There’s a simple reason why is Ford building the awkwardly named Mustang Mach-E electric SUV. It’s because Tesla builds the Model X. With big power, long range, great interior, and decent cargo volume, just skip the wait time for a Mach-E and get a better deal on a Model X. Here’s why the best value SUV of the future is the one you can get today.
Tesla is an exclusively EV lineup vehicle manufacturer, and the Model X is their first SUV/crossover. It’s equivalent in size and price to a Mercedes-Benz GLE Class or Land Rover Range Rover. Based on the Model S sedan, the X has similar features like tremendous power, all-wheel drive, and seating for up to seven. The Model X changes things up with SUV-like upright seating and an enormous panoramic windshield. While the SUV is mainly known for the shocking look of the rear doors, but it’s far more than a one-trick pony.
Model X Value for the Money
Even with an original MSRP of over $80,000, the Model X offers a lot of value. Looking at the competition and what it costs to get similar performance elsewhere shows the Model X is a bargain.
Starting off with performance for the money, it’s simply off the charts, especially for an SUV. If you’re into stats, the Model X runs 0 to 60 in 2.7 seconds, and the quarter mile in 11.4 seconds. That’s a full second faster to 60 than the 707 horsepower Dodge Challenger Hellcat, and 0.3 sec faster through the quarter mile. Read that one again; this is an SUV that out-accelerates high-end muscle cars and super cars. The performance for the price is a value right there. For example, to buy an SUV as quick as the Model X, you would have to buy a $200,000 Lamborghini Urus, and even then you’ll lose a 0 to 60 run before taking the lead.
Now let’s compare the Tesla to the Lambo in areas most SUV buyers care about. On the cargo side, the Urus has 56 cu-ft of space with the rear seats down. Due to the EV design, instead of an engine under the hood, the Tesla has a trunk up front (called a frunk) adding to storage space. The Model X has a whopping 88 cu-ft, with additional cargo storage beneath the floor. Oh, and the Urus only seats five.
How about gas mileage? Driving the Urus is equivalent to letting the pump pour gasoline on the ground, as the Lambo burns through expensive premium at a rate of 12 MPG city, 17 MPG highway. The Model X achieves approximately EIGHT times the efficiency, and FuelEconomy.gov says this is a fuel savings of $2,800 per year for the Tesla. Basically, the fuel savings feel like you are cutting your vehicle payment in half. Plus there’s the advantage of never having to stop at a gas station by charging from the convenience and comfort of your home.
Electric vehicles, regardless of manufacturer, require less maintenance than an internal combustion engine simply due to the design. A fairly simple four cylinder engine has several hundred parts, while BMW reported to a German automotive institute that an EV’s battery and motor combo have 80% fewer parts than a similar sized internal combustion engine. Less parts generally means less breaking and higher reliability.
On the professional reviewer side, Consumer Reports shows each year of the Model X since release scored a 1/5 for reliability. However, their owner satisfaction surveys also shows a 5/5, so owners don’t seem to mind the minor issues, mostly having to do with the rear doors. CR reliability ratings include technology fumbles and owner gripes, which is why Cadillac’s Cue infotainment system causes great cars like the ATS to stumble in reliability ratings. Tesla’s infotainment is a stellar Linux-based system, but the Falcon doors occasionally have some sensing issues and take the improper open/close action. Tesla reported that they fixed the Falcon door issue with a software update, but owner forums still show intermittent issues.
On the powertrain side, the Model X has already proved itself a reliable ride. InsideEVs reported on a Model X used in a taxi service passing 350,000 miles on the original drivetrain. That’s Toyota Corolla level of reliability. Even more impressive, the original battery only showed 13% wear, so the high-mileage Model X still had the ability to drive over 270 miles on a charge.
It’s not alone, as there are impressive stories about high-mileage Teslas all over the web, equaling the number of reports about Tesla maintenance nightmares. The latter is primarily due to a lack of spare parts. If you are in a collision and require a body shop for repairs, (1) the shop has to be a Tesla-approved repair facility, and (2) the factory needs to have spare parts available. With Tesla cranking out all the new cars they can build, they haven’t taken the time to build up a reserve of replacement parts, and news reports show it can take spare parts months to arrive.
If you need a used vehicle with the factory warranty intact, feel free to shop an older Tesla. The Model X has a bumper-to-bumper limited warranty that covers four years or 50,000 miles, whichever comes first.
