Tesla’s first car was a 2-seat roadster based on a Lotus Elise, an example of which is now famously in orbit around the sun. It wasn’t until the debut of the groundbreaking Model S sedan, however, that Tesla became a household name.
Since then, the company has established itself as both a successful automaker and a pioneer in the engineering of long-range electric vehicles. So what was the next logical step in a world gone mad for SUVs? Build one.
With its signature gull wing doors, available room for seven passengers, and intimidating acceleration, the Tesla Model X is less a genuine SUV and more a rounded-off minivan, but it continues to cause a stir amongst the faithful even as the company ramps up production of its far more affordable, and smaller, Model 3 sedan.
With a starting price of about $80,000, it would be easy to characterize the Model X as a competitor of high-end SUVs from Cadillac and Lincoln, Porsche and Mercedes-Benz. But as a fully-electric crossover capable of a 2.9-second sprint to 60 mph, the Model X truly is in a world of its own.
Tesla buyers can also be described as a loyal breed; however, even those committed to the green lifestyle the automaker promotes may struggle with the decision of whether to invest in “the big Tesla.” Extra space is always appreciated, especially by busy parents, but does the Model X offer enough of it to make choosing the X over the S worth the extra five grand?
After spending nearly a week driving this futuristic family hauler in its highest performing specification, P100D, I can help to answer that.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder
Surprisingly the most polarizing aspect of the Model X may be in its design. Looking more like a shuttle pod than an SUV, the Model X’s futuristic aesthetic comes from its slippery smooth profile and virtual lack of corners.
While some can appreciate and even envy this look, others like myself simply see an overinflated Model S, the vehicle with which it shares a platform. No matter where you stand on its appearance though, one thing can’t be denied: you will get looks.
The number of eyes you attract however depends on where you call home. While coastal Californians may always be a stone’s throw away from any given Tesla, they’re still fairly rare to see in the New York metropolitan area. This may be changing soon, though, as new legislature aims to expand the automaker’s reach by permitting the construction of 15 new Tesla showrooms throughout the state.
Even if this expansion does occur and Teslas become more commonplace in the Tri-State Area, there’s one trait that will still always attract attention, and it’s the Model X’s Falcon Wing doors. Although more fun than practical, this SUV’s most well known party trick does more than simply evoke memories of Doc Brown’s DeLorean.
These double-hinged high-tech flaps contain sensors that prevent them from crashing into low garage ceilings, scraping up against parked cars or whacking you in the forehead. When the doors detect any kind of obstacle in their path they automatically open and bend at an angle to prevent a collision. This last-second “audible” is an impressive feature, but prevents them from opening completely, making access for taller occupants slightly more difficult.
Unfortunately, the Model X’s doors become not much more than a novelty. I won’t pretend I didn’t enjoy opening them for the first few days, as well as seeing people’s reactions, but after a while, their slow 6-second opening and closing time becomes tiresome.
However, parents are sure to appreciate the extra wide opening and easy access they provide to the backseat when they’re fully open, in much the same way that a minivan does. Because the doors raise straight up instead of sliding or swinging 90 degrees to the side, it is much easier to get a pack of little tykes into and out of the second- and third-row seats.
The Model X’s other key design characteristic is its enormous panoramic “Big Sky” windshield. Despite the gorgeous view of the outside world it provides, it comes with a price in the form of extra solar heating. Luckily, to combat the added warmth, not to mention the blinding light, Tesla provides owners with a removable sunshade that does its job well.
Moving inside the cabin, Tesla gives riders a lesson in minimalism with an attractive yet simple dashboard topped with artificial suede. The carbon fiber trim featured inside my test vehicle was a nice touch as well, and will only run you an extra $250. The materials and their arrangement couldn’t matter less, however, as the dominating 17-inch infotainment display is the most impressive visual in this overall plainly-arranged cockpit.
It’s what’s on the inside that counts
My test vehicle’s cushiony Ultra White synthetic leather seats provided plenty of comfort and support, but in a family car they come across as an accident just waiting to happen.
Tesla likes to emphasize the stain resistant coating on the seats that makes them virtually “spill-proof,” and I’ll take their word for it, but it’s still hard to imagine how well that bright white faux-leather holds up after a couple years of being driven by a guy like myself who wears blue jeans every day, or by parents with little kids.
