by Sebastian Cenizo
When it's time to purchase a new vehicle, many criteria can steer you towards or away from a certain model. 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 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 and a half seconds. Should that not be quick enough, a Performance model 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?
Figuring out what is new on a Tesla is a tricky task, since slight changes and updates are regularly introduced. However, Tesla has promised that the motors are more efficient over what we had access to a year ago. We are also promised better chargers that allow for faster charging and standard adaptive air suspension. There is also no longer a Long Range model, as the regular Model X is now not available as a reduced-range variant and is essentially only a Long Range Plus model as the base variant. Leather is also no longer available as an upholstery option, with only synthetic leatherette to choose from.
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Single Speed Automatic
Tesla's design philosophy is based on simplicity and this carries through to the Model X SUV. 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 wheels fill the smooth arches, although 22s are available. At the rear, a deployable spoiler can be fitted, while the roof features two individual rear-seat sunroofs.
The 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, with the base measurement starting at 5,631 pounds.
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 either a two-tone silver and black or full Onyx Black, but we'd be happy with the standard silver finish on the wheels, although the black does add some menace to the design.
If you're not sure if Tesla products are quick, take a moment to check out some YouTube videos 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 4.4 seconds. The Performance model cuts that even further to 2.7 seconds. Don't forget, we're talking about an SUV here, and one that weighs over 5,500 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 4,960 lbs, although this drops to 3,480 if you spec the 22-inch wheels.
The Tesla Model X is fitted with a pair of electric motors to achieve its performance, with these fed by a 100 kWh battery pack. 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 534 horsepower and 557 lb-ft of torque. 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 99/93/96 MPGe on the city/highway/combined cycles. It offers a range of 351 miles between charges and if you're near one of Tesla's Superchargers, you can get 115 miles of range in just 15 minutes at no cost. 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, with a central 17-inch touchscreen display only accompanied by a digital driver info display. 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 Ash Wood trims 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 $1,500 option), which features white upholstery with Dark Ash Wood trims, or Cream (also $1,500), which features cream-colored upholstery with Oak Wood trims.
Thanks to the fact that the Model X does not have an engine, the front offers a frunk for storage, with 6.6 cubic feet of volume - enough for a pair of carry-on suitcases. In the back, you get 12.6 cubic feet of volume with the third row in place, with more space below the floor. With the seven-seat configuration, you can fold all seats flat for 76.5 cubes, but the six-seat configuration doesn't allow the captain's chairs to fold flat, so you only get 70.7 cubic feet. The most spacious is naturally the five-seat standard configuration, which offers up to 81.2 cubic feet for a maximum overall volume of 88 cubic feet.
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, and parking sensors. The Autopilot feature is an included option that can be upgraded to include a Smart Summon feature, automatic parking, and adaptive cruise control with semi-autonomous driving, forward-collision warning, and automated emergency braking.
The Model X features a huge 17-inch touchscreen that controls its infotainment and much more. It's vertically mounted and the rest of the dash is essentially free of any clutter with almost all functions being managed by this display. The system features Google Maps navigation, Bluetooth and USB connectivity (two 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.
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/50,000-mile battery and powertrain warranty.
The Model X 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. Further updates are promised, including traffic sign recognition, traffic light recognition, and auto city driving.
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 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 2020 Model X starts at $84,990 excluding available rebates and tax incentives. A $1,200 destination charge is still applicable, however. If you fully spec the Model X and choose to price it without any incentives, the final figure is $107,990.
The Model X is a standalone model, now available only as the Long Range Plus. No "short-range' model is available any longer, but a more extreme Performance variant is available and is considered separately. The Model X boasts a pair of electric motors, one per axle, giving it 534 hp and 557 lb-ft of torque, as well as all-wheel-drive. 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 351 miles and rides on 20-inch wheels as standard. LED cornering headlights are included too, and the SUV can tow up to 4,960 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.
Little is to be added to the Model X, but you can spec 22-inch wheels that cost $5,500. Alternatively, a different style of 20-inch wheels can replace the standard rims for 2,000 bucks. 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 $7,000.
The Model X is an impressive vehicle in standard form, but we would certainly opt to add the 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 new midsize crossover model, but we do not yet have any impressions as we eagerly await the vehicle's arrival. The claims are impressive though, with Tesla promising 68 cubic feet of volume in total and 316 miles of range. Many of the other features are very similar to those found in the Model X, with an expansive touchscreen dominating the dash once again, albeit in a horizontal configuration in the Model Y. Pricing is promised to be narrowly under the $53,000 mark for the regular model, with the Performance version breaking $60,000. This model is claimed to manage the sprint from 0-60 in 3.5 seconds, making it quicker than the non-Performance variant of the Model X, as one would expect. 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. It's just as powerful a vehicle as the Model X, with its motors producing the equivalent of 534 hp and 557 lb-ft of torque. Yet, it offers even better economy figures of 115/107/11 MPGe on the EPA's city/highway/combined cycles and has a range of up to 373 miles. It's cheaper too, retailing for just under $80,000. Naturally, cargo volume is lesser than that of the Model X, with "just" 58.1 cubic feet overall compared to the Model X's 87.8 cubes. 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.
Check out some informative Tesla Model X video reviews below.