Last updated 09-Jan-2023
The Model X was the second mass produced car from Tesla and has been in production since 2016. Production pause for a year in 2021, but in 2022 we saw a major update, but other than that there have only been a few incremental changes to the car. These were largely limited to increases in battery size, the MCU update and tweaks to the motors and suspension. There have, however, been a large number of small changes to the car addressing low level issues and through continual improvement. An early car is quite different to the current models, and even the last models made in 2020.
You're probably here because you're interested in the Model X, in which case probably only the Model Y is a possible consideration, especially if you want 7 seat capability. The Model S is in a similar price point but is lower and while having great storage, can't compete with the Model X.
The Model Y for passengers is relatively close to the Model X in 5 seat configuration, although the seats are not as good, while the model X in 6 amd 7 seat configurations is in a class of its own. The main difference witht he Model Y in 5 seat form is the storage space, the Model X being significantly greater. We've created a video to run through some of the changes. The Model S shares the same platform and has plenty of room for 5 adults, but the previous jump seats in the rear have been dropped and even when they existed, the rear facing nature of them and lack of ventilation made them only suitable for small people and short trips. There's just something about the Model X that makes it fairly unique.
You may also want to see what you can get for your money across the Tesla range and our Tesla Worldwide Inventory Search enables you to do just that, listing both new and used cars, and those sold by Tesla and through 3rd parties. We believe this is the only resource in the world that does this.
After a period of 2 years, the Model X is now starting to become available in many markekts in Left Hand Driver form, having previously being limited to the NA markets in 2022. Car's like the e-tron, EQC and iPace are all smaller and as first generation cars for their makes are all somewhat compromised. The new BMW iX is also a contender in this price bracket and wins on comfort and luxury, although it is only a 5 seater and lacks on overall interior space. The 2022 update was fairly big, focusing on the interior and some changes to the drivetrain, although the chassis is still the same and overall we were a little disappointed with the extent of the changes. If you're looking at older cars, as we've hinted above, there have been many changes over the years to address issues, and the easrly cars could be quite unreliable. The car is also large and while efficiency is good all things considered, the early 60 and 75 models are quite low on real world range.
Tesla have adopted two basic naming conventions over the years for the model variants. The older system used a combination of letters and numbers:
The later convention is to simply quote range e.g. Long Range (100D) or Performance (P100D), although more typically they use "Dual Motor" for the long range and "Dual Motor" for the performance (note the underline). With the 2022 model change, the Performance model became the Plaid model.
There have been few significant changes to the Model X since its launch. Tesla do make many smaller changes all the time with the the changes to the Model X documented here.
All cars come with autopilot hardware with all but the very earliest cars using the Tesla system. More details on Autopilot are below.
The Model X had a lot of running model changes to address design issues over the life of the car, but relatively few significant ones.
The first major change was the update to the MCU in 2018. The new MCU was significantly quicker in operation and unlocked some capabilities such as sentry mode and dashcam, although these features also improved with the advances in autopilot hardware.
The next significant change came in 2019 with the Raven model including the improved suspension and different motors. Tesla have also made tweaks to battery and motors and the Long Range became the Long Range+ but essentially it was the same car with just some performance tweaks.
The car was out of production in 2021 and came back as part of the Paladium programme in 2022 (although sometimes the new model is called a 2021+) with a significant interior update. There were a few other changes such as tri-motors with the introduction of the Plaid model. Even since it's launch, and possible to standardise build to meet European needs, a number of other changes have been made including changes to the charge port (European cars now have a native CCS port) and the lights.
If looking at used, we'd suggest avoiding the earliest Model X cars, especially those with the smallest batteries as the range is quite limited and we'd suggest a Model Y in preference. The only reason for an early MX over a MY would be for 6 or 7 seats, but be prepared to incur out of warranty expences and low range. Supercharging those older cars is also relatively slow.
The 2022 updated Model X has now started to roll off the production line for the US and proably Canada shortly behind. Given the strong residuals of used Model X we suspect it will be worth trying to get a new car if you can. Inventory cars of the MS 2021 do appear especially around quarter end so it may be worth keeping an eye on our inventory pages for when they are listed.
After determining the model of car, the battery capacity and therefore range is the next main consideration (accepting exterior and interior colour is personal choice). Tesla have offered a 60, 75 and 90 battery and later a 100 kwh battery, before finally dropping the 75 battery altogether. The 75 battery has a relatively short range especially in winter so in cold climates or for anybody who expects to travel more than 150 miles in a day, we would recommend looking at the 100/long range battery. We would definitely avoid the 60kwh battery.
