2018 Tesla Model X

By May 10, 2018

Introduced as a 2015 model, the Tesla Model X battery-powered luxury crossover vehicle is now in its fourth model year. Little has changed for the 2018 model year. The available Autopilot system now demands that drivers pay closer attention to driving.

Tesla does not use conventional trim levels. Three Model X versions are offered, with different battery capacities and operating ranges. Each is powered by dual electric motors (one for each axle), driving all four wheels. A lithium-ion battery pack sits beneath the cabin floor.

The 75D model contains a 75 kilowatt-hour (kWh) battery pack, with a range of 237 miles and 0-60 mph acceleration in 4.9 seconds. The 100D version upgrades to a 100-kWh battery pack, promising a 295-mile range and 4.7-second acceleration to 60 mph. Topping the line, the considerably more costly P100D performance model also holds a 100-kWh battery pack, but gets a more powerful electric motor. Range is estimated at 289 miles, while acceleration to 60 mph is simply stunning, achieved in as little as 2.9 seconds.

Actual range varies according to conditions, but any of the three should be capable of traveling more than 200 miles before recharging. Partial recharging at a Supercharger station take 30 minutes, permitting about 170 more miles of driving. More than 8,000 Supercharger stations are currently available.

In 75D and 100D models, the two motors are each rated at 193 kilowatts (259 horsepower) The high-performance P100D gets a vastly more powerful rear motor, rated at 375 kilowatts (503 horsepower). The P version also features significant upgrades to its electronics systems.

All-wheel drive is standard. Cabins may be set up for five-, six-, or seven-passenger seating.

Falcon Wing doors are undeniably the most prominent feature, installed instead of conventional rear doors. Some observers may admire their innovative design, while others are sure to brand them gimmicky.

Tesla’s Model X has earned the highest crash-test ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, with an overall five-star rating and five stars in each separate category. The Model X has not been crash-tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Tesla calls it the “safest SUV ever.”

A rearview camera and a dozen airbags are standard. Advanced safety features include active lane control, blind-spot monitoring, and automatic emergency braking. Tesla’s Autopilot system lets the car essentially drive itself, under certain conditions on well-marked roads.

Model Lineup

The 2018 Tesla Model X 75D ($79,500) comes with 14-way heated power front seats, five-passenger seating, a power liftgate, LED ambient lighting, dual-zone automatic climate control, 240-watt nine-speaker audio, wi-fi connectivity, and Bluetooth. Both the rear cargo area and the front trunk can be opened remotely. (Prices do not include $1,200 destination charge.)

100D AWD ($96,000) is similar, but with a higher-rated battery pack (100 kWh).

P100D AWD ($140,000) gets the powertrain with the quickest acceleration, courtesy of a far more powerful rear electric motor and electronics upgrades.

Adding a two-seat third row for seven-passenger capacity is available ($3,000), along with a six-seat version ($6,000). Autopilot is optional ($5,000).

Exterior

Design is not the Model X’s high point, weighed against the company’s sleek and striking Model S sedan. Shunning the squarish, boxy profile of a typical large crossover SUV, the Model X has been shaped for efficiency, reducing its aerodynamic drag coefficient to a slippery 0.25.

Still, the Model X is readily recognizable as a Tesla, led by its flat, grille-free front end. Instead of a vertical tailgate, the crossover gets a steeply-angled hatch. Chrome door handles extend automatically as the driver approaches. When underway, they retract flush to the body.

Without doubt, Falcon Wing doors are the most notable exterior feature. Instead of conventional side-hinged back doors, large side panels pivot upward from the roof’s center. They take quite a while to open and don’t always wind up perfectly aligned. Potential passengers need to stand some distance away, too. Some owners have reported finicky operation of the sensors that prevent the heavy doors from closing on a person.

Interior

Less spacious than it appears from the outside, the Model X benefits from a light, airy cabin that feels quite tall. A huge 17-inch touchscreen dominates the front compartment.

Some adaptations had to be made, such as sunvisors that have to be unrolled from inside the pillars. Trim elements that include leather and suede surfaces, dark wood, and matte silver convey a premium ambience, appropriate for this Tesla’s lofty price.

Front seats are comfortable, with multiple adjustments and a driving position that’s higher than customary. A Model X can be fitted with either five, six, or seven seats. In three-row versions, the rear seat is truly suitable for two passengers. The third-row seat is available with either a three-person bench or two individual seats in the second row.

Cargo room is good considering the vehicle’s rounded shape, totaling 88 cubic feet for the five-passenger configuration.

Driving Impressions

Model X riders can look forward to a remarkably smooth ride, quiet and comfortable, complemented by excellent roadholding.

Tesla’s standard air suspension copes well with a variety of pavement surfaces. Massive 20-inch tires help provide an appealing balance between tenacious grip and quiet travel, permitting the Model X to remain predictably flat through corners and curves.

Because the Model X is a heavyweight, checking in at well over 2.5 tons, its heft can be noticeable as the electronic systems strive to maintain unmarred stability. Weight distribution at an even 50/50 (front/rear) helps with handling. Model X can tow as much as 5,000 pounds, though doing so shrinks operating range considerably.

Acceleration ranks as remarkable for a family crossover. Essentially, the Model X performs like a taller Model S sedan, with electric motors providing nearly-instantaneous torque.

Paying the price for the super-performance P100D quickens 0-60 mph acceleration to barely-believable times: as little as 2.9 seconds, when the mode selector is switched to aptly named Ludicrous position.

In addition to emitting no pollutants, the battery-powered Model X earns the top rating for energy efficiency. Depending on model, the Model X is EPA-rated at 85 to 93 MPGe (equivalent miles per gallon).

Driving at steady highway speed reduces stated range by 20 percent or more. Winter temperatures have a similar impact. Tesla’s navigation system automatically routes drivers through convenient Supercharger sites, which provide quick partial recharging.

Final Word

For now, at least, Tesla’s costly but compelling Model X is the only long-range battery-powered family crossover SUV available. Apart from the arguably gimmicky Falcon Wing back doors, which could annoy, it provides quiet, quick, and pleasant motoring. Capable of traveling 200 miles or more before recharging, the Model X hits it mark for performance, safety, comfort, and especially, energy efficiency.

Driving impressions by The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.