Introduced for the 2016 model year, the Tesla Model X is the second vehicle in the American EV company's lineup. Boasting three-rows and room for seven adults, depending on trim, the Model X can travel as far as 295 miles on a single charge – well beyond the range of most full-electric vehicles.
Technology is just part of its attraction. Visually, the Model X captures the eye with its “Falcon Wing” rear doors, which open upward rather than to the side. A handful of sports cars used similar “gullwing” doors in the distant past, but Tesla refined the concept. Such a configuration is particularly striking on a crossover SUV.
What's New for 2017
Initially, the base model had a 70-kilowatt-hour battery with a 220-mile range. For 2017, Tesla replaced the so-called 70D model with a 75D that can go about an extra 17 miles per charge. A new 100D model contains a 100-kWh battery, extending maximum range to 295 miles. For ultra-performance fans, the initial P90D version is now the P100D, capable of reaching 60 miles per hour in 2.9 seconds. It should be noted that unlike traditional automakers, Tesla is notorious for making improvements to its vehicles over the course of a model year, and with little to no warning.
Choosing Your Tesla Model X
Three batteries are available for the Model X, rated 75 kWh in the 70D, 90 kWh in the 90D, and 100 kWh in the 100D series. Maximum range, specified in miles driven on a single charge, varies according to battery rating. Owners can charge at 120 or 240 volts at home, while Tesla's Supercharger network allows quick recharges at strategic locations.
Mounting the battery beneath the floor helps give the Model X a low center of gravity, reducing the risk of rollover. Tesla expects the Model X to achieve five-star crash-test ratings, but NHTSA has not tested the vehicle.
Standard active-safety features include collision warning, blind-spot detection, lane-departure warning, and automatic emergency braking. Safety and other updates are delivered periodically “over the air,” directly to the internet-connected vehicle. The front trunk serves as a large, impact-absorbing crumple zone.
Upward-opening, double-hinged rear doors are intended to ease entry to the second and third rows. Each door contains a sensor that activates to prevent contact with adjacent objects in tight spaces, such as garage walls or narrow parking spots. Doors move upward, then outward. Each can open even if as little as 30 centimeters separates the Model X from another vehicle. To open and close the doors properly, one foot of clearance is needed on either side of the car.
Tesla has been among the leaders in development of autonomous cars. The latest “Enhanced Autopilot” system can sense the roadway ahead using four cameras, radar, and 360-degree sonar with a dozen ultrasonic sensors. The system can steer the vehicle within its lane, change lanes automatically, transition from one freeway to another, and manage road speed using “traffic-aware” cruise control. According to Tesla, the newly-enhanced autonomous system has almost twice the range and resolution of the earlier version. Tesla advises that the system is a “driver’s assistance” feature, requiring that the driver remain in control at all times.
An optional eight-camera system promises full self-driving capability under “almost all circumstances,” but available features will vary, depending on regulatory approval and Tesla's willingness to enable them over the air.
Seating is available for five, six, or seven occupants. Self-presenting front doors that open automatically are available in an option package. A Model X with a towing package and 20-inch wheels can tow up to 5,000 pounds.
Four trim levels are available. Each has all-wheel drive, using a dual-motor configuration.
It's important to note that Tesla can only sell vehicles in certain states. For example, you can register a Model X in Michigan, but you'll need to purchase and service it in another state. All Teslas come with a block of free charging via the company's strategically placed Superchargers, making long-distance travel possible. Teslas are eligible for incentives for electric vehicles, from the federal government, as well as certain state agencies. Incentives reduce the price somewhat, but these are still expensive automobiles.