A new Tesla Model X Plaid SUV with a price tag of nearly $140k was launched two years ago to replace the Performance as the most powerful model in the range. We're not sure why an even quicker Model X was needed, but with 1,020 horsepower, the blindingly rapid Plaid's ability to blast to 60 mph in 2.5 seconds never ceases to amaze and amuse. There hasn't been an SUV in this class with similar performance, and the similarly priced 610-hp BMW iX M60 and 835-hp Rivian R1S Quad Motor seem feeble in comparison. The upcoming Lotus Eletre R with 905 hp might have what it takes to trouble the Plaid in a straight line, but we'll have to wait and see about that - and there's likely to be a pricing disparity here. What these competent rivals do manage to do is shine a light on the Tesla's aging design and shoddy built quality. But now that the 2023 Tesla Model X Plaid's price has plummeted by more than $30k in the USA, it becomes a bit of a bargain. Still, the rest of the package is getting old now, so does the lower price tag put it back into contention against excellent, albeit slower, rivals?
Tesla doesn't update its cars annually as other automakers do, but since our last Tesla Model X Plaid review, it has undergone a few changes. Most notable of these is its price, which drops dramatically this year by more than $30k to under $109k. The proper round steering wheel makes a comeback in place of the much-maligned yoke, but the yoke remains available as an option at a cost of $250. Owners of a Model X with the yoke can have the regular steering wheel retrofitted for $700 if they want. A new key card is used this year, but the old-style key fob remains optionally available. The Full Self-Driving Capability package was the only one last year at a price of $12,000, which increases to $15,000 this year. It's also joined by a cheaper $6,000 Enhanced Autopilot package containing some of the FSD's features. Last of all, the center infotainment screen of the 2023 Model X Plaid gains the ability to swivel on its mounting.
The Tesla Model X Plaid's MSRP is $108,490 this year; its starting price has been slashed by no less than $30,500 from last year's figure of $138,990. The MSRP does not include the $1,390 destination fee.
See trim levels and configurations:
Single Speed Automatic
If you expected the Model X to show its age in terms of ride and handling, you'd be wrong. It still does an amazing job after all these years, and the Plaid's adaptive air suspension mitigates roll to make for a pleasingly flat cornering stance, with more agility than you might expect from a big and heavy SUV. The steering is quick and not devoid of feel, and in a huge step forward, the traditional steering wheel is back this year, giving the pilot in command way more confidence than the awkward yoke used previously when the roads get twisty. Ride quality is excellent, partly thanks to the considerable weight of the car, and the brakes are reassuringly responsive and powerful in normal use, but there's enough regenerative braking that you often don't even have to touch the left pedal in sedate around-town driving. They start to fade when given a proper workout, though.
The Model X Plaid is an excellent SUV in many respects, and besides the eyeball-flattening acceleration instantly on tap, it also impresses with its general comfort, good handling, and variable-height air suspension that allows nearly nine inches of ground clearance. Driving range and efficiency are still class-leading, too, even compared to newer rivals. But those Falcon Wing rear doors are a bit of a gimmick and preclude carrying anything on the roof, a notable flaw on an SUV with limited cargo space behind the third row. Build quality can also be inconsistent, and the interior is perhaps too minimalist at the price. But that price is now a lot lower, and while that may leave buyers of last year's expensive Plaid more than a bit irritable, it does give the car a rather appealing value card to play this year. Its more contemporary competitors might have overtaken it on quality and general appeal, but its performance, range, and Supercharger network are still big draw cards and keep the Plaid a force to be reckoned with.
There is just one Plaid trim, so it depends on how you spec it. In this regard, you don't get many choices, as what you see is pretty much what you get. Skip the silly yoke steering wheel and stick with the round item, while considering adding the $6,000 Enhanced Autopilot with its Smart Summon, auto lane-change, and automatic parking features, as well as navigation on Autopilot, allowing automatic driving from highway on-ramp to off-ramp, including stopping, starting, and overtaking. Given its flaws and the bad press Tesla's "Full Self-Driving Capability" has received, we don't think it's worth $15k to be a beta tester for tech that's essentially still in development.
The most popular competitors of 2023 Tesla Model X Plaid: