2016 Tesla Model X Preview
- New electric luxury SUV
- Standard all-wheel drive (AWD)
- 250 mi. of driving range
- Tows up to 5,000 lbs.
- 6- or 7-passenger seating
- Front trunk, rear cargo area
- Falcon Wing rear side doors
- Panoramic windshield design
- “Medical-grade” air filtration
- Coefficient of drag measures 0.24 cd
- Standard and Performance versions
Tesla has debuted the long-awaited Model X, a new electric SUV that seats up to 7 occupants in 3 rows of seats. Available in 90D and P90D model series, the first Model X vehicles have been delivered to customers, and Tesla has nearly a one-year backlog of sold vehicles to produce. New reservations are being taken for an estimated delivery during the latter part of 2016.
The egg-shaped Tesla Model X adopts now familiar design themes from the Model S, but won’t be mistaken for anything but a Tesla SUV. The rear Falcon Wing doors will assure that.
These gull-wing doors open upward, and they require just one foot of clearance on either side of the SUV in order to work. Sensors prevent them from contacting low-clearance garage ceilings, and Tesla specifically notes how easy it is to get children strapped into their car seats, parents unconcerned about bumping their heads on doorframes or leaning and twisting while securing little ones.
Tesla dispenses with the large, decorative grille found on the Model S, using an elegantly arched slit to separate the hood from the front fascia. When viewed from the front, the Tesla emblem is shaped to mirror the appearance of the Falcon Wing doors when they are open, representing just one example of the attention to detail that goes into every Tesla product.
At the rear, an active spoiler deploys to improve aerodynamics at speed. Tesla says the Model X boasts a slippery coefficient of drag measuring 0.24 cd.
Model X buyers choose between a 6-passenger or 7-passenger seating arrangement. With 7-passenger seating, the second row is equipped with three individual seats, each mounted on a single, impact-absorbing post and featuring individual reclining capability.
When they are not needed, the third-row seats fold flat to expand cargo capacity beneath the rear liftgate. The Model X also has a large front trunk, located under the hood where the engine of a regular SUV is usually installed.
Front-seat occupants are treated to a panoramic windshield that provides a nearly unobstructed view forward, like a helicopter cockpit. The top half of the glass is solar tinted. The Falcon Wing doors also include glass panels, adding to the feeling of openness when driving or riding in the Model X, Tesla says.
Affix the Model X’s accessory trailer hitch to the rear of the SUV and it will tow up to 5,000 lbs., an Airstream trailer’s worth. Tesla will also offer an accessory hitch that mounts in seconds and is designed to carry up to four bicycles or six sets of skis. When it is installed, it does not impede access to the cargo area through the rear liftgate.
Under the Hood
A 90-kWh battery pack powers front and rear electric motors, which effectively give the Model X standard AWD. Tesla provides an 8-year, unlimited-mileage warranty for the battery and drive unit, and owners can charge the SUV for free on Tesla’s expanding network of Supercharger stations.
The Model X 90D has 259-horsepower motors up front and in the back, providing 257 miles of driving range on a single charge, according to the automaker. Tesla says this model accelerates to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds and achieves a top speed of 155 mph.
While introducing the Model X, Tesla founder Elon Musk first emphasized the vehicle’s safety, claiming that it will achieve 5-star (out of 5) ratings in every NHTSA category, making it the first SUV ever to do so.
Because the Model X’s battery is mounted beneath the floor of the vehicle, this SUV’s center of gravity is lower, reducing the risk of a rollover accident. Tesla also claims that the battery structure improves side-impact protection, and that the front trunk acts as a giant crumple zone in a frontal-impact collision, a crumple zone that doesn’t contain an engine that could be forced back into the occupant compartment.
Camera, radar, and sonar systems inform the Model X’s standard collision-avoidance and automatic emergency braking systems.
Approach the Model X with the key fob on your person and an auto-presenting front door feature triangulates your position, opens the driver’s door automatically, and then closes it once you are seated, working “like an invisible chauffer,” according to Musk.
A large, tablet-style control panel dominates the Model X’s dashboard, one that Tesla regularly updates via Wi-Fi connection whenever it rolls out new features for the SUV. Tesla provides the ability to “blind-holster” your smartphone, as long as you own a popular device, connecting it to the vehicle without a need to fiddle with wires and ports.
Medical-grade air filtration supplies interior air quality levels comparable to a hospital operating room, according to Tesla. The Model X’s primary particle filter is 10 times larger than the average car filter, and the secondary air filter is also slightly larger.
Taken together, Tesla claims that the system is:
- 300 times better at filtering bacteria
- 500 times better at filtering allergens
- 700 times better at filtering soot and smog
- 800 times better at filtering viruses
Additionally, three layers of active carbon filtration tackle universal adsorbents like hydrocarbons, acidic gases like sulfur, and alkaline gases like ammonia.
Think Tesla doesn’t have a sense of humor? The Model X has an actual “bioweapon defense mode button” for the climate control system, which maximizes filtration.