2016 Tesla Model X: Using the Trailer Hitch To Haul Bicycles
by Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing on June 28, 2016
I understand that you're tired of hearing about the so-called "Falcon Wing" doors on our 2016 Tesla Model X. I'm equally tired of harping on them, quite frankly, but those doors are liable to stand in the way of it being named the official car of the US Ski Team or any pro cycling team.
The need to carry such things as bikes, snowboards, kayaks, surfboards and roof storage pods is a fairly basic SUV requirement. But with the Model X's roof off limits, its factory tow hitch is the only way that cyclists and skiers can tote their gear. The way forward for kayakers and families that need extra road-trip storage is less clear.
Tesla painted themselves into a corner with those doors, in other words, and the hitch was their way out. They simply had to provide one, and the towing shortcomings I uncovered during my recent tow test supports my growing suspicion that actual towing may not have been the prime motivation.
But I digress.
I've had this Yakima four-bike rack for more than a dozen years. It plugs into a standard 2-inch receiver-style tow hitch, and there's a pin that allows it to hinge down to ease access to the hatch. But that's not practical when bikes are attached, so I have to plan it so they're the last items I load and the first things I unload.
That's the thing about hitch-mounted racks — they prevent access to the main cargo compartment.
The bikes hang far off the back, but here they don't block the high-resolution back-up camera too much. However, it is necessary to engage tow mode to turn off the rear sensors so the car won't constantly think I'm about to back in to something.
This use case is why the trailer hitch on the Model X needs to exist. The decision to bless it with a tow rating seems like an outgrowth of its mere existence, a necessary move along the lines of "If you build it, they will tow." But in my view they should have stopped at 2,000 pounds (or less) and called it a day.
If any pro cycling team figures they can deal with the issues of a Tesla's charging and range, they'd be better off with the Model S instead. It does not have (or need) a hitch, thanks to its conventional roof with built-in rack tie-in points that can support a bike rack — or a ski rack, a kayak rack, a surfboard rack or a roof storage pod.
In many ways the Model S is a more flexible cargo-carrying machine than the Model X because it has not been saddled with those silly you-know-what doors. Just sayin'.
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 4,933 miles