The 2023 BMW XM is more than just the biggest “Sport Activity Vehicle” the Bavarian automaker has yet introduced, it’s also one of just two models ever produced specifically for its performance M brand — and its first plug-in hybrid.
The most powerful M model yet, at up 738 horsepower for the “Label Red” package, the 2023 XM also can deliver up to 31 miles of range in all-electric mode.
It may also be one of the most controversial M models ever, and not just for its use of an electrified drivetrain. Picking up on styling cues from the original concept that debuted at the 2021 LA Auto Show, the production version of the XM is one of BMW’s most polarizing products.
There’s a lot to say about the 2023 BMW XM. To start with, the new flagship of the Bavarian automaker’s Sport-Activity Vehicle line-up is big and brawny. And, well, you’re likely to either love or hate its distinctive — some might say gaudy — front end.
The XM is the production version of a wild concept vehicle BMW revealed during the 2021 LA Auto Show. And while It doesn’t have the quilted seats and vibrant aquamarine finish of the Concept XM, the production model is distinctive and decidedly luxurious. Despite its massive presence, the 2023 XM offers only two well-appointed rows, but that yields plenty of legroom and cargo space.
The new model marks just the second time BMW’s high-performance M brand gets a unique product line, coming 40 years after the debut of the legendary M1. It’s also the first M model to use a plug-in hybrid drivetrain. The gas and electric drive components come together to deliver a maximum 738 horsepower — enough to launch it from 0 to 60 in barely 4 seconds — nearly as fast as a BMW M3.
Bold, brutish and decidedly controversial, there’s no mistaking the 2023 BMW XM if you spot one on the road. Weighing in at just over 6,000 pounds and stretching 201 inches nose-to-tail, the production model is less edgy than the original, 2021 concept model. But that’s only by a matter of degree.
Seeing one approach in your rearview mirror could prove a bit daunting. The wide double-kidney grilles seem to flare like the nostrils on an angry bull. The split headlamps add to the impression, as does the lower portion of the fascia which is finished in piano black.
The subtle curve of the roofline, complemented by a rising beltline, give the XM a sense of motion when viewed in silhouette. From the rear, the back glass wraps into the quarter panels, as do the taillights. As up front, the lower fascia is finished in gloss black. XM also gets BMW’s first vertical quad exhaust pipes.
Everything about the XM is big, including the 23-inch wheels, though a buyer can opt to downsize to 22s, if they prefer. You can opt to add a gold finish to the grille, wheels and other exterior details.
The XM Concept clearly kicked off a debate when it made its debut. The use of a plug-in hybrid drivetrain was secondary to the show car’s over-the-top design — especially inside. A single curved glass panel dominates the instrument panel, which is finished with carbon fiber pieces and interwoven copper threads.
The doors and front seats were finished in a rich cordovan leather with the texture of a favorite leather coat. BMW described the back seat as a “Lounge,” finishing it in a vibrant aquamarine with seat bottoms made of a quilted fabric, while the backs were done in a matte-finish leather. The floor, meanwhile, featured deep pile carpeting, while a thick headliner uses both direct and indirect lighting.
Our production version wasn’t nearly as over-the-top. Still, it featured thick brown Merino leather on the IP and upper door surfaces. Contrasting blue was used for the seats, center console and lower surfaces. It all maintained the feel of a favorite old leather coat, BMW using a novel finishing process to highlight the “creases, scars and worn areas” of the leather surfaces. BMW refers to the back bench, meanwhile, as a “Lounge,” and it makes it tempting to release one’s seatbelt and stretch out.
The backlit headliner — which BMW describes as a “three-dimensional prism structure” — is covered in Alcantara.
Though similar in size to the mainstream BMW X7, the XM is available only as a two-row model. The benefits come in the form of massive rear seat legroom and a huge cargo compartment.
As with the Concept XM, the production model’s instrument panel remains dominated by a single, curved piece of glass under which a driver will find multiple displays. That includes a large gauge cluster and a touchscreen infotainment system.
The new SUV draws power from a newly designed 483-horsepower TwinPower turbo 4.4-liter V-8 paired with a 194 horsepower electric motor built into the XM 8-speed M Steptronic transmission. The combination produces a peak 644 hp and 590 pound-feet of torque which is sent to all four wheels through an M-tuned xDrive system. Using Launch Control, says BMW, you can hit 60 in 4.1 seconds.
From a performance standpoint, the production model actually falls a bit short of the original XM concept which, BMW officials said last year, could deliver 750 hp and 737 lb-ft. But the 2024 model year brings an XM Red Label package that boosts the pony count of the production model to 738, with 0 to 60 launches dropping to somewhere around 3.1 seconds.
Fuel economy, even with the help of the hybrid system, is a meager 13 mpg city, 18 highway and 14 combined, according to the EPA, though it gets a 73 MPGe rating.
The 25.7 kilowatt-hour battery, meanwhile, is expected to deliver about 31 miles of range, according to the government, when the XM is put into all-electric mode. Motorists can switch to battery-saver mode, saving a charged pack until they might need it. That gets them off the hook when entering one of the cities that either mandate zero-emissions or charge access fees for vehicles using internal combustion power.
