by Jared Rosenholtz
Are you and six friends in a serious hurry? Well, there's no faster way for all of you to get to your destination than in the electric Tesla Model X Performance SUV. Capable of hitting 60 mph in 2.7 seconds, your passengers are likely to be stunned into silence by what this Tesla can do in a straight line. A rejigged range sees this variant take over from the Model X P100D as the fastest SUV on the planet. Of course, Tesla's usual quirks remain, with some being delightful and some verging on gimmicky. Not much else can be mistaken for the Model X, both inside and out. An enormous 17-inch touchscreen takes center stage within the cabin, while those wing-like rear doors ensure Ferrari levels of attention as they swing upwards dramatically. At over $100,000, the Model X Performance is up against some highly accomplished SUV competition. While a BMW X5 and Porsche Cayenne may guzzle gas and be left in the Model X's dust in acceleration runs, they are also much better built and have high-powered options that cost less. But as a futuristic, thoroughly unique choice in the segment, the Model X Performance has no peers.
Tesla has a habit of constantly fettling its trim lines, so what's offered at the start of one year could change a lot a few months down the line. At the time of writing, the Model X range was simplified, with this Performance version sitting right at the top. Other changes include an upgraded air suspension with fully-adaptive damping for enhanced responsiveness and a better ride quality. The Model X Performance now enjoys a range of 305 miles, up from the 289 miles of the P100D which it effectively replaces.
Clean and simple just about sums up the Model X Performance's exterior, with that distinctive futuristic air translating well from the sedans to the SUV. Of course, the falcon-wing rear doors are the Model X's party piece, but after using them for a few times, you won't be celebrating much: they open slowly, and caution must be exercised in areas with lower ceilings, although equipped with sensors to ostensibly monitor proximity at opening. 20-inch alloy wheels, a 360-degree camera system, LED fog lights and a vast panoramic windshield are other defining features.
Based on the Tesla Model S, the Model X has similar dimensions, while being a bit bulkier than its sedan counterpart. Impressively, the Model S has the lowest drag coefficient of all SUVs at a super slippery 0.25 Cd. Key dimensions are 198.3 inches in length, 66 inches in height, and 89.4 inches in width (including mirrors), along with a 116.7-inch wheelbase. Thanks to the battery pack, curb weight is a hefty 5,531 lbs, while ground clearance varies between 5.4 and 8.3 inches, based on chosen suspension settings.
Tesla isn't known for outlandish color palettes, and they've once again kept it simple here, with just five available shades. Pearl White is standard while Solid Black, Midnight Silver Metallic and Deep Blue Metallic each cost $1,500. Red Multicoat is a $2,500 option. In white, the Model X can look a bit too anonymous, while the metallic shades give the electric SUV more presence to match its ballistic pace.
It only takes a quick YouTube search to watch countless videos of boy-racers and unsuspecting grandmothers alike experiencing the breathtaking accelerative force of high-performance Teslas. Like Tesla sedans, the Model X Performance provides acceleration that will surprise the world's fastest supercars, and all in the most drama-free fashion. With Ludicrous Mode engaged, the 0-60 mph run is over in a mere 2.7 seconds, with a limited top speed of 163 mph. There's simply nothing in this segment that comes anywhere close to the Model X's mind-blowing performance. Power is put down effectively thanks to standard all-wheel-drive.
Unusually for an EV, the Model X can even tow just under 5,000 pounds, although towing capacity decreases by 1,500 lbs if you opt for the available 22-inch wheels.
A 100-kWh battery pack is combined with a permanent magnet motor in front and a second induction motor on the rear axle, differing from most AWD systems that have a single power source. A single-speed automatic transmission is used, making for instant and linear acceleration.
