by Ronald Montoya, Senior Consumer Advice Editor
The resale value of electric vehicles has a notorious reputation for sinking like a stone in water. The incentives to buy are geared toward the first owner; there are still questions about the long-term durability of EV batteries; and overall used-car shoppers are more focused on finding a vehicle that will fit their family needs than reducing their carbon footprint.
I had all that in mind when I took our 2016 Tesla Model X to CarMax for an appraisal.
We typically start at the used-car store whenever we sell a car from the fleet. It's fast and easy and gives us a baseline for value. It also gives us an offer that's good for a week, even if we don't ultimately sell the car to CarMax.
And so, knowing what I know about EVs, I was expecting a lowball offer from CarMax. It was more like being hit by the pitch.
by Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing
It doesn't take long to find yourself climbing a grade when you drive out of the Los Angeles basin. After all, the place is hemmed in by mountains. Just a few miles into the trip our 2016 Tesla Model X began a steady 5-mile ascent of the Sepulveda Pass, a 1,130-foot prelude of things to come that didn't even get us out of the sprawling L.A. area.
This modest 3 percent grade doesn't feel like much unless you're towing something, but that's exactly what we were doing. This was the start of a four-day towing adventure with a Happier Camper HC1 trailer. Our target lakeside campground lay almost exactly 500 miles ahead of us, a distance we figured would take two days to cover based on an earlier experience with range and recharging while towing on Tesla'a Supercharger network.
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 Rex Tokeshi-Torres, Vehicle Testing Technician
Where Did We Drive It?
Our 2016 Tesla Model X was a reliable commuter vehicle this month. We can't say it was completely incident-free, however, since there was an issue that necessitated a soft reboot of the Tesla's display systems. This issue is not found in the manual, and it required some Googling and reading through the Tesla forum for the Model X. Thankfully, it was a fairly easy fix and it did not require any downtime at a local service center.
The Model X's departure from our fleet is imminent. However, it also served as a constant reminder that the new Model 3 is just around the corner. There were multiple occasions while sitting at a supercharger where conversation came up about whether we ordered a Model 3. Our very own Dan Edmunds went to the Tesla launch event for the Model 3 and says that the vehicle seems promising.
by Dan Frio, Automotive Editor
Where Did We Drive It?
We've crested the 20,000-mile mark in our 2016 Tesla Model X. Compared to May, our Model X was relatively drama-free. We say relative because, while the Model X didn't require a visit to any of the local service centers, a troublesome suspension noise did resurface, which of course will require a visit to a service center. So it goes.
Now that we've passed the 20,000-mile mark, it's time to prepare for the Model X's departure from our fleet. I'm not sure anyone will miss it terribly, least of all our fleet wranglers. The Model X has been a mixed bag of utility and gadgetry, seemingly more of the latter.
Ultimately the Model X still feels like a proof of concept, guided by the Reid Hoffman maxim that, "If you're not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you've launched too late." Lucky for Tesla, it still has a customer base willing to trade some product shortcomings for early adoption.
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 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.
by Mark Takahashi, Senior Writer
Where Did We Drive It?
Our long-term 2016 Tesla Model X has been with us for nearly a full year, which customarily means we'd be running out of things to say about it. That is largely true for the month of March, especially when the bulk of the driving was limited to everyday commuting. No epic trips to Yosemite or record-setting cross-country sprints this time around.
by Calvin Kim, Road Test Editor
Where Did We Drive It?
The miles we put on our long-term 2016 Tesla Model X this month ended up highlighting some of its faults. SUVs are generally known for their squishy rides and flexible interior space, but the Model X suffers from the exact opposite. Also, the creaks and groans remain, as does the vibration upon acceleration.
After Editor Brent Romans' trip to Yosemite, our X primarily kicked around town on local trips, but we were able to stretch its legs on the highway, too. We're past the 15,000-mile mark now and the honeymoon phase is definitely over as the joys of instant torque and that massive touchscreen are getting overshadowed by everyday life.
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.
by Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor
Where Did We Drive It?
Following last month's Hydrogen Highway vs. Tesla Supercharger experiment, our long-term Model X has returned to its regular commuting duties. The big news for October was a service call to address 16(!) minor issues that had piled up. As fate would have it, yet another isolated issue arose after the service that may affect us on the few rainy days we get here.
by Cameron Rogers, Associate Editor on October 3, 2016
Another day, another funny noise coming from our 2016 Tesla Model X. I signed the car out soon after Mark caught the steering column making a sound like the Shoe who gets Dipped in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? I didn't know about the noise before I took it home, so when I heard something funny I notified keymaster Mike Schmidt. He informed me of Mark's observations, but this was something different.
