Tesla Model X Review: Cooler than a Minivan, Roomier than an SUV

One of our most popular Facebook posts this year was when we posted pictures of the then just announced Tesla Model X. I remember the post because we debated internally whether you, our awesome community, really wanted to hear about a car. Well, after the enthusiastic response, not only are we glad we posted, but we decided to do some more investigation. We sent our intrepid reporter, Baby B to the seen for one of the first public unveilings of the Model X this weekend at Santana Row in San Jose, CA. (apologies for the less than professional photos – hopefully it just adds to the authenticity ;))

Tesla Model X with Reporter Baby B

You see, Baby B (now almost 4 years old and pictured above) is eminently qualified to assess the vehicle. It is because of her and her brother, Special K (now 7 months old), that the “need” for a minivan has emerged in our family. We often have have to shuttle 6 people around which results in driving two cars – a big no-no in a family that does its best to minimize our carbon footprint. So we’ve been in search of the 7 seater – how hard could that be, right? Well, if that were the only criteria, probably not so difficult, but here’s how the discussion goes:
– Baby B: I want to be able to get in the car myself (SUVs are much more difficult for most kids to get in than the low to the ground minivan)
– Mom: But the minivans looks so … (well, we’ve all been there)
– Dad: Only electric, hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles please
– Special K: wants to know if his stroller will fit in with the third row of seats up
– Grandpa: Does it go fast (yes, with the kids out of the house, he’s going through midlife crisis with fast cars)
And of course there was the original criteria of 7 seats. It’s not that long a list. Yes, we looked at the Honda Odyssey, the Toyota Sienna, the Nissan Quest, amongst others on the minivan side. So functional, but so … blah! On the SUV side, we looked at the Tahoe and Yukon Denali hybrids (so big, but not very roomy), the Escalade (basically, we’re not cool enough for the Escalade), and a few European clean diesel options. There really wasn’t a car that met all of our criteria … until the Model X.

The falcon wings definitely change the cool factor. It’s all electric, so has zero emissions. They say it’s likely to get about 200-270 miles per charge depending on what battery option you choose (60 or 85 kWh). That’s certainly enough for an every day commute, but probably not very convenient for a road trip. For grandpa, I’m happy to report that it goes zero to 60 faster than a Porsche 911 (though Baby B did not get to experience that first hand). All of those things we knew before our in person visit.

Tesla Model X Front View

But a few things stood out as Baby B and I saw the Model X in person this weekend.
Tesla Model X Trunk View

1. The trunk is quite roomy. It reminds me of both the SUV and Minivan with their third row seats up in that the trunk is pretty small, only a few feet wide. However, what’s different is that the trunk goes VERY deep. We took a picture, but you can see that the indentation will allow for one of those super big suitcases or Special K will be happy to know that even his colossal stroller will fit comfortably.

Tesla Model X Side View

2. The trim and interior look very sleek. This is not your grandmother’s mahogany look. It has sleek, modern lines that could seem harsh for some, but as you know, we here at Paper Culture are a sucker for this type of design. It certainly leans a bit toward the sporty side. The ipad like electronics pad seems to be the command center for the vehicle, but we weren’t allowed to sit inside, so it’s hard to say what it actually does. One downside though, it didn’t seem as roomy as we were led to believe in the announcement. It looked pretty cramped in the third row, but the flexibility of the seating was definitely better than most SUVs. The seats look like they can move independently which really helps out the spacing. And yes, you can stand up in the car with the doors open – for those of us who are parents who try this all the time, that’s certainly a winning feature.

Tesla Model X Back View

3. The Falcon Wings are pretty darn cool. Somehow when I think of doors that open upwards, I always think of Michael J Fox and the DeLorean in Back to the Future. Well, the future is apparently right around the corner. In fact, Baby B openly wondered: “Daddy, does the car fly?” On the downside, I do wonder how many garages will actually accommodate those doors. The Tesla reps claim that it should fit in most standard garages. But most people I know pack their garages pretty tight and it’s not exactly a compact wingspan.

Tesla Model X Front View

So how much does this thing cost? They haven’t finalized the prices, but it appears it will range from $60k-$90k depending on the options chosen, with the biggest variance being the battery. It’s certainly not an affordable option, but surprisingly it’s in the same price range as the Yukon Denali hybrid, it’s cheaper than the Escalade Hybrid and it’s in the same range as the European cars. It will certainly set you back more than a typical minivan though. I can’t say I’d recommend this car on value and who knows what the reliability will be (I do know some folks that sprung for the Tesla Roadster and have not been super happy with the maintenance).

But it is the first car that I think we’d fight over in our family both with and without the kids. My wife won’t kill me for making her drive a Minivan. It certainly meets my eco commitment as an all electric vehicle (and really pushes me to want to finally getting around to installing solar because the cost of electricity makes running this puppy pretty expensive). At the end of the day, I believe the Tesla Model X should be commended for taking a surprisingly staid category (the Minivan) and merging it with one of the top selling categories in the US (the SUV) and creating a concept that truly is new. The market needs thinking like this and both Baby B and I walked away suitably impressed.

And … without the kids in the car, yes, I admit, I’d want to test out that 0-60 faster than a Porsche claim (please don’t report me!) and with those DeLorean like falcon wings – I just might be able to tell Baby B that yes, the Tesla Model X can fly!