It’s been quite an unexpected decade at Tesla. In 2007, if you said that the EV company would release an all-electric sedan that became one of the fastest accelerating vehicles of all time and sold tens of thousands of units with numerous hardware and software improvements along the way, you’d have been sent to the loony bin. And if you then predicted the company would release an all-electric SUV that would do the same and develop and release (sort of) an affordable, stylish, and long-range EV… well, maybe you’d have been mistaken for a member of the Musk family.
And yet, Elon Musk and Tesla have done all those things with the Model S, Model X, and Model 3. The company has gone further with things like the Gigafactory; home, commercial, and utility battery products; and previews of the new Tesla Roadster and Tesla Semi, too. To be sure, Musk has made a lot of ambitious promises and really missed a lot of deadlines over the years—but people who have bet against Tesla have lost a lot of money. (Tesla's stock price is up almost 1700 percent since its June 2010 IPO, fyi.)
So far, Ars has spent time with two of Tesla’s initial big three. We reviewed the Tesla Model S twice (the P85+ in 2013 and the P85D in 2015), thanks to frequent updates to the car. And we stood among the first journalists to ride along (albeit briefly) with the Model 3s coming off the factory line last fall. But until now we'd only spent a few minutes behind the wheel of the Model X SUV, which began deliveries way back in September 2015. That changes today with a proper review of a Tesla Model X P100D.
I took the $161,750 SUV on an all-electric road trip from Mountain View, California to my home in Durango, Colorado, which means I got a lot of experience both with Tesla's Autopilot system and the company's long-distance Supercharger fast-charging network. (Thanks to the need to make 10 charging stops during that 1,119-mile/1,800km journey, I also had a lot of experience napping in the back.)
In short, the experience largely felt as dreamy as Tesla disciples would lead you to believe. But a fun road trip vehicle for car critics doesn’t necessarily make a sure-fire daily driving recommendation.
Without question, the powertrain is the best part of the Model X. Our test vehicle was a P100D with the Ludicrous Mode speed upgrade. The pair of "three-phase, four-pole AC induction motors"—one driving each axle—hustle the 5,531lb (2,509kg) beast from zero to 60mph in a claimed 2.9 seconds. That's supercar territory, and this SUV has output figures to match: 603hp (450kW)and 713lb-ft (967Nm) of torque.
With all that power, Ludicrous mode feels like an apt name. To start it up, launch control in the Model X is identical to the Model S:
- Left foot hard on the brake.
- Right foot hard to the floor.
- Release left foot.
- Warp speed.
The Model S looks and feels like a four-door sports car; you expect it to be fast. But standing next to the Model X, I'm surprised at how tall it is. The front windows are enormous, giving terrific visibility, but they also reminds you just how large this thing is.
Yet the speed—particularly in a vehicle this size—really is ludicrous. It’s jaw-dropping. Even after putting seven people in the Model X, though you can't go zero-60 in under 3 seconds thanks to the added weight, it still feels more like something that should be launching off the SpaceX pad at Cape Canaveral.
What’s more, the speed is intoxicating, with an almost-direct connection between the accelerator and dopamine production in your brain. If I owned this car and was having a bad day, a couple stop sign launches would put a smile on my face in no time. The various flavors of Dodge Hellcat work similarly, albeit with a lot more noise.
For all the joy I got from zero-to-60 blasts, these launches use a lot of electricity. And in day-to-day life, I can say that Ludicrous Mode is really not necessary—especially considering the Performance Package and Ludicrous Mode add some $34,450 to the cost of the car. That's almost enough to buy an entry-level Model 3.
In normal-paced modes, the 100kWh battery pack carries enough juice to give an EPA-estimated range of 289 miles (465km) across a city-and-highway testing cycle (346 watt-hours per mile). That's excellent, though I suspect that when most people think of range, they think "how far can I go on the highway?"
My average "fuel economy" on my 1,100-mile road trip was 433wh/mi, good for just shy of 231 miles (372km) if you were to push it to the limit. My longest stint was 181.1 miles, and I was feeling a little anxious towards the end as I watched the battery gauge drop (in retrospect, I really didn't have any need to be alarmed).
There are two battery options in the Model X currently, a 75kWh unit with 237 miles (381km) of EPA-estimated range, and the 100 kWh pack that my P100D unit included that can go the 289 miles. However, if you opt for the standard 100D Model X, it can go a touch further at 295 miles (475km) thanks to some reductions in power. All versions of the Model X include dual-motor all-wheel drive.
In day-to-day driving, where you wouldn't be able to try them back to back, it's unlikely that you would notice the difference between the P100D and the regular 100D. But I suppose there is something to be said for having the best.
Listing image by Jordan Golson