When it's time to purchase a new vehicle, many criteria can steer you towards or away from a certain model, and, in the case of the Tesla Model X, this luxury SUV is attractive for its astonishing acceleration, impressive handling, and numerous advanced tech features. What may deter you, however, is a questionable level of attention shown to build quality and few actual luxury features. Nevertheless, its impressive range and a clear sense of style can be good enough to help you overlook these problems. A fully electric SUV, the Model X is powered by a pair of electric motors that turn all four wheels so fast that you get to 60 mph in less than four seconds. Should that not be quick enough, a Plaid model (reviewed separately) is available for even more ludicrous acceleration. Whichever you choose, is the Tesla good enough to trump rivals like the Jaguar I-Pace, or is it just a fashion statement?
Tesla makes constant changes to its models throughout the year rather than based on a specific model year. For this reason, a Model X you purchase in January may be quite different from one you purchase in July and, at the best of times, Elon Musk and his eccentric Twitter feed is the best way to find out about Tesla updates.
For now, we know that there is just the Long Range in place of last year's two-model Long Range and Long Range Plus. Tesla's relentless pursuit of better performance and a longer range continues here. The current Model X Long Range now takes a mere 3.8 seconds to reach 60 mph and combines that with a range of 350 miles. As before, the Model X's performance/range specs remain unbeatable. Tesla has also made some changes to the Model X's design outside, while inside, it has received a new square steering wheel design along with a new infotainment display.
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Single Speed Automatic
Tesla's design philosophy is based on simplicity and this carries through to the Model X SUV. The newest model has received some subtle updates like cleaner, smoother detailing for the lower front bumper but otherwise, the basic shape has aged remarkably well. LED headlights and fog lights feature on a smooth and simple front end but, one of the most notable features is the panoramic windshield that is the largest on any production vehicle. Flush door handles and smooth creases define the profile, while 20-inch Cyberstream wheels fill the smooth arches, although 22-inch Turbine wheels in a dark finish are available. At the rear, a deployable spoiler can be fitted, while the roof features two individual rear-seat sunroofs.
The 2021 Tesla Model X is an impressive cargo hauler thanks to its relatively large dimensions. Length measures 198.3 inches while the width excluding the mirrors measures 78.7 inches. The wheelbase measures 116.7 inches and, in its highest setting, the suspension can allow for up to nine inches of ground clearance. Due to the battery packs, curb weight is considerable and starts at 5,185 pounds for the Long Range.
Just one color is free with your purchase of a Tesla Model X: Pearl White Multi-Coat. Other options that cost $1,500 each are Solid Black, Midnight Silver Metallic, and Deep Blue Metallic. Red Multi-Coat is also available, but this costs $2,500. The optional 22s are finished in a darker shade and have a Turbine-style design, but we'd be happy with the standard silver finish on the wheels, although the black does add some menace.
If you're not sure if Tesla products are quick, take a moment to check out some YouTube video reviews of Teslas against highly-modified performance cars. These things absolutely fly, thanks to their instantaneous torque delivery and all-wheel drive. The version we're reviewing here is the slower of the two available variants, yet it still gets from 0-60 mph in just 3.8 seconds. The Plaid model which we review separately cuts that even further to a dramatic 2.5 seconds. Don't forget, we're talking about an SUV here, and one that weighs over 5,000 pounds. Top speed comes in at 155 mph, but the most fun is to be had from a dead standstill. The whiplash-inducing acceleration of the Tesla Model X is its most exciting novelty. Interestingly, one of the Model X's chief rivals, the Jaguar I-Pace, could soon be available in SVR spec, which could make it even quicker than either Model X, but the range would likely be inhibited considerably. For those who are not interested in speed, the Model X is an impressive towing partner too, and can pull up to 5,000 lbs.
The Tesla Model X is fitted with a pair of electric motors to achieve its performance. The front axle is powered by a permanent magnet motor while the rear axle gets its own motor, each of which combine to develop a total of 670 horsepower. The transmission is a single-speed automatic, as is common with electric vehicles, which means that acceleration and response are smooth, although burying your right foot from a standstill will result in the involuntary expulsion of lunch materials for passengers who are not prepared. On the freeway, the shocking performance is less visceral, but you still have no problems overtaking slower traffic, with only a dull whine informing you that you're pushing harder.
SUVs are not generally renowned for their handling characteristics, but the low center of gravity that results from floor-mounted batteries has given the Model X an impressive level of poise in the corners, with minimal body roll. The acceleration is one thing, but your brain has to completely readjust to how capable the Model X is in the corners, remaining composed and sharp as the all-wheel-drive grip pulls it around bends with impressive style. Unfortunately, the steering is devoid of feel, but that is to be expected on a vehicle where everything runs off electric assistance. That said, at least you can adjust the weight of the wheel to your liking.
In terms of comfort, the standard adaptive air suspension system soaks up imperfections well, making it easy for you to relax on long journeys, a benefit that is once again enhanced by the substantial weight of the vehicle. However, the optional 22-inch wheels are less forgiving, so we'd steer clear of these.
