Tesla Model X Tri-Motor
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Based on the brand's iconic Model S sedan, the 2021 Tesla Model X SUV wows with its top-hinged rear doors and impresses with its long-range battery capacity. The Model X's electric motors provide on-demand all-wheel drive and performance-car acceleration. Handling is surprisingly nimble for an SUV of this size, too. The added practicality of the Model X's optional third row of seats should appeal to family-oriented buyers. Like other Teslas, the Model X is equipped with high-tech infotainment and driver-assistance features, and the cabin is stylish and comfortable—if not exactly luxurious.
The Model X has received a styling refresh both inside and out for 2021. Cleaner lines give the SUV a more modern appearance on the outside while the cabin benefits from a redesigned infotainment display and a new F1-style square steering wheel. The lineup now consists of the Long Range and the performance-oriented Plaid models.
The Plaid model with its three electric motors is sure to deliver brutal acceleration, but it's mighty expensive. And its 340-mile estimated driving range isn't as long as the less expensive Long Range model, so we'd save the cash. The Long Range model offers up to 360 miles of estimated driving range and still feels mighty quick thanks to the immediacy of the electric motors' power delivery.
Long Range Model Xs come standard with two electric motors—one at the front axle and one at the rear—which enables all-wheel-drive capability. This setup is plenty swift and makes 670 horsepower; Tesla claims a zero-to-60-mph time of 3.8 seconds. The 1020-hp three-motor Plaid high-performance variant is boasts a claimed zero-to-60-mph time of 2.5 seconds, but we haven't verified its acceleration times at our test track yet. Handling is respectable, but the Model X's party trick is really the strong acceleration generated by its electric motors.
The Model X comes standard with a battery large enough to cover a claimed 360-mile driving range; upgrading to the faster Plaid model drops the estimated driving range to 340 miles. Recharging is quick via one of Tesla's Superchargers, which are located across the country. Charging at home via a 240V or 120V connection will be slower, but probably more convenient for owners, so Tesla offers in-home charging equipment for purchase.
Among other similarly-sized all-electric SUVs, the Model X boasts the highest MPGe ratings from the EPA. Long Range models earned ratings of 109 city, 101 highway, and 105 MPGe combined. Even the Plaid model, which sacrifices some efficiency for faster acceleration, outperforms key rivals such as the Jaguar I-Pace and Audi e-Tron SUVs in this metric.
A stark and nearly buttonless interior design is classic Tesla. The Model X's unique windshield/glass roof runs seamlessly from the base of the hood up over the front-seat passengers for a nearly uninterrupted view of what's ahead and what's above. Despite these whiz-bang features, the Model X's cabin leaves us wanting, especially considering its price can easily break the six-figure barrier, with non-descript air vents, misaligned panels, and flat-backed seats that don't offer enough adjustments.
A huge touchscreen infotainment system dominates the dashboard and controls nearly all of the Model X's various features and settings. A secondary digital readout directly in front of the driver serves as the gauge cluster. Tesla's infotainment system is certainly high-tech, but what you won't find is Apple CarPlay or Android Auto capability. Rear-seat riders are treated to their own small display which provides entertainment and, presumably, some control over the car's features.
Most buyers are looking more for tech features than luxury, though, and the Model X can be optioned with the feature that is possibly the most buzzworthy: Autopilot. Tesla's semi-autonomous driving mode uses several cameras, multiple sensors, and radars to detect objects, people, and other vehicles and uses them to pilot the Model X under its own power. The Model X also offers a Summon feature that allows the user to park or retrieve the SUV from tight spots while standing outside—a feature that seems gimmicky but proved necessary thanks to the silly top-hinged doors.