I’m barreling down Interstate 10 in Arizona toward California in the BMW XM, the latest luxury performance SUV from the German automaker. A dagger of extravagance, the black-on-black SUV is all about more. But it’s more than just a vehicle you stand next to while posing for social media shots; it’s a bold expression from BMW that it can merge luxury with the latest technology.
With a starting price of $160,000, the BMW XM is actually quite a deal when you look at its closest competitor, the Lamborghini Urus. I’ve driven both over long distances, and the XM delivers on a long road trip while saving the person behind the wheel about $75,000—that’s less than the price of the 2023 BMW i4 M50. So you get your showoff car and, well, another showoff car that’s an electric vehicle.
The XM is a plug-in hybrid, so you could spend most of your time behind the wheel in electric mode. It has an electric-only range of about 30 miles, so trips to Whole Foods and back could be far cleaner than what the Urus offers, as it’s a gas-only proposition. But driving cross-country, I burned through the range within the first 30 minutes. Efficiency-wise, plug-in hybrids lose most of their appeal on a long road trip. I could have tried to find a level 2 charger along the way, but it would have been a waste of my time, and I would have been the jerk who’s stopping someone with an EV from charging.
The XM does add more power to the battery throughout the drive, but that feature is there so that when you hit the accelerator, the electric motor obliges while the gas engine catches up, like an eager puppy egging on a large, powerful Great Dane.
Behind the wheel of the XM, I get it—I understand the desire to be seen. The car is quick and nimble for its size, and when I realize it looks like the Batmobile and I change the wake word for the built-in AI assistant to “Batman,” I’m equal parts happy and smug. Its hybrid fused M-power pushes 644 hp (480 kW) and 590 lb-ft (800 Nm) of torque onto the asphalt.
Long drives along the interstate can be boring, and in a performance vehicle, they can be downright exhausting. The XM solves most of that. Even in a straight line for hours and hours on end, you feel the work that the German automaker’s engineers put into making the chassis tight. Switching lanes feels a bit more fun, but overtaking is where you get the rush.
Comfort-wise, the sport seats offer a far better long-term driving experience than what I’ve found in some other luxury vehicles. The side and back support is especially welcome. Your sense of seat comfort may vary, but a chair that keeps you exactly where you should be while reducing slouching is the key to a successful road trip.
It also helps that the front seats are heated and vented—and they have a massage feature. Who doesn’t love a massage at 75 miles per hour?
One issue with long drives (especially after an early morning flight) is fatigue. Hours behind the wheel can lead to a terrifying phenomenon known as “highway hypnosis.” Essentially, the drone of the road and the never-ending line of white road markers can mesmerize a driver. Throw in some drowsiness, and you’re a danger to yourself and everyone else on the road.
At one point in my trip, I became quite tired.
The back of the XM takes the powerful luxury of the driver’s seats and rounds off the edges. It’s comfortable, and the weird polygon ceiling provided a relaxing bit of design that lulled me to sleep as I curled up with the tiny pillows that ship with the vehicle. The battery pack had a few miles of charge on it, so I didn’t feel guilty about leaving the XM’s rear climate control running while I slept.
So yes, the back seat is comfortable, and it’s nap-certified.