Crossover SUV buyers looking to drive exclusively on electric power have a single choice today, and that’s Tesla’s Model X. Following in the footsteps of the Tesla Roadster and Tesla Model S, and ahead of the just-debuted Model 3, the Model X provides a unique driving experience for high-end buyers with its attractive design, advanced tech features, and zero-emission operation. While the model’s price tag means it’s not for everyone, Tesla fans will appreciate that the price of entry for the base Model X 75D has recently dropped by $3,000, to an MSRP of $79,500.
Beyond this full-size luxury crossover’s all-electric range of 238 to 289 miles, the model’s most distinctive features are its ‘falcon wing‘ doors and the largest panoramic windshield in production today. Model X doors articulate upward to enable easy access to second and third row seats, with the third row seats folding flush for more cargo capacity. The interior is designed to accommodate seven passengers with luggage carried in a front trunk or behind the seats. A recent $3,000 option enables both second and third row seats to fold flat to provide an expansive load floor.
Powering the Model X is an all-wheel drive system using two electric motors, one up front and another at the rear. The three models offered include the 75D, 100D, and P100D, with the number referring to their battery capacity in kilowatt-hours. The P in P100D stands for ‘Performance,’ with the $145,000 top version’s Ludicrous mode enabling acceleration from 0 to 60 mph in 2.9 seconds and a top speed of 155 mph.
Like Tesla’s Model S, the Model X uses AT&T to provide 3G and LTE Internet access to its onboard navigation and music services via Slacker. It also provides connectivity to the vehicle through Tesla’s iOS and the Android app, allowing remote adjustment of climate control settings along with other control features. Regular over-the-air updates add safety and navigation features, enhance performance, and improve the driving experience. Like other Teslas, the Model X can also be quick-charged at several hundred Supercharger locations along key transportation corridors in the U.S., which allows capturing an 80 percent charge in about 30 minutes.
Driver information is presented in a digital display in front of the steering wheel and a center-mounted, 17-inch touchscreen. Active safety technologies include side collision avoidance, parking sensors, and blind spot warning. Model X camera, radar, and sonar systems continually scan the surrounding roadway, providing the driver with real-time feedback to help avoid collisions. Model X is designed to automatically apply brakes in an emergency.
A sophisticated Autopilot system allows the Model X to match its speed to traffic conditions, stay within its lane, and steer around curves within a lane. It also enables automatically changing lanes with a tap of the turn signal. Our time behind the wheel of a Model X has shown Autopilot to provide a seamless, near-autonomous driving experience. For safety reasons and because this system is still 'learning,' Autopilot requires a driver's attention and hands are required on the steering wheel at set intervals. A ‘Summon’ feature allows the Model X to automatically park and unpark itself, plus open and close a garage door automatically. It can scan for parking spaces, alert a driver when one is available, and parallel park on command.
An available towing package with a high strength tow bar and two-inch hitch receiver allows the Model X to tow up to 5,000 pounds, although driving range will be diminished with the additional load. Software actively monitors trailer sway and applies braking as needed.
Tesla’s plug-in crossover aspirations don’t end with the Model X. In fact, the company has announced plans to produce the Model Y – a compact crossover – by 2020. The new model is expected to make use of much of the technology and architecture of the Model 3 and come at a more approachable price point than the Model X.