by Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing
Unlike any other electric vehicles on the market, the 2016 Tesla Model X is able to tow a trailer. The maximum Model X tow rating is 5,000 pounds, but any Model X fitted with the optional 22-inch wheels, such as ours, is limited to 3,500 pounds. The bigger wheels come with ultra low-profile tires that aren't able to bear as much weight because it's the air volume inside a tire that carries the weight.
But we know from experience that these numbers don't tell the whole story. Towing on electric power is complicated by the realities of range and recharging, two critical factors that are ignored by the official tow-rating process. Last summer these issues made for such an unpleasant first experience that, after it was all over, I wrote, "I'm not sure I ever want to do it again."
For various practical reasons the trailer we'd borrowed from Off the Grid Rentals was a specialized adventure trailer intended for off-road towing behind a Jeep or Land Rover. We appreciated the trailer in its own right, but its combination of huge off-road tires, massive jutting fenders and exposed external equipment made us wonder if some unseen excess of aerodynamic drag and rolling resistance had been especially hard on the Tesla. It has been a nagging question.
So we're doing it again. But this time we're using an enclosed fiberglass camping trailer from Happier Camper. Just looking at it, the HC1 model is a much more obvious and compatible partner to the Model X. But will it make a difference? Will the Model X do better with a more conventional trailer in tow?
by Calvin Kim, Road Test Editor
Where Did We Drive It?
While certain things like wine, classic cars and mint-condition superhero comic books generally get better with age, our 2016 Tesla Model X is not one of those things. Thank the brutality of city driving, but also maybe a little bit of excessive function creep. Problems stemmed from automatic door issues (and not the falcon-wing doors, mind you) and a substantial "sqwuank" noise from the brakes.
by Ed Hellwig, Executive Editor
Where Did We Drive It?
Much like last month, our Tesla Model X was confined to commuter duty for most of November. It wowed kids in school parking lots, carried plates of food on Thanksgiving, and otherwise played the part of a typical family vehicle. Unlike last month, however, it didn't spend any time cooling its heels at the service center. We did see that a recall was issued for certain Model X charge-plug adapters, but our particular parts were not affected.
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.
by Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing on June 2, 2016
I realize you may have a hard time believing this as a picture of a 2016 Tesla Model X because the shot does not depict or refer to open Falcon-wing doors in any way, shape or form. If it helps, feel free to imagine them flying high up there somewhere.
But the closed door/hatch that you see here is a Tesla Model X giveaway, just the same. It conceals something the Model S does not have: a built-in trailer hitch that gives the Model X plug-and-play towing capability of a sort you might not have seen before.
Thus-equipped, a Model X can tow as much as 5,000 pounds, but that only applies if you stick with the standard 20-inch wheels and tires. Opt for the 22-inch rubber (or buy a Signature, like we did) and the rating drops to 3,500 pounds.
But the hitch isn't just for people that tow trailers. The presence of those Falcon doors you are currently imagining makes it impossible to fit a bike or ski rack to the roof of an X. You'll need to use a hitch-mounted rack for anything like that, which means this hitch is destined to be a must-have item for a large percentage of Model X buyers.
by Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor on April 11, 2016
Electric vehicles are still rare, but improvements in range and desirability have raised their profile far beyond their actual sales numbers. Most of the electric vehicles (EVs) currently on the market are compact hatchbacks or sedans. Other than the short-lived Toyota RAV4 EV, electric SUVs have largely been absent.
The new 2016 Tesla Model X changes that. With seating for up to seven passengers and a larger cabin than the Model S sedan upon which it is largely based, the Model X is as close to a purpose-built electric SUV as the world has seen to date.