I took a $163,000 Tesla Model X SUV on a road trip and discovered Tesla’s greatest weapon isn’t its cars | Digital Asia

Our Tesla Model X P100D test car at a Supercharger.

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Our Tesla Model X P100D test car at a Supercharger.
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Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider
  • The Tesla Model X is unrivaled in the EV market in terms of its ability to deliver performance, range, and cargo capacity.
  • I first drove the Tesla Model X in 2015 shortly before it was unveiled to the public.
  • Nearly three years later, I decided to take the Model X on a road trip and try out the Tesla Supercharger network.
  • We were impressed by both the Tesla Model X and the company network of fast chargers.
  • The base Tesla Model X 75D starts at $79,500 while our fully-loaded Model X P100D carried an as-tested price of $163,250.

Tesla unveiled the production Model X SUV in the shadows of its Fremont, California factory on September 29, 2015.

A few hours before the festive event where the Tesla-faithful convened to hear their almighty leader preach the gospel of Falcon Wing doors and Bio-Weapon Defense Mode, I became one of the first people in the world to drive the Model X.

Since then, Tesla’s crossover SUV has become a benchmark in the industry. As a large premium electric crossover SUV, it inhabits a segment all by itself.

It truly doesn’t have any direct rivals. There are no other EVs out there that can match the Model X in terms of performance, range, and cargo capacity.

Nearly three years have passed since I last drove the Model X. So I figured a road trip from Northern New Jersey to Wilmington, Delaware would be a good opportunity to check out a new Model X P100D and get reacquainted with the Tesla SUV.

In addition, the 120-mile drive would finally give me the opportunity to try out Tesla’s vaunted Supercharger network.

Although I’ve spent plenty of time behind the wheel of Tesla’s Model S and Model 3, they’ve generally been drives near Business Insider’s headquarters in New York . Which means I usually never burn off enough range to require a recharge.

For our road trip, Tesla provided us with a fully-loaded Deep Blue Metallic Model X P100D that costs a hefty $163,250. The base Tesla Model X 75D starts at a more affordable $79,500.

Here’s a closer look at our road trip with the Tesla Model X P100D.


Here it is! Our Tesla Model X P100D test car. The Model X’s rounded edges and sleek, aerodynamic profile are signatures traits of the Tesla look. Naturally, the Falcon Wing doors take center stage.

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They are perhaps the most striking feature to appear on any of Tesla’s vehicles. Fortunately, the electrically operated, double-hinged doors are also immensely useful — making ingree and egress from the second row a breeze.

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Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

Outback, there’s a power-operated rear hatch and a fixed spoiler. The spoiler, while useful in delivering downforce, does obstruct rearward visibility.

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Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

Inside, our Model X was decked out in white leather, dark ash wood, and black Alcantara. There’s also Tesla’s famous 17-inch vertical touchscreen.

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Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

In front of the driver is a large, configurable digital instrument display.

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Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

With no internal combustion engines to be found, the front of the Model X is free to serve as a trunk or in this case, a frunk.

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Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

Open up the hatch and our five-seat Model X boasts acres of cargo room. There’s even a nifty cargo divider.

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Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

The Model X can also be had in six or seven-seat configurations.

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Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

After meeting up at Newark Penn Station, we pick up our test car from a nearby parking lot.

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Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

Time to head south! Onwards to Delaware.

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Google Maps

On the road the Model X is terrific. It’s smooth, whisper quiet, and it’s pair of electric motors deliver effortless supercar-esque acceleration. We didn’t get a chance to do instrumented acceleration runs, but we wouldn’t be shocked if our test car could reel off sub-3.0-second 0-60 mph times.

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Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

With the massive 100kWh lithium-ion battery pack located below the passenger compartment, the Model X boasts a remarkably low center gravity for a large SUV. As a result, it’s a capable performer around corners and feels steady and planted when pushed.


On the highway, we were able to try out Tesla Enhanced Autopilot. Enhanced Autopilot isn’t a semi-autonomous driving system. Instead, it’s an advanced form of adaptive cruise control.

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The adaptive cruise control function worked perfectly. The steering assist did keep the car in the middle of the lane. Although, I was forced to take over a few times when it pushed the car a little too close to a line of semi-trucks for comfort.

Driver initiated lane changes also worked well.

In the future, Tesla believes Enhanced Autopilot will be able to automatically change lanes, transition between highways on its own, and exit highways automatically.


About an hour into the trip, we stopped for lunch in Hamilton, New Jersey after which I decided to top off the battery at a Supercharger. The Hamilton Supercharger station boasts six Superchargers. When I got there, four of the six were full.

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Tesla currently operates a network of more than 10,000 Supercharger stations around the world. Each station boasts multiple 480-volt DC fast chargers and designed to be a safety net for Tesla owners on long roads trips.

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Tesla

According to Tesla, Model S and Model X owners receive 400 kWh of complimentary Supercharger credits every year which equates to roughly 1,000 miles of driving. If an owner uses up the free allotment, additional credits can be purchased.

Model 3 owners do not receive free Supercharger credits and must pay to use the network. Prices for Supercharger use are set based on the state or country within which the station is located.


The location and availability of the Superchargers are also clearly shown on the car’s navigation system. In fact, the Tesla navigation system will even build-in Supercharger stops into its route guidance if it sees that the car will have a low charge when it reaches the destination.

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The process of using a Supercharger is incredibly simple. Pull your Tesla up within range of the charging lead and…

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Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

…Open the charge port using a button located inside the car. The charge port will also open on its own if it detects the presence of the charging lead.

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Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

And then just plug the charger into the port.

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Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

When it’s time to go, press the button atop the plug and it will disengage.

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Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

And if you try to drive off with the driving charger still plugged in, don’t worry. The car won’t let you.

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Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

My first Supercharging experience got off to a rocky start. The first stall didn’t work. It would try to initiate the charge, but couldn’t. We tried to unplug and replug the charger a couple of times. Nada.

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Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

Finally, we decided to move to a neighboring stall. Bingo! Worked like a charm!

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Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

Even though the Supercharger is located next to a Barnes & Noble, we decided to hang out in the Tesla and surf the web.

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Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

We only spent about 25 minutes at the charger, but got enough juice to get us to our destination and then some.

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Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

After a weekend in Delaware, it was time to return to New Jersey.

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Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

This time, we made a stop at the Claymont, Delaware Supercharger Station.

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Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

It’s located next to a Wawa. If you haven’t had their food. You’re really missing out.

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Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

All good. This time everything worked without a hitch. The car got charged and we were soon on our way.

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Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

As enjoyable as Tesla’s cars maybe, the star of our road trip is undoubtedly the Supercharger network.

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Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

Over the past year, we’ve had the chance to experience electric cars from Tesla’s mainstream rivals – Chevrolet and Nissan. While both have put out very impressive vehicles in the Bolt and the Leaf, neither manufacturer boasts the type of fast charging network available to Tesla owners.

Even though new generation EVs deliver enough range to alleviate range anxiety around town, long road trips are still virtually impossible. With the Supercharger network in place, Tesla is not only able to further placate those with fears of running out of juice in everyday driving, but also make multi-state road trips a reasonable reality for EV drivers.

I am aware of the fact that even with Superchargers, EVs still take way longer to recharge than it takes to fill up a tank of gasoline. It’s still a major step forward in EV infrastructure.

In all honesty, the Supercharger is Tesla’s greatest advantage.

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