Off-roading in a Tesla Model X

Tesla has demonstrated that an electric vehicle can do just about anything a legacy vehicle can do. Model S can beat all comers on the drag strip, Model X offers as much passenger and cargo space as you could want, and both are as safe as any other vehicles on the road. But what about going off that road, into the sand, mud or snow?

Above: A concept rendering of an off-road Model X conversion (Image: Auto Evolution via Mo Aoun)

Well, Model X may not be the equal of a jacked-up pickup in a stump-jumping contest, but it turns out that, for a luxury SUV, it can more than hold its own when the rubber leaves the road. Let’s take a look at four YouTube videos in which X owners recorded their off-road exploits (thanks to Tesla Motors Club member RobStark).

Above: Another look at Aoun's off-road Model X concept (Image: Auto Evolution via Mo Aoun)

To be sure, Model X is not meant to be an optimal off-road vehicle - it has a fairly low ground clearance and tiny tires compared to more “rugged” SUVs. However, with the 4-wheel-drive D package and the optional Air Suspension, it has what it takes to get at least a little way off the beaten track.


Above: Tesla Model X takes on a dirt road (Image: Mon Studio via Tesla)

A pair of wise guys from 420 motors put a Model X P100D through its paces at an off-road track in the desert. At first they’re skeptical, noting their X’s big rims and low-profile tires, and wondering if the Tesla’s air suspension is up to the job. Before long however, the dudes are impressed by the smooth ride, even on the whoop-de-doos.


Above: Taking a Tesla Model X P100DL off-road (Youtube: 420 Motors)

In another video, we see a Model X making its way through six inches of slimy, sticky mud. In a third, a Model X 90D with 19-inch Tesla Cyclone wheels and Pirelli Scorpion winter tires tools around what appears to be a working fruit orchard in Austria, towing a trailer piled high with firewood. Once again, the EV gets the job done, handling the snowy ground with aplomb.


Above: Tesla Model X takes on the mud (Youtube: Susan Mack)


Above: Tesla Model X goes off-road with a trailer (Youtube: teslaut)

Test-drive TV, based in Belarus, put a Model X through a serious off-road test in the frozen tundra. Driver Arthur Tumanov, an experienced off-road racer, notes that the X actually has several features that enhance its off-road capabilities, including Slip Start mode, which is designed for starting on slippery surfaces such as snow, sand and mud. The Air Suspension has a maximum clearance of 22 cm. The trademark Tesla flat bottom is also an advantage. These guys are rocking more serious rubber than the 420 dudes - big fat winter tires from Nokian.


Above: Tesla Model X takes on the snow (Youtube: Test-drive TV; with English subtitles)

If there’s anything that separates the off-road vehicles from the city cars, it’s the diagonal spin test. This consists of driving across a deep ditch at an angle, so that one front and one back wheel end up in the air. Anyone without 4-wheel-drive foolhardy enough to attempt it would quickly be on the phone to AAA, but the Tesla pulls it off handily, without even needing to use Slip Start mode.

Above: Tesla Model X tested in a snowed in ditch (Image: Teslarati via Test-drive TV)

But wait, there’s more. To test the rigidity of the frame, the Belarussians leave the car straddling the ditch, supported by two wheels, and open and close all the doors. A flimsy frame would twist and prevent the doors from opening smoothly, but - you guessed it - every door, including the Falcon Wings, opened and shut perfectly, with no more than a slight creaking noise to indicate that anything was out of the ordinary.