2021 Tesla Model X

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2021
The Car Connection
2021
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Senior Editor
January 21, 2021

Buying tip

The Performance and its sub-three-second 0-60-mph acceleration times can feel dramatically quicker, and many will find it worth the slight sacrifice in driving range and the $20,000 premium.

features & specs

Long Range AWD
Long Range Plus AWD
Performance AWD
MPG
Coming Soon
MPG
Coming Soon
MPG
Coming Soon
MSRP
$99,990
MSRP
$79,990
MSRP
$99,990

If you can look past the gimmickry of the falcon doors, the 2021 Tesla Model X can render the big gas-guzzling family SUV obsolete.

What kind of vehicle is the 2021 Tesla Model X? What does it compare to?

The Model X is a three-row electric crossover SUV with seating for up to seven. The largest Tesla on sale now compares to the Audi E-Tron, but offers supercar-like falcon-wing doors. 

Is the 2021 Tesla Model X a good car?

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Although the Model X’s showy rear doors have been problematic, this is a spacious, efficient, and strong-performing fully electric SUV, and we give it a 7.7 out of 10 overall. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

What's new for the 2021 Tesla Model X?

The most significant change to the Tesla Model X is more driving range. The Long Range Plus variant of the Model X boosts range from 328 miles  to 371 miles. 

The Model X lineup has been slimmed down to two models with the same 100-kwh battery pack, dual electric motors, and all-wheel drive. The Long Range Plus version claims a 0-60 mph acceleration time of 4.4 seconds, while the Performance version can hit 60 mph in 2.6 seconds, making it one of the quickest-accelerating SUVs on the market—all-electric or not. Despite its weight of about 5,500 pounds in some versions, the Model X provides impressive handling compared even to other performance SUVs. 

The Tesla Model X shares its underpinnings with the Model S fastback, and outside of its taller, more teardrop profile, more spacious layout, and falcon-wing doors, the X’s pricing, equipment, and performance closely parallel the Model S. 

The interior of the Model X is typical Tesla: austere but technologically impressive, especially considering its interior and interface hardware haven’t seen a significant redesign since its 2015 introduction. A vertically oriented central 17.0-inch touchscreen handles most vehicle functions—including climate control—and is the hub for vehicle settings and infotainment. Regular over-the-air upgrades have for the most part improved the already flat and intuitive menu system. Tesla doesn’t offer Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, but it does offer nicely integrated ways to stream entertainment. 

All Model X crossovers come with automatic emergency braking, a collision-warning system, and blind-spot monitors, plus Autopilot, which gives the vehicle the means to steer, accelerate, and brake within the same lane. Full Self-Driving Capability is now a $10,000 option and adds Navigate on Autopilot functions, including the ability to navigate on highways with automated lane-changes, use automated parking, and summon the vehicle in parking lots. While it’s not self-driving in the commonly understood sense, Tesla is promising a higher level of automated driving with less driver input. 

How much does the 2021 Model X cost?

The Tesla Model X Long Range Plus costs $81,190, including the $1,200 destination fee. The Model X Performance starts at $101,190 but can reach just under $130,000 with options.

Where is the 2021 Tesla Model X made?

In Fremont, California.

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2021 Tesla Model X

Styling

Austere inside, the 2021 Tesla Model X casts a bulbous profile outside, with trick falcon-wing doors.

The Model X features the most polarizing Tesla design. In creating the Model X mostly from the Model S, the sexy, rakish look evolved to something more bulbous—perhaps in an attempt to keep aerodynamics of the taller vehicle in check for this model’s long driving range. 

Concave sides, combined with bulbous arcs on the hood and roof profile are the reasons why the Model X’s profile isn’t easy on the eyes. It’s balanced out inside by an appealing but simple and minimalist cabin theme, thus we give the Model X’s styling a 6 out of 10.

Although door operation, door hardware, and everything in between have been problematic, the flush door handles give it a clean look, while the rear roofline works better here than it does in many of the recent “crossover coupe” variants from Germany. 

Inside, the Model X offers very little switchgear, and the 17.0-inch, vertically-oriented touchscreen dominates inside, with nearly all major controls nestled into this screen.

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2021 Tesla Model X

Performance

The 2021 Tesla Model X accelerates like no other EV or SUV.

Years after its introduction, it’s still hard to imagine a vehicle with the kind of versatility, usability,  and performance. It’s an 8. . 

Is the Model X 4WD?

Every version of the Model X comes with a dual-motor system yielding all-wheel drive.  Model X is great on slippery roads and in the snow, but neither its systems nor its suspension are designed for true off-road conditions. 

How fast is the Model X?

The Model X is an impressive performer in every respect—but especially in straight-line acceleration. The Long Range Plus version can accelerate to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds and reach a top speed of 155 mph, while the Performance model can make that dash in 2.6 seconds and reach 163 mph. 

If physics-defying performance and three rows of seating are two priorities in something that follows the SUV form, there are few ways you can do better, electric or not. The Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk and Porsche Cayenne Turbo struggle to compete with the Model X in all but high-speed track situations. 

The Tesla Model X has essentially the same setup as in the Model S. In the Long Range model, these two motors put out 259 hp each. In the Performance model the rear motor is enlarged to a 503-hp unit, and control systems are upgraded to make the most of it. 

