Thursday night I climbed into the back seat of a Tesla Model X prototype to go for a ride. Tesla wasn’t letting anybody get behind the wheel of their freshly unveiled 7-seater electric crossover/SUV, but they were taking folks for a spin. A very, very short spin.
How’d I like it? This car has a ton of potential, even if $50,000 is a steep base price for a family hauler (fully optioned models will likely run north of $90,000). Combining room for seven and their cargo with the smooth, sporty handling and luxury style of the Model S with which it shares a platform, the X may well be nothing short of a blueprint for the modern minivan. The car’s falcon doors may be too ostentatious for some, but they’re cleverly designed to allow for maximum access to the rear seats even in tight quarters like home garages and shopping center parking lots. And the doors’ windows wrap overhead, creating scooped out interior spaces that equal extra headroom for third row passengers. Smart.
Getting in and out of that third row was near impossible, but that was in large part because the prototype’s second row wasn’t sliding fore and aft like production versions will. I’m also not entirely sold on the idea of bucket seats in the back of a minivan – I mean, crossover – but again: Prototype. What I do know is that in our short jaunt around a makeshift test course, the X exhibited quick acceleration and minimal body roll. Placing the car’s batteries beneath the floorboards in the middle of the vehicle not only improves driving dynamics, but it also opens up both front and rear trunks for cargo. Better handling and more room to lug stuff around? Again, smart.
Check out the short video clip shot during the unveil and my test ride. Then watch it again. You’ll have plenty of time to, as the Model X won’t begin shipping until late 2013.