Monthly Update for April 2017 - 2016 Tesla Model X Long-Term Road Test

2016 Tesla Model X Long-Term Road Test

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2016 Tesla Model X: Monthly Update for April 2017

by Michael Massey, Vehicle Testing Assistant

Where Did We Drive It?

Our 2016 Tesla Model X had a busy month despite not traveling very far.

April opened with the car at our local Tesla shop to remedy a list of nagging concerns, including one that caused us to drop everything and drive straight to the service center. With a clean bill of health it returned to commuter duty. Just as the month was closing we had an opportunity to display the Model X at two impromptu car shows, where the SUV showed it still has a wow factor.

What Kind of Fuel Economy Did It Get?
The Model X traveled a total of 935 miles in the month of April. Of those, we recorded nine charges at our metered Tesla high-power wall charger, totaling 223.4 kWh of electricity. That was enough to take us 600 miles and equated to 37.2 kWh/100 miles. For the month we were a shade better than the EPA-estimated 38 kWh/100 miles for the P90D.

Two charges at nearby Tesla Superchargers accounted for the remaining 335 miles this month. Unfortunately we cannot track the amount of electricity ingested at those stations.

Maintenance and Upkeep
Our Tesla went to service twice this month. Tesla service centers all fall under the corporate umbrella, so the experience is supposed to be the same across the board. But April really opened our eyes to how different they can be. Three persistent items needed repair and one urgent matter required immediate attention. Below is a summary of the work performed.

First was a "Replace Charge Port Door" warning. It still opened and closed to allow charging, so this wasn't a priority initially. The door was replaced.

Second on our list was a rubbing noise caused when the passenger-side falcon door opened and closed. Additional lubrication was applied to both rear doors. That seemed to fix it.

Third was a groan coming from the steering wheel, especially evident at low speeds and when parking. It was a difficult sound to describe, almost like the Model X was crying. This problem required a return to the dealer (our second service visit) since the groan was back by the time we reached our office just a few miles away. Cleaning and lubricating the bash plate mating points quieted the noise for good.

Our fourth concern, unlike the four above, was an immediate priority. We walked out to the Tesla and grabbed the cord to unplug it. The cord was scalding to the touch. It wasn't then known whether the problem was with our charger or the car, but we needed to find out right away. As it turned out, it was our charger, and a new cord and fresh fuses did the trick.

Firmware updates were performed while the car was at the dealer, and all repairs were covered under warranty, including the wall charger.

Logbook Highlights

Maintenance
"I just walked down to the Tesla, charging in our parking garage. When I touched the charge cord it was not just hot to the touch, but it was so hot I couldn't hold it for any length of time. I think we have a problem." — Mike Schmidt, senior manager vehicle testing

Comfort
"Backing out of my driveway, not particularly steep by any means, the Tesla rear suspension just bottoms out. I assume that's partly due to dumb diameter wheels and lack of what the civilized world would define as 'sidewall,' but also crummy suspension and shocks.

"Among the Teslarati, the company gets a pass on this kind of thing. And hey, I like Tesla's story of American innovation — by way of a South African emigre no less — as much as the next guy. But at some point, you have to make a real car, not a gadget car. A car that doesn't bottom out when backing out of a normal driveway.

"I'll wager that Elon Musk sells the company before making his cars more drivable. Let someone else (GM? Toyota?) handle that." — Dan Frio, automotive editor

Interior
"I can't install my child seat in the second-row captain's chairs of our Model X. The tether that fits over top is the issue. First, the strap barely reaches down to the LATCH point at the base of the seat because the seatback is so tall. Some other car seats have long enough straps to reach, however, so results may vary. Second, the smooth, flowing shoulders of the seat don't give much of a surface to tighten the tether against. Combined, these two features make me uncomfortable using my child seat in the second row." — Mike Schmidt

2016 Tesla Model X

2016 Tesla Model X

2016 Tesla Model X

Miscellaneous
"We hosted mini car shows in the Edmunds garage for a group of fifth-graders yesterday and 11th-graders today. The Model X has such a flamboyant presence with its rear falcon doors open that the kids, and teachers, flocked to see it first." — Michael Massey, vehicle testing assistant

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