Tesla Model X 2017 90d (90xb)
Owner Review

2017 Tesla Model X 90d review

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Faced with our accountant telling us for two years running that our 20-year old Chauffeur car business with German cars was sending us broke, it forced me into thinking outside the square.

A Tesla promised a minimum of ongoing maintenance and rectification costs. Tesla also had the very generous “FREE ENERGY FOR LIFE” deal at any of its Superchargers, which is a huge saving on the 207,000 kilometres the car has covered over the 30 months I’ve operated it. If I had been still in the Audi Q7, that would be close to $25,000 worth of diesel!

The worst thing about the Model X early build cabins is the solid second row seats. It is possibly the only SUV that doesn’t have lay-flat seats, although this has been rectified in newer models. Otherwise the seats are fantastically comfortable and have the easiest accessible third row of any SUV. The second row very conveniently moves forward and tilts on an electric single post. A winner!

It’s... not a pretty car. Front-on isn't great, the side and quarter views are better, with a strong rear-end.

I ticked the option for the stereo upgrade, and along with the free Spotify subscription you get for life, you will rediscover music of your youth, and endless new music of today. The Comedy channels are great - all free. It does need Apple CarPlay though.

This Model X is the best handling large SUV out there (at time of writing - Ed). Nothing can come close to it. It’s a simple physics exercise; if you remove the 250-350kg internal combustion engine and transmission from above the axle, and you replace it with a perfectly distributed 800kg battery pack that rests at or BELOW the axle height, with a fantastic all-wheel drive system and fat tyres, it's going to run rings around a BMW X5.

During the 207,000kms it’s covered, the car has gone into “limp mode” five times. With Tesla not having an extensive dealership network, this lack of service centres can be scary, but on four occasions, a phone call to the 24/7 help desk (who are able to carry out a full remote diagnosis of the car) has seen the fault rectified and had me sent on my way.

This is a free of charge service for life! I asked the local Service Boss why Tesla doesn’t charge for this rectification procedure. He responded that it’s counter-intuitive for Tesla to charge a client for something that has gone wrong on the vehicle if they can design it in the first place to be fixed remotely!

This, coupled with the fact that there are no scheduled services needed for a Tesla, allows you to quickly get back the premium you spend on the vehicle in the first place.

The one time the car couldn’t be remotely rectified only happened because a front engine bolt failed, dropping the engine enough to twist the main shaft, and damaging the motor beyond repair.

The two motors and battery are covered by an 8-year unlimited kilometre warranty, and the replacement was supplied and fitted within a week! Fantastic outcome.

The battery has stood up well, having only lost 25 kilometres of range since new. This is highly comparable to the loss of efficiency that any internal combustion car would experience.

During my time owning this car, it has had numerous updates and upgrades pushed through the “over the air updates” that Tesla provides free-of-charge for the life of the car. It’s constantly being made relevant, rather than superseded like what other brands enforce on their older fleet.

I’m waiting for a full main screen and ECU upgrade early next year, which will allow it to progress from level 2 autonomous driving to level 4.

I had been brought up with - and have operated - very high-mileage 6 and 8-cylinder cars over three decades. The Tesla, and the ecosystem that you will discover once owning one, will quickly pay you dividends and convince you it’s the best urban SUV money can buy.

NOTE: We've used a CarAdvice Model X 75D photo for the hero shot in this review.

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