If the interior of the Model X feels particularly airy it’s not just because of that white leather and the panoramic windshield. This SUV is surprisingly roomy, far more so than it’s outward appearance suggests. The second-row seats offer plenty of available legroom, and those who sign off on sitting in the available third-row seat will be pleased to learn how accommodating the farthest back positions can be for smaller adults.
Folding the second and third rows down flat opens the Model X up to an impressive 88.1 cubic feet of cargo space. This figure includes the front trunk, or “frunk” for those who prefer brevity.
A concept new to people who don’t spend much time in electric vehicles, the “frunk” on this SUV isn’t anything substantial but it is valuable. No it won’t allow for an extra full-size suitcase, but squeezing in a few overnight bags is definitely possible. I actually found myself using the “frunk” so frequently that now having a gasoline engine under the hood seems archaic.
One touchscreen to rule them all
At the center of everything is the Model X’s great, big, shiny touchscreen display, which truly is the brains behind this entire operation.
While an infotainment display the size of a small desktop screen can be intimidating, you’ll find it easily as accessible and user-friendly as an iPad. Once you’re acclimated, the touchscreen is easy to navigate and that’s important seeing as it’s where you’ll find virtually all of your controls in this button-less vehicle.
In addition to Tesla’s music streaming service, as well as an impressive adaptation of Google Maps for its navigation system, the Model X’s infotainment display is used to control pretty much everything about the way this car drives. You can adjust everything from the air suspension, to the steering, to the renowned Ludicrous Mode (I’ll get into that later), to the convenient Creep Mode for those who desire the same slight vehicle roll you get from taking your foot off the brake with a traditional internal combustion engine.
In summary, if you want to get the most of your ride, get familiar with the system, and quickly.
The Model X is a safe bet...maybe the safest one
Safety-wise you have to give it to Elon Musk. The man said he was engineering the world’s safest SUV, and according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) it very well may be. Receiving a 5-star rating in every evaluation category is one thing, but the NHTSA also says that the Model X’s overall probability of injury is the second lowest it has ever recorded, behind only Tesla’s Model S sedan.
Tesla attributes the Model X’s safety performance, in part, to its electric powertrain design, which includes the massive battery located underneath the vehicle’s floor as well as dual electric motors situated at each axle. The result is an incredibly low center of gravity that makes the vehicle exceptionally stable, and a generously fortified platform and vehicle architecture. The lack of an engine also provides a larger crumple zone up front, helping to limit or prevent injury to drivers and front seat passengers.
In terms of safety technology, well, this SUV gets the works. A basic version of the company’s Autopilot technology is standard, including automatic emergency braking, side collision warning that can even notify you that you’re about to curb a wheel, and lane departure warning.
Spend another $5,000, and you get what is called Enhanced Autopilot with a 360-degree camera system with ultrasonic sensors, which serves as the foundation for extra driver assistance and collision avoidance features. Or, you can drop a total of $8,000 for Full Self Driving Capability.
Whether or not the top tier version of Autopilot is worth it depends on your driving schedule and habits. An ideal tool for those who frequently spend time in highway traffic jams, it functioned flawlessly while cruising down New Jersey’s Route 3 during the morning rush. It’s when I drove the Model X into the city that its limitations became obvious.
Unlike technologies such as Cadillac’s Super Cruise, which I drove in and around Manhattan, and Nissan’s ProPilot, which are recommend for single-lane driving on divided highways, Tesla doesn’t place restrictions on where you can use the top version of Autopilot. It does, however, make you aware of the system’s requirements in order to function properly. For example, you can use it only when clear and defined lane markings are present, and in suitable weather conditions.
Although I was pleased to find that in these conditions the technology managed to keep the Model X on course, preventing it from ping-ponging back and forth between the lines, finding perfectly paved and marked roads in a metropolitan area is a rarity. Especially in New York. Where the weather is so frequently dicey.
The fastest crossover ever...but still a crossover
So what’s it like behind the wheel of this baby? You’ll know the second you put your foot down on the accelerator.
