- The 2023 BMW XM is here, polarizing looks and all.
- A plug-in hybrid powertrain makes 644 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque.
- 0-60 in 4.1 seconds, a top speed of 168 mph, and a price of $159,995. Phew.
2023 BMW XM First Look: A Real M Car?
Can this SUV be crowned BMW's flagship?
If you were hoping for an end to BMW's string of, erm, interesting design choices, we're sorry to disappoint you. The 2023 BMW XM is BMW's new flagship SUV, and it's wasting no time splitting opinion with its polarizing exterior. But perhaps the fact that it's the first stand-alone project from the M brand since the original M1 will make up for it. No? OK, then how about 644 horsepower from a twin-turbocharged V8 plug-in hybrid powerplant? Well, that's certainly a start.
So what's underneath the ... questionable sheetmetal?
The powertrain isn't as fiendishly complex as it might sound. For the XM, BMW took its ubiquitous 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8, upgraded some of the internals, and paired it to an eight-speed automatic transmission that has an electric motor built right in. The electric motor itself pulls from a 25.7-kWh battery mounted in the underbody of the XM and contributes 194 hp to the XM's overall output. BMW says it grants the XM a pure electric range of up to 30 miles.
The transmission with its built-in e-motor sends power to all four wheels via M's version of xDrive. Thanks to launch control and the added benefit of all-wheel-drive traction, BMW says the XM and its 644 hp and 590 lb-ft will rocket from 0 to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds (though we're assuming that's a conservative figure, as BMWs have often bested their touted 0-60 times in our testing) and hustle its way to a 168 mph top speed, should you specify it with the M Driver's package. Without it, top speed is limited to 155 mph. Top speed in electric-only mode is 87 mph.
As with most modern all-wheel-drive M cars, there are a plethora of driving modes to pick from. The default mode is 4WD, though in actuality this is an all-wheel-drive setup. There is also a 4WD Sport mode that sends more power rearward and mandates the stability control system be turned off. There is also a 4WD Sand mode that locks the rear differential and can be used for environments where traction is limited like sandy or muddy terrain. Unlike other M performance cars — but perhaps unsurprisingly given this is an SUV — there isn't a rear-wheel-drive only mode.
An adaptive suspension specifically tuned by M is standard on the XM. The system combines electronically controlled shock absorbers with a set of fixed-rate springs up front and progressive-rate springs in the rear. The front suspension is a double-wishbone design while the rear is a five-link setup. There is also a 48-volt anti-roll system (powered by supercapacitors that allow the system to react more quickly than if fed by a battery) that should help keep body motions to a minimum. That combined with a rear-wheel steering system will hopefully make the 6,062-pound SUV a little more agile.
An interior befitting that price tag?
Inside, the XM looks like a pretty nice place to spend time. BMW's Merino leather (an upgraded option on many other high-end BMWs) coats the XM's seats, while the more typical Nappa leather trims the instrument panel surround and door panels. Alcantara faux suede further decorates the window pillars. Even though the design is reminiscent of the X7 and other BMW SUVs, the new trimmings elevate the space into something that looks even more expensive than other top-dollar Bimmers. There are a plethora of interior options to help potential customers design a space that's unique to them.
Another option is the available Vintage Coffee Merino leather trim. It coats the upper sections of the instrument panel and door panels in a leather that looks like it's been lifted straight out of your headmaster's study. The distressed look that highlights the leather's natural imperfections might not be everyone's cup of tea, but it is a unique touch we haven't seen another mainstream automaker, premium or otherwise, make available.
As you'd expect from a new BMW, the iDrive 8 infotainment system is standard and powers the central touchscreen that sticks out from the dash. The instrument panel is a digital display with its own set of M-specific readouts. It's augmented by a head-up display that projects info onto the glass above the instrument cluster. The rest of the interior will be familiar to most BMW customers. The wheel, center console and dual infotainment screens ape much of what we saw in the recently refreshed X7.
Time to talk about the looks
While we think the XM's cabin is inarguably great, the same cannot be said for its exterior. We are completely baffled by some of BMW's design choices here. The XM's exterior is too brutish and lacks cohesion. It looks like a Botox-injected Volkswagen Atlas at the back and a tractor that's been designed for the world of Tron at the front. We aren't fans, and it's hard to think it'll grow on us since we still aren't over the new M3's mug. The XM is not a pretty car, and we think saying as much is only fair.
Are an extra-luxurious interior and unique powertrain enough to make the XM worth its $159,995 price tag? We'll know for sure once we drive it. We just know we don't want to look at it any longer than we have to. Sorry, BMW design team, better luck next time.
Can a SUV really be a proper M car? The X5 M and X3 M are cool, fast SUVs, but we struggle to ascribe real M credence to them. Maybe the XM will change that, but we'll only know for sure once we get behind the wheel.