2016 Tesla Model X Long-Term Road Test - Wrap-Up

2016 Tesla Model X Long-Term Road Test

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  • Pricing & Specs
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Read the 2016 Tesla X introduction to our long-term fleet.

See all of the 2016 Tesla Model X's long-term updates.

What We Got
By 2016, Tesla had the lion's share of momentum in the world of electric vehicles. The first car the company built from the ground up, the Model S, was a big success, and it was time for the automaker's next big announcement. That came in the form of an electric SUV. At the time, it was a combination few OEMs had tried, none with much success.

The 2016 Tesla Model X would be the brand's second all-new car and its first entry into the wildly popular SUV segment. It promised the same advanced technology of the S and we were intrigued by everything about it. We put down a $40,000 deposit two years before our car was even built.

We had little interest in the lesser equipped 70D, 90D or even P90D trim. From the start, we'd set our sights on the fully loaded Model X P90D Signature, basically a P90D with all of its options included as standard equipment.

It was a long list: keyless entry, power liftgate, motorized driver door, navigation, HEPA cabin filter, ventilated front seats, leather, third-row seat, 22-inch wheels, air suspension, adaptive headlights, 90-kWh battery good for 250 miles of range, 72-amp onboard charger, blind-spot warning, collision mitigation braking and Autopilot semiautonomous driving. Every Model X is all-wheel-drive. The most influential feature of the Signature trim was priority delivery, which made ours one of the first 1,000 produced.

Despite the extensive list of standard features, we wanted more. We added the Ludicrous Speed upgrade ($10,000), Subzero Weather package ($1,000) and Tow package ($750). Before taxes and government incentives, and not subtracting the deposit, our 2016 Tesla Model X Signature had a price tag of $144,950.

Performance

  • "[While towing] the air suspension system automatically compensates for the trailer tongue load (admittedly not large here), which means the car's attitude remains flat and the steering stays nicely weighted. Crosswinds and passing big rigs are nonevents as the Model X steadfastly maintains a secure, straight-ahead feel at all times. The tail does not wag this dog." — Dan Edmunds, director of vehicle testing

2016 Tesla Model X

  • "If you've ever experienced the Six Flags Superman ride, which uses electromagnetics for the powerful propulsion, then you'll have an idea of what the Model X is like in Ludicrous mode. It's nearly the same sensation, except you have to steer." — Jonathan Elfalan, road test manager

MPG

  • "The Model X served up an abundance of power, stability and grade-climbing ability. The driving experience was effortless. Effortless, that is, until it came time to charge the blasted thing. That's where this towing exercise turned into a real drag. The problems are numerous: towing speed, range, recharge time and the physical incompatibility of Superchargers when you roll up with a trailer. The first three issues are interrelated. That last one stands alone." — Dan Edmunds

2016 Tesla Model X

  • "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: What if we took the same road trip in both our Mirai and our long-term 2016 Tesla Model X?" — Jason Kavanagh, senior road test engineer

Comfort

  • "This was my first trip in the Model X. The driver seat proved uncomfortable for my 6-foot (and, charitably, broad-shouldered) frame, pushing my shoulders forward awkwardly no matter how I adjusted it. Tire noise was surprisingly noticeable and the suspension let me feel every imperfection in the road surface." — Will Kaufman, associate staff writer

Cargo Space

  • "Has anyone tried using the cellphone slot in the center console? It looks like a neat idea. There's a cubby to hold a phone and a cable at the bottom. I used my girlfriend's iPhone to test it out, but we ran into some issues. Problem one: The cubby is tight, so you have to take the case off your phone. But problem two, The Big One, is with the Lightning cable: It didn't line up with her phone. I wiggled it around a bit but couldn't line it up in a way I felt good about subjecting it to Ludicrous acceleration." — Carlos Lago, senior writer

2016 Tesla Model X

  • "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 who 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." — Dan Edmunds

Interior

  • "As nice as it is to have a third row of seats, without easy access to them, their value diminishes quickly. More than one carpool kid who was banished to the back seats complained of having to wait for the slow-moving second-row buckets to move out of the way. A simple latch to flip them forward is the norm here, so it's easy to see why the Tesla's seats seem so cumbersome." — Ed Hellwig, senior editor

2016 Tesla Model X

  • "First, I'll acknowledge that these doors offer one functional advantage over swinging or sliding doors: They facilitate loading a child safety seat. The articulating door takes a portion of the roof up with it, leaving a nice open space in which to stand fully upright when loading a child seat. In every other way I can think of, the articulating doors (what Elon Musk cringingly dubbed falcon-wing doors) are a big compromise. Let's tick off the ways." — Jason Kavanagh

