Tesla Model X

Styling

The Model X shares about 60 percent of the content from the award-winning Tesla Model S sedan. The X converts the sleek Maserati-looking five-passenger Model X into a stylish crossover utility vehicle with the design spirit of the Acura ZDX or BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo.

Tesla wants to make cool cars that lure new waves of buyers to try an electric car. But it’s hard to make an SUV with minivan-like qualities look sexy. From certain angles, the X looks like a bulked-up taller S. That’s not a bad thing, considering the beautiful design DNA of the Tesla sedan—but the Model X is not a head-turner like the Model S.

Tesla opted to forgo anything resembling a faux grille. (Other electric carmakers have typically used a functionless patch of metallic material where a grille would normally be.)

The Model X has the same wheelbase as the S, but it’s about 2.3 inches longer, 4.4 inches wider, and 10 inches taller. Amazingly, despite the extra height, the Model X is no less aerodynamic than the S, with a 0.24 drag coefficient (according to numbers provided by Tesla).

The most notable design strategy for dressing up the Tesla SUV is the use of double-hinged falcon doors, which rise up and over the top of the car—rather than either opening like a regular sport-ute or employing sliding like doors on a minivan. The advantage of falcon wing doors versus gull wing or even standard doors is their compact opening radius, extending less than 12 inches outward as they fold automatically above the car. The doors also give better access to the Model X’s third-row and make loading large objects like child safety seats in the rear passenger rows a lot easier.

The Model X also boasts the largest piece of curved glass ever used in a production vehicle. The sweeping windshield extends over the cockpit and doesn’t terminate until the B-pillar. This design eliminates the need for a moonroof (which the placement of the falcon wing doors prohibits.)

Inside, the Model X’s interior is a direct extension of the design cues Tesla established for the Model S. Controls for the typical luxury bells and whistles you’d expect to find scattered about the front console are all there, but you’ll have to scroll through the SUV’s gigantic 17-inch touchscreen to find them. Where most $100,000 luxury vehicles strive to present an air of classic refinement, Tesla is selling science fiction come to life. It’s minimal, ergonomic, and pristine—a design that younger luxury buyers probably appreciate.

The Model X’s styling and its performance have earned legions of devoted fans—but its share of disgruntled customers as well. There has been a rash of complaints, especially in early production units, of malfunctioning doors, squeaky windows, and other quality issues. Critics argue that Tesla is moving in too many directions at the same time and thus took its eyes off the ball when it comes to reliability.

Performance

Tesla is taking orders and delivering three versions of the Model X: the 75D, 100D, and P100D. All three are all-wheel-drive configurations with the level of performance increasing as you move up the price curve. The $83,000 75D can zoom from a standstill to 60 miles per hour in 4.9 seconds—with a top speed of 130 miles per hour. Move up to the bigger-battery longer-range 100D for an additional $16,500 to slice the time to 60-mph to 4.7 seconds and boost the top speed to 155 miles per hour. The P100D, which starts at $140,000, will get you from zero to 60 mph in an impressive 2.9 seconds.

Taking the Model X through a quarter-mile sprint produces rollercoaster-like G-force sensations that are rare in even the finest performance SUVs. The Model X turns with more stability than you’d expect for an SUV weighing almost 5,500 pounds. In competing with the likes of Porsche, Tesla’s ace in the hole has always been electric vehicles’ capacity for instantaneous torque.

Air suspension with five settings enables the Model X to adjust from 9.5 inches of ground clearance to 6.5 inches, often automatically. In fact, you can program the SUV to recognize certain spots—like a particularly worn patch of road or a driveway entrance with a high lip—and adjust in anticipation of them without command.

The Model X is rated to tow up to 5,000 pounds, although the hitch necessary to do that will add $750 to the price of the vehicle. Keep in mind that the Model X is not truly a utility vehicle but rather a stylish, high-tech people mover.

