Yesterday, I reviewed the Tesla Model X, a crossover sport-utility vehicle with doors that open like a giant bird attempting to take flight in a slow-motion instant replay. Today, I’m going to show you all the Model X’s quirks and special features.
There are a lot of them.
I’ll start from, well, the start: turning on the Model X. There’s no switch, button or spot where you insert the key into the car to turn it on. Instead, the Model X starts in a 2-stage process. Walk up near it with the key in your pocket, and it wakes up, turning on the interior screens and the lights to let you know it’s watching you. Then, you open the door, get inside and start the vehicle by simply placing your foot on the brake. At this point, “Car Off” disappears in the gauge cluster, the door automatically swings shut, and you’re ready to shift into gear.
But there’s so much more to cover before we get going. See the 2016 Tesla Model X models for sale near you
Let’s talk about the doors. Oh, the doors. I think I could write about four columns on the doors alone — and I’m not only talking about the falcon-wing doors in back.
One of the most interesting things about the doors is simply the way they open. There’s no traditional handle that you pull. Instead, where the door handle would normally be, there’s a chromed piece that you push.
Naturally, there are pros and cons to having doors you push to open. The primary benefit is obvious: You just walk up, push the door, and it opens automatically. This includes front doors, which unlatch themselves when you press their little silver things. The primary drawback may be less obvious. I park in an extremely narrow space next to a wall, and on one occasion, when I was sliding out of the Model X, my butt accidentally pushed the silver thing on the rear door, causing it to fully open.
And when those rear doors open… oh, boy, you’re in for a treat. And by “a treat,” I mean something you may grow to love or hate, depending on your point of view and your patience. Of course, the first few times the doors open, you can’t help but love them. They’re cool. They’re unusual. They’re exciting. But then, if you’re like me, things start to annoy you — and they aren’t necessarily the things you might think.
As I demonstrated yesterday, all the hubbub about the doors not opening in a low garage or a tight parking space is mostly untrue. But here’s something I noticed: You’re walking away from your Model X, and you realize that you’ve left a piece of paper you need in the back seat. And so begins the Door Process.
First, you walk up to the doors and press the silver thing. Then, you get out of the way so the sensors know the door can open without hitting you. Then, you wait for the giant doors to do their little thing, which is a 6- or 7-second situation. Then, you reach in and grab what you forgot. Then, you go to close the doors, which involves going through the Door Process once again. I demonstrated this in my video — the total time it takes from walking up to the door to walking away is something like 22 seconds. In a normal automobile, with a normal door, it’s more like 2 seconds.
The other thing I didn’t like about the doors is the crowd they always seem to draw. This, of course, will depend on your surroundings and your own desire for attention, but where I live — in a crowded city where people are always walking around — the doors drew points, stares, questions and constant camera-phone photographs. It got to the point, near the end of my time with the Model X, where I was only opening the front doors just to avoid the attention.
But I don’t want to make it seem like I drove around in the Model X annoyed and angry with its quirks. There are also some things about this car that I absolutely freaking love.
Take, for example, the windshield. The windshield is an enormous piece of glass that stretches well over your head so that it functions as sort of a sunroof-windshield combo, with a panoramic view to the sides and even up above. A lot of people have complained that the windshield lets in too much heat, but these people are wrong. It’s awesome. I loved it.
There’s also the center screen. A lot about the Model X’s center screen has been already been written, discussed and filmed, so I won’t dive into too many details here — except to say that I wish this was in every single car currently in existence. It’s incredibly intuitive, quick to respond and easy to use, and Tesla has made sure the items you frequently use (like the heated seats and the climate controls) are always displayed, so you can constantly reach them without having to go through a myriad of menus. This, to me, is unquestionably the best infotainment system in any modern automobile.
I also loved Autopilot. I love driving, so I didn’t want to love Autopilot, but I really, truly, deeply enjoyed using it. Two pulls of the cruise control lever, and you’re transported into the future — a world where your car goes around highway turns, slows downs, speeds up and even changes lanes entirely on its own. The best part is that Autopilot doesn’t really take the place of driving. Instead, it’s there for you to use when you’d rather not constantly drive, like on long highway trips or in heavy bumper-to-bumper traffic where cars are slowly inching forward. If you want to visit a curvy road or floor it as you speed down an on-ramp, you are, of course, still free to do that.
So the Model X is quirky. I knew the Model X would be quirky. But frankly, I wasn’t appalled by the quirks. Instead, I found them rather endearing, with each new quirk provoking amusement and laughter regardless of whether it was a good quirk or a bad one. And in the end, here’s what I discovered: The Model X certainly has a little more “weird” than a normal SUV. But I think it also has a little more character. Find a 2016 Tesla Model X for sale
Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.
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