Audio and Technology

  • "I was listening to Cast of Kings, a Game of Thrones podcast, and the Model X's infotainment system came up with artwork for the soundtrack to Victorious, a hit Nickelodeon show starring Ariana Grande and Victoria Justice. Later I listened to a video game podcast called DLC, and the artwork that appeared was Mozart: Sonatas for Piano and Violin, by Yefim Bronfman and Isaac Stern. Maybe our Model X is trolling me." — Ron Montoya, senior consumer advice editor


  • "Before I left the gym, I pulled out my phone, started the Tesla app and checked the cabin temp on the Model X. It showed 110 degrees. I set the cabin air-conditioning to 'LO' and went about my business. Eleven minutes later, I got to the car with the interior temp on its way down, right past 70 degrees. The app has a couple other cool features like summoning it from a tight parking spot, checking on the progress of a charge, flashing the lights and honking the horn (that combo works well finding the car in a big parking lot), but this is probably a favorite of mine." — Travis Langness, staff writer

Maintenance

  • "Our Tesla is starting to creak like an old sailboat. There's a consistent screechy clunk when the brakes bring the car to a complete stop, and there's random shudder and shake as the car hauls itself up into a driveway or over garden-variety road rash. You'd probably hear and feel much of the same in many SUVs with 25,000 miles if it weren't for the big V6 or V8 running under the hood. The Tesla's problem is that it operates so quietly you tend to notice each shimmy and rattle and you cast a disapproving glance in its direction, unfairly or not." — Dan Frio, staff writer

2016 Tesla Model X

  • "The [charge] port door would operate properly after multiple attempts, but not always on the first try. Our Model X was charging as we walked up to it, so I reached out to unplug it and found the cord alarmingly hot to the touch. That was the final straw; something was clearly wrong. With that in mind, I headed to our nearest Tesla service center." — Michael Massey, vehicle testing assistant

Miscellaneous

  • "After spending a weekend with it, I missed regular-size windshields and sun visors, key fobs with lock and unlock buttons, doors with handles, and knobs for audio and climate. And sure, actual owners of this car will learn to adapt to these annoying idiosyncrasies, but like I said, how does any of this make life easier?" — Caroline Pardilla, senior copy editor

2016 Tesla Model X

  • "My stress level shot up as we approached the lodge. The parking lots had been plowed after the recent snowfall, creating big mounds of snow along the outer edges. Uh oh. Typically, Tesla positions its chargers on the edges of parking lots, and you back into a charging spot to hook up. I was worried that the snowplows had covered up the charging stations." — Brent Romans, senior editor

Maintenance & Repairs

Regular Maintenance:
Standard procedure for a Model X is a tire rotation every 6,250 miles and an inspection every 12 months or 12,500 miles — unless there are other reasons to take the car in for service. In our case, we had plenty of opportunities.

Service Campaigns:
We learned something about Tesla maintenance from owning a Model S: There can be a lot of it. The general theme will feel familiar. During 20 months of ownership, our Model X went in for service seven times, spent 19 days out of commission, and had a total of 32 issues addressed.

A few things about the following chart are worth noting. We paid $0 to maintain our Model X while we owned it; several of the repairs were performed without our knowledge (the tech found an issue and fixed it on the spot, for example), and firmware updates were ongoing. Some occurred at the Tesla garage and others over the air. This chart only includes those requiring a trip to Tesla to remedy a concern. Here's the list:

Problem Repair Cost
Recall issued Replace third-row seats warranty
Horn not working properly Update firmware warranty
Right front speaker rattling Add insulation between window regulator and door frame warranty
Steering wheel off-center Perform four-wheel alignment goodwill
Low battery alert for key fob Replace battery and reprogram goodwill
Low 12V battery warning Replace 12-volt battery warranty
Key fob not working Replace battery and reprogram warranty
Recall issued Reposition air-conditioning condenser pipes warranty
Recall issued Inspection only; half-shaft replacement not required warranty
Technical service bulletin (TSB) issued Adjust both front windows and belt seals to reduce wind noise warranty
Driveline shudder during acceleration Operating within normal limits goodwill
Power assist failure in left front door Recalibrate door drive units and update firmware warranty
Broken front cupholder Replace center console assembly warranty
Loud buzz from climate control Operating within normal limits warranty
Left front window squeals Replace outer door seal warranty
Driver seat creaks Apply lubricant between seat and console warranty
Broken handle on load floor cover Replace load floor cover warranty
Center-console charging dock not working Replace dock assembly on center console warranty
Chrome molding peeling off right front door Replace outer door molding warranty
Touchscreen is frozen Update firmware warranty
Right front window sticks Recalibrate window regulator; replace door latch warranty
Torn door seal due to sticking window Replace seal on side roof pillar; adjust front windows for proper sealing warranty
Charge adapters missing after service Replace complete charge adapter kit goodwill
TSB issued Replace both front door latches warranty
Tesla charging station cord hot to touch Replace cable and fuses warranty
Charge port does not unlock Replace charge port door warranty
Falcon-wing doors rub Lubricate door trims on both doors goodwill
Steering wheel makes noise Clean, lubricate mating points at bash plate goodwill
Left falcon-wing door not opening fully Replace ultrasonic door sensors warranty
Steering wheel makes loud noise (again) Lubricate steering shaft boot goodwill
Power assist failure in right front door Replace door latch assembly warranty
Brakes squeak loudly Replace front and rear brake rotors and pads warranty

