- Fastest, longest-range electric SUV around
- Lots of seating options
- Huge storage capacity and immense towing ability
- Shorter range than a Model S
- Very expensive
- Very large for city driving
Range (WLTP): 301-314 miles Top Speed: 155-163mph 0 to 60: 2.6–4.4sec Cost/Mile (@14p/kWh): 4.46-4.65p
After the positive reception to the Model S, Tesla’s next car was in the ever-popular SUV market, which makes up over 20% of annual sales in the UK. The Model X is a luxury SUV, but being a Tesla, it has many unique features. The one that gets the most attention is the Falcon Wing door system, which you might expect in a hypercar costing hundreds of thousands, but not a SUV, even a pricey one. But the Model X is also exceedingly fast and has a class-leading range of over 300 miles. There are multiple seating options for up to seven people, it’s packed with gadgetry, and looks like a spaceship on wheels. Is this the best electric SUV on the market?
Price and Options
You never get that many choices with Tesla cars. Like the Model S, the Model X now has the Raven powertrain, and both versions have 100kWh batteries. The Long Range has 518hp using 259hp motors front and back, while the Performance has 259hp front and 503hp at the rear, for a total of 762hp – a quite ridiculous amount of engine power. The Model X is £5,000 more expensive than the S for both versions, so the base Long Range costs £82,980 while the Performance is £15,000 more at £97,980. This is a lot of money, when the Audi e-tron starts at more than £20,000 less and you could pick up an entry-level internal combustion Porsche Cayenne for under £60,000. But the Model X’s abilities are in a class of their own, as you will discover as you read this review. There really isn’t any other electric SUV in its class just yet, only ICE ones, and the equivalent performance would require a Porsche Cayenne Turbo or Range Rover SVR. Both are a lot more expensive.
Like all Teslas, the basic Model X colour is white, but if you want blue, black or grey, it’s £1,450 more, and red is £2,500 extra. The wheels are 20in as standard, but if you want the Two Tone Slipstream versions, these are another £2,000 more, and 22in Onyx Black rims add a whopping £5,400. The interior is all black carbon fibre with dark wood inlay as standard, but black and white as in our review car is another £1,450, with cream upholstery and oak wood the same price. With the white exterior we had, the black and white interior looks fantastic – like a set from 2001: A Space Odyssey. If you want to feel like you’re driving the future, this is definitely the option to go for.
The next interior choice to make is seating arrangement. The standard car has five seats, but there are two other options. Our car came with the £6,300 six-seat option, which adds a row of two individual seats similar to the front ones, and another couple of seats behind. The seven-seat option is a quite a bit cheaper at £3,400 and adds the two extra rear seats behind the standard three-seat middle bench.
All Teslas come with a basic level of Autopilot, but for an extra £5,800 you can add Full Self-Driving Capability. This is Level 2 at the moment but includes automatic driving from highway on-ramp to off-ramp, automatic lane changes while driving on the motorway, parallel and perpendicular autoparking, and the much-vaunted Summon, where you can get your car to move itself in and out of a tight parking space without you in it. Musk has claimed that full Level 5 will be available via a future software update, including the ability to recognise and respond to traffic lights and stop signs, drive automatically on city streets, and an Enhanced Summon, where your parked car will come and find you in a car park. In contrast, the basic Autopilot is essentially an enhanced ADAS-empowered cruise control.
The Model S and Model 3, due to their strict adherence to aerodynamics, have exterior designs that are a bit generic. But while the Model X is also very slippy, its appearance is much more flamboyant. The basic white works better for this car than the S or 3, adding to the sense of being advanced technology. The Falcon Wing doors open out and upwards at a press of the external latch or an internal button. There’s a red button on the door edge to close it from the outside. The car will sense the key in the driver’s pocket as they approach, and the front door will pop open automatically. The doors are all motorised, so you don’t need to slam them – just push them shut and they will do the rest. Or they can close by themselves – just give the handle a little touch, or press a button on the central console. When the key is out of range for a period, the car will lock automatically too.
