2016 Tesla Model X first drive review

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2016 Tesla Model X

2016 Tesla Model X

When you want to buy a Tesla electric car, and you've got four kids, there's only one choice on the market.

That's the 2016 Tesla Model X six- or seven-seat SUV, and courtesy of an owner in just that situation, we've finally been able to spend a few hours driving the luxury crossover.

Unlike other automakers, Tesla Motors almost never makes cars available to the media—so it took until last month for us to get behind the wheel.

DON'T MISS: 2016 Tesla Model X - full review

Our test vehicle was a black Model X P90D delivered earlier this year to an affluent suburban neighborhood in the Northeast.

While it had fewer than 3,000 miles on it, the Model X had already transported the family of six on a couple of long road multi-state road trips, using Tesla's Supercharger network of DC fast-charging stations.

The owner said the car had behaved perfectly, and he'd already received a notice from Tesla about the recall to update a seat mounting.

2016 Tesla Model X

2016 Tesla Model X

The most noticeable feature of the Model X is its falcon doors, which rise from a complicated set of torsion hinges along the center of the roof, and bend between the roof and the window line to keep their lower halves from reaching much beyond the perimeter of the car.

They're striking enough that when we stopped for photos at a Supercharger site in a mall parking lot, a woman drove over to ask about the vehicle.

And they make for great photos too.

ALSO SEE: Tesla Model X door-control software to be updated, Musk says

More importantly, while numerous Model X owners have reported misaligned or unreliable doors, those on this particular Model X (one of the first few hundred built) were perfectly aligned and have operated fine, according to the owner.

He did note that the door's sensors—which prevent them from contacting adjacent cars, people standing near them, or garage ceilings—occasionally stopped them from opening or closing halfway through.

His family has learned where to stand, he said, while the doors open and close. Meanwhile, Tesla promises a pair of software updates are coming to address this very real challenge.

2016 Tesla Model X

2016 Tesla Model X

We'd seen falcon doors do their graceful dance at auto shows, but what we hadn't expected in real-world use was that they take several seconds to operate in either direction.

That means that putting a bag in the rear passenger compartment from the side, when you get in or out of the front, can take 20 seconds or more—versus perhaps 5 seconds in a car with conventionally hinged doors.

It's not a big deal, but we noticed it repeatedly while stowing a camera bag in back at each of several photo stops.

CHECK OUT: Tesla refutes owner claims of Model X 'sudden acceleration' before crash

Behind the wheel and on the road, the Tesla Model X drives remarkably like a Model S that happens to have a higher seat position.

With the considerable weight of the 90-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack plus 762 horsepower worth of electric motors front and rear located about as low as you can go, it corners both fairly flat and very predictably for an SUV.

We found ourselves routinely traveling 5 to 10 miles an hour faster through rural Northeastern lanes than we realized.

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