Fuel Economy and Resale Value

Observed Fuel Economy:
The tracking of total electric usage is a game of details. Miss a few and miss a lot of usable data. Of the 338 times we plugged our car into a charger, only 157 — covering about 10,000 miles — could be used.

One reason why is normal charging loss. With the X, we averaged 19.7 percent loss, which is consistent with charging other EVs at 240 volts. So this isn't much of a surprise. Another cause is Supercharger use. Tesla's massive network is unmatched, but the stations don't provide data. Twenty-eight percent of our lifetime plugs-in — about 8,000 miles' worth — were at Superchargers. More information lost.

The EPA's projected range for the Model X is 250 miles. This projection assumes a max battery charge of 100 percent. The normal charging mode, 90 percent battery, is good for 215 to 220 miles. Since most of our charges were in the normal mode, our range projection averaged less, just 187.9 miles. Our lower-than-expected range was influenced by two main factors: two long-distance towing tests and the easily accessed, battery-draining torque of Ludicrous mode. That said, our best range covered 212.6 miles, though we rarely pushed the limits.

The EPA estimates electric consumption for the Model X at 38 kWh/100 miles. By the end of our test, we averaged 55.3 kWh/100 miles, largely because of our heavy-footedness. Our best result was 40.9 kWh/100 miles.

Resale and Depreciation:

As one of our senior consumer advice editors, Ron Montoya, wrote in his must-read recap of the Model X sale, "The resale value of electric vehicles has a notorious reputation for sinking like a stone in water." One slight difference with this Tesla: It was a bit more of a roller coaster.

Our Model X was up for sale with 24,930 miles on the odometer. So we first checked the Edmunds TMV Calculator, which valued the car at $86,566 based on a private-party sale. With our goal price in mind, it was time to put the car out there. Here is where we remind you that we bought the SUV new for $144,950 about 20 months earlier.

2016 Tesla Model X

As alluded to, the search for a buyer was bumpy. We followed our routine of shopping the car first at CarMax. The offer: $66,000. That wasn't going to cut it. Since we had a Model 3 in the pipeline, we explored the Tesla trade-in program. "We usually end up close to what CarMax would offer," said the Tesla rep. eBay was next. We ran a seven-day auction and met our $67,000 reserve on the first day. It looked promising. A flurry of bids in the closing minutes lifted the sale price to $90,101.

Ron did his homework. In the end, he earned us $24,000 over the first offer. Ultimately, depreciation was 38 percent, which was still quite high. For reference, our Model S fared much better, depreciating 20 percent after 30,000 miles.

Summing Up

Pros: Incredibly fast; roomy interior; industry-leading electric range; free charging network; no routine maintenance costs.

Cons: Rampant mechanical and electronic issues; not as luxurious as other six-figure SUVs; inconvenient articulating doors; Level 2 electric charger necessary for true daily use; low residual value.

Bottom Line: The Model X accelerates at a remarkable rate, its rear doors are undeniable conversation-starters, and it boasts technological advances at every turn. But some tech is to its detriment. Repeated issues with the falcon-wing doors, numerous repairs, and a tough resale market outweighed the positives of owning the car.

2016 Tesla Model X

 
Total Body Repair Costs: None
Total Routine Maintenance Costs: None (over 20 months)
Additional Maintenance Costs: None
Warranty Repairs: See other chart
Non-Warranty Repairs: None
Scheduled Dealer Visits: None
Unscheduled Dealer Visits: 7
Days Out of Service: 19
Breakdowns Stranding Driver: None
 
EPA Average Projected Range: 250 miles
Average Lifetime Projected Range: 187.9 miles
Best Range: 212.6 miles
EPA kWh/100 miles: 38
Average Lifetime kWh/100 miles: 55.3
Best kWh/100 miles: 40.9
EPA Consumption (mpge): 89
Average Lifetime Consumption (mpge): 61
Best Consumption (mpge): 82.5
 
True Market Value at service end: $86,566 (private-party sale)
Sale Price: $90,101
Depreciation: $54,849 (38% of paid price)
Final Odometer Reading: 24,920 miles

Edmunds purchased this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.


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