Tesla Model X review
What the Tesla Model X electric car gives you is quite amazing – space for up to seven, the highest of high tech and incredible acceleration. But, you’d expect better quality in a car that costs this much
What's not so good
Tesla Model X: what would you like to read next?
Its makers will tell you that the Tesla Model X is an SUV, but it’s basically a people carrier version of the Model S. Like the S, this is also an electric car and it uses similar components, but they’re wrapped up in a more practical body.
As such, it’s a unique car in today’s market. Sure, you could also buy a BMW X5 hybrid, Audi Q7 e-tron or Range Rover P400e, but they can’t match the breadth of the Tesla Model X’s on-paper abilities and none can turn as many heads. From its party piece ‘Falcon Wing’ rear doors that are hinged at the top and lift up, to the 17-inch screen that takes up almost all of the centre console, the Tesla Model X makes many non-electric SUVs feel about as high-tech as a VHS tape in a world of 4K ultra-HD TVs.
Thankfully, despite the sheer number of gizmos you’ll find under the Tesla Model X’s space-age skin, it’s still a very practical electric family car. There’s plenty of room in the front seats for a couple of adults and it’s easy for almost anyone to get comfy thanks to the wide range of adjustment on the steering wheel and driver’s seat – all done electrically, of course.
You can order your Tesla Model X as a five-, six- or seven-seater, but whichever you choose, those upwards-hinging rear doors make it fantastically easy for the rear-seat passengers to get in. And, once they’re in, they’ll have plenty of room. In the second row, all three seats can be adjusted independently of the others.
Admittedly, the mechanism for the fancy rear doors slightly reduces the headroom for the centre-seat passenger, but the wide body and flat floor mean that it’s possible to sit three adults abreast in comfort. If you’re taking rather younger passengers, it couldn’t be easier to use the ISOFIX mounts, which are tucked away under a leather flap that’s held in place by Velcro when they’re not in use.
Unlike most seven-seat SUVs, there’s enough space for adults to get comfy in the Tesla Model X’s rearmost seats and it’s dead easy to climb in thanks to the sliding middle row of seats. The boot isn’t all that big with seven seats in place, but there’s still space to pack a couple of small suitcases. And, by virtue of having no engine in the front, the car also has an extra ‘boot’ under the bonnet with enough space to carry the car’s charging cables and a set of golf clubs.
Given how expensive this car is, the build quality and the standard of fit and finish are really nothing like as good as they should be
However, it’s not all good news inside. For a start, the quality isn’t as good as you would expect on a car that can cost well over £100,000 – and nowhere near as good as in a petrol- or diesel-powered Mercedes or Audi.
On top of that, while the huge touchscreen looks amazing it isn’t particularly easy to use when you’re on the move – it’s quite literally a hit-and-miss-affair when you try to adjust the temperature of the climate control. It would be easier if the car had more conventional controls.
That said, Tesla is updating this screen for the 2021 model year. These cars won’t touch down in the UK until 2022, but they will have a new 17-in landscape-orientated screen that is thought to be easier to use than the existing portrait screen.
Happily, charging the electric Tesla Model X is a doddle. Plug it into one of Tesla’s ‘Supercharger’ public charging points – which you’ll find on our electric car charging point map – and you can top up its batteries from 0-80% in around 40 minutes. Using a wall-mounted charger at home will take approximately 14 hours, however, while plugging it into a three-pin household plug will result in a 33-hour charge time.
Once you’re on the move, you’ll find the Tesla Model X is a doddle to drive. Being an EV means it’s super quiet and the regenerative braking (which uses the motors to slow the car and recharge the batteries in the process) lets you can drive around using just the accelerator pedal most of the time.
Beyond the city limits, it’s the Tesla Model X’s performance that grabs your attention. Even the cheaper Long Range models can sprint from 0-60mph in less than 4.4 seconds while the Performance version shrugs off the same sprint in a supercar-shaming 2.7 seconds.
The Model X’s range depends on which model you buy – Tesla claims Performance models will manage more than 300 miles while Long Range versions can eke out 314 miles. That’s some way off the range you’ll get from a petrol- or diesel-powered SUV, but you need to consider that fully charging the Tesla Model X’s batteries can set you back less than a third of what it costs to fill a large SUV’s fuel tank.
The new 2021 model year cars see this line-up revised, however. The new entry-level Model X Long Range will come with a claimed range of 360 miles and a 0-60mph time of just 3.8 seconds. Meanwhile, the range-topping Model X Plaid will be able to cover 340 miles on a charge, but will hit 60mph in just 2.5 seconds.
Among the other advantages of the Tesla Model X is the wide range of autonomous technology available, while the car handles better than you would expect of something so big. And, every model comes with four-wheel drive – thanks to its two electric motors – so it shouldn’t get stuck if you find yourself faced with a slippery mud-covered country lane.
But, wherever you’re driving you can’t fail to notice that the car feels the bumps a bit more than alternative SUVs. On top of that, the Tesla Model X also can’t tow as much as equivalent SUVs.
The electric Tesla Model X leads the field in terms of safety tech, though. You get plenty of advanced systems designed to help prevent collisions and it will even steer, accelerate and brake for you on motorways – providing you keep your hands on the wheel, that is.
Ultimately, it’s easy to see the attraction of the Tesla Model X, and this is one of the few electric cars that will make genuine petrolheads stop and think.
The Tesla Model X is very spacious and very practical, but it only comes with five seats as standard – you have to pay extra if you want to carry a sixth or seventh passenger
The Tesla Model X has more space for seven than most other large SUVs and the individually adjustable back seats and huge rear doors make it very easy to climb in and out.
