Tesla Model X SUV review
"With cutting-edge looks and the technology to back them up, the Model X is one of the most impressive and family-friendly electric cars you can buy"
- Seven-seat practicality
- Huge performance
- Zero emissions
- Pricey to buy
- Build quality issues
- Limited charging points
Verdict – is the Tesla Model X a good car?
The Tesla Model X is a hugely practical seven-seater with the astonishing performance the brand has become known for. It will appeal to buyers looking for a usable large electric family car which still offers a level of desirability and high-end status, not to mention low running costs. Since its release it’s been joined in by plenty of rivals, but few offer the same performance the Model X offers. Past build quality issues have let all Teslas down somewhat, and the Model X is a pricey car to buy, but if you’re looking for something a little more special than the smaller Model Y and with seven seats, the Model X fits the brief.
Model X specs and alternatives
The Tesla Model X SUV was a logical second model for the American company, catering to the boom in popularity of the large, high-riding SUVs complete with five, six or seven seats. The Model X took the desirability, practicality and style of this car class and combined it with the low running costs and emissions electric cars are known for.
It was somewhat a pioneer in that sense, but since then other manufacturers have thrown their hat in the ring with other large electric SUVs hitting the market, including the Mercedes EQS, Jaguar I-Pace and Audi Q8 e-tron.
Since then, Tesla has released its smaller, and more affordable SUV – the Model Y. At first glance it might be hard to tell the difference between the Model Y and the Model X, but the former is a more pedestrian alternative to the upmarket Model X SUV that’s based on the Tesla Model 3 saloon. You can read our in-depth review for the Model Y separately.
Although it’s been around for several years now, the shape of the Model X remains instantly recognisable, with its party-piece ‘Falcon Wing’ rear doors remaining an unusual, show-stopping feature. Expect small crowds to gather whenever they open, as onlookers wait to see whether children or aliens emerge from the futuristic-looking machine. They’re not just a gimmick, either – they allow easy access from the front or rear of the car, opening fully in less space than conventional doors.
While many manufacturers shy away from reinventing the wheel, Tesla now offers the Model S and Model X with the ‘Tesla Yoke’ – a space-age looking stalkless steering system that replaces the standard steering wheel and incorporates all the headlight and wiper controls.
The Yoke requires less turning to steer the front wheels compared with a conventional steering wheel, and Tesla says its small, non-circular design improves visibility of the cars instruments and the road ahead. We think the standard steering wheel will be enough to suit most drivers, however, and it would be best to try a ‘Yoke’ if possible before making a decision. Lexus is also releasing a rival system to the Tesla Yoke on its RZ SUV, which steers the front wheels completely electronically.
Elsewhere, the Model X is just as sleek as its Model S sister, although it shares that car’s strangely blank-looking nose treatment that detracts a little from its visual appeal. Generally, though, the Model X has novelty and a high-tech look in its favour, but we reckon the Volvo XC90 is a more handsome SUV.
Offering definite appeal, though, is the technology under the metal. We’ll get to the vital factors of range and charging time later, because the statistics that grabbed all the headlines for the Tesla Model S related to its sheer power and performance, especially the blisteringly quick Performance version. Its large SUV sibling, the high-performance Model X Plaid, uses a tri-motor all-wheel drive system that propels the large SUV from 0-60mph in just 2.5 seconds, depending on the driving mode.
That’s much faster than a Range Rover Sport SVR, Porsche Cayenne Turbo or BMW X5 M can manage – in fact it's in the same league as the Ferrari 812 Superfast for acceleration – while carrying up to seven people, two more than any of its ultra-powerful rivals can accommodate.
When you’re not exercising its explosive get-up-and-go, the Model X, like its saloon counterpart, offers a maximum driving range between charges that eclipses what most rivals can reach. The standard, dual-motor Model X can manage 348 miles on a single charge, while the tri-motor Plaid model sacrifices some of this in the pursuit of performance, with a range figure of 333 miles.
According to Tesla, both new models were due to arrive in the UK towards the end of 2022, but this appears to have slipped. It’s worth noting that the models they replace are now no longer available, so there’s effectively a lull in brand new examples of the Tesla Model X arriving in the UK until the facelifted version is delivered to customers. Currently, examples of the Model X can be ordered with a £100 deposit, but there’s no confirmation of when these will reach buyers.
In keeping with its hi-tech power system, the Model X interior is dominated by an enormous portrait-orientated touchscreen that controls much of the plentiful standard equipment, while a TFT display presents vital information to the driver. Motorway strain is alleviated by Tesla’s ‘Autopilot’ semi-autonomous driving system.
Electric power rather suits a car designed around SUV lines, too – the compact nature of the Model X’s battery packs and electric motors mean every inch of interior space can be used, so it’s a very versatile family vehicle. Five adults can stretch out on the two main seating rows, while an additional third row offers plenty of room for two children.
This all adds up to a very compelling package, which it needs to be when you look at the list price. Both versions of the Model X aren’t cheap and are now more expensive than ever for two reasons: the government’s plug-in car grant was discontinued in 2022 and the entry-level Standard Range model, which used to cost from £75,000, was removed from the lineup in 2020. The latest lineup now consists of the Long Range model (now simply badged Model X) and Plaid models – as of Spring 2023 prices are unavailable on Tesla’s site, but with a previous cost of over £90,000 and £110,000 respectively; expect the Model X to be considerably pricey once production resumes.
However, there’s no forgetting the low daily running costs, the impressive range on a full charge, the tax advantages for company-car users and the sheer sense of occasion found in driving this car. The Model X will be prohibitively expensive for many, but it may just be the most complete electric family transport solution yet devised.