As a fusion of style, luxury and speed, the electrification-drenched 2023 BMW XM takes some time to digest. Being a plug-in-hybrid SUV, it’s already an acquired taste. Yet as the new flagship of the company’s M performance division—not to mention its first bespoke model since the M1 supercar of the 1970s—the XM has raised eyebrows since it debuted as a concept in 2021 and not just for its illuminated kidney grilles and shiny body ornaments. We’ve been looking forward to sampling the production version ever since we drove a development prototype last year. Now we have, and we’re wondering if there are a few too many ingredients in the mix.
To dine with the XM will set you up for a hefty $159,995 base price. It’s a fat-rich two-row SUV, weighing in at an estimated 6100 pounds, which is several hundred pounds more than the last three-row X7 we tested. Mechanically related to that model and the smaller X5 and X6, the XM shares its 122.2-inch wheelbase with its bigger sibling yet is 2.4 inches shorter, a tad wider, and the roofline is 3.1 inches lower . It’s a big vehicle, though it manages its visual weight well, especially if you choose a dark color and skip the no-cost Nightgold Metallic exterior trim.
Despite its eye-catching pictures and range of BMW Individual paint options, the XM can look charmingly subdued if you will. Staggered-shaped summer tires wrapped around massive 23-inch wheels, which can also be finished in gold, are standard with 22-inchers optional. As with other M models, all-season tires are not offered.
Built in Spartanburg, South Carolina, the XM currently comes in only one guise: with 644 total horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque, making it the most powerful BMW SUV available. A more exclusive Label Red variant with at least 735 horsepower and a starting price of more than $185,000 will be added later this year. For now, the recipe includes 483 horses from the twin-turbo 4.4-liter V-8, plus an additional 194 ponies via the electric motor between the engine and the eight-speed automatic transmission. All kick is routed through a variable, rear-biased all-wheel-drive system and an electronically controlled limited-slip rear differential. With the help of launch control, an estimated 3.8-second 60-mph time should make the XM as fleet as the X7 M60i, which only gets 523 horses. As you’d expect of a modern BMW, you can tweak the XM’s flavor via an array of settings for the powertrain, suspension, steering effort and brake-pedal response.
Although many performance SUVs are still fast, some have the XM’s electric-only capability. A large (for a PHEV) lithium-ion battery with 19.2 kWh of usable capacity resides under the floor and should be good for about 30 miles of EV range. EPA figures haven’t been released yet, but fuel economy will vary from thirsty to frugal depending on how you drive it. In electric mode (there’s a default hybrid setting as well as an eControl mode that preserves the battery’s charge for later), we could accelerate from a stop and merge onto the highway without the gas engine moving. can do. Top speed in EV form is 87 mph, compared to 155 or 168 mph in full chat, depending on whether you spring for the $2500M driver’s package. Regenerative braking has two settings—very little and some—most of the energy recovery blends neatly into paddles controlling the big six-piston front and single-piston rear brakes. Forget about one-pedal driving, but the XM’s V-8 isn’t necessary, at least for short trips around town. The 7.4-kW onboard charger can fill the battery from zero to 100 percent in about three hours via a 240-volt outlet.
Driven like an M car on winding mountain roads, the XM follows in the family tradition. We wish more new BMWs had this kind of smooth, progressive steering, welcome feedback and a gentle build-up of effort in the corners. While the XM’s sheer mass keeps it from feeling overly rambunctious, the adaptive dampers, 48-volt active anti-roll bar, and rear-axle steering help keep it flat and balanced around turns. Overall power delivery is strong in Sport mode, with immediate assist from the electric motor giving the XM extra thrust through tight turns, while helping to fill in torque interruptions between transmission shifts. Those expecting a deep, V-8 rumble may be disappointed, however, as its active exhaust emits a rumbling rumble that’s more appropriate for a V-6 (the extra V- 8 sound effects piped through stereo speakers with an EV-like whirl.
However, the decision to go with conventional coil springs instead of more compliant air springs – a call that favors chassis precision over comfort – is problematic for a vehicle that also has a roomy rear seat that the BMW M Lounge refers to as Refers. Though far from harsh, the XM’s ride engaged over small, high-frequency bumps even in Comfort mode on the smooth Arizona pavement of our drive route. Sprawling on the cushy rear bench (personal captain’s chairs aren’t available) with its throw pillows and 40.3 inches of legroom, we could feel ambient noise filtering through the chassis. Similarly, the lack of lateral support in the flat rear seat means you’ll have to brace yourself if your driver decides to have fun behind the wheel.
That’s not to say that the XM’s beautifully crafted cabin doesn’t ooze wealth. There are artful looks, soft leather, and available contrasting color schemes that flow tastefully from the seats to the door panels and to the geometrically sculpted headliner ringed by ambient lighting. Luxury amenities surround the front seats, and every driver-assistance feature in BMW’s arsenal is present, as is the company’s curved dash display for the latest iDrive 8 infotainment system, which features 12.3- and 14.9-inch screens under a glass Is. Open the hatch (note the BMW roundels etched into the rear window), and there’s 19 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats.
Still, the lack of attention to detail in the second row exposes the XM’s compromises. While heaters for the outboard rear seats and armrests are standard, there is no seat adjustability, massage function, side-window privacy shades or dedicated entertainment system. The climate controls tucked away behind the center console appear to be borrowed from the mass-market X5. And unlike virtually every other big-dollar luxury SUV, you can’t customize the XM’s interior beyond the four standard color-and-trim combos.
We imagine the XM’s intended customers – 80 percent of whom BMW hopes to meet in the US and China, many of whom are brand new customers – won’t feel quite as pissed off about it because it’s not as loud and jargony As much as possible. Many of the XM’s indulgences, including its respectable EV capability, can be had for thousands less than a Bentley Bentayga or Porsche Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid. But as the pinnacle of the M brand, the XM is less a delicacy and more a concoction of features that leaves a confusing aftertaste. We’ll wait for the Hardcore Label Red model before making reservations.
2023 bmw xm
Vehicle Type: Front-Engine, Front-Motor, All-Wheel-Drive, 5-Passenger, 4-Door Wagon
twin-turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 32-valve 4.4-liter V-8, 483 hp, 479 lb-ft + AC motor, 194 hp, 207 lb-ft (combined output: 644 hp, 590 lb-ft; 19.2-kWh lithium ion battery pack; 7.4-kW onboard charger)
Transmission: 8-Speed Automatic
Wheelbase: 122.2 Inch
Length: 201.2 inches
Width: 78.9 inches
Height: 69.1 inches
Passenger Volume, F/R: 57/54 ft3
Cargo Volume, Rear F/R: 64/19 ft3
curb weight (CD Est): 6100 lb
Display (CD EST)
60 mph: 3.8 sec
100 mph: 9.2 seconds
1/4-mile: 12.2 seconds
Top Speed: 155-168 mph
EPA Fuel Economy (CD EST)
Combined/City/Highway: 19/18/20 mpg
Combined gasoline + electric: 45 MPGe
EV Range: 30 miles
Mike Sutton is an editor, writer, test driver and general car nerd who contributed to car and driverReverence and irreconcilable passion for the automobile since 2008. A native Michigander from suburban Detroit, he enjoys the outdoors and complains about the weather, has a fondness for off-road vehicles, and believes in federal protection for naturally aspirated engines.