Tesla Model X

Efficiency/Range

The Model X 75D and 100D models sport the same size battery packs as those found in equivalent trim levels of the Model S sedan. But due mostly to the SUV’s increased weight, the Model X loses about 10 percent of its range compared to its cousin. Still, with 237 miles of range for the 75D and 295 miles for the 100D, the Model X pushed the limits of how far a 5,400 pound, seven-passenger, all-wheel performance SUV can achieve.

The EPA rates the 75D at 93 MPGe and the 100D at 87 MPGe. The impressive performance of the P100D comes at the price of some efficiency, reducing the EPA efficiency rating to 85 MPGe (still good). To put these numbers in perspective, the 2018 Nissan LEAF—which weighs about 2,000 pounds less than the Model X—gets 112 MPGe.

Charging

The same way that Tesla pushes the limits of EV acceleration and range, the company also offers the most elegant and powerful charging system in the marketplace. The Tesla Model X uses either an 11.5-kW or 17.2-kW charger. This means adding about 35 to 50 miles of range per hour of charging from a 240-volt source, rather than around 20 to 25 miles in that same hour with most other EVs.

The big battery pack used in the Model X makes this faster rate very useful—although most drivers will find that they have plenty of energy reserves on a daily basis for common driving (regardless of charging rate).

Never content to offer just the best—rather than the crazy over-the-top absolute best—Tesla beats the competition for home charging rates when combined with adequate amperage from home electricity service and Tesla’s $500 High Power Wall Connector.

For Tesla owners, the cherry on top of the EV ice cream sundae is the free use of the Tesla Supercharger network, which enables all-electric road trips. The network—consisting of strategically placed 120-kW rapid chargers that can add as much as 170 miles of range in just 30 minutes—is a stroke of genius by Tesla.

According to the company, about 98 percent of the US population has ready access to the Supercharger network. Consult with the Tesla website to see the current layout of Superchargers in your region: http://www.teslamotors.com/supercharger

Passenger/Cargo Room

The Model X has redefined the possibilities for space and passenger comfort available from a long-range electric vehicle. How you choose to distribute that space is up to you.

The SUV comes standard with a five-seat configuration offering maximized rear cargo space for buyers who don’t do a lot of people hauling. For families, six- and seven-seat setups are available for $3,000 and $4,000 respectively. The second row can be configured with three individual captain’s chairs rather than a bench row. This has the effect of making the center seat every bit as supportive as the outer ones and allows each passenger to adjust their seat independently. It also gives each seat a generous amount of storage space underneath.

Here’s where those dramatic falcon doors come in handy. The unique doors make stepping in and out of the Model X easier than a minivan, even in the third row. The outer seats in the second row are independently adjustable as well, meaning that no more than one passenger will need to be disturbed when someone enters or exits the third row.

As with the Model S, the X doesn’t house any components where an engine would traditionally be found. Instead, Tesla provides additional storage space under the hood—enough for a few pieces of carry-on luggage or about five shopping bags.

Safety

In June 2017, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave the Model X SUV five stars in all of its crash-test categories and subcategories, including in the rollover rating. “More than just resulting in a five-star rating, the data from NHTSA’s testing shows that Model X has the lowest probability of injury of any SUV it has ever tested,” Tesla said in a statement. “In fact, of all the cars NHTSA has ever tested, Model X’s overall probability of injury was second only to Model S.”

The Model X gets five stars from NHTSA for Overall Rating, Frontal Crash tests, Side Crash tests, and Rollover ratings.

One of the biggest dangers facing SUVs is the threat of rollover during an accident. Because conventional SUVs are tall and much of their weight sits above the wheels, there’s an added danger of tipping over compared to sedans, and these kinds of accidents can be particularly dangerous for passengers. Thanks to its massive battery pack though, the Model X is both heavier than competitors and carries the vast majority of that weight underneath the floor, where the pack and drive components are located. This ultra-low center of gravity makes the risk of rollover in a Model X exceedingly low.

“Getting top ratings in most NHTSA tests is not uncommon, except for the rollover rating for SUVs,” said Jake Fisher, director of auto testing at Consumer Reports. “The Model X aces this by having a low center of gravity, due to the weight of its battery pack and its location under the floor.” (By the way, Consumer Reports is no fan of the Model X, which it says has poor reliability ratings.)

