2023 BMW XM: A controversial M car

In the previous year, the 2023 BMW XM emerged as one of the significant M offerings. Commemorating its 50th anniversary, BMW’s sportscar division unveiled two new models: the XM, which marked the debut of a bespoke M product since the legendary M1, and the highly limited 3.0 CSL. Undoubtedly, the two vehicles represent contrasting concepts. In one realm, there exists the mighty 2023 BMW XM, an SUV powerhouse boasting an impressive range of 644 to 750 horsepower. On the other end, a bespoke creation emerges in the form of the 3.0 CSL sportscar, paying homage to the renowned racing car of the 70s.

The pros and cons of the 2023 BMW XM

However, it is the XM that garners more controversy between the two. Firstly, this marks BMW M’s initial venture into the realm of electrification. The 2023 BMW XM stands as the brand’s inaugural plug-in hybrid vehicle, surpassing all previous models in weight. Moreover, it holds the distinction of being one of, if not the most expensive BMW currently available, propelling the brand into a new pricing segment.

Secondly, the XM goes against everything what BMW M usually stood for: timeless design, lightweight and exquisite driving dynamics. Certainly, over the past decade, numerous M products have deviated from the established formula. However, none of them stirred as much controversy as the XM.

Since 2022, I have had the privilege of experiencing two XM models firsthand. The first was a prototype in Spring 2022, followed by a production series XM a year later. Needless to say, I have become quite acquainted with the XM and its essence. Therefore, I was filled with anticipation when I received a week-long press car, allowing me to test the XM just like an ordinary customer would.

Residing in Chicago, I am surrounded by a multitude of trucks and crossovers, both premium and non-premium, dominating the city’s roads. It’s also a place where you often encountered exquisite cars like the Lamborghini Urus, Bentley Bentayga and Mercedes-AMG G-Wagon. These vehicles are favored by the target customer base that the BMW XM aims to capture.

My 2023 BMW XM tester ran in at $168,395 and featured the beautiful Marina Bay Blue color paired with the optional Silverstone and Vintage Coffee upholstery. Furthermore, the XM I received was equipped with the M Driver’s Package and, notably, boasted 23-inch wheels. This aspect holds significance due to the unfavorable road conditions in Chicago, where stiff suspensions and large wheels are not well-suited.

Should the BMW XM have air suspension?

Let’s start with the suspension. The 2023 BMW XM is equipped with steel springs, new adaptive dampers, and 48-volt active anti-roll bars. The choice of a steel spring suspension is certainly a controversial one. The decision to opt out of using air suspension appears to align with M’s philosophy for their vehicles, prioritizing sportiness over comfort.

In the majority, if not all, M cars, such a choice is entirely acceptable. However, the BMW XM entered the market as a high-end luxury vehicle, where comfort typically takes precedence over sportiness. The XM is a car that won’t, and should never, see the race track. At 6000 lbs, the BMW XM is simply a sports limousine with a high ground clearance. And this is why the air suspension would have been the better choice.

The driving experience of the 2023 BMW XM

When you combine the stiff yet adjustable suspension with the 23-inch wheels, and then encounter the notorious potholes of Chicago, the overall daily driving experience becomes less pleasant than one would anticipate. Regrettably, the luxury SUV struggles to mitigate the roughness of the imperfect roads, resulting in a noticeably bouncier ride compared to any other BMW crossover I have tested before. If your intention is to utilize the XM as a daily driver, I strongly advise opting for the standard 21-inch wheels. While the ride quality may not reach the same level of smoothness as the X7 or the 7 Series, it will undeniably provide a more comfortable experience compared to the 23-inch wheels.

During my evaluation of the 2023 BMW XM, I experimented with its maximum comfort setting, only to find that it did not improve the situation. Surprisingly, I rarely felt compelled to switch to the Sport or Sport+ modes, which is a departure from my previous experiences.

In my opinion, one of the initial modifications that I believe would have greatly benefited the XM is the inclusion of air suspension. It would have turned the XM into a proper daily driver.

644 horsepower 590 lb-ft of torque

Naturally, when it comes to power, this mammoth delivers. The centerpiece of the XM lies in the all-new S68 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 engine, harmoniously paired with BMW’s fifth-generation synchronous electric motor. The combined powertrain of this plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) generates an impressive 644 horsepower at 5400 rpm and 590 lb-ft of torque, spanning between 1600 and 5000 rpms.