Due to the gullwing doors, the panoramic glass doesn’t stretch the length of the car as with other models. There are small windows in the roof section of these doors, but otherwise this section is solid roof. However, the front windscreen stretches up much further on the X than other Teslas, which gives a real sense of space in the front seats. You might worry about getting the sun in your eyes, but there are two strategic visors that sit to the side when not in use and can be swung round and across, where they click into place magnetically. You can then unfurl a short blind in the position you need to block the sun.
Of the wheel choices, we like the 20in Two Tone Slipstream ones on our car the best. The basic wheels do look more, well, basic and the 22in have a mean and moody appearance. You might want them on a Model X Performance to show off, but 22in wheels in any pothole-ridden UK city are a liability.
For the front occupants, the X is a very comfortable car. With the six-seater configuration, the middle row is just as comfy as the front pair, with similar adjustments and plenty of leg room. There’s a sizeable gap in between the two middle seats that makes it easy to get into the rear. However, the rear pair of seats, while still upholstered well, don’t have much legroom or headroom. Anyone over 5ft 10in will want to stick their legs in the central space between the middle seats, and they won’t be able to with the 7-seater. In reality, the rear seats are for children and teenagers, or adults only in an emergency. But with people the right size, this is a car you could easily do hours of travelling in with lots of comfort.
With the white exterior, we think the black and white interior matches best. This doesn’t have the funky black wooden inlays of the Model S, just pure black, so has a cleaner, more space-age look. The basic black interior has dark wood inlays that might work on a Mercedes but we’re not sure about on a Tesla, and the cream seat option with light wood inlays is, as we said with the Model S, a bit “Swedish self-build furniture”. We should point out that the seat coverings look like leather, but they are synthetic, because Tesla’s politically correct leanings prompted the company to stop offering leather a few years ago.
The front and middle rows have their own cupholders for each seat. There are lots of directable vents for the first two rows of passengers too. There’s wireless phone charging in the centre console. The rear-view mirror is a little small, and visibility out the rear window is somewhat limited. However, with all the sensors you still have a good idea of what is around you, and the reversing camera is so clear you probably won’t use the mirror when going backwards.
All interiors include the Premium Upgrades Package. These provide heated seats for the driver and every passenger, a heated steering wheel, wiper blade and washer nozzle defrosters, and a HEPA air filtration system. Aside from the visors we already talked about, the tinted panoramic sunroof includes UV and IR protection.
Storage and Load Carrying
There is a bewildering range of storage options with the Model X. The frunk under the bonnet is big, offering 187 litres – which is almost as big as some small city hatchbacks on its own. It opens easily, but shutting it takes a firm press and you can’t drop it into place like some bonnets, which feels a bit rough and ready in a pricey SUV. The rear options are where it gets complicated, as they depend on which seating option you have chosen. With the 6-seat configuration we had, the space behind the second row of seats is quite small, but you can lift the flap behind to reveal a much deeper space that would be enough for a couple of suitcases and a few other things on top.
Dropping the two rear seats is very easy when you know how, using two round buttons hidden in the upholstery, one for each seat. This expands the rear into a much larger space. On the six-seater, the capacity then becomes 2,002 litres, which is larger than an Audi e-tron. However, there’s nothing to stop things placed centrally in the boot sliding past the rear seats through the gap in between. There are rings for tying things down with cables, though. Unfortunately, you can’t drop the middle seat row at all so that’s your maximum with the six-seater. With the seven-seater, the maximum is a larger 2,166 litres, and with the five-seater, it’s 2,299.5, which is on par with a Range Rover. In both five- and seven-seat options, all the rear seats can be dropped forward.
You won’t be able to fit a full-height fridge freezer in the back of the six-seater, but you could transport it in another way – via a trailer. The Model X is one of the few electric SUVs that can tow, and not only that, it’s way out in front for towing capacity. With the 20in wheels, the maximum towing weight is a hefty 2,270kg, although this drops to a “mere” 1,588kg with the 22in wheel option. The Audi e-tron and Mercedes EQC both have a 1,800kg towing limit. So if you own a large boat or caravan, the Model X would be the best choice.
