Tesla's Model X configurator is live, prices start at $80,000


Tesla has finally opened up the online configurator for the Model X — but only on an invite-only basis. However, those lucky enough to access it will find a new, entry-level offering starting at $80,000.

For that chunk of change, buyers get an all-wheel drive Model X 70D underpinned by a 70 kWh battery pack that is good for a 220-mile range and a 0 to 60 mph time of 6.0 seconds. Of course, Tesla is quick to calculate that the car will only cost owners $61,000 after tax breaks and gas-savings. How long it will take for that to pan out, though, since gas is super cheap at the moment, is unclear. It's likely many, many years.

That's just the base price, however, and does not include add-on extras, like the $750 towing package (capable of hauling 5,000 pounds) or the $1000 cold weather package that includes a heated steering wheel, second- and third-row seat heaters and a few other creature comforts.

Of course, if you're not a bargain basement kind of EV driver, Tesla will still sell you the $132,000 P90D Signature model. And if you want to add Ludicrous acceleration mode, which can do 0 to 60 mph in 3.2 seconds, you'll need to shell out another $10,000.

If you're wondering how long you'll have to wait for your Model X, Tesla is estimating, depending on which model you choose, delivery sometime in 2016. That said, Elon Musk admitted in the quarterly earnings call that the company was having trouble with the falcon wing door seals. So it might be a bit later than expected.

Eerily quiet

Cruising at an eerily quiet 25 mph, the first thing that struck me about piloting the all-electric SUV was its Panoramic Windshield. Even while sitting further back (I'm 6-foot-5-inches tall), the windshield still stretched over my head.

It may seem like a headline-grabbing feature since it is unusual, but the Panoramic Windshield visually invites front passengers into the scenery and road ahead. Although I had the steering wheel firmly in both hands, looking out through the massive piece of glass—the largest ever fitted to a production vehicle— I felt like I was floating down the road.

Neck-wrenching

Breaking my momentary serenity, Straubel told me to hammer the throttle, as we were riding in the $142,000 P90D (Performance 90-kilowatt-hour dual-motor) Founder model with Ludicrous mode engaged. Forgetting the immediacy and severity of all-electric torque, I punched the throttle, unleashing all 259 horsepower in the front and 503 horsepower in the rear, and quite literally wrenched my own head backward.

I giggled a moment, as I reached back to grasp my mildly injured neck.

I giggled a moment, as I reached back to grasp my mildly injured neck.

After going full throttle a few more times and briefly enjoying watching the world melt passed my periphery in the Panoramic Windshield, I turned onto the slalom course. Slowly pushing into the accelerator once again, I hurdled the Model X through several S-corners.

To my amazement, I found the car incredibly planted while also remaining supple, in terms of ride quality. In addition to the competent air suspension, the stability comes from the front and rear motors ability to independently apply positive and negative torque. While the SUV body stays planted, so does the driver's. The well-cushioned seats kept me in place without making me feel as if I were being wedged into a small sarcophagus, as is the unfortunate feeling of tight sport seats.

17 speakers

Leaving the slalom, I turned back onto the straightaway. Instead of flooring the accelerator again, Straubel suggested I turn up the Model X's 17-speaker sound system. Tesla's press packet describes the precisely-placed speakers as being able to create a concert hall inside the cabin. Often this sort of description is akin to shameless embellishment. In the case of the Model X, however, it's pretty spot on.

There was little road and powertrain noise to compete with and the speakers didn't have much to contend with in the cavernous and well-constructed cabin either. The result is a sound experience that immerses the occupants rather than abrades them.

Falcon Wing doors

Pulling into a parking lot Tesla set up to demonstrate the flexibility of the Falcon Wing Doors, I slowly guided the Model X between a minivan and a full-size SUV. Leaving only a few inches beyond the sideview mirrors on either side, I commanded the car to open the rear doors with the push of a button on the center touchscreen.


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