The Tesla Model X is the company’s first crossover.

It’s got "falcon-wing" doors to squeeze up to five people in the back.

Our issue is, the car just doesn’t have much personality beyond its ornate rear doors.

Would you see this driving down the street and think "Wow, Teslas sure are sharp!"?

Thus far, journalists have loved the interior features, including a 17-inch touch-screen dash.

It’s basically a big iPad.

No doubt, the gull-wing doors will make loading/unloading a bit easier.

But is it worth the extra sticker cost and maintenance? And was there no other way for Tesla to design a vehicle that stands out?

Co.Design

Tesla’s Model X Has Every Single Feature, Except A Soul

As Tesla searches for its mainstream identity, we still don’t see what there is to get so excited about.

As of late, the automotive press has nothing but good things to say about the Tesla Model X. Shown for the first time in the flesh at the Detroit Auto Show, it’s already a hit, with $40 million in pre-orders thus far (though to put that figure into perspective, Tesla posted a $200 million loss last quarter).

We’re trying so hard to get the Model X, to rally behind the electric car that’s challenged the stubborn suits in Detroit, to fist pump a world that’s less reliant on fossil fuels. But all we see is an uninspired yuppie-mobile (do they still make yuppies?), a pornographic attempt at erotica. The DDD silicone bust line is the 17-inch touch-screen control panel. The “falcon-wing” doors are a pair of legs that stretch behind a neck. “Why is this necessary?” you ask. “Why not?” Tesla answers quickly, hoping you’ll be so smitten by the high beams that you won’t look too closely at the backend, which is the cross between a Prius and a Pontiac Aztek.

The gull-wing doors are of particular note. On a spec sheet, you’ll hear how easily they accommodate rear seating for five. But in practice, you have to wonder, is it really worth having gull-wing doors just to accommodate two extra people crammed into the equivalent of jumpseats? Would a family of seven really look to this car as their comfortable familymobile?

Looking back at car history, the gull-wing door--for however extravagant it looked--was actually a practical solution to a common problem. Sports cars rode close to the ground, so opening a door often meant a jewel of a car would scrape against uneven pavement. But the Model X is an SUV (or crossover, if you prefer that invented word). It already has more than ample ground clearance, and from what we understand, the Model X doesn’t actually fly, so gull-wing doors are inherently ridiculous.

Then why are the doors even there? Well the Model X is a generic-looking car. Not a single statement within the design is confident enough to say “I’m a Tesla, dammit.” Instead, designers attached these doors to do the shouting instead. Maybe that cheat would be fine if gull-wing doors weren’t such an expensive upgrade in a vehicle, and if their maintenance weren’t legendarily finicky. Instead, every Model X driver is really a donor subsidizing the curbside marketing budget of Tesla’s only, sadly extravagant brand identifier, just so fellow shoppers know that their particular generic SUV is actually really fast, fairly green, and costs a whole lot of money.

Honestly, we shouldn’t care this much, and we wouldn’t, were Tesla just another premium car brand that didn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. But someone needs to come around and make an electric car that’s aimed for the masses yet embodies everything great about “cars” rather than “electricity.” Chevy didn’t get there with the Volt. Tesla once looked like they may be close, at least for the premium market, but their results thus far have been wholly uninspiring.

See the car here.

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69 Comments

  • Nikola

    Starts out by not differentiating between gull wing and falcon wing doors (1 hinge vs 2 hinges), and not addressing the practicality of having the doors there (easily placing a child in the 2nd row while standing up, protected from rain). Please do your research before criticizing innovation.

  • Atsuvious

    Booooooh!!! Encourage innovation... PLEASE! We can start complaining about little things once more of the world adopts this kind of technology. Tesla is so far the only company bold enough to do it on this scale. I expect better from FastCo. I thought this was a publication that supports the prospect of a better future for earthlings. 

  • wildgirlyonder

    This is the first HONEST review I've seen.  And I'm going to repeat a comment I made on another site

    They are NEVER going to even take a piece of the market if they don’t
    fix some of the storage problems that they made on the Model S.

    How
    many cup holders? I mean really *2* - for 7 people?????? And they don't allow 2 medium drinks to sit side by side without crushing the cups. There is NO CENTER CONSOLE!  That thing in the front is solid but hollow and the arm rests slide up to cover the cup holders.  NO STORAGE there!  And between the seats, the well is empty-just carpet.

    Seat back pockets? Try to find them!  An AC Outlet or a USB plug that
    will charge an iPad-NOPE! How about a ski or a bike rack?  With the Gull Wing doors-yeah right!

    Current firmware will lock your keys in the car, and their
    Superchargers are already filling up. Non-EV people either just park in
    the spaces or someone comes and leaves their car there for an extended
    period of time.

    It sounds good and you focus on the display, but it is not quite ready for primetime! 
     

  • Kimberly Nish

     Sorry, but not cupholders!  More like places to grab.  As I've said, I have a Model S.
    However, IF they were cupholders, with those doors?????  How long till you forget you have a drink there and open the door?  Uh yeah, feel like being drenched with a coke?

    And I was told by a Rep from Tesla, that the two cupholders on the Model S aren't really cupholders either.  Instead, they are the ONLY authorized place in the car to have your key and guarantee the car working!! O_O  The key must be there BY ITSELF, (no other keys and not on a key ring)-not in your pocket or purse or they won't guarantee that the car will operate.  Yeah, on the freeway and the car loses the key signal-had it happen!

