2023 BMW XM: A Swanky Batcave of a Car, er, Plug-in Electric Hybrid SUV

The 2023 BMW XM is the first M car with plug-in electric hybrid SUV technology — but is it worth $160,000? Here's everything you need to know.

The Blacked Out 2023 Bmw Xm Has An Imposing Presence. Photo By Allison Bell
The blacked out 2023 BMW XM has an imposing presence. Photo by Allison Bell

“It’s a Bicep on Wheels,” exclaimed one friend.

As I rolled into my friend’s driveway early one Saturday morning in the 2023 BMW XM, I saw her mouth the word, “Wow.” We picked up two more friends, and I heard the terms “man cave,” “Batmobile,” and “bicep on wheels” bandied about. I laughed because their point was clear: This was not the type of car they pictured me driving on a daily basis. I might as well have told them I had started dating Christian Bale (whose Batmobile inspired the comparison). 

Of all the press cars I’ve driven over the past year, I don’t think any of them have sparked as much intrigue and conversation as the BWM XM, a 5 passenger plug-in electric SUV that is more lounge-like than practical and has a hefty price tag of $159K+.

And I kind of loved it. In a market saturated with plenty of plug-in hybrid SUVs, the XM stands out. It’s not worried about winning a popularity contest or appealing to the masses. It’s looking for the select few who’ll appreciate it for what it is — with its exaggerated kidney grille and all.

Could you be one of them? Let’s find out. 

Related: 13 of Our Absolute Favorite Electric Cars, Hybrids, and Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles

The Xm Is Bmw'S First Plug-In Electric Hybrid Suv. Photo: Allison Bell

The 2023 BMW XM is BMW’s first plug-in hybrid SUV. Photo: Allison Bell

Who This Car Is For

In a general sense, the BMW XM will appeal to the following buyers:

  • People with short commutes who want the ability to drive solely on electric power
  • Lovers of luxury, high-performance SUVs 
  • Hardcore, loyal fans of the BMW M Series; “M” is BMW’s performance designation, which means more power, sportier details and a sport-tuned drive experience
  • Anyone who wants a supremely unique plug-in hybrid SUV

But there’s still more you need to know before committing to a long-term relationship. 

Feast Your Eyes On This Pretty Center Console With The Bmw M Elements In This Plug-In Electric Hybrid Suv. Photo: Allison Bell

Feast your eyes on this pretty center console adorned with carbon fiber and the M elements. Photo: Allison Bell

Justifying the 2023 BMW XM Price 

There’s no beating around the bush here — the 2023 BMW XM is not the car you buy if you’re on a tight budget. It has a starting MSRP of $159,000. But this high-performance, plug-in hybrid SUV (or “Sport Activity Vehicle,” as BMW calls it) distinguishes itself from others in its pack by offering luxurious features and details you won’t find anywhere else. Here’s what makes it unique:

  • The XM is the first stand-alone M model since the M1 was released 40 years ago
  • It’s the first M car to use plug-in hybrid technology
  • The interior combines future-focused tech and convenience with a slightly retro vibe, thanks to M-inspired design elements
  • The second row (or “M Lounge”) offers enough head and leg room to fit three average-sized adults comfortably
  • The distinct kidney grille illuminates in the dark, contributing to its imposing presence
  • This performance-oriented plug-in hybrid SUV gets about 31 miles of all-electric range
  • The 4.4-liter M TwinPower Turbo V8 engine combines an electric motor and battery pack to produce 644 horsepower, making it the most powerful BMW
  • It has a generous assortment of luxuries (23-inch wheels, leather interior, curved multimedia display, heated/cooled cup holders, etc.)
The Steering Wheel On The Bmw Xm Plug-In Electric Hybrid Suv. Photo: Allison Bell

The steering wheel on the BMW XM. Those red tabs allow you to customize the drive settings for two drivers. Photo: Allison Bell

Daunting Decisions?

For some people, it will be worth $160k to have these distinctive features. Those looking for a more economical option might just have to put this on the bucket list for now. 

My XM tester came with an upgraded Bowers & Wilkins sound system and the M Driver’s package, which brought the total to $165,895, including destination fees. Since I can happily live with a Harman Kardon sound system and see no reason to increase my top speed, I’d just as soon save a few thousand dollars and remove those two options. But then again, if you’re paying $160k, what’s a few thousand more?

