The Tesla Model X is a New Chapter—But It Hasn’t Rewritten the Book Just Yet
Your first impression of the Tesla Model X shouldn’t be one of glamorous luxury. It's not the typical form you'd expect when it comes to a high-end SUV. It’s not huge and hulking like a Cadillac Escalade. But it doesn’t need to be. You see, the Tesla Model X is the direction the market should be going, and eventually will be going based on the current look of things. But let me backtrack. A friend of mine over at DragTimes was kind enough to let me tool around in his brand new Model X for a few hours, aka, the fastest recorded quarter-mile Model X on the planet (11.61 seconds at 116 mph). That was after it came back from the shop so they could fix the door, following another trip to the shop so they could fix the windshield, the same windshield that had to be reshipped because it cracked during shipping. Not off to a great start. Elon himself admitted about the Model X, “I think we might have gotten carried away.” And I couldn’t agree more. The Model X is a handful, in more ways than one. It feels mostly like a gimmick upon first impression. The “falcon wing” doors—as cool as they may be—and the larger-than-life windshield will leave you scratching your head asking, “..why?” RELATED: See More of the 2016 Tesla Model X SUV
It's not what I’d call conventionally attractive either. That's my opinion, you don't have to share the same one. Even then, there’s something strangely likable about the exterior that draws you in. The surgical mask on the front end isn’t it, more so the general feeling that this car is something ‘special,’ even if you’re not really sure what that special thing is just yet.
Then you open the door—or should I say, the car opens the door for you. If you have your key and you're in a close enough proximity, it just…opens, like all the sci-fi movies predicted. I have to admit, though, it took me way too long to figure out how to open the passenger door because I’m kind of dumb sometimes (you push the handle).
Step inside and it truly is a vision of the future. It’s well-built, with plenty of carbon fiber because lightness. Then you become mesmerized by the ginormous center screen. It’s an extra-large iPad, essentially, pre-loaded with so many options and settings it will make your head spin. Its partner in crime is a fully digital gauge cluster directly behind the steering wheel, which does gauge cluster things. If you're looking for old-school knobs and dials, look elsewhere. Elon Musk is, annoyingly for me, on a mission to eradicate all buttons.
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Contort into the third row and the air conditioning kicks on as soon as your butt is in the seat. The owner jokingly noted that because his kids are so fidgety, he thought the sensor was broken, turning the air on and off as they bounced up and down. Something he’s told Tesla about that they’ve said they’d take a look at. I like to imagine Elon bouncing up and down in the back seats like a toddler, but I digress.
At this point, I felt like one of those fidgety kids. The car was just sitting there, static on top of an old garbage dump (no, really), with the wings open ready to take off. Eventually we jumped in, the owner drove first, obviously, because it’s his car. He wanted me to feel, from the passenger seat, the true icing on this Model X cake—the launch.
We found an empty stretch of road, he engaged launch control, and pushed the pedal down as far as it went. That’s when things got very serious very quickly.
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It's supercar-like performance. From a dead stop, you wouldn't be able to tell the difference between this and a Nissan GT-R. The power is immediate and unforgiving. Torque is rated at 713 lb-ft, while horsepower sits somewhere at 762. It feels like more, especially when you consider how much weight is being moved at such a high rate of speed.
The Model X weighs 5,441 pounds. That’s like two Subaru BRZs, or a Nissan GT-R and a half. From a standstill it'll hit 60 in just about 4.0 seconds by our count, even quicker when in ludicrous mode, says Tesla. I'm not entirely sure how that's even possible.
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It really is ludicrous, though, for lack of a better word. I’ve only ever felt that type of instantaneous performance in something like a six-figure supercar. It’s easy to downplay and say “Well, yeah it’s super torquey because it’s electric,” but this is an entirely new level of fast, especially for a luxurious, three-row SUV. It will shove your head and chest back into the seat before you finish saying the word “go.”
After you recover from your near blackout, you step back and think to yourself, “Damn.” It doesn’t get much deeper in thought than that. You forget about the issues mentioned earlier, you forget about the looks and the price. You just revel in the presence of this amazing machine that not even the fat cats up in Detroit could come up with.
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It’s so cliche to say the Model X is like a space ship...but it really is. A powerful, fully-electric, questionable-looking spaceship. It drives itself (partially) and goes really fast. But when you finally come back to Earth from your torque-induced high, you have to wonder: is this the way forward for every other luxury car from here on out? Will Tesla fix these issues? And is Elon Musk going to make any damn money off of this thing?
The Tesla Model X certainly leaves you with more questions than it does answers—but even with all those questions, it's still the next big leap forward for the automobile, and it's only bound to get better.