The actual range is subject to a lot of factors including temperature and the type of roads you are driving on. Faster driving, especially in the Model X reduces range quickly and the larger cabin can require more energy to heat in colder weather. You are also unlikely to want to start from 100% and end on 0% and therefore the working range is approximately 80% of the theoretical full range.
There have been a number of variants of the Model X with a variety of batteries each with different range and performance figure. Tesla use a hidden model iteration code to denote the differences.
For each variant we have listed the predominant years the cars were being sold. Occasionally Tesla have unsold models which they first register alongside newer models, we have ignored these when this is obvious. Some model codes may only be available in some parts of the world. The specifications include the different testing regulations in place at the time they were tested. The most realistic measure of range is the EPA figure which reflects moderately paced driving in summer.
Except for very early Model X cars, all cars come with the Tesla system.
The level of autopilot features (assuming using Tesla hardware) is linked more to the software option chosen and less the hardware.
When looking at used cars, if you want Full Self driving capability it may be better value to find a car with that level of option already purchased as used prices do not reflect the purchase price of the option. However, if you find an otherwise perfect car at the right price it may be an option to pay for the upgrade after purchase.
There is a simple visual way to tell if the car has the Tesla Autopilot system or not and that is looking at the side repeaters on the front wing. If they have a camera built in they use the Tesla system, if they just show a Tesla logo, they are the older system.
If you have access to the car, or the seller has provided suitable screenshots then you can also refer to our guide to what options and hardware a Tesla has fitted..
From when the model S was launched up until around 2018 there many options available on the Model S. Some of these options became standard fit over time, others were dropped all together. We highlight the main ones:
Simply put, where there is a choice, the larger 22" wheels do look good, but are more prone to accident damage and they reduce range.
Originally an option this offered more leather and comfort but also features such as the hepa filter and the automatically opening and closing doors. Over time this had the hifi and cold weather pack added before become standard fit. Since 2019 all cars have effectively had pack.
The hifi upgrade was an option on the initial cars before it became standard fit. The sound was a marked improvement over the standard fit version.
The cold weather pack added heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel in most cases, and a heating element under the windscreen wipers. We provide a guide above to find out what is fitted to a specific car.
Until July 2017, the rear bench was a monopod design (similar to the 6-seat base) which allows a wide range of adjustment but prevents the seats from folding flat. From July 2017 onwards the seats changed to a sliding and fold flat design similar to the 7-seat model. The picture clearly shows the folding join on the seat back. If the bottom of the seat looks like the 6-seat monopod design below, and doesn't have an obvious pivot/join on the side, they are not folding. The 5-seat design us generally the least popular and cheaper model
The 6-seat option includes an electrically adjustable second and a third row of seating with individual seats and seen as the most comfortable option. There is also a HVAC system for the 3-row providing heating and cooling. Some cars have a central console which was a further option. The second/middle row of seats do not fold flat, whereas the 3rd row does. This is a popular option and commands a premium over the 5-seat model.
The 2021+ Model X Plaid is only available with the 6 seat configuration.
The 7-seat option includes a second and third row of seating. In mid-2017 they changed the middle seat to a folding design, before then it had a monopod design that did not fold. There is also a HVAC system for the 3-row providing heating and cooling. Cars with the second/middle row of seats that fold flat are the most versatile although some comment that the manual and not electric movement of the seats makes them harder to use. The folding seats do however make the car the most versatile being able to carry both 7 people and have fully fold flat seating, only losing out to the 6 seat version over some middle row comfort.
Early Model X had a detachable tow hook as an option before becoming standard fit. While the towing capacity of the Model X is very good, range can suffer significantly and can half the available range, and when using public chargers you will typically need to unhitch the trailer to gain access to the charge point.
Cars built before 2019 in certain counties (primarily Europe) did not have the capability to charge on the CCS rapid chargers. This can be retrofit by Tesla relatively cheaply but many cars will already have it and it is worth looking for. If buying a car with the CCS adaption, ensure the car is supplied with the physical adapter. Cars from 2022 in CCS markets such as Europe will have the CCS port as standard.
Cars built before mid 2018 were equiped with MCU1. This can be upgraded by Tesla which will offer better performance and depending on other hardware more features. Cars witht he upgrade are more desireable although check whether the radio module was added and whether that matters to you (the upgrade otherwise removed the radio.
To find out autopilot hardware, premium audio, cold weather pack etc, you need access to the car and follow this guide to find out what hardware versions a Tesla has. Many dealers are now including the required pictures in their adverts and those that do, clearly understand the cars.
The Model X came with free unlimited supercharging for the life of the car until April 2017, at which point only the first owner og a car had free supercharging and eventually the benefit being dropped altogether for new registrations. Given when the Model X was launched, very few cars will have the transferable free supercharging option.