The dashboard and media control screen on the Model X are essentially the same as on the Model S. The information behind the steering wheel is most welcome. By default, this includes a numerical speed, speed limit indication, and sensor view of your car alongside any cars around it. There’s a dial on the right of this showing drivetrain temperature, and current kW usage which acts like a rev counter, as well as showing regenerative braking in action. The left-hand side illustrates auxiliary features such as what music you’re listening to. But perhaps most usefully it shows the next turn when navigating in a 3D-angled view. The top-down map view in the central screen would make it easy to miss a turn on its own.
All the car’s settings are accessed via the huge 17in portrait LCD panel in the centre. You can lock the doors and fold the mirrors from the Quick Controls section. The Suspension menu lets you adjust the ride height and adaptive damping. There’s control over how the lights work. Under Driving you can change the acceleration from Chill to Standard, or Ludicrous and Ludicrous+ in the Performance version, as well as separately adjust the steering, regenerative braking and stopping mode.
Autopilot lets you configure functions like speed limit warnings, forward collision warnings, and lane departure avoidance. The Vehicle section includes child-protection lock settings and how the mirrors behave, while Display configures the LCD interface itself. You can view the stats from up to two extra trips on top of the current one and the overall odometer. There’s control over how the navigation functions, as well as the security features of the car including the built-in dashcam.
When navigating, the map can fill the entire 17in screen, which makes for a huge top-down view of the route. Alternatively, you can add music controls, including TuneIn and Spotify. You can also download apps to the system, including games. The Toybox provides novelties like sending fart noises to individual seats, presumably for entertaining child occupants, or childish adult ones.
Overall, Tesla has absolutely nailed the MCU interface. A German interior lover might miss the plethora of individual buttons, but on the other hand, having to hunt through multiple LCD screen menus for different options can be a real pain. Tesla puts everything in one place inside a consistent, well organised interface that owes a more than passing resemblance to an iPhone.
The premium upgrade bundle includes a premium audio package, although Tesla doesn’t go into huge detail about this other than that it’s tuned for the Model X’s quiet interior – exactly the same as the statement for the Model S. There’s also one year of premium connectivity included, which provides satellite maps with live traffic, in-car Internet-streaming music and media, video streaming, an Internet browser and downloadable apps.
The Model X is much faster and better-handling than it has any right to be. Even the Long Range version we were testing can reach 60mph in just 4.4 seconds with a top speed of 155mph, which is on par with the insane Range Rover SVR, but for ten grand less. The Performance is in a league of its own, reaching 60mph in a brain-crushing 2.6 seconds and carry on up to 163mph. We’re not really sure why anyone would need a SUV that can accelerate this fast, and your 6-7 passengers are likely to hate you for using it that often, but it’s a huge achievement that it’s possible.
The Long Range has Standard and much more sedate Chill acceleration modes, while the Performance adds Ludicrous and Ludicrous+, which you will have to enable to get the fastest 0-60. However, more important is how this car handles. Bear in mind that this car weighs 2.5 tonnes, yet it handles nimbly and corners like a (big) sports car. This is because of Tesla’s electric platform, which puts all the heavy bits as low down as possible. The twin motors are in line with the wheels, and the batteries are under the floor. So the centre of gravity is low, despite the height and mass of the vehicle. Despite being a huge SUV, the Model X is a joy to drive and darts about in a way that shouldn’t be possible with a car this big.
The adaptive air suspension also has quite a few options. There are five ride heights from Very High to Very Low. However, the suspension can also adjust itself automatically depending on speed. If you set the system to Highway, it will move from Standard to Low on motorways. There’s a Jack mode that stops the auto levelling that happens when you turn the car off. There are also three adaptive suspension damping options – Comfort, Auto and Sport. There are Comfort, Standard and Sport steering modes as well. One thing we should stress is that this is not really an off-roader. It would probably do okay in some situations due to the always-on four-wheel drive and tons of power, but you would wince with every bump.
