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2021 Tesla Model X Review

No discussion of electric SUVs can begin anywhere but with the 2021 Tesla Model X. Sure, those top-hinged (“Falcon Wing” in Tesla speak) rear doors are a bit gimmicky, lacking practicality, but at its core, the Model X has impressive range, blazing acceleration, all-wheel drive and sports-sedan handling. To that resume you can also add a healthy list of safety/driver-assist technologies, over-the-air updates and rapid charging capability.

Actually, the Model X is really more crossover than SUV. It’s AWD focuses on foul weather rather than off roading. Not to mention, its ground clearance is about the same as most passenger cars. Moreover, its interior isn’t quite as plush as its price might suggest.

All in all, if long-range electric propulsion, roomy passenger space and better-than-average performance are your primary goals, the Tesla Model X checks the boxes. Find a 2021 Tesla Model X for sale near you

What’s New

Tesla axed its Long Range grade, replacing it with the longer-range Long Range Plus. In keeping with the speed descriptions from the movie Spaceballs, Tesla renamed its Model X Performance grade “Plaid.” With that change came a third electric motor.

What We Like

  • Impressive range
  • Loads of safety/driver-assist features
  • Breakneck acceleration
  • Available third-row seat

What We Don’t

  • No Apple CarPlay nor Android Auto
  • Touchscreen-only operation of most functions
  • Stingy available third-row seat
  • Federal tax incentives have expired

How Much?

$89,990 – $119,990

Fuel Economy

The Model X Long Range uses two electric motors – one for each axle – and a battery array to power all four wheels. It promises a range of up to 360 miles. Delivering a top speed of 155 miles per hour, it sprints from a standstill to 60 mph in 3.8 seconds. The Plaid model, with three motors, is faster and quicker, exploding from 0-60 mph in 2.5 seconds on its way to a top speed of 163 mph. Its range is a Tesla-stated 340 miles.

Bringing the battery array to a full charge from zero can take as little as 90 minutes with a Tesla Supercharger to four days with a 110V household outlet. Government-estimated mileage for the Long Range Plus is 109 MPGe in the city, 101 MPGe on the highway and 105 MPGe in combined driving. The Performance model drops to 100 MPGe city/95 MPGe highway/97 MPGe combined.

Standard Features & Options

Tesla offers its 2021 Tesla Model X in two AWD grades: Long Range and Plaid. Both have Tesla Mobile App capability, putting you in contact with your Tesla for remote unlock, remote pre-conditioning, location tracking, as well as several other functions. Several safety/driver-assist technologies are standard like blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control and emergency braking.

You may choose from five available exterior colors, but any color other than Pearl White will add from $1,500 to $2,500 to the bottom line. Because of Tesla’s total sales volume since launching, no federal tax subsidy is available. Some states, however, still offer a tax break on Tesla models.

Both Model X grades are similarly contented. The more affordable and less-performance oriented Long Range ($89,990 plus $1,200 factory destination fee) has standard equipment including 20-in. wheels, seating for five, a panoramic sunroof, 12-way power front seats, heated front/rear seats, a heated steering wheel, heated windshield-washer nozzles, dual-zone automatic climate control, LED headlights, LED fog lights, Bluetooth connectivity, 17-in. touchscreen, navigation, infotainment interface, Wi-Fi hot-spot capability, and a 17-speaker audio system with satellite-radio capability.

Ponying up the extra cash for the Plaid model ($119,990 plus destination charge) adds another motor, which significantly dials up the performance.

Increasing the seating from five to six will add $6,500. Boosting seating capacity from five to seven costs $3,500. Autopilot is Tesla’s driver-supervised self-driving technology. It includes self steering on freeways, automatic park and vehicle summon, among other features. Opting for Tesla Autopilot will set you back $10,000.


In addition to providing passive safety features like traction control and stability control, the Model X provides a full suite of standard safety/driver-assist technologies. They include front/rear park assist, emergency braking with pedestrian detection, collision warning, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keeping assist, lane-departure warning, 360-degree cameras and adaptive cruise control. The airbag count is eight.

Regardless of the seating configuration, the Tesla Model X received the highest score of 5 stars for the full battery of government crash tests. That includes a 5-star overall rating.

Behind the Wheel

Beyond altruistic environmental incentives, a huge reason to buy an electric vehicle (EV), is the instantaneous acceleration. All the available power is there as soon as you turn the ignition. Both Model X versions provide loads of thrust. The Plaid grade, however, with its third motor, is stupid quick. But, the Model X is as much about handling and driving dynamics as it is about jackrabbit quickness. The steering is responsive and the ride is comfy.

Although we appreciate the large touchscreen, we aren’t fond using it to perform nearly every available function. A few hard controls would be a welcome change and add a little interest to the otherwise plain dashboard. Likewise, for a vehicle priced in the $90,000-plus range, the cabin’s furnishings are rather dull.

The rear doors give us some pause, as well. Other than the 0-60 mph times, these doors are probably the Model X’s most compelling feature, but we aren’t convinced they won’t have serious reliability issues in the future. Besides looking cool when they are open, they serve no real purpose.

In a recent update, the Model X now allows the in-car Wi-Fi to function while this Tesla is being driven. The Model has become a mobile hotspot that gives passengers all the connectivity they want.

Other Cars to Consider

There isn’t much in the way of direct competitors for the 2021 Tesla Model X, but here goes.

2021 Audi e-tron – At just over 200 miles, the e-tron doesn’t have near the range of the Model X. It is, however, loaded with technology and a stunningly beautiful cabin.

2020 Jaguar I-Pace – Nor does the I-Pace with its 234 miles of range come close to that of the Model X. It is,though, nicely styled and furnished. And, it costs about 10 grand less than the Model X Long Range Plus.

2021 Volvo XC40 Recharge P8 – An all-new model from Volvo, the XC40 P8 will be smaller and won’t have near the range of the Model X, but it will be EV quick. Pricing had yet to be announced when this review was written, but it will be much less than than the Model X.

Used Tesla Model X – Although we’re not convinced of the long-term reliability of the Falcon Wing rear doors, a used Model X could save you a bundle over the new models.

Autotrader’s Advice

The 2021 Tesla Model X provides excellent range and performance. But, unless you are fascinated with the Falcon Wing doors or are going to opt for the additional seating, there’s not much reason to choose the Model X over the Model S sedan. The Model S Long Range Plus is roughly $10,000 less than the Model X, and offers more range and better driving dynamics.

If you are, however, going to spring for the Model X, we’d choose the Long Range version. Do you really need to arrive at 60 mph in the Plaid grade’s 2.5 seconds? Well, maybe you do. Then go for it. Find a 2021 Tesla Model X for sale

Related: 2022 Tesla Model X: Choosing the Right Trim

Russ Heaps
Russ Heaps is an author specializing in automotive, financial and travel news. For nearly 35 years he has covered the automotive industry for newspapers, magazines and internet websites. His resume includes The Palm Beach Post, Miami Herald, The Washington Times and numerous other daily newspapers through syndication. He edited Auto World magazine, and helped create and edit NOPI Street... Read More about Russ Heaps

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