This big, heavy vehicle handles quite well, thanks partly to the low mounting of the massive 100-kwh battery pack. An air suspension is standard on the Model X, and it’s the secret sauce for helping keep the ride even-keeled over choppy surfaces and twisty roads. The 20-inch wheels balance a quiet ride and good grip; available 22-inch wheels dent ride quality.

The Model X tows up to 5,000 pounds, but trailering decimates range, especially at highway speeds.

Review continues below
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2021 Tesla Model X

Comfort & Quality

The falcon doors are simultaneously cool and confounding—but the rest of the Model X is comfortable and practical.

Flexibility makes the Model X work, much as with any good family crossover. You can choose seating layouts for five, six, or seven passengers, with a reasonably big cargo area in back that extends to 88 cubic feet with the seats folded—and a frunk (front trunk) instead of an engine bay. 

The problematic falcon wing doors take away a point, earning the 2021 Model X a 7 out of 10 for comfort.

Those doors are slow to operate and require overhead clearance; and what makes them especially awkward is that you’ll need to stand well ahead or behind them during the 20-second opening process. Tesla reportedly has a more reliable set of hardware for them now, but the general reliability of the odd arrangement has been an issue, too. 

The rest of the 2021 Model X interior is smartly designed, with six cupholders, a big center console, and up to five USB ports. Front seats are all-day comfortable, and the massive glass roof that extends into the windshield affords a panoramic view. The seating position is higher than in the Model S. 

If you order the six-passenger layout, which swaps out the second-row bench seat for a pair of captain’s chairs, getting back to the third row is a lot easier—but the third row isn’t any more spacious than in rival SUVs. A five-passenger version is standard.

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2021 Tesla Model X

Safety

Tesla’s Autopilot suite and strong occupant-safety ratings are a reassuring combination.

How safe is the Tesla Model X?

The Tesla Model X hasn’t been rated by the IIHS, so we don’t rate it here. 

The Model X has achieved top five-star ratings in federal NCAP testing in the past, in every front, side, and rollover category tested—but its NHTSA scores aren't recent.

All Model X versions include Tesla’s base Autopilot suite, with active lane control, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and blind-spot monitors. Altogether, it allows the car to brake, steer, and accelerate within one travel lane—but it requires driver attention or the system will disable itself. 

The most significant option on Teslas is a safety one. Full Self-Driving is far from a fully self-driving system; it adds automated lane changes, Navigate on Autopilot functionality, automated parking, and a summon feature.

Review continues below
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2021 Tesla Model X

Features

The 2021 Tesla Model X might not always feel like a luxury vehicle, but its feature set lives up to the billing.

A quick and intuitive 17.0-inch touchscreen with regular over-the-air updates serves as the centerpiece of the 2021 Model X interior. But outside of that the Model X has enough comfort and convenience features to satisfy those who want a product that represents leading-edge technology and a luxury statement, at once. Altogether, it earns an 8 out of 10 for features.

Which Tesla Model X should I buy?

There really aren’t a lot of choices in the Model X lineup, aside from powertrains, seating configurations, the Full Self-Driving option, and cosmetic wheel and paint upgrades. 

Among all of them, we see merit in going big with the Model X, aiming for the top Performance model. The six-seat layout makes the most sense, with easier access to the third row.

Equipment is solidly in the luxury-car category, but by no means over the top. A nine-speaker audio system, synthetic leather upholstery, a HEPA air filtration system, and wood ash trim are included, as are heated seats for every passenger (all three rows), and a heated steering wheel.

The 17.0-inch touchscreen system controls nearly everything, so it’s a good thing the system is so clear, quick, and intuitive, with a near-flat menu structure. The voice-control functions are impressive, too.

Tesla banks a lot on its capability for over-the-air updates, and they regularly add new features. It also means you can purchase feature sets like Full Self-Driving after you purchase your car from the factory. 

The Tesla Model X ranges from $81,190, including a $1,200 destination fee. The Performance starts $20,000 above the Long Range Plus, meaning you’ll be paying six digits for the insane (or is it ludicrous) sub-three-second 0-60 mph time. 

How much is a fully loaded 2021 Tesla Model X?

The Performance model, optioned with the most expensive six-seat interior, the $10,000 Full Self-Driving package, and wheel and paint upgrades, adds up to $127,190, by our tally.

Access to the Supercharger network is another strong feature included with the Model X—with free unlimited Supercharging. 

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2021 Tesla Model X

Fuel Economy

The 2021 Tesla Model X offers the longest driving range of any electric crossover.

The 2021 Tesla Model X doesn’t burn any gasoline and has a driving range that spans up to an EPA-rated 371 miles. For those two reasons it gets a 10 out 10 here. 

That said, it’s one of the most efficient plug-in SUVs on the market, too. Its range continues to get better each year—with some of these offered to vehicles already on the road through over-the-air upgrades. The Model X Performance is now rated 341 miles, or 300 miles when you upgrade to the 22-inch wheels (likely not worth it from what we’ve heard). 

Tesla’s strength isn’t merely putting a big battery into the Model X, but overall efficiency. The Model X Long Range offers 105 MPGe—which equates to about 35% farther on each kilowatt-hour of electricity you give the battery versus the similarly big, heavy Audi E-Tron.

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$79,990
MSRP based on Long Range Plus AWD
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7.8
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 6
Performance 8
Comfort & Quality 7
Safety N/A
Features 8
Fuel Economy 10
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