Tesla’s cars are always a cut above other EVs when it comes to range, and one of the reasons is their incredible aerodynamics. Although this is a big, high SUV, the drag coefficient is still just 0.25. The latest Range Rover is 0.32 – and that’s allegedly the most aerodynamic one yet. A Porsche Cayenne is 0.39, and even a Porsche Cayman is 0.29. So the Tesla Model X is more aerodynamic than a low, sleek sports car. Nevertheless, it doesn’t have the range of the Model S, with the Long Range we tested offering 314 miles (WLTP) and the Performance 301 miles. This is a good 20% less than the equivalent Model S, but still good when you consider the Audi e-tron offers under 200 miles and even the Jaguar I-Pace just 250 miles.
Empty to full on a home wall plug will take a considerable 44 hours, and a 3.7kW home installation will require 27 hours, but if you have a 7kW installation that will drop to a more manageable 15 hours. The on-board AC charger is 16.5kW, so a 22kW AC connection will take 6 hours. The maximum DC charging is 200kW, so a V3 Tesla Supercharger will take you from 20 to 80% in just 20 minutes, although a V2 Supercharger or other 150kW DC option will be more like 30 minutes, or a 50kW charger 80 minutes. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that the Model X uses Tesla’s customised Type 2 connection, so you will need an adapter cable to use DC charging outside the Supercharger network. A CCS adapter is supplied with the car, but you’ll need to buy a CHAdeMO adapter yourself.
With the same 100kWh battery but shorter range than the Model S, the Model X is a little more expensive to run, costing 4.65p per mile for the Performance version and 4.46p for the Long Range, based on a 14p/kWh supply. Assuming you have a friend with a Tesla (or found someone online willing to share their code), you get 1,000 free Supercharger miles on purchase, and can then share your referral code to get 1,000 more miles for each friend who also buys a Tesla. It’s like a giant, benevolent pyramid scheme, but sadly not as good as the free charging for life that the Model S and X used to come with. Once you use up your free miles, it’s 24p on average to use a Supercharger, although prices vary with location and demand.
Like the Model S, the Model X is in insurance group 50, so it will be expensive to insure. However, it comes with a 4-year, 50,000-mile warranty, and a battery warranty of 8 years or 150,000 miles, whichever comes first, with a minimum 70% capacity retention. This is one of the most generous battery guarantees on the market. Of course, the Model X enjoys tax benefits from zero benefit-in-kind (BiK) as a company car like any EV. So even a 40% taxpayer would be liable for under a grand in tax for three years of owning the entry-level Long Range specification.
The Model S is 5-star NCAP rated and won “Best in Class” in 2019 in the Large Off-Road category. It has eight cameras and 12 ultrasonic sensors pointing in all directions around it. There’s a forward-facing radar too. This array of sensors provides the signature Tesla view of the road around in the dashboard, with 3D models of the cars and other vehicles popping up in the schematic below the speedometer. We particularly like the way it can see traffic lights and detect what colour they are, but we like even more how it spots a car’s brake lights coming on unexpectedly in front of you and warns you.
The adaptive cruise control is also rather natty once you figure out how it works. Like any cruise control, you set the speed you want to stick to, but you can also rotate the same stick to define how many car lengths you want between yourself and the vehicle in front. The system will then detect if the car in front is getting closer than your limit and slow you accordingly, or speed you up to the speed you have set if they are pulling away. It’s a very similar system (and control mode) to Mercedes’s DISTRONIC adaptive cruise control.
|Price:||Performance – £97,980; Long Range – £82,980|
|Range (WLTP):||301 miles (Performance), 314 miles (Long Range)|
|Charge time (7.4kW):||15 hours|
|Charge time (50kW, 0-80%):||80 minutes|
|Charge time (150kW, 0-80%):||30 minutes|
|On Board Charger:||16.5kW|
|Cost per mile*:||4.65p (Performance), 4.46p (Long Range)|
|0-60mph:||2.6 seconds (Performance), 4.4 seconds (Long Range)|
|Top Speed:||163mph (Performance), 155mph (Long Range)|
|Power:||762hp (Performance), 518hp (Long Range)|
*based on electricity costs of 14p per kWh