The Model X might be the greenest—and fastest—way to carry up to 7 people over hill and dale. The P90D went from 0 to 60 mph in 3.3 seconds and has a 250-mile range; Tesla says the P100D hits 60 mph in 2.9 seconds and has a 289-mile range. The 75D and 90D have 238 and 257 miles of range; both are slower to 60 mph. The X is actually practical, with all-wheel drive, a high-tech cabin, and the striking but fussy Falcon Wing doors. Tesla’s Autopilot semi-autonomous driving is optional.
Highs, Lows, and Verdict
Gasp-worthy acceleration; it’s fun to watch it drive itself, but even more fun to drive it yourself.
Lows: The Falcon Wing doors are slow, silly, and impractical; the second row doesn’t fold.
Verdict:Tesla’s third act combines the performance and efficiency of the first two with the practicality of an SUV and the doors of a DeLorean.
The Doors:The rear doors aren’t mere gullwing doors, though; they’re far more complex. Power actuated and lined with capacitive, inductive, and sonar sensors behind the aluminum skin to keep them from delivering an uppercut to your head or garage ceiling, the doors are hinged above the glass to automatically fold away from parked cars and obstacles. They’re probably the smartest doors ever fitted to a car. But do you wantcomplicated doors? Mostly you just want doors to open easily, quickly, and provide a large-enough portal to let you into the cabin. Fully open, the Falcon Wing door provides a large entry, but it’s still easy to smack your head on the tip of the wing.
There’s a wait, too. The Falcon Wing doors take five and a half seconds to open—six to close—and occasionally the sensors halt their progress, even when there’s nothing in the way. For as smart as these doors are, it turns out that even semisentient doors with echolocation are pretty dumb. And yet, the dumbest part of the Model X is the first thing you will show off.
In The Car:The rest of the Model X isn’t dumb—far from it. Tesla’s third act, after the Roadster and the Model S, the Model X is a fully electric three-row SUV.Like the Model S, the X won’t embarrass itself if it lines up next to a supercar on a drag strip. An electric motor at each axle provides four-wheel drive. Add up the motors’ maximum potential and you get a theoretical 762 horsepower, but the arithmetic isn’t that simple. Power sent to the wheels is limited by the battery’s ability to transmit current, so the real combined output is 463 horsepower for the P90D.
Owners can also expect a firm, yet comfortable ride and supportive seats covered in soft leather.Second-row seats have power fore-aft adjustments, but no recline. Unlike every other SUV, the Model X’s second row doesn’t fold, which means this isn’t a sidewalk-couch-devouring machine. But also unlike every other SUV, there’s a deep trunk up front. The second row does slide forward and tilts with the push of a button to allow access to the two-seat third row. Third-row riders get a good amount of space provided the second row stays forward.
The button-free instrument panel is straight out of the Model S, down to the beautiful 17-inch touchscreen that controls nearly all vehicle functions, including the power doors.
The Model X doesn’t really even have handles. Instead, a flush-mounted chrome spear pops open the doors with a push. Like the rear doors, the power front doors open slowly and cautiously to sniff out potential obstacles. Closing can be done with a push, but it’s much cooler to watch the doors close themselves when you hit the lock button on the key.Spending $10,000 for the Ludicrous Speed option adds software changes and what Tesla calls a “smart” fuse.
That special fuse increases the battery’s output to 1500 amps (up from 1300), and the available output rises to 532 horsepower. With or without Ludicrous Speed, the full 713 pound-feet of torque is available with every punch of the accelerator below 50 mph. That neck-straining torque certainly gives the sensation of 700 horsepower. Or of falling off a tall building.
All Tesla Performance models—denoted by the P in front of the 90—have launch control that will impress anyone this side of Colonel Stapp. To activate, select Ludicrous Speed mode, hold the brake pedal to the floor, then quickly flatten the accelerator and release. Do it right and “Launch Control Enabled” comes up on the screen. While maintaining your left foot on the brake, go back to the accelerator with the right and hold it. When you feel the X’s motors straining against the brakes, release the brake pedal. The acceleration hits so hard that it causes an involuntary and embarrassing “uhhn,” a sound usually reserved for prostate exams.
The 60-mph mark arrives in 3.3 seconds, and the quarter-mile flashes by in 11.8 seconds at 116 mph. Stabbing the right pedal from a roll at 30 mph results in 50 mph in 1.3 seconds. It’s nearly instantaneous. The 50-to-70 run takes just 2.1 seconds.
Tesla’s Autopilot semi-autonomous drive mode will take control of the steering, brakes, and speed. It’s fun for a while to sit back and let the computer do the work, but it’s a lot more fun to drive the Model X. Whoever does Tesla’s chassis tuning is a genius. Like the Model S, the Model X fights below its weight. Its motions are nimble and secure. Body roll is kept to a minimum, and the Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 3 tires developed specifically for the Model X hang on tightly up to 0.86 g. A thick-rimmed steering wheel.
Tesla, the company, isn’t stopping. Following behind the Model X is the almost-affordable Model 3 starting from $35,000. But until the Model 3 arrives late 2017, the company remains a boutique selling pricey EVs to rich buyers. The least expensive Model X starts at $81,200. Our top-spec P90D Ludicrous Speed test car came with a $133,700 price tag. And yet, the Model X really has no competition. There are no other electric SUVs at the moment. And even against fossil-fuel-fed SUVs, the Tesla’s effortless performance and efficiency can’t be matched. We should also note that there are no other electronic SUVs with gullwing doors, but now we know there’s a good reason for that.
For more be sure to check out www.tesla.com