A mixed bag of innovation and gimmickry, the 2018 Tesla Model X is an unusual all-electric SUV. In fact, it's the only one currently on the market. Its range, punchy acceleration and quiet disposition are highlights, but its fundamentally compromised nature detracts from its overall appeal.
The upward-swinging rear doors are the source of the Model X's identity. Novel as they appear, they're also its single biggest drawback. They're slow to open, often don't open far enough, are incompatible with lowish garage ceilings, and are needlessly complex and heavy.
Furthermore, imagine you want to put a roof-mounted cargo box or roof rack on your Model X. Nope — the rear doors are incompatible with such devices. If you can't or don't want to stash the stuff inside the cabin, that leaves only the trailer hitch as a means to haul your bulky cargo.
On the plus side, there's no question the Model X in its upper trim levels is an exceedingly fast vehicle. Its gigantic touchscreen responds quickly and has sharp graphics. And some of Tesla's technology features are genuinely compelling.
Perhaps you seek an SUV for its enhanced functionality over a sedan. But when it comes to Teslas, the Model S sedan is in many ways the more practical, quicker and compelling choice.
Notably, we picked the 2018 Tesla Model X as one of Edmunds' Best Electric Cars for this year.
Tesla updates its vehicles on an ongoing basis rather than at discrete model-year intervals. As such, there's no clear-cut "new for 2018" information. Features and trim levels are tweaked sporadically. Notable recent changes compared to 2017 Model Xs include new fold-flat second-row seating and streamlining of the Model X's optionsavailability. The 90D trim level has also been discontinued.
The Model X's primary functional upside compared to the Model S sedan is its people-carrying ability. In that case, the seven-passenger layout is the one that makes the most sense. The 75D trim level balances performance and range well and represents a huge discount compared to the 100D. Skip the 22-inch wheels, which make the ride too choppy. The Premium Upgrades package is tempting for its premium audio system and heated steering wheel, windshield and washer nozzles. Unfortunately, it's pricey, and it includes the superfluous and annoying auto-opening front doors.
The 2018 Tesla Model X is currently available in three variants: 75D, 100D and P100D. Please note that Tesla often changes up its products at unexpected times, so what is true today may change tomorrow. Battery size in kilowatt-hours is denoted by the digits contained in each trim level, where larger numbers indicate additional battery capacity and more range. There's also a general trend of increasing quickness as you progress upward through the trim levels. The Model X is available in five-, six- and seven-passenger configurations and is offered with all-wheel drive only.
The 75D is the base trim level, providing 237 miles of range from a 75-kWh (kilowatt-hour) battery. Despite being the base model, it's not slow, doing 0-60 mph in a claimed 4.9 seconds. An air suspension is standard on every Model X, as are keyless entry and start, heated front seats, a power liftgate, navigation, a towing package, and advanced driver safety features such as forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking.
Stepping up to the 100D gains you a 100-kWh battery that increases range to 295 miles and is marginally quicker, too (0-60 mph in 4.7 seconds). For the ultimate in Model X performance, head right to the P100D. Though range drops slightly to 289 miles, this variant sprints to 60 mph in just 2.9 seconds.
Many optional features are available for all trim levels, including six- and seven-passenger configurations. Other high-dollar stuff include the Premium Upgrades package, which brings upgraded audio and climate systems, auto-opening front doors, heated features for cold-weather driving, and satellite radio. Other pricey options are upgraded cabin materials, 22-inch wheels and assisted driving, aka Autopilot. To the latter, you can add the Full Self-Driving Capability option, which includes additional cameras, but to date it does not, in fact, provide self-driving capability. Think of it as paying now for something that you might get at an unknown later date.
Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our road test of the 2016 Tesla Model X P90D Signature.
NOTE: Since this test was conducted, the current Model X has received minor ongoing revisions, including the addition and deletion of various battery sizes and trim levels and the addition of optional fold-flat second row seats. Our findings remain broadly applicable to this year's Model X, however.
Acceleration is outstanding and instantaneous. Drivability is excellent even before you turn on the semiautonomous features. It can't hide its prodigious weight, but it handles like a vehicle that's 500 pounds lighter. An EV that can tow is unique, but range will be a factor.
Mat the accelerator and the Model X launches like few other vehicles on the road. It's powerful, instant thrust. The face-flattening intensity wanes (relatively) at higher speeds, but it's still quite quick. In our testing, the P90D Signature accelerated from 0 to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds.
