The New BMW XM Is a Plug-in Hybrid SUV with Refined Performance

2023 bmw xm
2023 BMW XM Electrified SUV Is Refined PerformanceEnes Kucevic Photography
  • BMW says the XM is “the first-ever high-performance vehicle from BMW M with an electrified powertrain.”

  • It has a 4.4-liter V8 mated to a single electric motor powering all four wheels.

  • Pricing starts at a steep $159,995.

BMW will make the transition to electrification like every other carmaker on Earth, but it freely admits that its gasoline-fed internal-combustion engines will be part of the product line for many years to come.

“Some companies say (full electrification) is going to happen at a certain date, but for us there will be a transition. We will offer all kinds of drivetrains at the same time—there will be electric ones, combustion ones, and, of course, plug-in hybrids,” said BMW M’s affable chairman Frank van Meel.


Thus, let us introduce you to the 2023 BMW XM, a plug-in hybrid from BMW’s all-performance all-the-time M division.

The heart of the XM is BMW’s vaunted 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 mated to one of BMW’s latest eDrive synchronous electric motors. Combined, that powertrain makes 644 hp at 5400 rpm and 590 lb-ft of torque between 1600 and 5000 revs. That’s more than a Mercedes AMG GLE 63 4Matic. It’s a downright racy powertrain, really. Fully charged, the BMW XM will deliver 30 miles of all-electric range, before relying more heavily on the V8 for power delivery.

2023 bmw xm
The XM manages to look fairly svelte for a nearly full-size SUV.BMW - Hearst Owned

“The BMW XM shares its drive concept of an eight-cylinder combustion engine supported by an electric motor with the newly developed endurance racing car from BMW M Motorsport,” the company said.

This year, the racing version of that powertrain is competing in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, where it finished a respectable sixth place in its first outing at the Rolex Daytona 24 and is roaring around Sebring as I write this. Next year look for it in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Or, in detuned form, in the very practical XM, which should be in your BMW dealer’s showroom right about now.

Is the XM rough and brutal like a race car? Or soft and squishy like a typical SUV? It’s right in between. I drove almost 200 miles in an XM over occasionally winding but well-paved backroads and found that the big ute struck a balance somewhere between the seriousness of the Mercedes-Benz AMG GLE 63 4Matic+ and the comfortable capability of the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid Coupe. It sits in the sweet spot between performance and pampering.

On my 200-mile drive I got to fly over tar-stripped pavement and freshly laid asphalt at extra-legal speeds (where appropriate) and found the BMW XM did as good a job of balancing performance with comfort as anything in the class. I was rolling on 22s and those transferred every warm strip of tar the state of Arizona had ever laid down north of Phoenix.

But on curvy smooth mountainous blacktop the XM and its standard all-wheel drive held on nicely, making the transition from one turn to the next without much body roll, thanks to the XM’s 48-volt electromechanical roll stabilization setup. The standard “Integral Active Steering” further helps keep things in line. And the XM’s M Sport differential distributes torque between the left and right rear wheels for added grip and performance.

In a straight line the XM can hit 62 mph in just 4.3 seconds, a half-second slower than manufacturers’ figures for the AMG or the Porsche, but still quick enough to mount any freeway onramp with confidence. If you really need more power, this fall the XM will be offered in “Label Red” trim with 735 hp and 735 lb-ft of torque, so watch out, competitors.

2023 bmw xm
BMW XM interior.Hearst Owned

On the outside the XM is trim and tight for its size, with a new and inoffensive take on the traditional twin-kidney grille—but a little bit of over-design below and to the side of that. Have a look and tell me what you think in the comments.

Inside, the headliner is an artistically creased series of folds that make up the most interesting ceiling short of the Rolls-Royce Starlight. The curved display screen aims its infotainment toward the driver without shutting out the passenger, allowing access to all that BMW’s new iDrive 8 has to offer.

It’s an excellent package, but it comes with a starting price of $159,995. As they say in the darkest confines of the Schwarzwald: Yikes! The AMG GLE 63 S 4Matic starts at just $120k, while the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid Coupe stickers for close to $175 large (you can get a plain old entry-level Cayenne for just $72,200, but that only has 335 hp). There are many, many more luxury hybrids out there—too many to list here—but if you want maximum performance mated to mollycoddling luxury, you might find that the BMW XM is the ute for you.

Is BMW's new ute brute a proper way point along the route to all-electric vehicles? Will there be a place for vehicles like this in an all-electric future? Please comment below.