The Tesla Model X is unlike any other automobile on the road, from its “falcon wing” doors to its helicopter-bubble windscreen. It also sports the largest touch display of any car available, seats up to seven passengers, and is all-electric. All of this adds to, and in some cases detracts from, the quirky SUV’s allure. On a recent trip to San Francisco, we tried a 2016 Model X 75D for a few days, putting it through its paces on the city’s hilly streets, congested freeways, and surrounding coastal roads. The Model X is a one-of-a-kind experience that, despite its high price, is deserving of our Editors’ Choice award.
Design and Pricing
The Tesla Model X comes in four different trim levels: 75D, 100D, and P100D. The 100D and P100D are new models for 2017, while the 75D remains largely unaltered from 2016. Tesla, unlike traditional automobile businesses, does not follow standard model year time frames and instead updates its vehicles via software on a regular basis. With the exception of a few feature and trim level modifications, there are no substantial alterations between the 2016 and 2017 versions.
The digits in each trim level denote battery capacity in kilowatt-hours (kWh), with greater numbers signifying more battery capacity and range, as well as improved performance. The Model X comes in three passenger configurations: five, six, and seven, all with all-wheel drive and a single-speed direct-drive transmission. The Model X comes with a universal charging cable that works with both 120- and 240-volt wall outlets, as well as a universal charging handle adapter (JI772) that meets public charging regulations. Tesla’s Supercharger network is available to all Tesla vehicles.
The standard Model X 75D we tested has 328 total horsepower and a 75kWh battery with a range of up to 237 miles, and costs $79,500. 20-inch aluminum alloy wheels, a panoramic windshield, exterior LED lighting, flush-mounted door handles, keyless entry, power-folding and heated side mirrors with memory, falcon wing rear doors, a power liftgate, a charge port door hidden in the rear driver side tail lamp, and parking sensors are among the standard exterior features.
14-way power adjustable and heated front seats with memory settings, leather-wrapped steering wheel, power tilt and telescopic steering column, automatic dual-zone climate control, synthetic leather interior, wood accents, LED ambient interior lighting, and auto-dimming mirrors are among the standard interior features.
Bluetooth for hands-free calling and music streaming, 3G connectivity, Wi-Fi hotspot capability, a 17-inch touch screen, four USB outlets (five in six- and seven-seat configurations), a 240-watt/nine-speaker stereo system with FM HD radio, cruise control, a backup camera, blind spot warning, stability control software, and automatic collision-mitigation braking are all standard tech features.
A motorized driver door, a HEPA cabin air filter, ventilated front seats, upgraded inside leather upholstery, a synthetic suede headliner, and adaptive headlamps are included in the Premium Upgrade package. Wiper blade defrosters, heated all-seats, and a heated steering wheel are included in the Subzero Weather package, while the Towing package includes a removable 2-inch hitch receiver and a 7-pin trailer harness. Seating for six or seven people, premium audio, Autopilot semi-autonomous functionality, 22-inch wheels, a high-current onboard charger, and a Ludicrous Speed increase are all available as stand-alone options.
The Tesla Model X boasts a unique and futuristic design that sets it apart from other luxury SUVs on the road. However, while the falcon wing doors and panoramic windshield distinguish the vehicle, the former prevents it from carrying anything on top, while the latter makes the cabin feel like a solarium on bright days. Furthermore, the snap-in sunshades are practically useless. Even though the second-row seats don’t fold flat, the inside is comfy and spacious, and we were able to fit a lot of goods in.
Connectivity and the Infotainment Interface
Except for the Tesla Model S‘s 17-inch in-dash touch-screen, there’s nothing quite like the Model X’s 17-inch in-dash touch-screen. Many critical car functions and entertainment elements are controlled via a fairly intuitive interface on the vertically oriented touchscreen.
With icons for Media, Navigation, Calendar, Energy, Web, Camera, and Phone, the majority of the important features are arranged along the top of the screen. When you tap one, a submenu for the function on the screen below appears. To exhibit two functions at once, the touch screen can be presented in full-screen or split-screen mode. Touch a small, double-sided arrow on the right between the two screen parts to shift the dual screens from top to bottom (and vice versa).
Another tray of touch tabs runs at the bottom of the screen. A huge Controls tab on the left opens a separate menu with options for Suspension, Driving, Trips, Displays, and E-Brake, among other things. Another huge tab on the right controls the volume of the music system, with climate controls in between. A number of small touch tabs to lock/unlock the doors, check the battery condition, access driver profile settings, and display vehicle details, as well as indicators for Bluetooth and the strength of the car’s built-in 3G connection, and a clock, are located at the very top of the screen.
The Model X offers built-in 4G connectivity that is complimentary for the first four years of ownership, as well as a full web browser. There’s no CD player or AM radio; instead, there’s FM HD Radio and built-in TuneIn and Slacker apps. In addition, unlike many modern automobiles with Bluetooth, the Model X does not allow for hands-free texting.
The Tesla navigation system relies on Google Maps for directions, traffic information, and local search. The Model X’s LCD instrument panel clearly and cleanly displays vital information about the car, including driver-assist status and energy usage, thanks to the vehicle’s average rear visibility.
The Model X 75D we tested lacked all of the driver assistance capabilities, including Autopilot and other nice features like Summon. It did, however, feature the standard blind-spot alert, and it was fun (though a little distracting) to watch other cars show on the instrument panel as they approached a sensor’s field of view.
Our test vehicle also lacked the optional Ludicrous performance upgrade, which is only available on Model X P100D models and may make people shout and laugh.
. The 75D, on the other hand, offers plenty of seat-pinning acceleration that would be noteworthy in any car, let alone a seven-passenger SUV weighing over 5,000 pounds. The Model X handles nicely despite its weight, and the ride is surprisingly smooth. We had no problems charging the Model X, and a 120-volt cable put into a standard outlet was enough to fully charge the battery.
The convenience of not having to buy gas is offset by the difficulty of charging rather than simply pulling up to a gas station, as with any electric car (though this is less of source of anxiety in NorCal than it can be in other parts of the country). While certain features impress passengers and passers-by (falcon wing doors and panoramic windshield, for example), they reduce the Model X’s practicality slightly.
Still, the Tesla Model X has a beguiling allure—a physiological rush from depressing the throttle for quick torque, and delight in well-done technology in many ways. For the time being, the Model X has no competition, but that will change with the introduction of planned luxury electric crossovers and SUVs such as the Audi Q6 E-tron and the Jaguar E-Pace. That is to say, it is completely original and, despite some small flaws, stands alone. As a result, it is our Editors’ Choice.