    People are already complaining about the waits at some of the SuperChargers.

    And as for this being Musk's family car??? I believe it is HIS car, but what about his significant other???   He must live a different life than I do.  No grabbing kids from school, sports equipment and musical instruments in the back, lap desk, (pencils and erasers in the back pocket) and a cooler there for  homework and a snack.

    I'm not saying it isn't completely innovative and a quantum leap forward!  BUUUTTTTT, Musk NEEDS to get some females on the design team that live in today's world, IF he wants to continue to charge the prices he is charging!

  • asshat

    Look at the pictures. The X has cupholders in the doors.  Nothing there says that Tesla who is marketing this car to the Minivan MomSUV crowd will not include all these people additions. Elon Musk has 5 kids and this is his family car.

  • Alejandro Villalpando

    If you want cup holders go to the Movies more often, you can have one on each side, and rest your seat. This is an electric SUV with the largest range ever reached, at the better price ever made. THULE is a great option to build some more space inside the car. 

  • derrick

    Whenever anyone is trying to accomplish something new or different, critic will line up with negativity. History is full people who said it couldn't be done, Wright Brothers, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford,have all had their new concepts pissed on. Tesla is no different, while I respects the writer view point he missed the obvious. The Tesla is the first car powered by more than 2 hammster that does not use gas, and does not sacrifice  horsepower. Last I check gas prices are going up and will only rise from here. The Tesla has range as in miles per charge, something no other car can offer. If I want soul I'll play Aretha Franklin but when giving a review I would perfer the writer to concentrate on all the things a vehicle has instead of what vehicle doesn't have. Falcon doors at 90mpge, never buying gas at 0-60 in 4.6 sec. Who cares about the darn doors? Consumers care about the price tag, he could have pissed on that alittle but, it is what it is.

  • Kellyolsen

    I've been driving cars for 42 years and haven driven the S all I can say is that it was the most exciting vehicular experience I ever had that did not involve a partner. The X is certain to be just as wonderful and I for one cannot wait to get behind the wheel of one.

    Don't like 'em or want one? Great, just stand aside and let the rest of us get to 'em.

  • Jered Markoff

    Tesla cars are minimalistic, and not for everybody. But the Tesla X is the only car under development that I look at and say "wow, I want to own one of those".  I suspect I'm not alone.

  • W S

    The Tesla X is a peace of ART combined with new technologies.  Really nice and very soon affordable to everyone.  Besides, it presents a valid solucion to the energy crisis. 
    There are some people such the ignorant who wrote the article.  What are you looking at? ...moron!!!  how much did you received to write such an infamous article?? ..Following your own lines, you do not have a soul neither ethics. Common sense is strange to you.
     

  • Whea7

    I fully respect Tesla for sticking to minimalist aesthetics.  They didn't fall in to the trap of "doing something different for the sake of doing something different" that so many companies fall in to.

    Sure, the Prius and the Volt look unique, but its their polarizing appearance that creates bipartisan factions of adopters and haters.

    Tesla doesn't have to worry about that.  Their cars are sleek, refined, and appropriately understated.  They don't yell at the world "LOOK AT ME I'M ELECTRIC AND EXPENSIVE" and yet they feel that way to the owner.

    But that's just my two cents.

  • Cooki

    This is the best concern trolling I've seen in awhile.

    All the bells and whistles the car has, free recharging via the supercharger network, etc.... and you complain about gull wing doors.

  • wildgirlyonder

    And what happens when the supercharging network fills up with people that don't want to charge their cars at home or just drop them off and leave them-come back in a couple of hours?  Or like is happening on the East Coast-people just swing into the parking space and leave for 12 hours? 

    And yes, I OWN a Model S!

  • Greg

    You don't get it.

    No soul = gas engine
    No soul = emissions
    No soul = a zillion buttons inside
    No soul = a zillion little, meaningless design moves outside
    No soul = a center of gravity so high the SUV rolls over
    No soul = a coefficient of drag so high you might as well be a cube
    No soul = doing everything like everyone else, always
    No soul = this write up

    Soul?

    Soul = silent power
    Soul = full battery every morning
    Soul = touchscreen for all controls, elegantly conceived
    Soul = Elegant exterior that does everything for performance (now that's real design)
    Soul + How to look great while doing item above
    Soul = the lowest center of gravity of any SUV...safety is soul
    Soul = the lowest coefficient of drag of any SUV...sustainability is soul
    Soul = having the courage to be better, not just different
    Soul = Tesla

    Please go drive a Model S. Did you even go to the auto show? Or did you look at someone else's pictures and stay behind the keyboard?

    You don't get it.

  • RBJ

    I agree. this car is weaksause. why did they have to make it look so goddamn average? The one thing this article misses though, which is rather odd, is that I'm told the tech which runs behind the flatscreen is actually rather fancy.. what of that?

  • Todd R. Lockwood

    High maintenance?! Tesla has already demonstrated with the Model S that their cars cost considerably less to drive and maintain than comparable gas powered cars. Fuel cost is on the order of 1/6 as much. After 8-years of driving, the average owner will get back 50% of the car's cost in the form of fuel savings.

    As for Tesla's financial condition, no quarter before Q1 2013 will tell you anything definitive about its prospects for the future. Try again in April.

    And by the way, those are falcon-wing doors, not gull-wing. There's a difference. These doors are hinged in the middle, allowing them to be opened in very tight quarters.