The engine contributes 483 horsepower, while the electric motor adds 194 horsepower to the mix. It is worth noting that the electric motor independently generates 206 lb-ft of torque. However, an additional gear set, positioned between the electric motor and the transmission’s input shaft, elevates the torque output to 332 lb-ft. With the aid of launch control, the 2023 BMW XM achieves an estimated 4.1-second 0-60 mph time, one of the fastest cars in the segment.

With the inclusion of its 19.2 kWh battery pack, the 2023 BMW XM offers an electric range of approximately 30 miles. While this range may be considered relatively modest, it still provides an opportunity for emission-free driving during daily commutes. In the United States, the only way to fully recharge the battery is by using a charging station. The 2023 BMW XM comes with a state of charge hold function which can be activated to maintain the current battery levels. Now the BMW XM can recoup energy from the brakes or coasting with two regeneration settings: Normal and Max.

Frequently, I discovered myself opting for the fully electric mode while driving the XM, as it imparts a more composed and serene driving experience to the vehicle. When operating in EV mode, the maximum speed is limited to 87 mph. Utilizing a level 2 home charger, the battery can be fully charged in approximately 3.5 hours.

The regenerative braking system can be adjusted between “min” and “max” to allow for lesser or greater break regen deceleration. Having experimented with both settings, I can confidently state that I prefer the “min” setting, as it delivers braking performance that is suitably balanced and not overly aggressive for a heavy SUV like the XM.

BMW should have labeled it the X8 M60e

This leads me to my next point: personally, I believe BMW should have designated the XM as an X8 M60e. Such a labeling would have addressed the concerns voiced by passionate M enthusiasts who expressed disappointment about a 6000 lbs heavy M SUV, while simultaneously setting more realistic expectations for a large crossover tuned or built by the M division.

However, the BMW XM truly embodies the spirit of an M product in numerous aspects. The driving experience is certainly defying the laws of physics and even without seeing the track or mountain roads, the XM punches above its weight. Pun intended. The combination of the V8 with the electric motor is brilliant, providing plenty of power for this heavy crossover. he Hybrid mode of the BMW XM operates flawlessly. The transition from pure electric power to combustion power is remarkably seamless, seamlessly blending the two without causing any interruption or distraction. It becomes so natural that you hardly even notice the switch occurring.

The rear axle steering is also brilliant adjusting the driving experience from a soft to a firm feel, providing both comfort and high-performance handling depending on the speed. The rear axle steering is limited to a maximum turn of 2.5 degrees and only activates at speeds below 25 miles per hour or above 100 miles per hour. So as you can imagine, driving in a downtown area becomes a lot easier.

Chicago’s reputation for its flat terrain and perpetual traffic is widely recognized. Consequently, there was limited opportunity to truly explore the limits of the XM. However, that was not my primary objective. The aim of this extensive week-long test drive was to assess how the XM performs as a daily driver. Naturally, this entails evaluating the interior design to ensure it offers a harmonious blend of opulence and functionality befitting its price tag of $170,000.

The interior design of the 2023 BMW XM

Let’s begin by discussing the luxurious aspects of the 2023 BMW XM, as there are a few points I’d like to address. Perhaps some of you may remember my previous reviews of the XM, whether it was here or on YouTube. However, for those who may be unfamiliar, let me provide a summary: I consistently held the belief that the BMW XM should have preserved the majority, if not all, of the interior features from the Concept XM. When compared to other BMW concept cars, that particular interior design felt more closely aligned with a production series model. Consequently, it suggests that most of the unique interior elements could have, and ideally should have, been retained in the XM.

What could have been improved on the 2023 BMW XM?

The interior design of the Concept XM was simply beautiful and most importantly, unique. The production series XM is far from that. It’s essentially an improved X5 M interior with a few unique features, like the intriguing 3D sculpted headliner and the “Rockstar” bench in the rear. The headliner, although impressive, unfortunately eliminates the possibility of having a panoramic roof. This is a feature that, in my opinion, could have greatly enhanced the appeal and marketability of the BMW XM. The spacious interior would have undoubtedly benefited from the addition of a sleek glass roof, providing not only an enhanced sense of luxury but also allowing more natural light to illuminate the cabin.

