With the BMW XM in techno excess across the American West

A BMW XM next to a very large saguro cactus

A BMW XM next to a very large saguro cactus
Enlarge / Big achievement, big cactus, mostly big price.

Roberto Baldwin

I’m speeding down Interstate 10 from Arizona to California in the BMW XM, the German automaker’s latest luxury SUV. The black-on-black SUV is a dagger of extravagance more. But it’s more than just a vehicle to stand next to while posing for social media shots. It’s a bold statement from BMW that it can fuse luxury with the latest technology.

The ride

With a starting price of $160,000, the BMW XM is actually quite a bargain when you look at its closest competitor, the Lamborghini Urus. I’ve driven both long distances, and the XM delivers on a long drive 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 show-off 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’s got an all-electric range of around 30 miles, so trips to Whole Foods and back could be a lot cleaner than what the Urus offers given it’s a gas-only offering. But driving cross-country, I burned through the range within the first 30 minutes. In terms of efficiency, plug-in hybrids lose most of their appeal on long road trips. I could have tried to find a level 2 charger along the way but it would have been a waste of time and I would have been the idiot stopping someone with an EV from charging.

Even the XM's headliner and interior lights make a statement.
Enlarge / Even the XM’s headliner and interior lights make a statement.

Roberto Baldwin

The XM adds more power to the battery throughout the drive, but that feature is there, so the electric motor obliges when you hit the accelerator while the petrol engine catches up, like an eager pup cheering on a big, powerful Great Dane.

Behind the wheel of the XM, I understand – I understand the desire to be seen. The car is fast and agile for its size, and when I realize it looks like the Batmobile and change the wake word for the onboard 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 tarmac.

Long freeway drives can be boring, and in a high-performance vehicle, they can be downright tiring. The XM solves most of that. Even when driving straight ahead for hours, you can feel the work that the engineers of the German car manufacturer have put into streamlining the chassis. Changing lanes feels a little funnier, but you get the rush when overtaking.

In terms of comfort, the sport seats offer a far better long-term driving experience than what I’ve found in some other luxury vehicles. Side and back support is particularly welcome. Your sense of seating comfort may vary, but a chair that keeps you exactly where you should be while reducing slouching is key to a successful drive.

M-powered cushions.
Enlarge / M-powered cushions.

Roberto Baldwin

This is also helped by the fact that the front seats can be heated and ventilated – and they have a massage function. Who doesn’t love a massage at 75 miles an hour?

One problem 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.” In essence, the roar of the road and the endless array of white road markings can fascinate a driver. Add some drowsiness and you’re a danger to yourself and everyone else on the road.

At one point in my journey I got quite tired.

The rear of the XM takes the powerful luxury of the driver’s seats and rounds out the edges. It’s comfortable, and the odd polygon ceiling made for a relaxing design that lulled me to sleep as I curled up with the tiny pillows that come with the vehicle. The battery had a few miles of charge, so I didn’t feel guilty about leaving the XM’s rear AC running while I slept.

So yes, the back seat is comfortable and certified for naps.

Street art in the desert.
Enlarge / Street art in the desert.

Roberto Baldwin

#BMW #techno #excess #American #West

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