When it comes time to stop, the regenerative braking system does a good job of slowing the car and it will take a little bit of getting used to for you to nail perfectly smooth stops as your natural instinct is to use the brake pedal. Rather, let the system slow itself and use the brakes only when necessary and you'll find a new level of driving enjoyment. This too can be configured, meaning you can set how the regenerative braking system acts to better suit what feels natural for you.
Most people buy electric vehicles for their incredible economy figures, and the Tesla Model X is a stand-out performer in this department, achieving official EPA estimates of 109/101/105 MPGe on the city/highway/combined cycles. The Tesla website claims a total range of either 350 or 360 miles depending on where you look, and as Tesla updates its models' range figures quite often, it's difficult to ascertain an exact figure. Still, the Model X Long Range's range of well over 300 miles is better than most.
If you're near one of Tesla's Superchargers, you can get 175 miles of range in just 15 minutes at no cost. That is a quick and convenient charge time. By comparison, the Jaguar I-Pace only manages figures of 80/72/76 MPGe on the same cycles and has a maximum range of 234 miles.
As impressive as the Tesla Model X is in most respects, the interior is where things start to fall apart a little. Sure, when you open the front doors or the rear Falcon Wing doors, there's a fair amount of drama and the immediate thought is that the cabin is intensely futuristic, especially with the redesigned 17-inch touchscreen display. Make of that new yoke steering wheel what you will but it is certainly an oddity. The design is clean and many of the materials are sustainably sourced. Ergonomics are good too. However, the panels don't all line up right, and some rattles and squeaks make themselves known with regular driving. Fortunately, the Tesla wins back some points for providing heating on all seats, whether you've opted for a five-, six-, or seven-seat configuration.
As standard, the Model X seats five with a bench seat in the rear and power-adjustability with memory functions in the front. Alternatively, you can get the Model X with two rows of captain's chairs behind the first row. This is the most comfortable for all passengers and allows easy access to the third row, but if you want to maximize people-carrying ability, the bench can be returned to the second row for a maximum of seven passengers, although this makes access to the third row more difficult. Up front, the driver has 12-way adjustability that allows persons of any size to find a good driving position. The panoramic windshield aids visibility too. In terms of getting in and out, the rear doors make this a breeze so long as there's enough space for them to open fully.
Three interior schemes are available for the Model X. As standard, you get All Black, which features Ebony Decor trim along with black leatherette upholstery. Tesla has recently binned the genuine leather option as groups like PETA lobbied for the company to become vegan-friendly. If black isn't your thing, you can spec Black and White (a $2,000 option), which features white upholstery with Walnut trims, or Cream (also $2,000), which features cream-colored upholstery with Walnut trims.
Thanks to the fact that the Model X does not have an engine, the front offers a useful frunk for storage. This is enough space for one carry-one suitcase and perhaps a soft bag as well. Cargo space will then vary depending on whether or not you've opted for 3 rows of seats, but expect around 13 cubic feet of space behind a third row if a third row is specified. In total, the Model X has a commendable 91 cubes of space including all covered storage and when the SUV is in its most spacious configuration.
In the cabin, the center armrests up front provides a pair of cupholders while narrow door pockets can fit wallets and keys - just remember not to leave anything in the rear before opening those Falcon Wing doors. An additional pair of cupholders is provided for each of the rear rows too, and there's enough space in the front storage bins for your phone and other items.
The Model X is relatively well equipped with standard features, as befits an expensive luxury SUV such as this one. Through the Tesla app, you can use remote access from your phone to pre-heat or pre-cool the cabin, and both front doors are self-presenting and self-closing. You also get keyless entry and ignition as you'd expect, along with a heated steering wheel and heating for all seats. The front seats are 12-way power-adjustable with the driver's perch featuring memory functions too. The rear doors are also automatic, and you get LED ambient lighting throughout the cabin, along with a HEPA cabin filtration system. The mirrors are heated too, and you get wireless charging, a brake hold feature, a rearview camera, a dash cam, and adaptive air suspension. Other standard features include LED headlights with cornering, blind-spot monitoring, tri-zone climate control, and parking sensors. With the Full Self-Driving Capability option selected, the Model X comes with Summon, Autopark, navigation with Autopilot, and stop sign control.
The new Tesla Model X features a huge 17-inch touchscreen that controls its infotainment and much more. This year, the screen swaps to a new landscape style, replacing the previous vertically-mounted screen used before. The system features Google Maps navigation, Bluetooth and USB-C ports, and also provides access to SiriusXM satellite radio. Many inputs can be controlled using voice activation, which is rather handy considering that some icons and menu selections can be a little too small to accurately press when driving unless you take your eyes off the road. Numerous over-the-air updates improve the system as time goes by, so hopefully, the interface will become less fussy. What most people would like, however, is if Android Auto and Apple CarPlay could be added. A 12.3-inch digital driver's display and an eight-inch second-row display are included as well. For gamers, there is a generous 10 teraflops of processing power. The sound system gets 22 speakers and active noise cancelation.
The Tesla Model X has thus far been completely free of recalls for a couple of years, but issues have plagued the automaker in the past, and numerous complaints have been made about interior build quality.