In my opinion, this would have been a small, but effective change.

The Concept XM had the best interior of any M car

Shifting focus to the remaining interior elements, it becomes immediately apparent that many of the design elements at the front have been carried over from the X5 M. Regrettably, the carbon fiber with interwoven copper trim, as showcased in the Concept XM, did not make it to the final product. Similarly, the chrome bar that used to separate the driver from the passenger is absent. And I mustn’t forget to mention the remarkable air vents, which, in my opinion, rank among the finest I have ever seen in any BMW model. In the category of unique design features I must also include the flat-bottom steering wheel and the gear shifter.

Certainly, as is often the case with products, profitability plays a significant role. However, in this instance, it seems there was ample space within the MSRP to incorporate these modest yet visually impactful design elements. Doing so would have further distinguished the XM from its counterparts, the X5 M and X6 M, while providing customers with a heightened sense of owning an exceptionally distinct and customized M car. I remain hopeful that future iterations of the XM will reintroduce some of the enchanting allure of the Concept XM, as it unquestionably deserves such treatment.

On the positive side, the rear bench is cool and certainly unique compared to other M SUVs.

The interior space of the XM comfortably accommodates four to five individuals, which is to be expected given its nearly identical size to the X7. So essentially the XM could be a great “soccer luxury SUV.”

iDrive 8: Still frustrating to use

Regarding the aspects that I find bothersome, I must place iDrive 8 and the curved display at the forefront. Although the large screen integrates more seamlessly into the XM’s layout compared to, for instance, the smaller M2, it remains frustrating to use. Voice controls still yield inconsistent results. The system still struggles to accurately interpret all commands, and its natural language processing lags far behind the likes of Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s Siri.

Equally annoying is the absence of physical buttons, as it necessitates constant reliance on the touchscreen for certain functions. Thankfully, the presence of the iDrive knob provides some respite, making certain tasks easier to navigate. The ergonomics of accessing the touchscreen still leave much to be desired, particularly for individuals of shorter stature. It is evident that comfortably reaching most of the functions on the expansive curved display would pose a challenge for them.

2023 BMW XM exterior design: Bold and daring, but not for everyone

I deliberately saved the discussion on the exterior design for last because it has been a topic of extensive conversation. Let me begin by stating that I’m personally not a fan of it. However, during my week-long test drive, I was approached by numerous individuals, perhaps a dozen or more, who were intrigued and wanted to inquire about the car. One of the recurring comments from these encounters was: “This is cool!”

Once again, it’s important to acknowledge that styling is a matter of personal preference, and in the case of the 2023 BMW XM, it undeniably stands out amidst a sea of SUVs and crossovers. Its bold and daring design intends to leave a lasting impression. If BMW’s objective was to evoke a sense of shock with the exterior design, then they have undoubtedly succeeded. Naturally, this approach has left some purists disappointed. However, I often ponder the extent to which we, as enthusiasts, truly represent the target demographic for cars like the XM.

2023 BMW XM: A compelling offering with a few changes

On the whole, the 2023 BMW XM presents a compelling offering, although a few changes could elevate it to the next level. Undeniably, its weight is inevitable due to the battery pack, yet it manages to conceal its heft admirably. Furthermore, while it maintains a significant level of luxury, there is room for it to possess a touch of uniqueness. However, the most crucial aspect is a more competitive price point. By positioning the XM at a lower price range, it would differentiate itself from contenders such as the Lamborghini Urus, Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S, or Bentley Bentayga Speed, aligning it more with the realm of top-tier, high-powered crossovers.

Personally, I would even suggest removing the 644 model altogether and focusing solely on the flagship 750 horsepower XM Label Red.

2024 BMW XM

Exterior Appeal - 7
Interior Quality - 8
Steering Feedback - 7.5
Performance - 8
Handling - 7
BMWness/Ultimate Driving Machine - 7
Price Point - 7


On the whole, the 2023 BMW XM presents a compelling offering, although a few changes could elevate it to the next level. Undeniably, its weight is inevitable due to the battery pack, yet it manages to conceal its heft admirably.