Since EV batteries and electric motors are considered emissions equipment by the Feds, Tesla’s powertrain warranty covers eight years, and there’s no mileage limit. Yes, every Model X you’re looking at in Carvana’s inventory has years of battery warranty left.
The warranty doesn’t include any complimentary scheduled maintenance, but remember, you’re not doing oil and filter changes anymore.
Model X Range/battery
Every version of the Model X scores over 300 miles per charge, so you can leave range anxiety at home. You can “fill up” at home, or use any of the 14,000+ quick chargers in the Tesla Supercharger network. If you’re in a hurry, a 15-minute charge on a Supercharger will add 115 miles of range.
Your two-prong outlet that you use to plug-in your phone charger is only 110V, basically a trickle charger here. Tesla says this will require over 70 hours to fully charge a Model X. A 220V outlet, like an electric dryer or oven has will provide more juice, charging a Model X in a little under 10 hours. Tesla has the best solution, an optional quick charger for home use, sold online for $500. This 440V charger makes it an easy job, at just under an hour and a half. Keep in mind, most of the time you won’t run the battery to zero, so a half hour on the quick charger should do it. Still, if you’re charging overnight, even the 220V can get it done. The software is smart enough to cease charging once the battery is full. And just like your iPhone, there are developing plans to wirelessly charge your Tesla.
EVs in the cold
If you live in colder climates, you should know that cold weather reduces range. An AAA study found that EVs can lose an average of 40% of their range during cold weather temps. Driving a Tesla in 20*F without the heater on causes a 12-percent loss of range. Turning on the electric heater sucks power, reducing range by 41-percent. While that sounds drastic, on the Model X Performance (the one with lower range) this gives you a range of 183 miles, which is way more than you should need when it’s that cold outside. Keep in mind most Americans drive 31.5 miles per day also according to AAA, so even reduced cold weather range should be fine.
The Model X has some impressive ratings, with some quibbles. Here’s what the pros think.
Car & Driver said, “the X is actually practical, with all-wheel drive, a high-tech cabin with room for up to seven, and striking but fussy Falcon Wing doors.” C&D rated the Model X a 4/5, praising the long driving range, quick-charging, and impressive acceleration. They listed cons as the interior and build quality not living up to the price. “If you’re going all electric and you need an SUV, the Model X is an expensive but obvious choice.”
British automotive TV show Top Gear said, “It’s a fun and engaging family car with room for everyone and a more playful personality than the outwardly plain looks suggest.” TG liked that the Model X’s Falcon doors are more than a gimmick, the startling acceleration, fresh approach to SUV design, and easy to drive nature. They also cited the extensive supercharging network. They summarized, “Not cheap, and not a conventional SUV, but a thoroughly capable family wagon.”
Motor Trend loved the fierce acceleration, huge efficiency, and semi-autonomous features. They praised the automatically closing front doors, as the reviewer missed them when he went back to his usual car. MT didn’t like the Falcon doors, saying “Despite all of its highly advanced features, the Tesla Model X can seem gimmicky. Those falcon wing doors, while cool, are overly complicated and less practical compared to standard or sliding minivan-style doors.”
Model X Features
Sure, there’s the awesome sound system with 17 speakers and the hospital-grade HEPA air filtration system, but Model X has three standout features people are most interested in.
The Falcon-wing doors are a modified gull-wing design that lift straight up. Rather than swinging forward and up like a super car, picture Marty McFly’s DeLorean in Back to the Future. It’s a slightly different gull design, as each door uses two hinge points. They’re powered, like modern SUV lift gates, so you don’t have to do the lifting yourself. The whole point of the showy doors is to gain easy entry exit for everyone sitting in the rear seats. It also prevents door dings, and allows entry even when other drivers have parked too close. If you have merely 11 inches of space, the door can fully open. Yup, there’s sensors too, to prevent them from crashing into your low hanging garage door opener.
The huge touchscreen
The 17-inch center screen supports Netflix, Hulu, and more entertainment options, as long as the vehicle is parked. It supports USB controllers too, and rumors are the hugely popular arcade shooter CupHead is coming soon, as well as karaoke. Over-the-air downloads ensure new features, performance, and security updates, all without having to do anything. Motor Trend said, “Traditional automakers have had years to catch up with this piece of tech and have universally failed. With instant response, thoughtful menu structures, and a highly intelligent navigation system, this is still by far the best touchscreen in the business.”