And in less than 24 hours, I noticed two more distinct sounds emanating from our electrified SUV.
by Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing on September 30, 2016
I step around the power cord that juts from the rear flank of our 2016 Tesla Model X, pop open the hatch and arrange my bags in the luggage well. After unplugging our Lake Tahoe hotel's complimentary Destination charger, I click a ballpoint and note the battery's full status and new range — 248 miles — in the Tesla's logbook. Jay stands nearby tossing his gear into the trunk of his Toyota Mirai, which I know has less than half a tank of hydrogen because I parked it last night.
We exit the hotel lot together and line up at a red light, waiting to turn left. The border runs down the middle of the street we're on. I briefly consider opening my door and stamping my foot across the dashed center line so part of me can be in Nevada, but then the left arrow turns green and I drive my entire self into the state instead.
by Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor on September 28, 2016
I'm on my way north from Santa Monica in our long-term 2016 Tesla Model X, "chasing" (har har) Dan Edmunds in the Mirai. We're headed to Lake Tahoe. Same route. No combustion.
Things have changed. When I last road-tripped a Tesla, it was our old Model S a couple of years ago. At the time, not only was the Supercharger network less developed than it is now, but the on-board software wasn't as capable.
Back then, the onus was entirely on the driver (or passenger, if you are so equipped) to do the math of when to stop to charge, and for how long. If you're trying to minimize your downtime on a long trip, you end up constantly assessing your current rate of consumption and adjusting your driving style as needed so that you arrive at each Supercharger with as little juice in the tank as possible. This minimizes your time spent recharging.
But there's an element of stress at play. If you're playing this game right, you're rolling into each Supercharger with as close to zero miles remaining in the tank as your confidence allows. If you forget to, say, carry the two, you could end up stranded on the side of the road.
Today, it's easier. Or is it?
by Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor on September 26, 2016
While the hydrogen refueling infrastructure for our long-term 2016 Toyota Mirai is currently in its infancy, it's strikingly similar to Tesla's Supercharger network of a few years ago. At least it is in the central California corridor.
This got Dan Edmunds and me thinking.
by Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager on September 23, 2016
"Hey Mike. The driver window in our Tesla makes a funny noise. It doesn't happen all the time, but it happens a lot." That was the only information at my disposal when I drove our 2016 Tesla Model X home to try and diagnose the issue, or at least repeat it.
This is a weird one.
by Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing on September 19, 2016
Cross-country travel in a car like our 2016 Tesla Model X is possible and practical because of the Supercharger network. And today's network is even stronger than it was two years ago, when we drove our 2013 Model S to New York and back in less than a week. As of today, the fansite supercharge.info says there are 296 active Supercharger stations spread across the USA, with 15 more under construction and 13 others that have received permits.
But Tesla's free charging network has another component. It's called Destination Charging, and it's not as well-known.
by Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor on September 12, 2016
Somewhat confusingly, this update had the same name as the last one (v7.1), and it, too, had to do with the Falcon Wing doors.
by Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor on September 5, 2016
As I was leaving Edmunds HQ in our long-term 2016 Tesla Model X, I heard a strange noise coming from the steering column. It was sort of a murmur when I'd turn the wheel sharply. I took a video (see below; that's a screenshot above) so you can experience it for yourself. It's faint, so headphones may be in order.
by Ed Hellwig, Executive Editor on September 1, 2016
Looking out the window of our 2016 Tesla Model X and seeing another Tesla might seem like a rare occurrence. And in much of the country it would be. In Southern California, however, it's practically unavoidable.
Travis Langness, Automotive Editor on August 24, 2016
With our last long-term Tesla, we went with a dark blue or as Tesla calls it, "Deep Metallic Blue." It was good-looking, no doubt, and certainly better than all the boring beige sedans on the road today, but it wasn't my favorite. With our long-term 2016 Tesla Model X we opted for a fantastically deep red. The red looks good at night and even better in sunlight. Tesla calls it, drumroll please... "Red Multi-Coat." OK, so the name isn't exactly a charmer, but boy, does the paint look good.
by Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor on August 17, 2016
I drove our long-term 2016 Tesla Model X home for the first time in quite a while. That's when I spotted a couple of gremlins.
by Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor on July 28, 2016
No, this isn't a post about the Falcon Wing doors evoking the Gullwing 300SL. As one of the Edmunds editors, I switch in and out of cars on an almost daily basis. By my reckoning, it's been about seven years since I've regularly driven one car. But we recently moved our offices, and in the time between spaces, I had the rare opportunity to live with our 2016 Tesla Model X for almost two straight weeks.
by Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor on July 26, 2016
Buzz went my phone and instead of a text, it was a message from the Tesla app. A software update was available for our 2016 Tesla Model X, and I could specify a time to install it. I selected 1:00 am that night.
by Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor on July 20, 2016
Heading into a long weekend, I decided to give our long-term 2016 Tesla Model X a full charge rather than the usual 90 percent. Once on the road, the regenerative braking system was clearly feeling the effects.
by Cameron Rogers, Associate Editor on July 5, 2016
A couple weeks ago, I attended the U.S. launch event for the 2017 Fiat 124 Spider in San Diego. From the Edmunds office in Santa Monica, my hotel was a straight shot south on Highways 405 and 5. I decided to make the trip in the 2016 Tesla Model X for a couple reasons. I wanted to test the Tesla's Autopilot function on the highway as well as use a Supercharger station for the first time.