Matters changed again in July 2019 where cars which previously had supercharging for the life of the car have had the free supercharging benefit revoked when passing through Tesla's hands, ie taken in as part exchange, or returned at the end of a finance agreement, even if Tesla then sell the car into the trade. A private sale not going through Tesla at any stage would retain free supercharging. You now need to check the details of any used car carefully to understand it's history of ownership, even if transiently by Tesla, to know whether the free supercharging has been retained or whether it has been revoked. We provide a detailed FAQ on this.
Below is what appears to be a lot of potential issues with the cars. Owners of cars, especially as they get older or reach higher miles should expect the need to perform routine maintenance or have to fix some common failures. Tesla parts can be expensive, but increasingly third part solutions are cropping up to solve the problem more cost effectively.
The large central screen on is called the media control unit or MCU for short. The US NHTSA have made Tesla recall them and while some cars may still be prefix, any issues would be covered by Tesla. The fix is to replace the memory board in the MCU with a larger capacity board and with better quality memory. Owners can also purchase the MCU2 upgrade which is a much more powerful system for about $2k.
The MCU memory issue is not the only issue with the MCU. A very common problem is the appearance of a yellow band around the edge of the screen. It's caused by the glue behind the screen failing and while the screen will require replacing, it still generally functions ok. Tesla originally replaced the screens but found these developed the fault again. They now have a technique with a UV light which manages to change the colour back with reasonable which seems to be generally working well.
Quite a few owners report the heating matrix failing. They hear a loud pop in the cabin and the heating then stops working. It's become a relatively common problem on the Model X often with a surge in the early Autumn as temperatures drop and the car starts using the heating matrix more than the cooling side. Tesla are not accepting this is a design defect and if the failure occurs out of warranty they will charge you for the fix. Prices are over $1000/£1000
Tesla cars are heavy and the suspension can take some punishment. Failures can occur when under full lock reversing, failure after hitting hit a moderate pothole, and even under hard braking. Issues are not that common but routine inspection of the suspension is advisable.
This is a common issue with led lights. Moisture gets in, accumulates and then fails especially is the drainage holes become blocked. Mild condensation is to be expected due to environmental factors but if water is visible beyond a quarter of the height, then it’s clearly not draining and is an issue.
The steering has a universal joint that can seize up making the steering feel very strange/stiff in places and reduces the self-centring nature of the steering. Out of warranty or as routine maintenance, simply get the universal joint cleaned and lubricated by a mechanic.
The front drive shafts have been problematic and Tesla have a new shim design but some owners still report issues. It's now almost seen as a characteristic of the car, especially the performance models. High speed vibration can also be a sign of an issue with the front airdam that changes the air flow to the battery radiator.
The Model X uses an innovative proximity sensor in the rear door that sees through the metal skin of the door. Unfortunately this sometimes fails or becomes detached resulting in a number of varied issues from not sensing an obstacle and hitting it, or failing to open altogether.
Grit can enter the under car plate which may need to be removed/cleaned. Not a major job, but still approx $200.
These are responsible for popping the doors open when the handle is opened. Again, another $200 or so repair per door.
You can't help but know the Model X rear doors open vertically and any water on the roof panel will run towards the centre of the car. There have been production issues where the seals have been installed back to front so rather than guide the water away, it guides water into the cabin. There is also a problem that they eventually fail and water leaks.
Model X cars come with 2 manufacturer warranties.
One covers the battery and motor and was originally for 8 years and unlimited miles, changing at the beginning of 2020 to be a mileage limited warranty. The original warranty had no performance guarantee as was effectively a failure warranty, whereas the replacement warranty for cars from 2020 offered a maximum degradation threshold.
The second warranty is the general car warranty for everything else. This lasts for 4 years or 50k miles, which comes sooner.
Tesla also offered a used car warranty of 4 years, 50k miles warranty or 2 years up to 100k miles in total depending on whether the car was under or over 50k miles. Some used cars may still have the some of this warranty remaining. For more recent purchases Tesla have changed the their used car warranty top one extra year after the current warranty expires.
We feel the pick of the range is the 100D or later Long Range and with either the 6 or 7 seat configuration. The 90D appears to have only a 10% smaller capacity but in practice it is 15% smaller, and as the working range of the battery is from 10% to 90%, the extra capacity translates to a benefit of 20-25% more working range.
While the P/Performance/Plaid models have extra power and accelerate faster, in such a large car it just makes feel ill. Given the capabilities of the non-performance version, it doesn't seem worth stretching for the top spec. The price premium of the MX Plaid over the Long Range would also have us buying the Long Range.
Given high used residuals, if you can buy a new MX Long Range, then we would over a used car. If you can't, then we would be tempted to wait or look at the Model Y as the price for a half decent used Model X appears unsustainably high.
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