2023 BMW XM Review and Test Drive

The first electrified M model delivers extreme design, performance, and satisfaction.

2023 BMW XM in white parked on a rural road in the Washington wildernessPerry Stern

Review QuickTakes:

The letter M has long been associated with the highest-performing models from BMW. Vehicles with the M designation (for example, the M3 or X5 M) get more powerful engines than their standard siblings (3 Series or X5), paired with improved handling and driving characteristics. But now there's an M car that stands alone: the all-new 2023 BMW XM.

The 2023 XM is a five-seat crossover with a potent plug-in hybrid powertrain that delivers almost 650 horsepower to its sophisticated all-wheel-drive system. Currently the only M car without a non-M counterpart, the new BMW XM is also the first electrified M car.

2023 BMW XM in white, rear three-quarter viewPerry Stern

Don't worry. The XM lives up to expectations, proving itself an exciting everyday driver. And while other high-powered crossovers can provide this level of performance, such as the Aston Martin DBX, Lamborghini Urus, and Mercedes-AMG GLS 63, none of them can travel purely on electric power like the BMW XM.

The 2023 BMW XM comes in a single trim level with a base price of around $160,000. For this review, BMW gave me a 2023 XM to evaluate in the Redmond, Washington, area. Its as-tested price rang up to $167,395, including the $995 destination charge.

2023 BMW XM in white, profile view with the Pacific Northwest wilderness in the backgroundPerry Stern

2023 BMW XM Review: The Design

The XM has a polarizing exterior design, but with the iconic twin-kidney grille and classic blue-and-white roundel badges, it is clearly identifiable as a BMW. Beyond that, the XM has a look all its own.

In front, slim LED running lights reside atop headlights so deftly integrated into the bodywork that they almost disappear when turned off. As the most expensive model BMW offers, the XM features a lavish interior decked out in soft Merino leather accented with matte carbon fiber and aluminum trim. In addition, Alcantara suede dresses the windshield pillars, roof pillars, and headliner.

2023 BMW XM interior and dashboard with seats and lower panels in Sakhir OrangePerry Stern

A large, curved display screen mounted on a carbon-fiber base dominates the dashboard, housing the digital instrumentation and infotainment system. This wide screen gives the XM a modern, high-tech look and is easy to read, operate, and configure. The only physical controls on the dashboard are a volume knob and buttons for the front and rear defrosters.

BMW integrates climate-system functions into the display screen, with cabin-temperature adjustments readily accessible. However you must open a climate menu for adjustments such as seat heating and ventilation.

The XM's front seats feature large bolsters for the back and thighs, providing excellent support when the drive gets exciting. With multiple power adjustments and massage functions, the XM's front seats are impressively comfortable and remained that way for me even after several hours behind the wheel.

2023 BMW XM interior, with back seats trimmed in Sakhir OrangePerry Stern

Rear-seat passengers will find generous legroom and headroom. While the outboard seats are comfortable, with longer seat bottoms and available heating, the middle seat has less space but still works for a full-size adult.

Ultimately, the XM is still a crossover SUV and has the utility to match. Cargo space measures 18.6 cubic feet behind the rear seats, enough for a few pieces of luggage or plenty of groceries. You can fold the rear seats to carry larger items, increasing the space to 64.3 cu-ft. However, the elevated liftover height into the cargo area could make it difficult to load heavier items.

2023 BMW XM iDrive 8 infotainment screenPerry Stern

2023 BMW XM Review: The Technology

The 2023 BMW XM uses the company's latest infotainment system, iDrive 8. It is intuitive, easy to configure, and features a large, high-resolution touchscreen display with a simple and logical interface.

Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connect to the system wirelessly, and the setup was perhaps one of the easiest I've experienced. When I connected my Samsung Galaxy S21 via Bluetooth, a BMW screen appeared on my phone asking if I wanted to connect to Android Auto. I selected yes, and Android Auto immediately appeared on the display, connecting seamlessly every time I got into the XM and started the engine.

You interact with the infotainment system using the touch screen, the iDrive controls on the center console, or one of the better voice-control systems in any modern vehicle. Called the BMW Personal Assistant, the voice-recognition system activates when you use a wake phrase, such as "Hey, BMW." From there, the system understands naturally spoken voice queries and commands and can perform various tasks.

2023 BMW XM instrument display showing Assisted Driving ModePerry Stern

For example, I asked the BMW Personal Assistant to adjust the temperature, tune the audio system, and direct me to the closest coffee shop, and it flawlessly performed each request on the first try. The only error I encountered with the BMW Personal Assistant was when I asked it to turn on the massaging seats. Instead, it provided a list of local establishments where I could get a massage, offering to navigate to the location of my choice.

One of the more useful features is the XM's augmented navigation that can overlay directions onto a front camera view that shows on the infotainment screen. (The directions also appear on the head-up display.) For example, when approaching a turn, arrows show on the center display, overlaying the video feed and appearing to hover over the road. The arrows get more prominent as the XM approaches the turn, making it much easier to follow directions, especially in complicated situations or after dark.

