Bros Fourr Speed
Car and Driver
In trying to appease people with a multitude of tastes, BMW M's plug-in-hybrid SUV flagship loses focus.
Driven like an M car on twisty mountain roads, the XM adheres to family tradition. We wish more new BMWs had such smooth, progressive steering, with welcome feedback and a gentle buildup of effort in corners. While the XM's sheer mass keeps it from feeling overtly racy, adaptive dampers, 48-volt active anti-roll bars, and rear-axle steering help keep it flat and poised around bends. Overall power delivery is strong in Sport mode, with the immediate assistance of the electric motor lending the XM extra thrust out of tight turns while helping to fill in the torque interruptions between the transmission's shifts. Those hoping for a deep, V-8 rumble may be disappointed, though, as its active exhaust emits a raspy growl more befitting a V-6 (additional V-8 sound effects overlaid with an EV-like whir are piped through the stereo speakers).
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 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.
BMW’s Icarus moment. The XM tries to be a luxury SUV and an ultimate M car with a hybrid conscience, but fails to convince as a whole.
“BMW’s Icarus moment. The XM tries to be a luxury SUV and an ultimate M car with a hybrid conscience, but fails to convince as a whole.”
Strident performance, lack of road noise
Punishing ride, iffy hybrid powertrain response, never getting let out of junctions
I’ve driven plenty of super-fast look-at-me SUVs — the Bentley Bentayga Speed, Lamborghini Urus, Mercedes-AMG G63, etc. — and none of them can match the XM’s on-road demeanor. Driving this SUV hard on winding mountain roads is exciting and rewarding, yet this SUV isn’t so one-track-minded that it’s harsh and horrible in the city or on the freeway.
Let me say it another way: On the same day I drove this SUV, BMW also let me test the new M2 coupe (stay tuned for that review in a couple weeks). I legit had more fun in the XM. I know these are two different vehicles with two different missions, but still, it speaks volumes that, if given the choice to make a mountain run in one of them, I’d totally take the XM.
Road & Track
In a world where the G-Wagen exists, it’s hard to pick the BMW.
From a certain perspective, the 2023 BMW XM
is the most important M car in over 40 years. It is the only vehicle from M, bar the mid-engine M1
, not to be based on a more pedestrian offering from BMW. The XM is also the first M car to weave hybrid technology into its drivetrain. It’s a purebred performance machine, through and through... at least that’s what BMW wants you to believe.
The reality is a bit different. With a claimed curb weight of 6026 pounds, the XM’s speed and lateral grip could never live up to true super SUVs like the Porsche Cayenne GT
. Instead, the M SUV proves itself as the flagship of flagships in different ways.
The interior is a step above every modern BMW I’ve driven, including the high-end Alpina models. The first thing you see is the funky headliner that BMW describes as a “three-dimensional prism structure.” The backlit, Alcantara-covered display covers the entire length of the roof. Further down you’re greeted to a two-tone vintage leather upholstery that, at least in my test car’s case, was a stunning color combo of Deep Lagoon and Coffee. The front seats look great and feel amazing, with a standard massage function and plenty of adjustability. There’s also a giant curved screen on the dash that encapsulates a digital gauge cluster and the infotainment display. Fancy.