Autopilot is a Level 2 autonomous system that lets you take your hands off the steering wheel in situations like highway driving. Think of it as a really advanced cruise control. Forward, side, and rear-facing cameras provide 360-degree visibility, combined with ultrasonic sensors and a forward-facing radar for a complete picture of what is happening on the road. The system can help you avoid collisions or assist with parking. While Smart Summon needs some of the kinks worked out, it’s a great idea to have your ride come to you during inclement weather.
Trim levels at Tesla are now easy to remember. The company previously used a complicated naming system based on the battery size, single- or dual-drive, and occasional performance tags, giving you gibberish model names like Model S P85D. Instead, vehicles for those drivers wanting speed get a Performance trim, while those worried about range get the Long Range badge. Simple enough.
Model X Long Range
If range anxiety is your secret fear, get the X with the ability to go farther on a charge. With the Long Range trim, that means 328 miles on a full charge. It is “slower” to 60, but 4.4 seconds is still faster than the highest trim level Nissan 370Z sports car. Owners say you don’t notice the performance difference around town, so if you’re primarily an urban dweller, you might save some cash and go with the Long Range.
Model X Performance
If you feel the need to give your passengers whiplash, look for the Performance badge. The extra speed comes from a larger and more powerful electric motor in back. You’ll pass nearly everything with a 0 to 60 of 2.7 seconds, but this performance does cut into the range a little, at 305 miles. Other bonuses include carbon fiber trim inside and out (this has an awesome Storm Trooper effect when matched to white paint), red Brembo brake calipers, and a performance suspension.
Model X Size/seating capacity
The Model X can seat up to seven comfortably, but this isn’t a Honda Odyssey. This crossover is more about the athletic driving experience, futuristic tech, and electric efficiency than outright cargo hauling.
The Model X has three seating configurations. Initial models had seating for six or seven. The first year of the Model X could be optioned with second-row captain’s chairs or a three-seat bench, with the rear two seats individual chairs. Appearing later, the five-seat Model X uses the second row bench only, to create a massive cargo space behind the second row. Tesla makes it easy with options, so you don’t have to hunt down one with heated seats. All rows get that option, in any seating configuration.
Model X offers one of the most spacious interiors in the industry, thanks to the minimalist design and EV layout. The panoramic windshield also increases headroom, so the X is the one to get for taller drivers. Front headroom is 41.7 inches while rear seats offer 40.9 inches in the middle and 37.9 inches for the third row. Leg room is similar, with 41.2 inches in front, 38.4 inches in the middle, and 32.7 inches in the third row.
To compare this to more common vehicles, the Model X’s front headroom is a bit more than the Kia Optima, one of the best cars for tall people. Front legroom is about the same as a Toyota Avalon. Tall.Life (yes, that’s a site) reviewed the Model X and noted it’s good for up to 6’7″ drivers.
Cargo & towing
The total cargo area is 88 cu-ft with the rear seats down, more than the Volvo XC90. Keep in mind there are no provisions for a roof rack, so the skis, bikes, and a hard shell cargo box are out.
If that isn’t enough storage, you can stick the extra in a trailer and tow it. The Model X can tow a 4,980-pound load, which is right in between the tow ratings of the GMC Terrain and Porsche Cayenne.
Just looking at insurance costs, you might think the Model X is unsafe. The insurance costs mainly reflect the replacement cost of the vehicle (over $100,000 when new), and high amount of aluminum used in the construction. However, Tesla has a headline-making history with safety and crash testing, and the Model X is no different. Here’s how it scores.
Tesla claimed in a press release that the Model X is the first SUV to achieve a five-star rating in every crash test category. “The data from NHTSA’s testing shows that Model X has the lowest probability of injury of any SUV it has ever tested. In fact, of all the cars NHTSA has ever tested, Model X’s overall probability of injury was second only to Model S.” Tesla said this is due to the EV’s design, with the battery pack placed below the floor of the vehicle, so it has the lowest rollover probability of any SUV. The EV design also allows a much larger crumple zone, “That means that in the event of a serious crash, Model X occupants have an overall 93% probability of walking away without a serious injury.”
The IIHS hasn’t tested the Model X. However, they reported that the Model S (that the Model X is based on) has reduced damage and injury claims after 2014, when crash avoidance systems started showing up. With its later release date, all Model X SUVs include those safety features.
Since it’s sold worldwide, the EU’s NCAP test program reviewed the SUV. NCAP “evaluates a car’s safety assistance features as well as its ability to protect adults, children and vulnerable road users.” The Model X earned a five-star rating from NCAP, also earning the highest rating in its class, and a near-perfect score in Adult Occupant Protection category.