The Bmw Xm Label Red Is Coming In 2024. Photo By Bmw Usa

The BMW XM Label Red is coming in 2024. Photo by BMW USA

A New Trim for 2024

As far as trim options go for 2023, the XM stands alone. However, BMW did throw in a “Label Red” model to the lineup for 2024, which, as of this writing, has yet to be released. The Label Red XM kicks things up to 738 horsepower and 738 pound-feet of torque with red accents inside and out that seem to mirror its red-hot performance capability. And all that extra power will certainly bump the base price up from the regular XM, so budget accordingly! 

Related: The 2022 BMW iX Electric SUV is the Most Brilliant Bauble of them All

The Kidney Grille Is A Little Polarizing But I Think It Looks Pretty Good On The Bmw Xm. Photo: Allison Bell

The kidney grille is a little polarizing, but I think it looks pretty good on the 2023 BMW XM. Photo: Allison Bell

Let’s Talk About The XM’s Distinct Styling

Virtually every BMW XM review I’ve read has criticized how this car looks — particularly with that massive, polarizing kidney grille. I wasn’t a fan at first, either. But after spending a week with my blacked-out XM, it really grew on me. I thought the kidney grille with that M-shaped hood and LED headlights gave it a sleek, panther-like face. I also loved the vertically stacked tailpipes on either side of the “muscular rear end” (BMW’s words, not mine). 

The XM dares to be different, and for that, I think it deserves some credit. If you really want to stand out, you can opt for some gold trim to go around the grille and sides of the car. As for me, I’ll stick with black. 

Instead Of A Panoramic Sunroof You Get An Alcantara Headliner With Geometric Shapes And Ambient Lounge-Like Lighting In This Plug-In Electric Hybrid Suv. Photo By Bmw Usa

Instead of a panoramic sunroof, you get an Alcantara headliner with geometric shapes and ambient lounge-like lighting. Photo by BMW USA

Exploring the Batcave that Is the 2023 BMW XM

One of the first things you’ll notice as you step inside the XM is what’s above you. In place of a panoramic sunroof, you get a faux suede ceiling headliner with a geometric prism design and ambient lighting that makes you feel like you’ve entered a nightclub. (I affectionately referred to this as “the Batcave” since our tester’s interior was completely blacked out, but you can choose a different color scheme if you want to brighten things up.)

I felt pretty posh sitting in my M multifunction leather driver seat, with its extendable thigh support and massaging capabilities. In addition to heated and ventilated seats up front, the driver and passenger also have the option of heating or cooling whatever drinks they place in the cup holders located just in front of a wireless charging pad. Alfred Pennyworth himself could not have provided better service!

Bmw Made These Seats As Comfortable As Possible. They Even Include A Massaging Function In This Plug-In Electric Hybrid Suv. Photo: Allison Bell

BMW made these seats as comfortable as possible. They even include a massaging function. Photo: Allison Bell

Tech That Keeps Your Eyes on the Road

In addition to being visually appealing, the curved multimedia touch screen that integrates with the digital gauge cluster was reasonably easy to navigate and includes the latest iDrive 8.5 software interface from BMW. Most of the buttons you need are conveniently located on the steering wheel (e.g., with voice command, you can say, “Hey, BMW – where’s the nearest gas station?”), but if you prefer to use the knob down by the gear selector to flip through the menu, that’s another option. The head-up display and wireless Apple CarPlay were other favorite features that made my life easier.

If I have one complaint, it’s this: I would prefer physical buttons to adjust the fan speed. These controls are exclusively digital, so it takes a second to set that climate just right if you don’t have help from a front seat passenger. 

The M Lounge At Night. Photo: Allison Bell

The M Lounge at night. Photo: Allison Bell

You’ll Impress Your Friends (and Kids) with the 2023 BMW XM

In the BMW XM, there are no second-class passengers. There’s also no second row — it’s the “M Lounge” here. Instead of squeezing in an itty-bitty third row in the back, BMW capitalizes on that M Lounge space with a plush bench seat that most adults will find very accommodating. You get charging ports, generous storage space in the doors, heated seats, climate control — and it even comes with little throw pillows for added comfort. When I gave my friends a lift one morning, each of them ooh-ed and ahh-ed at all the amenities.

The one thing BMW didn’t include in the M Lounge is ventilated seats. My guess is that with that window-less headliner and cavernous interior, they figured you won’t need them because you’re so well insulated. Still, for $160k, I think ventilated back seats would be a reasonable expectation. 

Kids Loved The Comfy Second Row (Complete With Pillows) In The Xm. Photo: Allison Bell

Kids loved the comfy second row (complete with pillows) in the XM. Photo: Allison Bell

Now, About That Cargo Area…

With the M Lounge seats folded down, you get 64.3 cubic feet of cargo space in the back and 18.6 cubic feet with them up. Of course, that comes with a little bit of an asterisk because your cargo area already carries a stylish yet sizable bag to house the charging cable. It’s pretty — but it does take up some space.

