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Consumer Reports thrashes Tesla’s Model X in unofficial review

Published Apr 19th, 2016 3:09PM EDT
Tesla Model X
Image: Tesla

Tesla may still be riding high on reports that they’ve already tallied nearly 400,000 reservations for the Model 3, but the company’s crossover SUV — the Model X — just can’t seem to catch a break. About a week after Tesla issued a voluntary recall for all Model X units ever sold, Consumer Reports has come out with a less than flattering look at Tesla’s SUV.

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According to the report, early Model X vehicles are plagued by first-year production problems and quality control issues. We should, however, point out that the report is not based on any thorough review of the Model X, but rather seems to be based on a number of problems that a lone individual named Michael Karpf experienced shortly after plunking down $138,000 for a P90D Model X. Nonetheless, when you’re paying six figures for a car it’s not unreasonable to expect few, if any, serious issues to emerge.

One of the wildly designed, upswinging “falcon wing” rear doors failed to close. The other falcon wing door failed to open, except from the inside. One falcon door didn’t sense an overhang and bashed into it, leaving a ding in the door. The driver’s door window wouldn’t motor down properly, until it dislodged a piece of chrome stripping that was restricting its progress.

In addition, there are manufacturing design issues. For example, the Model X’s uniquely curved windshield has resulted in “double vision” distortion of headlights, taillights, and streetlamps at night. The effect is distracting and tiring, and it makes following distances difficult to gauge.

Then there was an AutoPilot self-driving issue that occurred when the road’s shoulder fell away; Karpf’s car became confused, requiring Karpf to take command. Lastly, the Model X’s heating system was insufficient to keep the SUV warm on a brisk Lake Tahoe evening.

It’s clearly not a good look for Tesla, though to their credit, Karpf told Consumer Reports that Tesla fixed his problems quickly once he brought his Model X into the shop.

When reached for comment, Tesla naturally attempted to minimize the scope of the problem.

“While we have seen some issues with early Model X builds,” Tesla conceded, “the issues are not widespread, and we are working closely with each owner to respond quickly and proactively to address any problems. We will continue to do so until each customer is fully satisfied. This commitment is one of the reasons why 98 percent of our customers say they will buy another Tesla as their next car.”

If any part of this song and dance sounds familiar, it’s because we’ve already see this little public relations back and forth play out with the Model S. This past October, Consumer Reports called the Model S’ long-term reliability into question upon discovering that many owners experienced any number of longstanding problems affecting all aspects of the driving experience, from charging issues to glitches with the car’s 17-inch digital console.

Responding to the report, Tesla at the time conceded that early production models did have some quality control issues but that the company had since addressed most of them.

Yoni Heisler Contributor

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large for over 15 years. A life long Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW. When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.