In terms of warranty, Tesla provides a four-year/50,000-mile limited warranty with roadside assistance along with an eight-year/150,000-mile battery and powertrain warranty. This warranty is a rough indication of overall battery life, although some Teslas have been known to cover a much greater mileage than this before the battery became a problem.
The NHTSA's safety review of the Tesla Model X returned fantastic results. In every category tested, the Model X emerged with a maximum five-star safety rating. In fact, it was the first SUV to achieve such results. Over at the IIHS, other Teslas like the Model 3 have returned excellent results but the Model X has not been tested by the agency yet.
The Tesla Model X SUV comes with ten airbags as standard, with knee airbags for both front occupants, as well as frontal, curtain, seat-mounted side, and door-mounted side-impact airbags. You also get forward collision warning with autonomous emergency braking, a rearview camera, lane keep assist, a brake hold feature, parking sensors, and LED lights with cornering. A semi-autonomous self-driving feature is also available as part of the deceptively named Self-Driving Capability, and boasts automatic lane change assist, auto parking, and a remote summon feature. Traffic light and stop sign control are included in this upgrade as well, with Autosteer in the city another feature that's on the way later in 2021.
The Tesla Model X is certainly unconventional and highly advanced. It boasts insane acceleration, exceptional handling for the class, massive cargo space, and decent towing capacity too. As an electric vehicle, it is expected to perform well and offer a decent range, but the Model X stands out by being noteworthy even when compared to other fully electric vehicles. It's also very safe as we've seen above, and offers novel features, games, and hidden abilities that make it all the more charming. Optional features are also not excessively priced, considering the base price, but even in standard form, the Model X offers more than most would need, with plenty of space for up to seven individuals. It is let down by its average build quality and misaligned panels, but other than that, it is truly special. If you can afford one, the Model X is certainly the best electric SUV on the market.
Pricing for the 2021 Model X starts at an MSRP of $89,990 excluding available rebates and tax incentives. A $1,200 destination charge is still applicable, however. Depending on how much you're willing to spend, the price of the Tesla Model X Long Range will reach $114,990 with all the option boxes ticked and if no incentives are applied. For even more performance, the Tesla Model X will cost at least $119,990 if you go for the Plaid model. Prices for rivals like the Jaguar I-Pace begin at around the $70k mark.
The Model X is a standalone model, now available only as the Long Range. No "short-range" model is available any longer, but a more extreme Plaid variant is available and is considered separately. The Model X boasts a pair of electric motors, one per axle, giving it a combined output of 670 hp. That power is distributed to all four wheels. Although it seats 5 occupants as standard, the Model X can be equipped with 6 or 7 seats.
Automatically opening and closing doors are also included, along with a 17-inch touchscreen infotainment display with navigation and satellite radio. The Model X boasts a maximum range of 350 miles and rides on 20-inch wheels as standard. LED cornering headlights are included too, and the SUV can tow up to 5,000 lbs. Other standard features include heated seats, remote app access, keyless entry and ignition, parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, and adaptive air suspension.
While there aren't too many packages or accessories to choose from, you can spec 22-inch wheels that cost $5,500. A seven-seat layout costs $3,500 while a six-seat layout with captain's chairs costs $6,500. The most notable feature is of course the Self-Driving suite with semi-autonomous highway driving, automatic lane changes, and an automatic parking and summoning function. This costs $10,000.
The Model X is an impressive vehicle in standard form, but we would certainly opt to add the $10,000 Self-Driving package, particularly as its price could go up if you decide to add it later when more features become available. We'd also avoid speccing the larger wheels, as this hinders towing capacity and reduces ride comfort. If you wish, splash out on some fancy paint, but we like the futuristic look of the standard white finish. We'd also stick with the standard interior color scheme. The white and black interior looks better, but it will undoubtedly be a headache to clean - something to consider if you're buying this SUV as a family car. Other than that, there's nothing to change.
The Model Y is Tesla's newer but more compact crossover model. The Long Range version of the Model Y begins at a much more accessible $50,990 and boasts a 326-mile range and a 0-60 time of 4.8 seconds. That means it's not as quick as the Model X nor does it have the same range but it's still better than virtually every other SUV. Of course, you can go for the Model Y Performance which is quicker than the Model X Long Range and nearly $30,000 cheaper. The Model Y is spacious inside but not as expansive as the Model X and it does without the fancy Falcon Wing rear doors. If you don't need the additional space and range offered by the Model X, the Y could be for you, especially if you value affordability and performance.
The Model S is arguably Tesla's most beautiful vehicle yet, especially from the front. Like the Model X, the Model S was recently revised with a new steering wheel and infotainment system. The Model S Long Range is cheaper than the equivalent Model X, faster to 60 mph (3.1 seconds to 3.8 seconds for the Model X), and has a much longer 412-mile range. The available Model S Plaid+ offers insane acceleration and a range of over 520 miles. Being a sedan, the Model S can't match the Model X in terms of cargo capacity. Otherwise, the two vehicles are similarly equipped. With essentially the same capabilities and features but more range and more power, the Model S is an excellent choice and the one we'd choose if we didn't need ultimate space.
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