The Tesla Model X’s standard upward-hinging doors mean it’s an absolute doddle to climb into the back seats. The raised roof and relatively low floor mean you won’t have any trouble stepping in if you’re very tall, and there’s plenty of head and legroom for six-footers to get comfy behind an equally tall driver.
There’s room to slide your feet under the front seats and the Tesla Model X’s large windows and glass roof makes it feel very airy indeed in the back.
You get three rear seats as standard – each of which is electrically adjustable and can slide forward or backward at the touch of a button. Although, it’s a little annoying that the central seat can only be adjusted using the infotainment display in the front.
That said, having three individual seats means there’s plenty of space for three adults to get comfy and the flat floor and wide cabin means there’ll be no reason to fight over foot or shoulder space. The only complaint is that the mechanism for those fancy doors does cut into middle-seat headroom a bit.
You can pay extra to have four back seats fitted – in two rows of two – or go for the full seven-seat option and get a middle row of three with two extra seats behind. In either case, there’s enough space for adults to climb into the back with enough headroom for tall passengers. If you need to carry much younger passengers, there’s plenty of space to lift in a bulky child seat and the Model X comes with Isofix anchor points behind easy-to-remove velcro covers.
With such a slick-looking cabin, the last thing you want is a load of family odds-and-ends cluttering up your Tesla Model X. Thankfully, there are plenty of handy storage areas to help you keep everything looking nice and tidy – in the front seats, at least.
The front door bins are big enough to hold a large bottle, there are a few clever adjustable cupholders in the centre console and another storage tray in front of the centre armrest – where you’ll also find a 12V socket and a couple of USB ports.
You don’t get any such storage bins in the back, though. There aren’t any seat-back pockets on the front seats, you don’t get a folding armrest (thanks to the individual back seats) and you don’t get any rear door bins. Although, the latter’s probably a good thing considering their upwards-hinging design…
With seven seats in place, the Tesla Model X’s boot is still big enough for a weekly shop or a couple of small suitcases. There’s no load lip to worry about and there’s a decent amount of space under the adjustable boot floor to store the car’s charging cables or a few soft bags.
You can flip the third row of seats down by pressing hidden buttons beside the headrest to open up a flat load bay that’s large enough for a decent number of cardboard boxes, a couple of pushchairs or a few sets of golf clubs.
Go for a seven-seat version and you can fold the middle row of seats down, but in five- and six-seat versions you can just slide the back seats all the way forward if you need to carry some seriously large luggage. There are a few tethering points to help you secure large stuff too, along with a 12V charging socket should you need to plug in the likes of a drinks cooler or portable vacuum cleaner.
Easy to drive, immensely fast and packed with safety kit – the Tesla Model X almost has it all. Other large SUVs are more comfortable over bumpy roads, though
You’ll never tire of using the Tesla Model X’s supercar-like acceleration to thrill – or scare – your passengers.
You can get the Tesla Model X as either a Long Range or Performance model, but both come with a 100kWh battery and four-wheel drive as standard. Long Range cars can travel for a claimed 314 miles between charges while Tesla claims Performance models can manage more than 300 miles.
That doesn’t sound like a significant difference, but what separates these models is how quick they are. Long Range models will sprint from 0-60mph faster than many sports cars in less than 4.4 seconds while Performance cars hit the magic 60mph number from rest in less than 2.7 seconds. That makes them some of the very fastest cars on sale.
There’s no difference between the two versions when it comes to charging times. Using a Tesla Supercharger, you can charge the Model X’s batteries from 0% to 80% full in as little as 40 minutes, while a wall-mounted home charging box will take approximately 14 hours to fully charge its batteries from empty. The latter will set you back around £17, although that’ll depend on your electricity tariff.
You can charge it using a conventional household three-pin plug – if you find yourself needing to charge your car at a friend’s house before a long drive home – but a full charge will take more than a day and a half.
As with most electric cars, the Tesla Model X is dead easy to drive. There are no gears to worry about so it’s simple to cruise around town or in heavy traffic and the Model X’s raised driving position and large windows give you a good view out.
Sure, its large size means it isn’t the most manoeuvrable SUV on sale and you don’t get a surround-view camera system, but the light steering and fair visibility mean you can drive in town without too much hassle. Fitting it into a tight parking space is rather tricky, however, but at least the clever upwards-hinging doors make it dead easy to climb out of the back seats when parked next to other cars.
The Tesla Model X is quite a bit heavier than most large SUVs and its firm suspension can’t soften the thud of large potholes as well as a Mercedes GLE, but it’s still fairly relaxing to drive and its near-silent electric motors help make it eerily quiet when you accelerate.
The Tesla Model X might not sound as sporty as some petrol- or diesel-powered SUVs, but the ease with which it blasts from a standstill to warp speed is addictive nonetheless. It even manages to handle a series of sweeping corners without a great deal of body lean, too – impressive for a tall seven-seater.
That said, you won’t be buying a practical electric car because it drives like a hot hatch – more likely you’ll be won over by the Model X’s numerous driver-assistance systems that’ll accelerate, brake and steer for you on motorways. This technology is pretty commonplace on upmarket SUVs, but the Tesla gets some of the most comprehensive safety equipment of any posh seven-seater.
The uber-minimalist interior and high-tech infotainment system make the Tesla Model X’s cabin feel more futuristic than most. It’s let down by some cheap-feeling materials, though