Related: Why These Are the Best Family Cars – AKA the Mom Car– and It’s Not Just About The Kids!

The Xm Comes With A Stylish Handbag To Carry Your Charging Cable In The Cargo Area. Photo By Bmw Usa

The XM has a stylish handbag to carry your charging cable in the cargo area. Photo by BMW USA

Does the XM Live Up to the High-Performance Reputation of the M Series?

And now the question weighing on everyone’s mind: Does the XM deliver on performance? Is it worthy of the M designation? Is it fun to drive? Well, listen — I’m far from being a racing expert, but even I know that a 6,000-pound car that can go from zero to 60 mph in just under four seconds is impressive. With 644 horsepower, this thing feels like a beast on the road in Sport mode. And while I wouldn’t exactly say that Comfort mode transforms it into a docile creature, there was definitely a notable difference over bumps and rough patches, so it plays both roles well.  

We Felt Like We Were Riding Around In The Batcave. Photo: Allison Bell

This BMW made us feel like we were riding around in the Batcave. Photo: Allison Bell

A Final Fun Fact

Speaking of unique features, here’s one final nugget you might find interesting. What do the movies The Lion King, Pirates of the Caribbean and The Dark Knight have in common with the BMW XM? Answer: Hans Zimmer! The legendary composer loaned his musical composition skills to each of them. Yes, that’s right. Academy Award-winning composer Hans Zimmer created the “soundtrack” for the XM’s powertrain, which you’ll hear sonorously roaring through the exhaust when you slip into electric mode. Given the aforementioned comparison to Christian Bale’s Batmobile, this little tidbit completely delighted me. 

(And I’ve got to say — blaring some Hans Zimmer essentials on that Bowers & Wilkins sound system added a whole new level to the driving experience.)

Peep The Bmw Logo In The Rear Window That'S One Unique Feature On The Xm. Photo: Allison Bell

Peep the BMW logo in the rear window That’s one unique feature on the XM. Photo: Allison Bell

The Plug-in Hybrid SUV You Deserve — But (Maybe) Not The One You Need 

As cool as it is, the XM doesn’t cater to the average American driver. It’s more for those who want something other than the typical, run-of-the-mill luxury SUV. (And possibly the crime-fighting, billionaire orphan-types.)

I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the 2023 BMW XM and appreciate that BMW is putting all its innovation and design into this plug-in hybrid SUV, which is why it comes in at such a lofty price.

Its price, looks and unique features mean the BMW XM may not be for everyone, but it certainly leaves an impression. 

The Xm Badges On The Front Two Seats Light Up In The Dark. Photo: Allison Bell

The XM badges on the front two seats light up in the dark in the 2023 BMW XM. Photo: Allison Bell

What We Loved

  • The powerful and responsive plug-in hybrid engine
  • A generous assortment of standard safety features (automatic emergency braking, Active Driving Assistant, adaptive LED headlights, parking assistance, surround-view cameras, etc.)
  • Supportive, fully-adjustable front seats with massage function
  • The second row (“M lounge”) comfortably fits full-grown adults – even in the middle seat
  • Generous amount of storage in second-row doors
  • Large, shallow LATCH hooks for easy car seat and booster installation 
  • Impressive interior light show when the car starts up
  • BMW’s attention to detail in the design 
  • Heated and cooled cup holders in the front
  • The Hans Zimmer-composed powertrain soundtrack
  • No trouble finding this one in a parking lot
The 2023 Bmw Xm Monroney. Photo: Bmw Usa

The 2023 BMW XM Monroney. Photo: BMW USA

What You Need to Know

  • Starting MSRP: $159,000
  • 4.4-liter M TwinPower Turbo V8 engine with an electric motor and battery pack
  • 8-speed automatic transmission 
  • 644 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque
  • Rear seats are heated but not ventilated
  • Approximately 31 miles of all-electric range and 14 MPG average with gasoline only (though drivers who combine gas and electric can boost their fuel economy)
  • Charge time is about 3 hours on a 240V charger (our tester reached 25% in four hours on a regular 120V charger).

Pinterest Image Of The 2023 Bmw Xm

Disclosure: BMW provided the XM for a weeklong review. All opinions are my own. 

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Allison is a freelance writer, a mother of two, and the wife of a car-obsessed husband who got her... More about Allison Bell