While the XM cannot plug into a DC fast charger, its onboard charger will refill a drained battery pack to 100% in just over three hours.
Safety and Technology
BMW’s clear intention was to challenge the likes of Rolls-Royce and Bentley, making the XM as luxurious as any SUV on the road. But there’s also a distinctively high-tech look and feel to the cabin, starting with the curved display that covers nearly two-thirds of the instrument panel. A head-up display also came on my test model.
The infotainment system retains a version of the familiar BMW iDrive — and I have to admit I’ve come to love having a control knob on top of a touchscreen and voice command system. It just works better for things like zooming in and out on a map or tuning the radio. Wireless versions of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard.
There’s a long list of advanced driver assistance systems. As BMW notes, these include Active Blind-Spot Detection, Lane-Departure Warning, and Frontal Collision Warning with City Collision Mitigation. Standard Parking Assistant Professional is also equipped to ensure safety at slower speeds and in parking lots.
The hybrid drivetrain, the first on an M model, is the most significant bit of technology you’ll find on the 2023 BMW XM. Clearly aware of the role that sound plays in a high-performance model, M engineers develop a way to combine the sound of both elements of the powertrain.
“The electric motor retains its aural accompaniment when the combustion engine is running,” the automaker explained in a summary of XM’s features. “If the Sport or Sport Plus mode is engaged while in hybrid driving mode a distinctive boost sound gives the driver an acoustic experience of the additional performance delivered the electric motor.”
There’s no question that there’s an artificial element to the audio system, but it’s far less so than most of the plug-in hybrids and EVs now on the road.
No, it’s not the fastest option in the luxury SUV category. For those wanting to push the limits there are alternatives like the Lamborghini Urus or the Aston Martin DBX707. Still, one has to wonder if BMW has downplayed the torque and horsepower numbers. Slam the throttle to the floor and you’ll immediately find yourself sinking into your seat, despite the mass of this three-ton behemoth.
On the whole, I was impressed with the integration of the gas and electric portions of the drivetrain. But I did experience an occasional hiccup, where it seemed like the system couldn’t quite decide which side would dominate. This most often occurred during moderate, rather than balls-to-the-wall, launches.
I also found the controls for choosing what mode to be operating in, such as all-electric, to be a bit more confusing than necessary. On the positive side, the 2023 BMW XM delivered very close to its EPA-rated range when I wasn’t overly aggressive on the throttle. You’re not going to want to be in EV mode if you’re planning to show off the SUV’s capabilities. But, with a top speed of 87 mph, the electric drive system can more than keep up with traffic on the freeway. And the gas half will automatically fire up if you lead-foot the right pedal.
As a part-time EV, the BMW XM sacrifices the ability to use public quick chargers. That’s likely to be a minor inconvenience for this class of buyer, most of which have — or will install — a home charger. While the SUV does have a moderate level of regenerative braking, it doesn’t offer the full 1-pedal mode which lets a motorist do most of their driving simply by modulating the throttle.
Flogging the XM through the tight roads that run through my favorite proving grounds in Hell, Michigan was an eye-opener.
While the XM may have bragging rights as one of the more luxurious SUVs on the market, the product development team didn’t forget they’re working for the M brand. Engineers skipped the air suspension you might expect to find on a ride of this price, opting for coil springs, instead. That decision translates into a sportier driving experience, enhanced by the use of active anti-roll bars and four-wheel steering — both standard equipment.
The downside: a decidedly rougher ride on anything but freshly laid asphalt. And that meant pretty much anywhere I might want to drive in Michigan.
As only the second model ever developed for BMW’s M division, the 2023 XM has generated plenty of interest. It’s an intriguing blend of luxury, technology and neck-snapping performance.
And it doesn’t come cheap. Expect to start at around $159,000 before adding in delivery fees and the very likely markups BMW dealers may add for this low-volume product. Jumping up to the XM Red Label package will take you up to a starting MSRP of $185,000.
Is it worth the money? There are quicker SUVs of similar size. And there are more luxurious one from the likes of BMW’s top-line Rolls-Royce brand – albeit at a substantially higher price. And there are sacrifices in terms of road comfort. But for the money you get a distinctive, if controversial design, plenty of features, and the ability to run errands or short commutes in all-electric mode.
I’d be surprised if the demand for the 2023 BMW XM doesn’t exceed supply.
2023 BMW XM — Frequently Asked Questions
What is so special about the BMW XM?
Several things. To start with, it’s only the second model BMW has ever designed exclusively for its M performance division, following four decades after the original BMW M1. It’s also the first M plug-in hybrid, and the XM’s gas-electric drivetrain is that brand’s most powerful utility vehicle ever.
How fast is the 2023 BMW XM?
The “base” 644-horsepower version of the Sport Activity Vehicle is officially rated at 4.1 seconds, 0-60, though reviewers have seen times just under 4 seconds. The upgraded, 738-hp Red Label edition has clocked times as low as 3.7 seconds.
What is the fuel economy of the 2023 BMW XM?
The 2023 BMW XM starts at $159,000 before adding in destination charges and other fees. The XM Red Label jumps to $185,000.