The Tesla Model X has been teased in concept form for years, but as the first six vehicles finally make their way into the hands of owners tonight we’ve got more info on Falcon Doors, mono-post seats, and the SUV’s bioweapon defense mode.
It feels every-bit a $100,000 car.
The graphical user interface in the gauges, the enormous touchscreen, the ambient lighting and supremely comfortable seats are all nothing short of exceptional. In the short minutes I had to soak it all in, the Model X interior felt every bit as opulent as a Range Rover or Mercedes S-Class.
But it’s the displays that really blow everything else away. Supremely crisp graphics, animations, colors, the main gauges and massively adjustable infotainment software are engrossing.
It’s supposed to be safe. Really, really safe.
Tesla bossman Elon Musk said he expects the Model X “to get a five-star crash rating in every category” as he introduced the car to media today. Yes, including rollovers. Even when you’re not in an accident, the car protects its occupants from invisible harm with a true HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Arrestance) cabin air filter, the only one in any car, according to Musk.
“If there’s ever a bioweapon attack,” Musk said “the safest place is your car.” At this point I figured he was kidding, until he added “there’s actually a ‘bioweapon defense mode’ right there in the HVAC. We figure you shouldn’t have to think if you’re in an emergency.”
Sounds a little wacky but Tesla’s got a good track record for having a sense of humor; “Ludicrous Mode” and a volume that literally goes to 11 come to mind. So yeah, why not?
“What if you roll it over?”
Tesla reps say you could run the Model X off a cliff, “it might roll a few times but it’ll land on its feet.” An extremely low center of gravity (thanks to the battery-skateboard the whole car’s plopped on) makes rolling the Model X extremely difficult, but if it is turtled, the gull-style “falcon doors” have enough hinges in them that Tesla thinks the the car will still be escapable.
I’m a bit skeptical about the “always lands on its feet” part, but I’m also not inclined to test it by rolling it off a cliff.
The car has an “invisible butler.”
Walk toward the car and it will paint you with powerful magic Tesla calls “ultrasonics,” which assess your trajectory, and open the door for you when you want to get in. Sit your butt down, apply brake, and the door will shut without any further input.
How does it avoid slamming into things? Ultrasonics, of course. They constantly sound the area around the car to open doors to the maximum degree possible without inadvertently bumping anything.
Even the “falcon” doors can open in tight, and low, spaces.
What are basically just parking sensors are mounted all over the doors, detecting how low or close another solid surface is. Park the Model X between two vans and the doors can still open; they pull off some impressive yoga moves and work slowly, but they can squeeze themselves up in a spot that’d be hard to open traditional doors in.
As for overhead clearance, the same thing applies. Pinches are prevented this way as well.
What are those things actually like to use?
Sort of frustratingly slow, but not really any worse than the power doors on a minivan. The animation above is speed up nine times. You can control them from the giant touchscreen infotainment screen in the front and even take off as they’re still closing.
It’s great that they can detect low ceilings, but we won’t know what they’re really like to live with until these cars get loose in the wild. Which will be happening starting tonight!
The cleanest radar sensors this side of the Death Star.
Since these doors would go from flashy to fugly pretty quick if they were covered in parking-sensor pockmarks, Tesla embedded them below the aluminum. Yeah, I didn’t think that was possible either. But they’re either there and they work, or Musk is some kind of crazy sorcerer, because tried as I might I could not make the doors eat somebody.
The doors do have a manual override, which you’ll have to push if they’re too close to any other object.
More power than anyone needs. No, really.
As you may already know, the Tesla Model X features two motors. The one in front is rated to 259 horsepower, the rear is 503. Combined torque is 713 lb-ft of torque which translates to a completely unreasonable 3.2-second 0-60 time and an 11.7-second quarter mile in “Ludicrous” mode. That’s an option on the “performance” (P) spec (denoted by a little line under the badge). Without crazy-mode activated the car goes to 60 in 3.8, and the lowly 90D base model takes a pathetic 4.8 seconds.
Top speed for all Model X-es is 155 MPH.
It’s got the largest windshield of any production car.
And once you’re sitting behind it, there’s really no question about that. Looking through the glass is like sitting in a soap bubble. A smooth, lathery soap bubble that hauls unbelievable ass at the tap of a foot.
