By Scott Oldham -- Contributing Editor
The new 2016 Tesla Model X is the only fully electric 3-row SUV on the market. Like the high-rated Tesla Model S sedan, the new Model X is built in California and offers emissions-free driving, over 230 miles of range, and Tesla’s controversial “Autopilot” system that gives the car semi-autonomous capability. Three trim levels are available, each is all-wheel drive and all come with the Model X’s signature power “Falcon Wing” rear doors that open up instead of out. The base Model X 75D has 328 horsepower and up to 237 miles of driving range. The 90D trim level increases power to 417 horsepower and range to 257 miles. And the P100D packs 532 horsepower and 289 miles of range.
Fact is, if you want a fully electric, 3-row SUV, the 2016 Tesla Model X is truly the only game in town. That said, if you’re after a family-friendly midsize SUV with supercar acceleration, gullwing-style doors and autonomous capability, it’s also truly the only game in town.
Everything about the Tesla Model X is new for 2016. It’s an all-new model.
In normal, daily driving it’s essentially impossible to distinguish between the Model X’s three models. They’re all extremely comfortable, extremely powerful and well appointed. The steering is light and the...
... Model X is agile for such a big, heavy beast. The ride quality is good, but not spectacular, and visibility is only marred by too-thick pillars on either side of its enormous windshield. It’s an easy vehicle to drive. And it’s really fun to put your foot down and bask in the silent thrust only an electric car can deliver. “Fast” doesn’t begin to describe the performance. You have to experience it to believe it. It’s easy to be seduced by the top-of-the-line P100D with its astronomical price tag and power numbers. But the one to get is the 75D. It’s about $50,000 cheaper, offers astounding acceleration in its own right and a very useful 239 miles of range.
Optional on the Model X 90D and standard on the P100D, Ludicrous Mode is what it sounds like. Push the button and power increases radically and acceleration goes from neck-snapping to literally breathtaking. The 90D hits 60 mph in 3.3 seconds and the P100D in just 2.9 seconds. Addicting.
With Tesla’s Autopilot system the Model X will not just stop and go without direct input from the driver, but also steer. It uses a complex system of cameras and sensors as well as GPS to monitor the car’s surroundings and alert the driver if he or she needs to take control.
Inside the Model X is uniquely Tesla and essentially identical to the interior of the Tesla Model S sedan. That means few switches and buttons. Instead, controls for the climate, audio and other functions are electronic and found on the largest screen in the business, which dominates the SUV’s dash. It works amazingly well. Also unique is the oversized windshield, which extends into the roof, and the power-operated Falcon Wing doors that open up instead of out. They’ll wow your neighbors but can be frustrating in tight spaces. Comfort is high, as is material quality, but fit can be inconsistent.
When viewed from the front, the new 2016 Tesla Model X is almost indistinguishable from its sexy sedan brother the Model S. And the family resemblance continues with the SUV’s steeply raked windshield, flush chrome door handles, sculpted flanks and fastback roofline. However, while the Model S pleases the eyes with a low silhouette and wide stance, when viewed from some angles the Model X has an awkward case of the “tall skinnies.” It’s attractive, it looks right on its standard 20-inch wheels, and it looks like nothing else on the road, which is certainly part of the Tesla’s appeal.
There’s no such thing as a stripper Tesla. And the Model X comes very well equipped, even in base 75D configuration. Standard equipment includes all-wheel drive, navigation with real-time traffic, free charging on Tesla’s Supercharger network, LED headlights, power-folding, heated outside mirrors, keyless entry, power Falcon Wing rear doors and a power rear liftgate. Standard seating is a 2-row configuration that seats five. There’s also an 8-year/infinite-mile warranty on the battery and drive unit as well as a 4-year/50,000-mile limited warranty on the rest of the vehicle.
A third row is optional as are 2nd-row captain’s chairs, so the new Model X can be configured as a 5-, 6-, or 7-passenger SUV. Beyond the seating there’s a Subzero Weather Package with seat heaters throughout the cabin, a heated steering wheel and wiper-blade defrosters, an optional 17-speaker audio system, a towing package and a Premium Upgrades Package, which allows the front doors to open automatically as you approach the vehicle; a HEPA air-filtration system, cooling front seats and leather interior trim. You can also order an Enhanced Autopilot system with additional semi-autonomous driving capability.
Every 2016 Tesla Model X is powered by two AC electric motors and a lithium-ion battery pack, with either 75-kWh (75D), 90-kWh (90D) or 100-kWh (P100D). Horsepower ranges from a robust 328 horsepower for the 75D to a thermonuclear 532 for the P100D. All three models use the same single-speed transmission and all three models are all-wheel drive. The P100D also offers the most driving range, an incredible 289 miles. The 90D can travel 257 miles on a charge and the 75D offers 237 miles of range. Tesla says charging from a standard 240v 48-amp wall connector will take about eight hours. That quickens to five hours using a 72-amp wall connector and only an hour using one of Tesla’s nationwide Superchargers.
AC electric motors with 75-kWh lithium-ion battery pack (75D)
387 lb-ft of torque
Range with full charge (estimated): 237 miles
AC electric motors with 90-kWh lithium-ion battery pack (90D)
485 lb-ft of torque
Range with full charge (estimated): 257 miles
AC electric motors with 100-kWh lithium-ion battery pack (P100D)
713 lb-ft of torque
Range with full charge (estimated): 289 miles
The 2016 Tesla Model X is not only expensive, it’s one of the most expensive SUVs on the market. The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the base 75D is just under $90,000. Step up to the 90D and the price jumps to right around $100,000. And the P100D before options costs a mouth-watering $140,000. Add all the available options to a P100D and your new Tesla Model X will cost about $150,000. Alternatives for fans of electrified SUVs include the Volvo XC90 Plug-In Hybrid which starts just under $70,000, the Porsche Cayenne Hybrid that costs around $78,000 and the popular Lexus RX Hybrid at about $53,000. Before buying, be sure to check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what other buyers in your area are paying. As is often the case with pure-electric vehicles, the Model X's resale value drops off more steeply over time than most others.