Peak outputs are 777 horsepower and 840 lb-ft of torque, figures that are much more challenging to achieve with a regular internal combustion engine. It all makes for instantly available torque and power delivery, the Model X Performance surging off the line with incredible speed. Being an EV, acceleration up to highway speeds is the powertrain's forte, and at higher speeds, traditional performance SUVs will start to catch up - just as well, as they'll have lots of ground to make up once the Tesla leaps ahead. In place of a normal V8's howl is a much more sedate electric whine. It takes some getting used to, but it does make the Tesla feel even more like something from the future.
Considering that the Model X Performance has over 5,500 lbs of weight to contend with, it handles surprisingly well. It's far from a Porsche Cayenne, but the Model X doesn't fall apart in the bends either and can be accurately hustled at speeds high enough to excite. The steering has limited feedback, but is direct and best left in Normal or Comfort modes, with Sport mode requiring more muscle than it should. Still, the Tesla always feels on the heavier side.
Ride comfort on the air suspension is pretty good, with an underlying firmness, although there's just enough cushioning to mask the worst surface imperfections. That's on the standard 20-inch wheels, however, with the optional 22-inch wheels having an impact on ride comfort that some may not be prepared to live with. Straight-line stability is excellent, with the Model X feeling planted and secure.
The regenerative brakes don't require any input to slow down the SUV when only slight deceleration is needed. When you do need more stopping power, they're up to the job. Of course, a lack of traditional engine noise makes for quite a serene driving environment, although this can emphasize tire and wind noise. This is a nicely refined SUV, though.
Coupling stupendous performance with all-electric efficiency is Tesla's trump card. EPA-rated figures for the Model X Performance on 22-inch wheels work out to 80/77/79 MPGe on the city/highway/combined cycles, which can be improved upon with the standard 20-inch wheel setup. On a single charge, a range of 305 miles is achievable on the 20s, which is an improvement on the 289 miles of the discontinued P100D. Tesla's widespread Supercharging network allows for a range of 115 miles off a quick 15-minute charge. We've seen these kinds of numbers before, but they're still mind-boggling considering the performance on offer.
The Model X's interior makes quite the first impression, with a combination of the giant central screen, the panoramic windshield, and the theatrics of the falcon-wing doors giving new passengers plenty to gawk at. Otherwise, much of the cabin features a clean and simple design, although good-quality materials are let down by below-average build quality, with misaligned door panels and a few squeaks spoiling the overall effect. While occupants in the front two rows get plenty of space, the third-row seats will be cramped for even average-sized adults. LED ambient lighting, a heated steering wheel, and power-adjustable synthetic leather seats are just a few of the standard features. The stunning effect of the Model X's seamless glass windshield-roof combination is worth a mention, though.
In standard form, the Model X seats five passengers in two rows. Both the seats and armrests are well-padded and remain comfortable even for extended trips. Headroom and legroom are generous for the front passengers, although those in the second row have only average legroom. Step-in height is low, improving ingress and egress, although we have to talk about those rear doors - while they provide a large opening when vertical space allows, height-restricted garages can be a problem. Most of all, these doors simply take too long to open. An optional six-seat interior replaces the second-row bench with two captain's chairs and adds two smaller seats in a third row, while the seven-seat option maintains the second-row bench and adds a third row with two perches. Space in this third row is limited and only really suited for children, although the seats themselves are quite comfortable. While a good driving position is easy to find and visibility is good thanks to that enormous windshield, more sun enters the cabin because of it, too.
Like the exterior, there are five color choices for the interior. All-Black seats with Figured Ash Wood Decor is the standard look, with four extra-cost options. For $1,500, you can get Black and White with Dark Ash Wood Decor or Cream with Oak Wood Decor. At $500, there is All-Black with Carbon Fiber Decor, and Black and White with Carbon Fiber Decor costs $2,000. In keeping with pro-environmental agendas, faux leather is used throughout the cabin, including seats and steering wheel.
Even behind the third row of seats, the Model X offers a decent 12.6 cubic feet of trunk space, enough for two carry-on bags. Additional underfloor storage is provided. If this isn't enough, another 6.6-cube frunk is positioned in the nose, an upside of the electric powertrain. Loading cargo is easy enough, even if the opening is on the narrow side.