2023 BMW XM augmented navigation screenPerry Stern

Regarding safety features, the XM has a robust standard package of advanced driver-assistance systems. Bundled under the Active Driving Assistant Professional umbrella, they include the usual suspects related to driver warnings and active preventative measures. Less common features include a Lane Change Assistant and an Extended Traffic Jam Assistant — technology that pairs adaptive cruise control and lane-centering for low-speed, hands-free driving.

The Steering and Lane Keeping Assistant tech worked flawlessly to center the XM in the travel lane. I also sampled the Lane Change Assistant, which automatically checks for proper clearance and steers to change lanes as long as the driver keeps a hand on the wheel.

2023 BMW XM engine bay showing the 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8Perry Stern

2023 BMW XM Review: The Drive

The 2023 BMW XM packs a new M Hybrid system featuring a 483-hp 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 and an electric motor that adds another 194 horsepower to the fun. Total output measures 644 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque.

BMW integrates the electric motor with an eight-speed M Steptronic automatic transmission that directs the power to the road through an M xDrive all-wheel-drive system. The automaker claims the XM will sprint to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds, and after personally experiencing the brutal acceleration resulting from a full-throttle launch, that time seems conservative to me. The prodigious power is intense, coming on strong all at once and with virtually no wheelspin, so the XM takes off like a rocket.

Unlike a high-performance vehicle that is purely electric, the XM provides a much more visceral experience, thanks to the quick-shifting automatic and exciting roar of its big V8 engine. Acceleration from highway speeds still sets passengers back in their seats, and passing slower cars is never a problem in the XM.

2023 BMW XM rear cargo spacePerry Stern

Even when using EV mode, the XM supplies reasonable acceleration. According to BMW, the XM can reach 87 mph in EV mode before the gas engine engages. However, when more speed or immediate acceleration is needed in EV mode, pushing the go pedal to the floor will fire up the V8 engine to deliver maximum power.

The EPA rates the BMW XM at 73 MPGe with the electric motor engaged. Unfortunately, after depleting the battery and running the powerful SUV strictly on gasoline, the EPA fuel-economy rating drops to a paltry 14 mpg in combined driving. During my evaluation, piloting the XM on the highway and in stop-and-go traffic with the electric motor and gasoline engine operating, I achieved a respectable 31 mpg.

You can recharge the XM using a standard household 110-volt outlet or a Level 2 charger. I plugged the XM into a Level 2 charger with an 8% charge remaining, and the display indicated it would take about three hours and 45 minutes to recharge the battery fully. The same task would take about 30 hours when using a 110-volt outlet. Surprisingly, once the battery charging was complete, the indicated range showed 41 miles, considerably more than the EPA-rated 31 miles.

2023 BMW XM rear three-quarter viewPerry Stern

Like other BMW M models, the XM is easy to drive daily, but performance is its priority. Even with the adjustable suspension set to Comfort, the ride is stiff and bumpy on the SUV's 23-inch wheels and tires, but not to the point where I'd call it uncomfortable. In addition, a surprising amount of road noise permeates the cabin, especially when operating in EV mode at highway speeds.

I'm willing to forgive these sins as a small cost for the XM's performance. It may not look like any previous BMW M car, but it certainly drives like one. The steering is precise, with quick response and excellent feedback, and the suspension keeps the XM stable, even during rapid direction changes. And, of course, there's never a lack of power on tap.

When pushing the XM on my favorite Pacific Northwest backroads, I found the SUV felt small and agile, somehow hiding that it's a sizable, 6,000-plus-pound crossover SUV. The XM stays flat in the corners, and the grip is impressive. Large six-piston brakes provide excellent stopping power with linear performance that is easy to predict.

And here's a fun tip: Switching the XM to Sport mode keeps the V8 in operation, delivering all the power for the ultimate performance, but this mode also charges the battery as you drive. So after my enthusiastic trip over the river and through the woods in Sport mode, I had regained 5 miles of EV-only range for my drive back home.

2023 BMW XM front three-quarter viewPerry Stern

Is the 2023 BMW XM a Good SUV?

BMW's M vehicles stand out in their ability to deliver exceptional performance while remaining easy to drive daily, and the new BMW XM is no exception.

The XM's plug-in hybrid powertrain provides impressive range and good power in EV mode, making it ideal for cruising around town or commuting to the office efficiently. But there's a certain satisfaction in knowing that seemingly unlimited power lurks under the hood, just waiting for you to unleash it with a stab of the throttle. And when all its power comes online, the XM becomes one of the most potent and best-handling SUVs on the road.

Unfortunately, the polarizing design may immediately turn some buyers away, which means those who love the look will probably adore the XM. Besides, the XM's interior is a captivating mix of high-tech features and luxurious materials. In addition, the spacious cabin is comfortable and offers decent cargo space, adding to the XM's everyday utility.

For those buyers looking for proper BMW M performance in a unique plug-in hybrid SUV that stands out from the crowd, the new 2023 BMW XM is the vehicle to check out.

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Perry Stern
I have loved cars and trucks since childhood, and that fascination with anything that drives is just as strong today. As a teenager, I knew I wanted to become an automotive journalist, and during the past three decades, I have driven, written about, and photographed all manner of automobiles ranging from affordable econocars to exotic supercars. With the idea that there is a perfect car, truck, or SUV for everyone, my goal is to help consumers determine the right one for their wants and needs.