Last week, I was lucky enough to attend one of Tesla's (NASDAQ:TSLA) Meet Model X events here in Denver. Since production is currently supply constrained right now, Tesla is doing a nationwide tour to allow reservation holders and members of the press take a look at the new electric SUV. Tesla hasn't opened up Model X test drives to the public quite yet, mostly because it doesn't want to encourage additional demand until it can fulfill some orders.
And these events also help with that process, too, since reservation holders are able to convert their reservations to confirmed orders on the spot (if they haven't already). Fellow Fool Daniel Sparks and I attended and were able to meet with some customers, and we were each also able to take Model X out for a spin.
Here are some of my initial impressions.
A car this big shouldn't go this fast
Naturally, the units that were available were top-of-the-line P90D models with ludicrous mode. It's a little jarring to sit in a full-sized SUV carrying seven passengers that's capable of getting to 60 mph in 3.2 seconds. At the launch event last year, Elon Musk said, "This car goes so fast it's wrong." I think I agree with that statement.
It's wholly unnecessary, and the 90D and 70D trims that most average consumers will likely opt for are still plenty fast enough.
And those doors
The falcon-wing doors are easily the most striking feature of the car, and they do functionally make the car a lot easier to get in and out of, including the second- and third-row seats.
Speaking of the second- and third-row seats, they are much more comfortable than the typical seats found in an SUV. Headroom in the third row might be a tight fit for tall people, but other than that it's fairly spacious in the third row (especially compared to my previous Acura MDX).
I do wonder if the doors may prove troublesome later on, though, and the out-of-warranty repair costs will probably be quite high considering their complexity. Only time will tell.
Only two possible compromises
While Tesla bills the Model X as "the SUV uncompromised," there are two areas that could turn out to be potential compromises. These aren't necessarily new observations. Rather, they're mostly things that have already been noticed in the design of the car, but seeing both aspects in person highlighted them. It's unclear at this point how demand may or may not be affected.
The falcon-wing doors preclude any type of roof rack, which would likely be able to store more than the accessory hitch that's offered. And the second-row seats do not fold down, a ubiquitous feature in SUVs. Again, these potential compromises have been well documented following the launch event last year. It's possible that Model X buyers won't mind these sacrifices, either, since there are functional gains from the design decisions.
Overall, the Model X is an amazingly capable car that offers a wider range of functionalities than the Model S and should appeal to a new category of buyers. But more meaningfully, if Tesla's expected forthcoming "Model Y" affordable crossover takes any cues from the X, then Tesla will have a strong follow-up to the Model 3. And we all know how much Americans love SUVs.