The glass has a “fade” of tint, and giant sunshades that come in off the A-pillars and snap into a little clip-on spot behind the rear-view mirror. Musk says it’s “like tiramisu” because it’s made with so many layers.
257-mile max range, for now.
As we learned from the EPA, the base Model X 90D will have a claimed 257-mile range, with the ludicrously fast dual-motor’ed Model X P90D rated to 250 miles. Those figures have been confirmed by Tesla. But of course we’ve heard tell of nutty (and patient) owners squeezing way more range out of these cars with a light touch on the
gas, er, accelerator pedal.
With a 0.24 coefficient of drag, Tesla it’s the most aerodynamic SUV or minivan ever.
There are three “tunes”, or variations.
You can basically get your Model X dialed for “performance,” “comfort,” or “utility.” As you can imagine, it’s simply a profile that pretty much just adjusts how power is delivered and in what dosage.
“Oh, it’s great off-road!”
The product planner who took me for a little spin around the parking lot said that since the car could raise itself, it was “great off-road.” I think he was referring to grass parking lots and your grandma’s rutty driveway.
There are five ride-heights, adjustable via air suspension. Standard ground clearance is about 8” with about 1.5” of variability depending on speed and settings. With as much torque as this thing has, you probably wouldn’t have an issue powering through obstacles but you’d rack up a pretty serious bill extracting a Model X from a mud bog.
Curb weight is about 5,400 pounds.
There will be some slight differences between trim levels, but 5,400 pounds is about what the Model X will weigh ready-to-drive. At least, before you plop your fat butt in the seat.
Max towing is 5,000 pounds.
In certain configurations, “with certain wheels fitted.” A square trailer hitch receiver disrupts the smooth spaceship-styling of the car, but hey, that’s plenty of pulling-power for jet skis, horses, a couple motorcycles or even a small boat.
Two seating options, but way more interior configurations.
There are seven and a six-seat options. Those seats are all mounted “monopost” style like your office chair, which Musk says “were some of the hardest parts of the car to design.” Apparently they’re incredibly safe. All I can tell you is they make the Toyota Yaris throne I rode over in feel like the plastic L-bracket of a Cozy Coupe.
Seven-seat versions have three in the middle, two in the back. And two in the front, obviously. The rear seats don’t fold flat, but they slide back-and-fourth really far within the cabin to give the interior a lot of versatility.
Leg room is ample in the back, and the view through the panoramic windshield from the center-rear seat is like watching real life in IMAX.
Even the third-row was workable for me, and I’m a scrawny six feet tall. Cargo space behind all the seats would fit about one Standard Poodle, or maybe six Pugs in a sniffily pile.
Yes, you can fit a roof rack, but the trailer hitch rack is what you want.
Without having learned any details, one of Tesla’s men did confirm roof racks will be available. Of course, he also warned that would incur a significant aerodynamics tax, which is going to affect the range.
But the same representative also alluded to a trailer-hitch mountable rack that would not only carry your bikes or skis or snowboard, but it would actually improve aerodynamics. It’ll be interesting to see what that looks like and how well it actually works soon.
Interior cargo space is bountiful, even without being able to drop the seats. The roof’s high, and that gives the rear cargo area plenty of vertical volume.
Bitchin’ stereo, bro.
Seventeen speakers, 550 watts. “It goes to eleven,” which is good since the car itself sounds like absolutely nothing. The product planner I took a test drive with was really proud of how the giant windshield acted as acoustic assistance. Whatever else goes into the design makes for one hell of a clean sound.
Tesla does their own stereo tune, and nobody has shared who their supplier is yet.
It has the same battery as the Model S.
They’re totally interchangeable, in case you were wondering.
It’s really freaking insanely great to drive.
So smooth. So fast. So instantaneously, egregiously, excessively fast. More on that in another post!
When can I get one already?!
The first six cars, part of the “Founder Series,” will be delivered to customers who’ve been on the waiting list since there was one (literally, years.) A yet-to-be-decided number of those will be released shortly after, along with the first batch of top-tier “Signature Series” vehicles which are the same thing but, you know, not as special.
The nicest ones are going to cost about $143,000 with the “base” just behind in the $130,000 range. But even if you’ve got that kind of cash to spend on car, Musk says ordering one today will get you delivery “in about eight to 12 months.” Any takers?
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