The Ute for the Lunatic SUV Fringe
Much has been made of Tesla’s ballyhooed Insane and Ludicrous modes of operation. The intensity of performance these modes unleash is utterly unlike that of any other road-legal mode of transportation, so those names are well earned. But utter uniqueness is a driving attribute shared to a less extreme extent by every Tesla Model X, so perhaps the standard operating mode on a lesser model such as this 75D deserves a name. We propose Adventurer mode.
No, this rig isn’t optimized for exploring the remotest backcountry, though its prodigious electric all-wheel torque, hill-descent-controlling regenerative braking, and available height-adjustable air suspension give the X decent off-road chops. Nor is it the conveyance in which to haul the gear outdoor adventures such as kayaking, canoeing, surfing, skiing, or anything else require, as there’s no way to fold down the middle-row seats or lash anything to the roof. (Note that an accessory hitch permits many such smaller items to hang off the back of the vehicle.) Rather, the adventure here is a techno-trailblazing one that will have you surprising and delighting first-time passengers for years to come with the crazy panoramic visibility out the scalp-scalding windshield, with the look-ma-no-hands optional Autopilot mode, and with Easter egg upgrades that could arrive overnight any time the car is parked with robust internet connectivity—like the Super Mario Brothers–inspired “rainbow road” and cowbells Autopilot gimmick.
There’s also an inherent sense of adventure tinged with danger that comes along with beta testing features like auto-park and even in operating the falcon doors and power-opening front doors because they sometimes malfunction and hit nearby walls or vehicles. Constantly moving the visor to keep your eyes shaded on a sunny twisting road is sort of like becoming a heliologist, and inventing ways to block the sun shining through the side windows (which the visors can’t reach) will make owners feel like MacGyver.
And although not as extreme a rocket sled as its Ludicrous big brother, the 75D will still pin occupants to their seats when the accelerator drops and load the side bolsters of said seats while flatly whooshing around any corner. Together, its two motors and 75 kW-hr battery pack combine to deliver 328 hp and 387 lb-ft—well below the P90D Ludicrous’ 532 hp and 713 lb-ft, but at 5,178 pounds (2348.7 kg), it’s also 338 pounds (338.3 kg) lighter. The 60-mph dash takes just 5.5 seconds. That’s 2.3 more than the Ludicrous but about the same as a Jag F-Pace S AWD. The quarter mile falls in 14.1 seconds at 100.6 mph (161.9 km/h), 0.2 behind the Jag at nearly the same trap speed.
Our test vehicle’s 20-inch Continental CrossContact LX Sport tires (265/45 front, 275/45 rear) certainly rode more comfortably than the P90D’s 22-inch Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetrics (265/35 front, 285/35 rear), but they maintain a looser grip on the tarmac, with the 60-mph braking distance stretching from the P90D’s 106 feet to 113 and max-lateral grip dropping from 0.89 to 0.84 g. The lost grip and reduced power lowers figure-eight performance from the P90D’s 25.1 seconds at 0.78 g (average) to 26.7 seconds at 0.70 g. But here again, that performance is none too shabby, matching as it does those of light, lithe, sporting all-wheelers like the Range Rover Evoque and Lincoln MKC 2.3 AWD EcoBoost.
Bottom line: If you long for the daily sense of wonderment that can come from driving a futuristic pod that essentially does everything slightly differently from “normal” vehicles and if your SUV needs pretty much start and end with a high seating position and enough hood to distinguish you from the hordes of minivan drivers, then rest assured that a Model X 75D (or perhaps even a 60D) will absolutely deliver 90 percent of the everyday adventure you’d get from the top-performing Ludicrous models at a price that starts out $42,500 USD cheaper than a P90D with Ludicrous Speed upgrade. Just understand that with any Model X, you won’t be carrying big things, and you may occasionally be required to leave apology notes on the windshields of parked cars your doors have attacked.
|2016 Tesla Model X 75D|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$94,700|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, AWD, 6-pass, 4-door SUV|
|MOTORS||Three-phase four-pole AC induction, 259-hp/244-lb-ft front, 259-hp/244-lb-ft rear; 328-hp/387-lb-ft comb|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||5,178 lb (48/52%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||198.3 x 81.5 x 65.0-67.6 in|
|0-60 MPH||5.5 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||14.1 sec @ 100.6 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||113 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.84 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||26.7 sec @ 0.70 g (avg)|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||91/95/93 mpg-e|
|ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY||37/35 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||0.00 lb/mile*|