The Tesla Model X is a large, all-electric crossover SUV with five, six, or seven seats. Launched in late 2015, it followed the pioneering Model S sedan but initially got mixed reviews until some issues were resolved. Current versions offer almost 300 miles of rated range.
The 2019 Tesla Model X is the only electric vehicle with significant towing capacity (up to 5,000 pounds), though using it will slash range. European luxury automakers are now scrambling to catch up with Tesla, and they likely will. But in 2019, no other SUV delivers the style, battery range, performance, and fast charging of the Model X.
Tesla cut the Model X lineup to two versions when it discontinued the previous 75D model with 238 miles of range. They are:
Tesla’s dedicated Supercharger sites add up to 170 miles of range in half an hour using the standard onboard charger.
Note that model years don’t really apply to Teslas. The company updates its models when new features are ready, and the model year only applies to the build date. So, a Tesla built in January can differ a lot from one built in December of that same year.
Other luxury automakers are only now putting electric vehicles on the market, so the Tesla Model X has only a few direct competitors. Recent and coming rivals include:
The Tesla Model X designers did their best to make a sleek, aerodynamic shape out of a seven-seat SUV, with mixed results. It’s not as elegant as the legendary Model S, a low fastback sedan. Some suggest the Tesla utility vehicle looks like an overinflated Model S.
When an owner nears the Model X, the vehicle automatically extends its usually flush chrome door handles. The Model X is tall, wide, and long. There’s no grille up front, just a blunt, body-color nose panel below a small horizontal slit. All versions have LED lights and a windshield that extends far up into the roof.
A standout design element is the rear “falcon doors,” whose lifting and folding action can draw spectators from across a parking lot. This flashy feature opens a wide space along the side without worry about opening long doors in tight parking lots. The doors were glitchy at first, but Tesla worked to resolve the issues.
Riders sit high in the Tesla Model X, making it easier to enter than low-slung sedans. The rear side opening makes second- and third-row access easier. The six-seat option’s separate rear seats let occupants crawl between them to get to the back.
Behind the wheel, drivers will notice that the Model X windshield extends well up over their heads. The complicated sun visors thus have to pivot from the pillar and unroll. The dashboard of the Model X is dominated by the huge central 17-inch touchscreen display. It’s among the largest in any car and is both pleasant and intuitive to use, thanks to the crisp, high-resolution graphics and instant response.
Materials are premium, if not necessarily equal to other $100,000 vehicles. But the extra-cost two-tone interiors feel more upscale than the standard all-black fittings. Seven people can fit in the Tesla, though the third row doesn’t have the elbow room of a minivan and is best reserved for children. Tesla quotes 88 cubic feet of cargo volume, combined, from the space behind the second row and a small front storage compartment under the hood.
Tesla is known for its highly advanced electric cars. The most impressive tech features in the Model X are the evolving suite of “Autopilot” active safety functions, the electric powertrain, and the company’s unique network of Supercharger fast-charging sites.
Every Model X offers web access via a permanent cellular connection. The vertical screen in the dash displays maps from the built-in navigation system, which routes drivers on long trips to convenient Supercharger sites. It even calculates how long they should plug in, to avoid wasted time.
The size of the touchscreen means maps can be shown on one half of the display with a web page on the rest of the screen. Tesla also regularly updates the car’s operating software over the air. This allowed the Model X to receive several major upgrades since its launch, adding new features it didn’t previously have.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave the Model X the top five-star rating in every test. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety hasn’t yet rated the Model X.
To get advanced active safety features on a Model X, buyers must add the “Autopilot” option. This bundles such items as adaptive cruise control, active lane control, and automatic emergency braking for vehicles and pedestrians.
Note that Autopilot does not provide autonomous driving, despite its name. Drivers must always keep their hands on the wheel as the car steers, accelerates, and brakes automatically in its lane.
Another advanced option is self-parking, which automatically steers the Model X into parallel and perpendicular spaces. Tesla promises to add more features this year. The six- and seven-seat versions have four LATCH attachment points for child seats.
Forward vision in the Model X is exceptionally good, rear three-quarter vision only average. While the Model X is a tall SUV, its battery sits under the floor. That lets the big, wide vehicle corner flat and predictably. It can handle a wide variety of road surfaces with aplomb, far better than most SUVs of its size and three-ton heft.
Performance from the pair of electric motors is swift but drama-free. Drivers may find they’re going 5 to 10 mph faster than expected because the Model X is so smooth and quiet. The mass of the vehicle also helps somewhat insulate occupants from unpleasant road sensations.
Aggressive regenerative braking slows the Model X substantially when you lift off the pedal. You can drive mostly by modulating just the accelerator. The brake pedal is only needed in hard stops. An option on the touchscreen can select a more conventional feel, including long-distance coasting and idle creep, for drivers who want it.
The Tesla Model X is a mixed bag. If you want seven seats, high towing capacity, and all-electric travel, it’s the only game in town. Drivers get Tesla performance and the high-speed Supercharger highway charging system. That package is hard to beat.
But the Model X isn’t a graceful design, as its Model S sibling is. The reliability of the “falcon doors” was variable at the start, and problems continue to crop up. Finally, it’s pricey, even compared to many large gas or hybrid SUVs from Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz. If you can live with a smaller crossover utility, Tesla promises a Model Y—based on the Model 3 sedan—by 2022.
Production of the Tesla Model X was slow to ramp up, so only 2017 and 2018 models are found in significant numbers. Teslas hold their value as well or better than other luxury cars, which tend to depreciate fast. Data shows Tesla battery packs degrade quite slowly, even above 100,000 miles. The best advice for buyers: Do your homework!
A key consideration is Supercharging: some earlier Model X vehicles came with free Supercharging for life, an attractive feature for buyers planning highway travel.
Older Model X features vary considerably. Tesla fitted several battery sizes, from 75 to 100 kilowatt-hours, with various range ratings. The “P” prefix denotes a performance version, with faster acceleration from more powerful electric motors. But those cars may have been driven harder, which stresses their batteries more.
The first thing to know is that Tesla frequently adjusts versions, prices, and features throughout the year, so the only reliable guide is the company’s own website. But be aware that the site quotes prices minus available tax incentives.
The 2019 Tesla Model X Long Range starts at $89,500, and can go as high as $113,000 with options. Extra-cost options include any paint or interior color other than black, a six- or seven-seat interior, different wheels, and the “Autopilot” active-safety package.
The Model X Performance starts at $104,000. It has an additional option, the “Ludicrous+” mode for even faster acceleration (0 to 60 mph in 2.8 seconds). It costs a stiff $20,000, meaning a top Model X Performance can hit $146,000.
The Federal tax credit for all Tesla cars is $3,750 through June 30, 2019. From July 1 through December 31, 2019, it will fall to $1,875. Then it ends altogether.
After the success of the Model S sedan that went on sale in 2012, Tesla followed up with a large and luxurious crossover utility vehicle, the Model X. The vehicle suffered repeated delays but finally went on sale in late 2015. Deliveries were slow for much of the following year as the company worked to resolve problems with the unique lifting and folding rear “falcon doors.”
Like other Teslas, the Model X has had many variants. The company has changed the capacity and power of the battery choices and sent out multiple over-the-air updates to add features to the car’s operating system. Tesla has now cut the Model X lineup to only its highest-spec and priciest versions.