The M team’s all-new XM super SUV is designed to be as comfortable strolling down Rodeo Drive as it is carving up a mountain road.
The 2023 BMW XM is a product of the Instagram age. Ostentatious, offensive, contradictory, and unapologetic—the M performance sub-brand's first plug-in hybrid (and first dedicated vehicle since the legendary BMW M1) dares you to scroll past it. The big question: Is BMW's all-new, $160,000 electrified SUV with 644 hp worth the double-tap-to-like? It's tough to say.
Designed to slot in above the X5 and X6 M models and the Alpina XB7, the XM is BMW's answer to super-SUVs like the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid and Lamborghini Urus, as well as the for-the-'gram-friendly, uber-luxe flagships such as the Mercedes-AMG G63 and Bentley Bentayga. In order to keep up with the aforementioned players in the space, the M team raided the BMW catalog and Frankensteined-together an SUV designed to be as comfortable strolling down Rodeo Drive as it is carving up an alpine mountain road.
The XM's 483-hp 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8 and a 194-hp permanent-magnet motor combine to produce 644 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque in standard form, with all that power routed to a torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system via an eight-speed automatic. A massive-for-a-PHEV 29.5 kWh battery pack backs the system up, giving the XM a BMW-estimated 30 miles of EV range before the engine fires up full-time (EPA estimates are pending).
The XM also features four-wheel steering (an M first), and somewhat surprisingly, given its rivals' penchant for air suspensions, it utilizes steel springs with adaptive dampers and a 48-volt active anti-roll system, all of which we detailed extensively in our drive of the XM prototype. Tying it all together is a design that BMW M CEO Franciscus van Meel best described as "extroverted."
So how does the extroverted XM work "IRL?" It's hard to speak conclusively about its super-SUV-cred, due to the limited amount of backroad driving offered during BMW's Scottsdale, Arizona, launch event, but the XM showed flashes of brilliance.
One of those flashes came on a stretch of wide, fast, sweeping highway. Thanks to the potent combination of a massive battery, understressed V-8, and overpowered motor, the XM in its default hybrid drive mode can travel at speeds up to 80 mph on electrons alone, the sole noises being the dull roar of the XM's 23-inch tires and the wind whipping around the A-pillars.
Dip deep into the throttle or speed past 80 and the V-8's low burble joins the fray as the internal combustion engine effortlessly fills the power gap and traffic disappears in your rearview mirror. Matching the effortless feel of the powertrain, the four-wheel steering is refreshingly light and direct, and helps the Bimmer shrink around the driver. Ride quality and roll control were also both well-managed on our drive, further helping the American-built XM feel smaller than its roughly X7-sized footprint would suggest.
Though its big battery and powerful powertrain can make the XM feel like a pure-electric vehicle on the highway and around town, its party trick is its TikTok-friendly launch control. First, enter one of the two performance-focused M Modes. Next, make sure the all-wheel-drive system is set into the rear-biased Sport setting (there's also a dune-friendly Sand setting we didn't get to try), and that the transmission is both in automatic mode and set in its most aggressive of three shift settings. Finally, ensure that traction control is in Sport mode. And although the imaginary Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid lined up next to you has long since taken off (launch control order for the Porsche: Sport Plus mode, foot on brake, mash gas, go) you can then put your foot on the brake, firewall the throttle, acknowledge the launch control active message, then dump the brake and, finally, go.
The first thing you hear is an audible clunk from the electronic rear limited-slip diff, right about the same time the electric motor snaps your neck into the XM's padded headrest. Next, you'll hear the V-8 roar, its power coming on right as the electric motor's power begins to wane. By the time a BMW-estimated 4.1 seconds passes, you're north of 60 mph and well on your way to triple-digit speeds. The coming XM Series Red with 735 ponies and pounds of twist—part of a planned series of, well, Series models—should crack the 3-second barrier.
Enthusiasts such as yourself are no doubt pleased to hear about the 2023 XM's driving manners, but that's likely secondary to the influencer crowd. For them, styling comes first. The XM's polarizing sheetmetal is thankfully better-resolved in person than it first appears in photos. The black-painted front bumper does much to hide BMW's aggressively growing grille, and its surround—matched by a random swoop that streaks down the XM's flanks and wraps up around the window frames—looks particularly interesting when done in the optional "NightGold Metallic" rose-gold trim.
The interior is unquestionably better. As long as you avoid the uncharacteristically introverted standard black upholstery and trim found in our test car, the XM's cabin is objectively stylish and well-appointed. Up front, the XM features a visually interesting mix of shapes, colors, and textures, while in back it has what BMW calls its M Lounge—a supremely comfortable, couch-like bench with chevron stitching. Tying it all together is an ornate recessed roof decoration with Alcantara and a recessed LED lightstrip. It's the type of feature that'd really stand out as the background of your latest Insta story.
If this all sounds like it has the potential to be pricey, you'd be right. Prices for the 2023 BMW XM start at $159,995, with loaded models topping-out around $168,395. Though spendy, the XM is actually a bargain compared to some of the vehicles BMW is targeting. The AMG G63, for one, starts at over $180,000. The Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid? North of $172,000. The Urus? Over $230K. Whether the XM can hang with the Cayennes and Uruses of the world on a good backroad remains to be seen, but for those living their lives on the small screens we carry in our pockets, that may not matter at all.