You can fold down the second-row bench and the third row of seats, but if you opt for the second-row captain's chairs, these cannot be folded down. Fold down the third row, and there's enough space for a bicycle to be loaded without removing its front tire. With all the seats folded in the five-seater configuration, up to 87.8 cubes of utility space is freed up - brilliant for this segment.
Small-item storage is on the stingy side, with dual cup holders in front and two small center compartments. Rear passengers also get cup holders, but those exotic rear doors have no storage compartments, as everything would simply come tumbling out when they're opened.
Tesla equips the Model X to a fairly high standard, as it should, considering the price. Both front seats feature heating and 12-way power adjustment, while memory settings ensure that your favored position can be saved. Also included are keyless entry, a self-presenting front door, auto-dimming mirrors, and voice-activated controls. With standard remote control functionality thanks to the Tesla mobile app, you have easy access to a host of the vehicle's features. The safety specification is comprehensive, with 12 airbags, a rollover crash sensor, and LED fog lights part of the package. Tesla's Autopilot enables the automatic steering, accelerating, and braking of the Model X, and is one of the most advanced systems of its kind.
The Model X's 17-inch central touchscreen display is double the size of many systems in other cars, and provides a truly new way to interact with the vehicle's various functions. There's good responsiveness from the screen, although some menus are complex. Updates for the software are conveniently done over-the-air, giving your Tesla access to new features as they become available. The custom audio system features 17 speakers, while there's also Bluetooth connectivity, internet radio, twin USB ports, SiriusXM satellite radio and mobile app remote control. Onboard maps and navigation, along with Wi-Fi and cellular internet access, are included. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration are missing, however. Once you wrap your head around the expansive screen, it'll likely be difficult to go back to a more traditional setup.
While no recalls have been announced by the NHTSA for the 2019 Model X, some complaints have been received, with issues related to the electrical system and electronic stability control. 2016/2017 models were recalled for second-row seatbacks which may move in the event of a crash, while 2016 models were recalled for a parking brake which may not release or fully apply. Less serious complaints have been noted for the Tesla's build quality, which isn't on par with established German brands like Audi and Mercedes-Benz. Limited warranty coverage for the Model X is for four years or 50,000 miles, while there is an eight-year/unlimited-mile warranty for the battery and electric-drive unit.
The Tesla Model X holds the distinction of being the first SUV to earn a five-star rating in every NHTSA crash-test and subcategory. The IIHS hasn't evaluated the Model X to date.
Tesla claims that the Model X is the safest SUV ever, and this seems to be more than just a marketing claim when assessing the model's NHTSA safety results and the safety advantages of the electric powertrain. In front, the absence of an internal combustion engine makes for a more effective crumple zone, while the position and weight of the floor-mounted battery pack equates to a low center of gravity, and consequently a very low rollover risk.
Safety equipment includes 12 airbags, LED fog lights, a rollover crash sensor, 360-degree cameras, collision avoidance, and electronic stability control. Tesla's Autopilot suite includes auto lane change and auto park, while traffic light recognition is among the updates to come.
Buying a new car is as much an emotional choice as it is a rational one. The Tesla scores incredibly high marks in both areas, its blinding performance, falcon-wing rear doors, and futuristic cabin combining to ensure that this is no boring EV. On the more practical end of the spectrum, there are drastically reduced running costs relative to a gas-fed SUV, industry-leading safety standards, and a spacious cabin adding day-to-day peace of mind. It's a compelling package, made even more convincing with an increased range of over 300 miles for the Model X Performance. Qualms are few, with the cramped optional third row of seats and rather shoddy build quality detracting from the Model X's overall sheen. Those rear doors can also be frustrating in daily use. Otherwise, it's pretty much impossible to find a comparable SUV with the same spread of abilities as the Model X Performance, with many true exotics falling short of the Tesla's 0-60 mph sprint time of 2.7 seconds. But, even more than the remarkable on-paper statistics, the Model X Performance feels truly special.
