials
For the BMW X6, using unleaded gasoline is recommended. Like many car manufacturers, BMW suggests TOP TIER Detergent Gasoline for better performance and engine care. While I’m typically skeptical of these kinds of things (and I’ve seen plenty of folks wreck their cars with additives) there have actually been studies that show TOP TIER is worth it.
Gasoline With MMT
For the BMW X6, it’s crucial to steer clear of gasoline containing metallic additives. The owner’s manual specifically mentions, “Fuels that are marked on the gas pump as containing metal must not be used.”
Additionally, there’s a clear warning about the dangers of using such fuels: “Even small amounts of wrong fuel or wrong fuel additives can damage the fuel system and the engine. Furthermore, the catalytic converter is permanently damaged.”
Gasoline with Alcohol or MTBE
The BMW X6 is designed to run on unleaded gasoline mixed with ethanol. However, the gasoline can contain up to a maximum of 10% ethanol, recognized as E10. It’s crucial to avoid fuels with a higher ethanol percentage than recommended or any other types of alcohol, like M5 to M100 which can lead to engine damage if used.
Methanol blends are not commonly recommended for most standard gasoline engines, as they can lead to corrosion and degrade rubber and plastic components in the fuel system. The BMW X6 owner’s manual doesn’t explicitly say anything about methanol blends but I’d avoid these.
Yes, you can use ethanol blends in the BMW X6. The gasoline can contain up to a maximum of 10% ethanol, known as E10, but it’s crucial to avoid fuels with a higher ethanol percentage than this recommendation to ensure optimal engine performance and longevity.
Flex fuel vehicles are designed to run on a blend of up to 85% ethanol (E85). Since the BMW X6’s owner’s manual explicitly states a limit of 10% ethanol (E10) and cautions against using higher percentages, it indicates that the BMW X6 is not designed to run on Flex fuel or E85.
It’s a bit tricky to track down reliable information here, but from what I’ve seen BMW X6 diesel can use biodiesel blends up to 7% regularly, and in extreme cases, up to 15% for a short period. Anything above this may pose a risk to the vehicle’s engine and other components. Just to be clear, that’s not official advice from BMW and instead based on my experience with biodiesel and the X6.
Reformulated gasoline (RFG) is crafted to burn cleaner and typically includes oxygenates, such as ethanol, for more thorough combustion. As some cities and states require the use of reformulated gasoline, most cars can use it as long as it’s quality gas. This is true for BMW vehicles, as well as for other makes and models.
The owner’s manual for the BMW X6 indicates that fuels with up to 10% ethanol (E10) are permissible and suggests using 91 octane (91 AKI / 95 RON), with a minimum of 89 octane (89 AKI / 93 RON). Provided the RFG adheres to these criteria and is devoid of metals, it should be compatible with the BMW X6.
Does The BMW X6 Get Good Gas Mileage?
The BMW X6 offers different engine variants, including both traditional gasoline and hybrid options.
When looking at the xDrive45e plug-in hybrid model, its fuel efficiency is approximately 20-22 mpg in the city and 25-27 mpg on the highway.
On the other hand, gasoline-only models, like the xDrive40i, tend to have slightly different figures. For example, the 2023 BMW X6 xDrive40i is estimated to get 21 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway.
How Does The Gas Mileage Compare To Other Luxury Models?
The BMW X6, with its estimate of 21 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway, sets its own standard in the luxury SUV segment. But how does it fare against its competitors?
When compared to the Porsche Cayenne, another contender in the luxury SUV space, the Cayenne boasts around 19 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway. This highlights that the X6 holds a slight edge in terms of fuel efficiency.
Then there’s the Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe, a direct competitor to the X6. The GLE Coupe showcases figures of 19 mpg for city drives and 26 mpg when hitting the open road.
These might seem like small differences, but over time, these small changes in MPG can add up to a lot of savings. However, if you’re driving luxury, saving a few bucks at the pump might not be the priority.
There’s not a lot of wiggle room when it comes to fuel selection in the X6- at least not compared to Audi vehicles like the A8 which can handle 87 octane in a pinch. Instead, the lowest BMW recommends for the X6 is 89 octane (89 AKI / 94 RON). That’s a high bar (and a high dollar) but I’d expect nothing less from BMW!
Hi! My name is Stefan; I’m the owner and lead writer at TheDriverAdviser.com.
I’m an active writer on this blog myself, as well as a novice car mechanic. For the really technical stuff, I find writers with experience as a mechanic or who have studied mechanical engineering.
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