I was fortunate enough to get my hands on the top trim level, the P100D performance model that makes use of a 100 kWh battery and dual electric motors. It’s not until you use the Model X’s touchscreen to activate Ludicrous Mode, though, that you’ll understand the true potential of this SUV’s powertrain.
Acceleration to 60 mph in 3.2 seconds is impressive in an exotic sports car. In a 5,377-pound, 7-seater that tows up to 5,000 pounds, it’s absurd. If you’d like to push the limits even further, master Tesla’s launch mode technique that’ll improve the Model X P100D’s sprint time to 2.9 seconds. Either way, your head is hitting the back of the headrest. To this car’s credit however, the launch is never jerky or uncomfortable. Everything about how it accelerates is smooth...just make sure to hold the wheel tightly.
So yes, this vehicle is fast, but how’s the ride? Generally comfortable, thanks to its adjustable air suspension. However, I was surprised at how many of the bumps I felt while cruising along on admittedly pockmarked side streets. Even when I raised the suspension height to “Very High,” the ride couldn’t be called smooth. This can likely be attributed to the excessive amount of weight located low in the chassis due to the Model X’s powertrain arrangement. Ultimately it prevents this from being an off-road friendly SUV, but the trade off is having a vehicle nearly impossible to tip.
Steering is direct and responsive, and effort levels are weighted enough that I didn’t find much need for the “sport mode” setting. The SUV’s extremely low center of gravity makes for quick turns when necessary or desirable, and the Model X displays little body roll or lean in the corners. All-wheel drive is standard on all models and is capable of handling snowy conditions with relative ease, but my test car did have winter tires.
In the end, the drive is not quite as engaging one might expect given the Model X’s acceleration capability. Yes, this family-sized SUV can credibly take on a Lamborghini Aventador, but you’ll never forget you’re driving a heavy crossover when the time comes to stop or turn.
It’s slowly becoming easier to recharge your batteries
Driving range for the Tesla Model X P100D is 289 miles, which can change depending on weather and driving habits. Even after having some fun and pushing this battery to its limits in the middle of a cold New Jersey winter, I managed to travel nearly that distance.
The Model X can be charged via a typical 120-volt household outlet, though you’ll find yourself adding only three miles of range per hour.
Owners looking to increase that to around 20 miles of range per hour will want to install a Level 2 charger at their home. The installation can be done through Tesla or on your own with a guide available through their website.
The fastest method to charge this electric SUV is through one of Tesla’s supercharging stations, where the Model X P100D’s battery goes from empty to full charge in about two hours.
Each vehicle’s navigation system helpfully points out the nearest charging stations to users, and it came in handy on more than one occasion. While the number of supercharging stations in the Northeast pales in comparison to the West Coast, it is improving slowly but surely, making it easier and more convenient to own a Tesla.
The Model X doesn’t stand out as an SUV, but that’s not what you’re buying
The Tesla Model X’s base trim level, the 75D, starts at $79,500. The fully loaded P100D model I drove came out to $171,500. The majority of that dough lies in the upgraded battery and larger high-performance motor for the rear wheels.
That mortgage-loan-worthy price tag might sound fairly high for an EV, but the Model X is no ordinary EV. It’s a Tesla. And until we see another all-electric performance SUV on the market, it really has no other competition...other than from within its own manufacturer’s lineup.
So is this really the SUV Tesla has promised, and where should it stand on Tesla buyers’ radar? To be as ambiguous as possible, it depends on why you want a Tesla.
As a family hauler it hits its mark with the space and safety ratings any parent could hope for. It does ditch the typical rugged look and off-road fluency of a traditional SUV, and its gull wing doors prevent the option of a roof rack, but this is just cherry picking when you’re talking about a 7-seater that gives up fossil fuels yet provides almost 300 miles of range.
When we bring the Model S into the equation, the two match up fairly even across the board in terms of technology, powertrain, and efficiency. Choosing between them depends on whether you really need the added space and towing capability supplied by the Model X.
Make no mistake about it, the Model X is a Tesla first and a crossover SUV second. In the end, though, isn’t that what the company’s customers are looking for?
Eye Candy: 2020 Tesla Roadster
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Source : http://www.nydailynews.com/autos/latest-reviews/2018-tesla-model-x-ratings-review-article-1.3818236