The Tesla Model X Performance has an MSRP of $104,990, which is significantly less than the $138,000 P100D which it effectively supersedes. The price excludes a destination charge of $1,200, as well as tax, licensing, and registration. Being an all-electric car, the Model X Performance is eligible for a $1,875 federal tax rebate, along with many other incentives, which vary according to state. For instance, California offers EV rebates of up to $2,500.
There's just a single trim available for the Model X Performance, which is capable of a 2.7-second sprint to 60 mph thanks to its dual-motor all-wheel-drive system. A top speed of 163 mph is possible. Range on a single charge is 305 miles on the standard 20-inch wheels, 20 miles less than in the Model X Long Range. The larger 22-inch wheels lower the range to 272 miles.
Outside, there are 20-inch wheels and LED fog lights fitted as standard. Convenience items include 12-way power-adjustable front seats with heating and memory, along with a heated steering wheel and Autopilot functions. All seats are upholstered in faux leather. The 17-inch central screen is standard and is linked to features like navigation, the extensive camera system, and the 17-speaker audio system. While Android Auto and Apple CarPlay aren't included, there is Bluetooth hands-free and audio streaming, SiriusXM satellite radio, and Wi-Fi and cellular internet capability.
Single Speed Automatic
Unlike BMW and Mercedes-Benz, Tesla hasn't offered up an endless selection of extras and packages. For $7,000 extra, the Full Self-Driving Capability package will add additional features to the standard Autopilot suite. These features are Navigate, with automatic driving from a highway on-ramp to an off-ramp. Auto lane change, auto park, and a summon feature are also fitted, which will literally see your Model X come to find you in a parking lot. Traffic light recognition and automatic driving on city streets are said to be on their way soon. In all cases, Autopilot should be exercised with caution, and should never fully replace the driver's attentiveness.
The six-seat interior is a $6,500 upgrade, while seven-seater capacity increases the price by $3,500.
You don't get much choice here, as there's just a single trim for the Model X Performance, and a scarcity of options. We'd stick with the standard 20-inch wheels, as they maintain a decent ride quality and provide the best range. Unless you really need the extra seats, the five-seater option also makes the most sense. The Full Self-Driving Capability package is the only significant add-on, and as part of buying a Tesla is accessing some of the leading technologies in the industry, it's worth adding.
Jaguar's well-received I-Pace operates on a lower price and performance plane than the Tesla. At $85,900, the priciest First Edition I-Pace is still over $20,000 less expensive than the Model X Performance, but the Jaguar's smaller 90 kWh battery means that its 4.5-second sprint to 60 mph is a fair amount behind the ballistic Tesla's. The Jaguar is still a wicked performer and a spirited driving partner, however, with excellent handling for an SUV. It also has Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality, along with superior build quality to the Tesla. But once again, the Model X's superior capabilities as an EV leave the Jaguar trailing, with over 70 miles of added range over the I-Pace, a significant differential. If you can't quite stretch to the pricey Tesla, then the Jaguar is a highly capable electric SUV, but the Tesla is the more impressive overall.
SUV or sedan? At just under $100k, the Tesla Model S Performance is even faster than the Model X Performance, and at a lower price. You'll also manage 345 miles on a single charge in the Model S, which is more than the X's 305 miles. As usual, then, the equivalent sedan is the more agile and faster performer. The Model X does have the edge in some areas though, such as being able to tow, the option of seven seats, and being more practical with the seats folded. Both of these performance-oriented EVs don't have the smoothest ride, but it's not unlivable. Technology-wise, there's little to separate them, with the 17-inch touch screen and Autopilot common to both. If you don't need the X's extra space and seating capacity, save yourself some money and go for the faster Model S.