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2016 Tesla Model X Review By John Heilig


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TESLA IN CONTEXT: VIDEO, TEXT, NEWS, SPECS

THE AUTO PAGE
By John Heilig
Senior Editor
Mid-Atlantic Bureau
The Auto Channel


A few months ago I had the opportunity to drive the innovative Tesla Model S. I was thoroughly impressed by this all-electric luxury sedan, not only with its range (more than 240 miles) but also its technology all around. There was, and is, nothing else like it. When you compare the Tesla with the other full-time electric cars on the market - Chevrolet Bolt, Nissan Leaf, BMW i3 and i8 - it is so far ahead of them that it isn’t even a race. The Tesla is bigger, more comfortable, and has more range. Yes, it also costs more, but it’s only money.

When Tesla contacted me and asked if I’d be interested in driving the Model X, Tesla’s newest model and a four-wheel drive version, I jumped at the chance. The occasion was to be at The Elegance at Hershey concours d’elegance at the Hotel Hershey. Since my ride in the Model S was around King of Prussia, Pennsylvania and crowded streets, I relished the chance to drive the Tesla on more interesting roads around Chocolate Town. 

While the underpinnings of the two Tesla's are essentially the same, there are significant differences. For example, the S is a four/five passenger sedan. The X has room for as many as seven passengers with three rows of seating. The two buckets in the front are pretty much the same as in the S. The second row consists of two bucket seats and the third row is another pair of individual seats. 


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A feature that has drawn a lot of interest in the automotive press is the Model X’s gull-wing doors. The front doors are conventional, but the gull wings are for entry to the second and third rows. What makes this entry convenient is that an entering passenger can actually stand while entering the car. No contortions are needed. Also, to open the doors, you push the door handle-like chrome piece and the door automatically does what it’s supposed to do.

And if you’re trying to get into the third row, which is often a matter of being a contortionist, the second row seats power forward to the rear of the front seats providing easy access to the third row.

For those who are interested, third row legroom is excellent.


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Sitting in the driver’s seat, you face a digital dash and the huge iPad-like center panel that controls all the car’s functions. You can set this panel to indicate all the car’s features, like HVAC temperature, radio settings, etc. Or you can set it to a map that is actually useful.

Our tester was set up so that it showed the roads and features around them in color as if it was photographed from above - a Google Earth view, sort of.

The conventional instrument panel in front of the driver shows speed and distance to “empty,” or when you will run out of electric power. The center panel can also be programmed to show where the nearest supercharger and charger stations are.

I was impressed by the windshield that extends up and over the driver’s head to about the rear of the front seats. Tinting gets darker as the glass goes further back. If you need visors, they fold out neatly from above the front doors and rotate in front of you. They then unfold to offer a vanity mirror. Both Tesla versions have outstanding acceleration. Electric motors have almost instantaneous torque and they can jump from 0-60 mph in under four seconds without even trying. While this is impressive, it is also the kind of power that’s useful for passing slower vehicles. It can be scary for the passed vehicle, because of the driver doesn’t look in the mirrors, the Tesla is silent and you don’t hear it coming at you.

The Tesla has a long wheelbase and it weighs more than 5,200 pounds. Handling is excellent, and the ride quality matches it. The Tesla corners very well. We drove over some beautiful country roads that seemed to be designed for the Tesla. And while we naturally had to drive slower, even the roads around the Hotel Hershey were fun to drive. 

Our Tesla representative told us that the Model X can tow 5,000 pounds. Can you imaging heading down the highway and seeing a Tesla toting a pop-up trailer? 

Again, our rep said the base price of the Model X is in the neighborhood of $85,000. All kinds of option packages can jack that price to well over $100,000 if you so choose. For example, the Model S we tested has a base price of something like $58,000, yet the version we tested listed at $93,000. 

Among the options are various power versions. There’s a “normal” version, a middle version and the hot version. Personally, all are pretty hot as far and I’m concerned. 

(c) 2016 The Auto Page Syndicate