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Car and Driver: Lowercase x: Tesla Launches Lower-Priced Model X 60D

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-Tesla has announced a new version of its Model X all-electric SUV, called the 60D. And while it’s the lowest-priced variant of its Model X yet, this one’s clearly aimed for the upsell, on multiple fronts.

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Named for the 60-kilowatt battery pack it includes, and offering a 200-mile driving range, the Model X 60D has a starting price of $74,000. That’s $9000 lower than the step-up 75D model (which gains just 37 miles of range)—more than a 10-percent discount, effectively—with little else sacrificed in terms of features or performance.

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Model X sales have been relatively sluggish so far, especially for a model that some had anticipated to outsell the Model S. Tesla delivered 4625 Model X SUVs in the first half of 2016; it moved more than twice that many Model S sedans.

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There’ve been some momentum-sapping hiccups along the way: production delays with the complex, double-hinged “falcon door” arrangement, and then the market perceptions of some niggles (and a recall) over the seats. Even the ever-ambitious Musk—who’s this week working on what he calls a new Top Secret Master Plan (we’re not kidding)—has admitted that the Model X is more complex than it needed to be.

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From “frunk” to trunk, and from a performance and versatility standpoint—provided you don’t focus too much on the fussy doors—the 2016 Tesla Model X can stand on its own against gasoline luxury SUVs in daily driving. And we’ve found the Model X to be one of the more capable SUVs for on-the-road handling—partly because the in-floor battery location places a lot of mass down low.

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A pair of 259-hp AC motors at the front and rear wheels together produce 328 horsepower. The P60D can accelerate to 60 mph in the same 6.0 seconds as the 75D, although its torque rating is listed as 325 lb-ft instead of 387 lb-ft. Top speed is limited to 130 mph, as with the 75D, while top 90D and P90D models hit 155 mph.

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Model designations for Tesla vehicles revolve primarily around battery size and relative performance, with standard equipment otherwise the same across the lineup. With the Model X, the most significant (and advisable) order decision after battery and powertrain may be the high amperage (72-amp) onboard charger that will recover up to 46 miles of range per hour when plugged into a Tesla wall charger, such as the kind Tesla calls out as “destination chargers.” Tesla’s Supercharging, a fast-charging standard for which stations remain more miles apart, remains included on all Model X variants; using those chargers, the vehicle can regain about 50 percent of battery charge in only 20 minutes.

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You also can choose from five-, six-, and seven-passenger layouts, add an interior package with cabin upgrades and “self presenting” front doors that open as you walk up to the vehicle, and get what Elon Musk has termed Bioweapon Defense Mode—claimed to be the first true HEPA interior air-filtration system, with the capability to remove odors, allergens, and bacteria.

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Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 4.27.29 PM

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The Model X also is most definitely not a delicate flower. If you get the four-wheel air suspension, you can also upgrade to a towing package that allows up to a 5000-pound rating, depending on equipment. And Tesla has designed accessory hitches (for snowboard or bikes, for example) to be usable while towing. Although seriously, if you see a Model X at a muddy mountain-bike trailhead, pics or it didn’t happen.

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Now for that upsell: There’s a stealthy one built into the Model X: Just as with the Model S 60D and 75D, the 75D’s additional range can be accessed on 60D models after delivery by essentially paying the price differential—$9000, plus a $500 service fee. There’s no physical difference between the two models’ battery packs.

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And then there’s the upsell that Tesla needs in order to move more vehicles in the short term. The Model X range can get way, way into six-digit pricing territory (the P90D we tested earlier this year arrived with a sticker price of $133,700). A no-options 60D pitches this model back solidly into the realm of possibility for those who currently have a used Model S, or for those who’ve been caught up in the recent hype over the automaker’s Model 3—and made more than 400,000 deposits, of $1000 each, to enter a very, very long queue.

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Some of the Model 3 insanity, or sheer impatience, likely will boil over to the Model X 60D, which nudges nearly $150 off Tesla’s anticipated monthly lease costs versus the 75D and can be ordered now via Tesla’s website for September delivery. Yes, that’s September 2016.

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That’s in Tesla’s interest, as the masses of Model 3 evangelists likely won’t see one of those in their driveways until 2018 or 2019. By then the electric-car landscape will be very different, with several models—including the sub-$40k Chevrolet Bolt EV—offering a range of 200 miles or more, and all-electric efforts from Porsche and others closing in.

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