Roadside Intelligence

The Tesla Model X proves sporty and smart can come in one sophisticated SUV.


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After the success of the Model s electric-powered, four-door sedan, tesla has branched out into two distinct directions. clearly the super hot market niche these days are suVs, so tesla issued the Model X crossover. and recently, tesla announced the Model 3, a much more affordable four-door sedan. The reaction was “electric” (bad pun intended) because 400,000-plus people stepped forward with deposits for a car not yet produced. besides the completely green, electric-powered vehicles, tesla is forging ahead with some fascinating wave of future features.

To accommodate multiple needs, the Model X comes with three seating arrangements—five, six or seven seats. but the real highlight reel for the Model X deals with the dramatic access to the back seats. in what tesla calls falcon doors, the rear doors swing out and up will above the roofline. in that position entering the rear seats is greatly eased. and do not fear that doors are going to hit the roof above them. sensors will stop the door before it strikes anything.

The second row of buckets seats provides plenty of room, and with a push of a button, the seat lifts up and forward for entry into the third row of two seats. and even with the second row seats back in place, real adults can be accommodated in the last row. although there is not a huge area behind the last row of seats, it’s not a cause for concern. first, there is ample storage underneath the floor in the rear, and due to the small electric motors, there is also a trunk up front under the hood.

The Model X maintains the superior acceleration, “fuel” economy and range of the Model s. like its cousin, the Model X offers multiple levels of power and range. no matter what the powerplant choice, the gas mileage equivalent is about 90 mpg. depending on the sub-model chosen, the horsepower rating starts at 328 hp with a range of 237 miles with a full recharge and then goes to 417 hp (range 257 miles), 463 hp (range 250 miles), and finally, for real fun, 532 hp (range 250 miles). with the latter, acceleration is breathtaking since the torque is available instantly resulting in a 0-60 time of 3.3 seconds.

Tesla is clearly heading for a driverless vehicle, and the Model X is ready to go in that direction. when in the driver’s seat, one cannot miss the 17-inch, ipad-like video screen in the center of the dash. essentially, touching this screen handles various operations and choices with multiple windows. additionally, the screen can be divided into two separate ones. one of the better features is a rear camera, which can be operated at any time, and it provides a wide rear view, deeming the side mirrors more of an option than necessity. everything from internet access, bluetooth, to massive music choices is available. another 10-inch screen in the dash pod provides data such as range and other details.

Driving (or it driving you) makes this vehicle unique and shows the wave of the future. once inside, the leather-lined seats provide a lot of support. and you immediately notice that the windshield sweeps completely above the front seats. pressing the start button results in no sound and likewise until at highway speeds when some tire noise can be heard. road imperfections are easily handled.

But here is where the future is now. activate the self-driving mode, let go of the steering wheel and Model X stays in the lane, travels at the speed you pick, and drives itself. if someone comes your way, the X slows or turns or puts on the brakes. additionally, the X can parallel park or park in a slot without any driver input. according to tesla, once it’s legal—with a software upgrade— the X will let you set a location, and the suV will simply take you there sans driver input.

The bottom line is that tesla has jumped on to the suV wave, but ultimately and maybe more importantly, the Model X is ready for life-changing driving experiences.

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