Key support structures for the chassis are made of high and ultra-high strength steel, including the B-pillars and bumper beam supports. With no engine block in the front of the car, the nose of the vehicle can also absorb more head-on impact without compressing the cabin.

As you might expect, the Model X offers a long list of standard and optional safety features, including collision warning and automatic emergency braking systems, Autopilot functionality, and blind spot monitoring. Each Model X is outfitted with a camera, radar, and sonar to monitor exactly what is around the vehicle and detect threats. These technologies not only aid collision prevention features but will increasingly serve to give the vehicle more powerful autonomous features as Tesla refines the technology.

Tesla Model X

Price

Tesla is accepting orders for three Model X trim levels. The 75D starts at $85,500 before federal and state incentives. The longer range 100D can be had for $102,000. The step up to the performance-oriented P100D sends the starting price to $140,000.

The federal plug-in vehicle tax credit of $7,500 applies, as does California’s $2,500 rebate, providing some relief from the SUVs massive price tag. Be advised that Tesla has reached the federal cap for vehicles that receive the tax credit, so the amount will begin phasing out in 2019. For the time being, the Model X may also qualify for the so-called “Hummer loophole,” which exploits a federal tax credit of $25,000 for those who purchase the car as a business investment.

Standard equipment includes all-wheel drive, navigation with real-time traffic, LED headlights, power-folding, heated outside mirrors, keyless entry, power Falcon Wing rear doors, and a power rear liftgate. Standard is a 2-row configuration that seats five. There’s also an 8-year/infinite-mile warranty on the battery and drive unit as well as a 4-year/50,000-mile limited warranty on the rest of the vehicle. The 100D and P100D models get an upgrade to a standard air suspension, and the P100D comes with Ludicrous mode for ultimate acceleration.

There are many optional features are available for all trim levels, including six- and seven-passenger configurations. Other high-dollar add-ons include the Premium Upgrades package, 22-inch wheels, premium audio, and a self-driving capability that enables the car to practically drive itself and park itself. (Warning: Keep your eyes on the road and hands on the wheel.)

Comparison with Similar Cars

As a six-figure seven-seat, all-electric, 250-mile performance crossover SUV, the Tesla Model X is a vehicle without peers. If you’re considering purchasing a Tesla Model X there aren’t a whole lot of plug-ins you’re likely to consider alongside it.

The two closest candidates might be a pair of plug-in hybrids from Europe, the Volvo XC90 T8 and the BMW xdrive40e. The xdrive40e starts at $64,000 and has a 13-mile electric range, though fuel economy numbers after the battery depletes are less than impressive. The Volvo XC90 is a seven-seat luxury crossover that starts near $69,000 and offers an electric range of 17 miles.

Neither vehicle will enable you to say goodbye to gas stations, but both offer comparable luxury and technology features at about half the price of the currently available Model X trims.

Purchase Process

Production for the Tesla Model X hit its stride in mid-2017. The company is now reporting as many as 3,000 sales per month. But the Tesla ordering system will ask you to wait a couple months for delivery. When you place an order, your online user account will indicate when a vehicle identification number has been created.

The Tesla website states: “Because a number of factors may impact timing—including shifting production schedules, option availability, and the logistics of transporting your vehicle—it's not uncommon to observe changes to this initial time frame.” The company provides the phone number for a “Delivery Experience Specialist,” who can be more specific.

All Tesla purchases begin with an online order, whether placed at home (using the Tesla website) or from one of the company’s showroom floors. Product specialists are also available by phone, between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Pacific to answer questions. Call 1-888-518-3752.

Tesla Model X specifications

Availability: Now
Base MSRP: $83000
Est. tax credit: $7500
Technology: Electric Vehicle
Body type: SUV
Seats: 7
EPA Range: 237 miles pure electric
Battery size: 75 kWh
Charging rate: 17.0 kW

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