- The Model X is Tesla’s exotic all-electric SUV, with a price tag of as much as $300,000.
- It can seat up to seven people and handle a LOT of cargo.
- The biggest issue for road trips, with or without the family, is keeping the battery charged.
The Model X is Tesla’s offering for American families: a stylish SUV with seating for at least five and up to seven, plus cargo space for gear and room for a pet.
It checks those boxes while looking like a spaceship with a dramatic extended windshield affording a view of the sky, falcon wing doors, and all-electric propulsion. It can also, at the P100D trim level — which means it has a 1oo kilowatt-hour battery pack, and a dual-motor all-wheel-drive system — streak from 0-100km/h in about 3 seconds. Hang onto those Game Boys, kids!
I took a Tesla sedan, the P90D, on an adventurous road trip with some of my family last year. And I spent some time behind the wheel of the Model X after it was rolled out. But I’d never gone on a deep dive, testing the vehicles full capabilities, from seating comfort to ridonkulous speed to Autopilot semi-self-driving technology to the true secret sauce of Tesla-ness: the extensive Supercharger network and the in-vehicle algorithms that enable you to hopscotch between them.
Tesla rectified that by setting me up with a Model X loaner — a fully loaded P100D that likely cost around $300,000. It arrived in a glorious glossy black with a creamy white leather interior. Into the available seating and cargo space I would place myself; my lovely wife; our two handsome sons, James (12) and Dante (7) our talented daughter, August (14) and our cheerful new dog, Marco (2, we think).
We loaded up on a Friday in autumn. Our destination was 550km southwest: Deep Creek, MD. We had Superchargers and more adventures in front of us. Here’s how it went.
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The mighty Model X! That trippy hue at the top of the windshield is due to condensation on the tinted, extended section.
The car is indeed a spaceship for the road. Sleek and aerodynamic on the outside, with a '2001: A Space Odyssey' white interior and those famous falcon-wing doors.
'P100D' signifies a Performance variant of the Model X, with a 100kWh battery pack, and a 'Dual' motor all-wheel-drive setup. In 'Ludicrous Mode,' the 0-100 time is supposed to be about three blistering seconds.
The interior is genuinely premium without overdoing it. It's also roomy and airy, thanks to the lack of gas powertrain. There are just two electric motors and huge electric battery pack under the floor.
Row three, seating for two. Or in our case, a single kid. I folded down one of the seats to increase the cargo area.
The seats themselves are extremely comfy. They feel as if they're made of memory foam. The leather was butter-soft. I'm not sure how much punishment a white leather memory-foam interior can handle, but we'll find out.
The X would -- on paper -- provide plenty of room for two adults, three kids, a dog, and enough luggage to cover us for a few days.
And don't forget the frunk! Yes, because there's no engine, the entire front bay can be used to haul stuff. This came in very handy.
We will spend a lot of time interacting the with the massive central touchscreen. Almost all vehicle functions are controlled with it. The navigation system will route us through Tesla's Supercharger network and, helpfully, let us know how many stalls are open at a given location and calculate how much juice we need based on how far we have to go.
For what it's worth, I also downloaded the Tesla iPhone app, which linked with our Model X, nicknamed 'Lil' Scrappy.' Apart from keeping track of charging ...
.. and keep track of how much more charge a trip will demand. The app will alert you when you're charge cycle is nearly finished so you don't incur Supercharger 'idle' expenses.
Supercharger access for new owners has been free for the life of ownership, but Tesla is going to start charging a fee to recharge as the mass-market Model 3 begins to hit the streets.
The app also lets you drive your Model X like a remote control car, 'summoning' it to move forward and back.
Yes, we used Autopilot during the trip. I was useful, but I also found myself taking over the steering quite often.
This feature will wind up being helpful. It graphs our real-time power consumption against how far we have to go before we can stop to recharge.
Electric cars invert the consumption patterns of gas vehicles. An internal-combustion engine requires less fuel to maintain a steady 90-110km/h pace, so on the long trips, fuel burn is optimal.
EVs, by contrast, use more power to maintain high speeds and don't have regenerative braking to fall back on for little recharging bumps. So if our Model X says it has 400km of range, and most of that is highway, we're going to use up that power. The graph here should help avoid any surprises, though.
For the trip down, I decide to err on the side of caution and make an extra stop, defying what the Model X says it needs.
Look, there's no way around it. In a Tesla, you can't just pull into a gas station and in ten minutes get another 650km of range.
BUT you can trust Tesla's onboard algorithms to perform good range-to-charge calculations. I really should have accepted that the Model X knew its batteries better than I did!
And while you wait you can hang out and take in the sights. Our first stop was in Pennsylvania and we debated about dining at this burger joint.
We eventually got to our destination and were rewarded with a glorious following day. Everybody forgot what and idiot their father is and realised that blaming the Model X was pointless.
Homeward bound. We made one less charging stop and got home in two hours' less time than on the drive down.
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