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 Travis Langness, Automotive Editor on June 22, 2016
Aside from being inconvenient, cumbersome, slow to operate and just downright silly (all issues that Jay pointed out earlier along with several others), the doors on our long-term 2016 Tesla Model X are dangerous. More specifically, the automated functions of these doors have caused physical harm to at least two human beings (including myself) in my presence.
Here's how it happened.
by Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing on June 9, 2016
My trip to Flagstaff is complete. I successfully towed a teardrop trailer over 1,000 miles behind our 2016 Tesla Model X crossover SUV.
I'm not sure I ever want to do it again.
by Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing on June 6, 2016
This is uncharted territory for me. For you, too, I expect. I've got loads of trailer towing miles under my belt, but our 2016 Tesla Model X is the first electric vehicle I've ever towed with. There's good reason for that. Before Tesla came along there was never an EV with enough battery capacity to make it feasible, and no nationwide fast-charging network to make it possible to get anywhere.
The Model X is the first EV that's been blessed with a tow rating and factory-installed towing equipment. You've probably already seen my discussion of its unique hitch, but in case you haven't it's best to hop over here and come back. We'll wait.
Weird, right? You probably noticed that the Tesla Model X is rated to tow 5,000 pounds. And that ours can tow just 3,500 pounds because it has the optional 22-inch wheels and tires. But I'm leery of even this modest figure because of the realities of towing out west: mountain grades, heat, desert winds. Amid such nagging doubts I wanted to start small.
These issues were not purely theoretical because I had a specific destination in mind: Flagstaff, Arizona. All of the above factors (and more) would come into play as I headed there on a 1,000-mile round trip to attend a Ram Trucks event at the Overland Expo.
One specific family of trailers seemed to fit the bill. I started looking for a teardrop, and I found a truly outstanding example for hire at Off the Grid Rentals.
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 May 31, 2016
Okay, real talk. The articulating doors on our long-term 2016 Tesla Model X make my blood boil.
by Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor on May 27, 2016
Did you catch the video of 32 cool things about our long-term 2016 Tesla Model X?
by Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing on May 25, 2016
Electric cars are fundamentally different from gasoline ones on many levels, and fuel consumption tracking is no exception. Like many electric cars, our 2016 Tesla Model X has a set of dash readouts that summarize electricity consumption. They display the consumption rate in Watt-hours per mile (Wh/mile) and total usage for a given "tank" in kilowatt-hours (kWh).
Confused? The first is akin to mpg and the second is like gallons.
But there is a bigger problem. Both numbers are drawn from the point of view of the battery. That doesn't tell the entire story for electric cars because of something called charging losses. Imagine pumping 12 gallons at a filling station and spilling two of them on the ground in the process. The car only knows about the 10 gallons that made it into the tank, but your wallet knows about all 12 of them.
This is no clumsy accident when it comes to electric cars. It's another type of routine consumption that stems from the resistance in the long charging cord and the needs of the on-board battery temperature control systems that operate during the charging process. The only way to account for everything the car is using, charging losses and all, is to look at the meter on the pump. But many EV charge stations, including our Tesla HPWC (High Power Wall Connector), do not have the sort of meter found on every gas pump on the planet.
So we added one.
by Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor on May 23, 2016
Though the third-row seat recall for our 2016 Tesla Model X had been issued about a month ago, our local Tesla service center didn't have the parts necessary to perform the correction. In the meantime we didn't put anybody in the third row, as instructed, and identified a few issues we wanted them to address, too.
Ultimately the recall was addressed and the issues resolved. The downtime, however, was significant.
by Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing on April 29, 2016
Tesla's Supercharger network has grown tremendously, and that means we have a lot more road trip options to explore with our 2016 Tesla Model X . The map above represents the state of the network in mid-June 2014 when Kurt and I undertook a massive LA-to-New York-to-LA cross-country round trip road trip, a feat we completed in less than a week.
Back then there were just 95 stations. You can guess which way we went just by looking at the map. Apart from our decision to chance a straighter path between Las Vegas and Utah, there was but a single cross-country option.
That map looks significantly more crowded today.
by Ronald Montoya, Senior Consumer Advice Editor on April 22, 2016
Buying a new Tesla model requires faith in Elon Musk, a chunk of money upfront and a lot of patience. As former Tesla Model S owners, this wasn't our first electric-car rodeo with Elon. We knew exactly what we were getting into when we ordered our 2016 Tesla Model X.
But if you're someone who's never plunked down a deposit of a thousand dollars — or 40 times that — for a just-past-the-concept-stage Tesla, here's a diary of what you might expect:
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.