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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Model X 90D: Test Drivers Wanted

The production ramp on the Model X has been accelerating and Tesla is eager to clear the backlog of orders and get some new ones.  To that end, they've been dispatching the X to stores and galleries so that we, the unwashed masses, can finally try to put our fingerprints on those glossy seat backs.
The Pittsburgh Ross Park Mall Tesla Store has received this Titanium X 90D for use as a test drive car and they're already scheduling the runs.  That's right, she's ready to roll.  So I went over to get a closer look.

When I arrived at Ross Park Mall, it was shortly after a fast downpour had rolled through.  The skies were still dark but brightening.  I expected to be underwhelmed by the Titanium paint, but it glistened through the intermittent clouds.
The color isn't the most flattering for the X -- that would be the Deep Blue and Midnight Silver -- but it has a lot of "travel" with deep shadows and bright highlights that turn golden when the sun hits it. A minor point for clean freaks, the door handles do not extend like the Model S ones.  On the S, you can open the door by only touching the inside of the handle, thereby keeping the surface clean.  On the X, that means-- at least for the non-Auto-Presenting rear doors-- that now you have to touch the outer surface of the "handle" to pop the door.  The chrome handle.  Okay, it's not a HANDLE at all...  The shiny focal point on the side of the vehicle.  The one place where every friction ridge and furrow can be clearly seen.  CSI fans will love it but the rest of us will be wiping those darn things off many times a day.   Side question: will the rear doors ever get Auto-Present?  That could be fun.
Instead of being dull, it has great depth in person-- not a "meh Toyota Camry beige" at all.  However, while practicality and potholes may necessitate it, the 20" wheels do not have the visual heft to balance the shape.  This vehicle really won't look like anything special until you mount up the 22" versions with their wagon wheel presence. 
 The 90D is probably what most buyers will be opting for, so it makes sense that Tesla has sent this version for test drives.  The P90D (with or without Ludicrous mode) can be approximated by the various Model S test drive cars available anyway.  Note the lower section on the X taillight for the turn signals.
You can see how the sun catches the depth of the paint as the skies were clearing.  Overall styling is a puffed up version of the S.  A big unspoken benefit of the unique doors is that the side panels can be sculpted and shaped with more form than sliding minivan door would allow.  Also, no tracks to hide.
I'd guess on a busy day the staff here can log a 100 test drive miles pretty easily-- and this one is just getting started.  Tesla says they're approaching 2000 builds a week, 40% of which are Model X.  With a VIN this low, it's likely that this X was pushed through while the ramp was still in its infancy but you'd never know it.  I didn't see any defects and-- again-- it's hard to believe this company is so new.
One of the big party tricks on the X are the Falcon Wing Doors, of course.  You don't need to read another yet long diatribe about the pro/cons and "whatevers."  Suffice it to say that these were working flawlessly and attracted a LOT of attention from shoppers passing by.  Someone even asked if THIS was the new $35k Model 3...  uh... NO.
Figured Ash decor was installed on this X and it is very nice.  At the moment it is only available in a matte finish (it would look spectacular in a semi-gloss).  It has deep grain and looks perfect with the tan leather in this X.  
Like the Model S, the X has an alcantara trimmed dash and standard center console.  The fit and finish quality on this particular X looked to be very good.  I appreciate how familiar it feels as an S owner.
The other big party trick on the X is the massive windshield.  Lots has been written about it, but think driving the X is necessary to really appreciate the difference-- something I hope to do soon.  The tint on the top edge is quite dark and given the cloud conditions I actually forgot the windshield was large until it was mentioned to me.  Well, hey!  Look at that...
The rear seat opening is vast, as expected.  This X has a 6 seat configuration and stepping into the third row is very easily done.  The second seat is shown here fully forward with the seat across in a more typical position for comparison.  There are also 5 seat and 7 seat versions available.  The seat backs are very glossy and shiny in person but seem to resist fingerprints pretty well-- or maybe my hands are greasy like a crying man-cub's would be?  Regardless, if you're concerned there are many owners who have wrapped them in the same paint protection film I used (Xpel) for about $100/seat.   It also comes in clear, matte, satin, etc. so you can change up the look while you're at it, or not.
With the third row folded the trunk is quite large-- but I don't think it's nearly as deep as a Model S with the seats folded.  The X, after all, is only a few inches longer than the S and very little of that additional length finds itself to the cargo area.  Even so, I have no doubt the overall cubic feet is a larger number.  Note how broad the aisle is between the back seat rows in the 6 seat version.
The rear portion of the center console holds what Model S owners with kids have longed for.  Proper cupholders!  They pop out horizontally from underneath two additional USB power ports.  Many speculate that the Model S will soon see a transition to this design-- if so, it might also become the best retrofit ever (if offered).
The seats are ventilated in addition to being heated now, but here's something I was not expecting.  If you look closely along the edge you can see a very thin line of contrasting piping.  The brown piping pulled the whole interior together with the Titanium paint-- it is a really sharp detail and very complementary.  If coordinating colors is your thing, the tan seats with brown piping might ALONE require you to get the matching Titanium paint..
I'm showing you the edge of the driver's door for a reason.  It shows how much progress Tesla has made in finishing their vehicles.  The trim is a small expense in building a car and something few will notice-- but I did, and I want you to as well.  It's here that the maturity of the company can be seen: a properly finished edge.
 Walking around the exterior again, I didn't see any glaring alignment or chrome trim issues.  The active rear spoiler looks a little strange when stowed (to my eyes) but that's not a build quality issue... I just think it adds too much visual mass when tipped up against the glass.
In addition to operating properly the falcon doors sealed smoothly and tightly after each cycle.  Hopefully the early teething problems with the alignment of the doors has been finally put to bed.  What would be interesting to know is if this X required any special attention to achieve its alignment or if it rolled off the line perfectly.  
So there you have it.  The X joins the S and the D and the P and all the other letters that Elon likes.  Go pay the store folks a visit and try one of them on for size!

TEST DRIVES/SALES at Ross Park Mall: 

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