The regenerative braking is enough for modest deceleration — you'll rarely touch the pedal. When you do, it's easy to modulate. In our panic-stop test from 60 mph, our Model X (with the 22-inch sporty all-season tires) stopped in an impressive 111 feet.
The steering is appropriately direct, though it lacks feel. Effort in Sport mode is too high, though. Just stick with Normal or Comfort mode. The Model X tracks straight on the highway, and it's easy to stay within your lane.
The Model X handles turns with more stability and verve than you'd expect for an SUV weighing almost 5,500 pounds. It's hard to describe as agile, but it faithfully obeys inputs in routine driving.
The auto-steering function, switchable Creep mode, and impressive adaptive cruise control amplify the Model X's friendly-to-use nature. The driver-selectable level of regenerative braking is a plus.
The Model X is extremely quiet and equipped with seats that are suitable for long stints. It's heavy, but it manages its weight well. The ride quality overall is good except over broken or potholed surfaces where the heavy wheels and low-profile tires show their limits.
It offers very good comfort on long drives. The seat and armrest padding is supportive. The heating and cooling functions for all three rows are impressive. Lateral support is modest but appropriate for the type of vehicle.
The sense of mass is inescapable, but there is no float and little head toss thanks to the air suspension. Composed body control. The heavy wheels and the low-profile tires chop on most roads. The base 20-inch wheels may provide a smoother ride.
Noise & vibration
It's peaceful and hushed in the cabin thanks to the lack of powertrain noise. Wind noise is low at freeway speeds. The road noise is the most prominent aspect, with some tire thumps and hum.
This is an SUV that's light on utility since the second-row seats do not fold and there is no provision for a roof rack. Visibility is terrific, and entry and exit are easy, though the rear doors can be infuriating. The second-row storage is lacking.
Ease of use
Nearly all secondary controls are controlled via the tall touchscreen, which works well for the top-most controls. For HVAC functions at the bottom, it isn't ideal. The instrument cluster is very clear. The stalks and the steering wheel controls work well.
Getting in/getting out
A low step-in height and a tall roof help in this area. The rear doors provide a large opening in typical parking spots but not in tight ones the way a sliding door would. Garages with low ceilings are problematic, too. Plus, the doors just don't open very quickly.
There's ample space up front. The headroom is respectable in the second row because of the door's skylight windows. But the second-row legroom could be better, and the front seatback is hard and knee-unfriendly. The third-row seating is tight and best for children only.
The panoramic windshield and expansive side windows offer a wide view, though some may not like having the sun always overhead. The wide-view backup camera works well, as do the excellent cluster display and the proximity sensors.
Inconsistent panel gaps, some paint and rubber gasket quality issues, and a few stray cabin noises from time to time reduce the quality feeling of this vehicle. When it's cold out, the rear doors make a fair number of creaking and cracking noises. A Mercedes-Benz it's not.
Utility takes a huge hit due to compromised rear doors. The optional second-row captain's chairs (in the six-passenger configuration) do not fold, though the standard second-row bench does. There is no provision for a roof rack, and small-item storage is limited.
Storage options are sparse for the front passengers and second-row doors have no storage (otherwise you'd be dumping drinks on yourself when you opened them). There are no provisions to hang dry-cleaned clothes.
The second-row seats do not fold (for 2018, five- and seven-passenger versions do fold flat), limiting large-object hauling. The articulating rear doors preclude bike racks or cargo boxes. The rear cargo hold has good height and depth, but it is on the narrow side. The front trunk is a bonus at least.
The Model X's 3,500-pound tow rating with 22-inch wheels is modest for an SUV; the 5,000-pound rating with 20-inch wheels is closer to others. The pre-wiring for the trailer brake controller is a plus. But the impact on range and incompatibility with Superchargers make long-distance towing impractical.
From its powertrain to gadgetry, the Model X is a rolling monument to technology. Its massive central control display will feel familiar to anyone who uses a tablet. But some of its driver assistance features, such as Autopilot, aren't as effective as you might expect.
Audio & navigation
The main touchscreen is huge, and it responds very well to your inputs, though the control menus are complex. The audio system options are basic, but the premium system has an appealing sound quality. Internet radio, scrolling and playlist creation are all well-executed. Navigation is unreliable.
It's easy to pair up your phone using Bluetooth. But at the time of our evaluation, the Model X lacked additional smartphone integration with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
The screen depicting the proximity of objects near you when parking is industry-leading. The large backup camera display is very helpful, too. We also like the adaptive cruise control, but full Autopilot is a mixed bag and should never be used without full attention.
edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.