2016 Tesla Model X: Monthly Update for January 2017
by Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor
Where Did We Drive It?
As has often been the case with our 2016 Tesla Model X, we used most of its electrons in January to get us from our SoCal homes to the Edmunds office and back. In fact, my co-worker Ed Hellwig almost ran out of electrons while commuting to the office one day, which you can read more about in his comment below. I'm sure that was fun for him.
I did sign out our Model X for the last week of the month and drive it up to Fresno, which is about 250 miles north of Los Angeles. That gave me an opportunity to weigh in on what the Model X is like on the highway. I also took my family to visit Yosemite National Park in the Tesla. I'll be writing a separate entry about that trip.
How Much Electricity Did It Use?
I'll leave it to Director of Vehicle Testing Dan Edmunds to write a more complete report on our Model X's energy use at some point. But I will note that for the 465 miles I drove in January, which was mostly highway driving plus the road trip to Yosemite, the in-vehicle indicator for energy use averaged out to 423.3 watt-hours (Wh) per mile.
Watt-hours is the way the Model X displays its energy consumption. Think of it like this: If you have a 60-watt incandescent light bulb and you leave it on for one hour, it will use 60 watt-hours (Wh) of energy. If you left a 1,000-watt light bulb on for one hour, that would be 1,000 watt-hours or, as it's more commonly expressed, 1 kilowatt-hour (kWh).
Basically, the lower the Wh number in your Tesla the better. But is 423.3 Wh per mile "good"? Well, for our P90D model, the EPA estimates that it will use 38 kWh of electricity for every 100 miles driven, or 380 Wh per mile. So by that standard, no, it's not so good.
It's worth noting that my figure and the EPA's estimate aren't quite comparable, as the EPA includes recharging losses, which don't display in the Model X's readout. We can track those with our in-office High Power Wall Connector, but I wasn't using it for my drive. For what it's worth, the Model X's energy use in around-town driving trends lower and would be closer to the EPA's 38-kWh estimate.
I suspect much of the above is academic because presumably few Model X shoppers are looking for maximum EV efficiency. Still, I find it interesting. For comparison's sake, our new long-term Chevy Bolt gets a 28-kWh/100-mile estimate from the EPA.
Maintenance and Upkeep
Our Tesla wasn't due for any dealer service this month, but based on the following comments from our staff, there are outstanding issues that we might want to address at some point.
"I just got into our Model X after having not been in it for sometime. The steering wheel creaks when I turn it in either direction. And I just got a warning that the 'charge port door needs replacing.' Maybe that's why I couldn't plug the charge cord in." — Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager
"It's been awhile since I was last in the Model X, so I kind of forgot what it was like to drive it. Maybe that's why I was so disappointed. This thing has so many squeaks, rattles and creaks that you would think it's 5 years old, yet it barely has 12,000 miles on it. If I had paid six figures for this vehicle new, I would be seriously unhappy with its current state." — Ed Hellwig, Executive Editor
"I parked the Model X in my driveway for a few cold nights, and the falcon doors made some disconcerting creaking and cracking noises when opening in the morning. Overnight lows were around 32 degrees. The doors operate more quietly once they are warmed up." — Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor
"There's a vibration/shimmy coming through our Model X's steering wheel at low speeds. It's subtle, but it starts around 35 mph and lasts until about 40 mph. I don't know what's causing it. It seems worse when I first start driving, then gets better as the car warms up. Could a wheel be out of balance? I hope it's that and not something else." — Brent Romans
Other Logbook Highlights
"Whee! Put our Model X in Ludicrous mode, mat the accelerator and hold on for a wild ride. As noted in our performance test, our Model X Signature can rip to 60 mph in just 3.5 seconds. How many other three-row family haulers can match that? None, near as I can tell. Whether it's bragging rights over your (non-Turbo) Porsche 911-owning friends or just the ability to swiftly accelerate to highway speeds, the Model X crushes it." — Brent Romans
"After a weekend's worth of running around, I only had about 40 miles of range left. And this was after I had plugged into a 120-volt outlet overnight. With 35 miles to cover on my commute, I was doubting that I would make it to the office. I wasn't even halfway there when I pulled over to assess my charging options. Thankfully, I had enough juice to make to the supercharger station at Tesla's offices in Hawthorne. I ended up pulling in with an indicated 4 miles of range. After about 20 minutes on the supercharger, I had enough to get me to the office with power to spare. It was a good reminder that even with all the range available in the Model X, without a little planning you can easily be left high and dry." — Ed Hellwig
"I'm not keen on the second-row seating. I've been using our Model X as a mobile office recently and I've sat in back to get some work done while charging up at supercharger stations. It's not particularly spacious. I'm 5-foot-10 and there's barely enough legroom for me, even with the chair powered all the way back. There's suitable headroom, but only because of the skylights in the falcon wing doors. The height of the headliner is low. In general, I feel confined sitting in back. Seat comfort is lacking, too, because of the seat design. It reclines, but not independently of the seat tilt, and lacks an inner armrest. The door armrest isn't comfortable, either." — Brent Romans
"Add this to the list of impracticalities caused by the falcon wing doors: There's nowhere to hang hangers for dry-cleaned clothes. In a normal car, there would be a hook or grab handle to use, but both are missing in the Model X. There's nothing behind the front- or second-row seats, either." — Brent Romans
"I will say this: The falcon wing doors are great entertainment and provide a sense of 'cool' that few other vehicles have. Example: I picked up my 'temporary' teenage daughter (foreign exchange student from France) from her high-school swim practice today. I pulled up to the building's entrance where a number of girls were milling around waiting to get picked up. As the door powered upward, the girls burst out with 'whoa!' and 'I'm flippin'!' I could have been David Copperfield conjuring Zac Efron from a top hat and not gotten a bigger reaction." — Brent Romans
"As was the case with our long-term Tesla Model S, I'm able to easily recharge our Model X at my house even though I don't have Tesla's High Power Wall Connector or a typical Level 2 home charger. My garage has a four-prong, 240-volt NEMA 14-50 power outlet. All I have to do is connect the proper adapter to the Model X's charger cord and plug in. It's a respectably quick charge, too." — Brent Romans