BMW XM Review: Powerful SUV, But Not Perfect

Making its debut, the BMW XM is the first standalone M product since the M1. Despite its $170,000 price tag, this twin-turbo V8 plug-in hybrid targets wealthy extroverts, unlike its ProCar series predecessor. The XM’s contrast makes it a unique blend of luxury and sport. Reviewing such an oddly unfocused model demands a careful hand. During the extensive M Town Tour test drive, a BMW car enthusiast braced himself for a potentially challenging journey. Unexpectedly, the BMW XM both surpassed and fell below his expectations.

Currently the mightiest among M models, the BMW XM demands your readiness. It remains so until the XM Label Red rolls out in August 2023. The prime force is a 4.4-litre S68 V8 twin-turbo engine. They generate 644 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque, distributed to all wheels via a 194-horsepower electric motor. According to BMW, it rockets from 0 to 60 mph in a mere 4.1 seconds. I believe them.

Driving the XM, controlling acceleration across the rpm range is a breeze. The car glides smoothly through open roads and freeway onramps. Its nimble yet hefty chassis motivates you to exploit the robust drivetrain. The ZF eight-speed automatic performs equally swiftly here as elsewhere. It provides prompt power boosts on upshifts and smooth downshifts in auto and manual modes.

Compared to more refined vehicles like the X5 M, the XM’s ride could use some help. Yet, for a car weighing over 6,000 pounds, it’s as agile as models like the X7 M60i. While not as race-ready as the M1, it offers reliable oversteer when required and rear-wheel steering for steady cornering. The steering feel may seem vague, but its weight is predictable and familiar if you’ve driven recent M models.

The XM’s exterior might stir envy in aspirational influencers and alarm among purists. It may not win conventional beauty contests, but it’s a definite head-turner. With its unique design, the XM stands out in the BMW lineup and among all other cars. Its less-obvious badging, stacked quad tailpipes, and brightly lit distinctive front grille make it less instantly identifiable as a BMW. Yet, it’s far from subdued. It’s a standout, clearly designed with the flamboyant personality in mind.

Inside, the BMW XM feels like an elevated X7, neither more nor less. Many elements feel familiar when compared to other BMWs in the segment. It’s all there, from the new curved iDrive display to the thick leather-clad steering wheel and lavish leather seating. However, the XM injects some uniqueness with a custom-designed sunroof-less headliner. Despite not being entirely distinctive, the cabin radiates luxury. The Full Merino Leather option gives the cabin a BMW-specific flair, enhancing the elegance with full-height door panel accents of leather and Alcantara.

The BMW XM largely borrows its hardware from other models in the line. The curved display performs excellently, offering quick responses and effective voice commands. Even the fully touchscreen-based climate controls are user-friendly. Advanced features like adaptive cruise control, lane departure warnings, and blind spot alerts all work flawlessly. It boasts all conceivable amenities, from ventilated seats to heated and cooled cupholders. Yet, this introduces a peculiar downside in its philosophy.

Being at the helm of a BMW XM offers a unique ride. It may seem like a slick marketing ploy, yet it won’t snag the ‘SUV of the Year’ title. I suspect it would garner praise as a leading contender if it were dubbed the X8 and priced starting at $130,000. But this is the XM, not the X8. It holds its own from the driver’s seat – where it matters most – assuming your expectations and financial portfolio are rightly adjusted.

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