2017 Tesla Model X 90D: owner review

  • Doors and Seats


    5 doors, 5 seats

  • Engine


    Electro Magnetic, LI

  • Engine Power


    193kW, 660Nm

  • Fuel


    489km range

  • Manufacturer



  • Transmission


    1 Spd Red’n Gear

  • Warranty


    4 Yr, 80000 KMs

  • Ancap Safety




Owner Review

Using a Tesla Model X as a chauffeur service car is a unique proposition.

Owner: John Aquilina

  • Acceleration is instant and linear

  • Sometimes dealing with Tesla service is much like McDonald’s. If it’s not up there on the menu, then don’t bother asking
  • The rims stand clear of the tyres, which greatly increases kerb damage. This is a wide car that often catches you out

2016 was make or break for our small chauffeur service business. For two years we had been smashed with crazy repair bills for our 2011 Q7 and 2012 Viano. Our accountant was trying to convince us to sell and get out – we were going broke.

A simple, electric car promising a minimum of maintenance that would be done by the manufacturer and not dealerships was very appealing. Free lifetime energy was the icing on the cake that means a lot to a commercial operator.

“What’s this $5000 charge to Tesla!” the missus screams out to me. Her operatic training projecting the question at least 200 metres past me.

“Isn’t that the car company that’s about to go broke?!” she follows up, no concern the neighbourhood had now become fully informed of my frivolity.

“How much is it?” she asks. To her credit, this lovely Sicilian pressure vessel rarely swears. Once I mumbled “$200,000”, though…

How do you educate a livid wife about the fundamental differences between a petrol and electric vehicle, and how the capital cost may sound big, but the Audi Q7 and Mercedes Viano prove to us that the ‘total cost of ownership’ is the only figure one should concentrate on?

It was delivered in April 2017, having been bought sight unseen, no test drive.

The first Model X’s centre-row seats didn’t fold flat, almost a deal-breaker. Just a hard plastic shell on single electric posts that allow them to move forward to the easiest to access and most spacious third-row seats of any SUV at the time.

Even with the third row deployed, there was a huge deep cargo area easily swallowing two large suitcases on the sides. And then you had the ‘frunk’ area up front. This cargo area can swallow up a golf kit, or a six-year-old child!

Styling is polarising. Front-on is ugly, side-on better, rear and rear quarter the best look of all. That’s all forgotten when the crazy falcon-wing doors rise up.

Technology is where it shines. I specced it out with ‘full self-drive’, which still hasn’t eventuated as promised, but is a huge benefit on the longer regional runs.

Having the robot take care of speed and lane placement reduces a lot of fatigue-causing repetitive functions for the driver. A trip to Coffs is a snack (more so because of the enforced charging breaks). It has many tech advantages and fun things that are too numerous to list.

This ‘standard’ output car is a 4.8-second car to 100km/h! Smacked the six-litre Caprice I used to operate. Acceleration is instant and linear.

There are no scheduled service intervals. That’s hard to accept after being conditioned for decades that a high-mileage motor car needed constant preventative maintenance to get the very best out of it.

Its first service was at 80,000km, which cost $900. I was then told not to bother worrying about servicing unless a strange noise developed or the car advised me something was wrong.

In 389,000km, the front brake pads have been changed twice, rotors once, rear brake pads changed once.

It’s only been on the back of a tow truck twice. An engine mount bolt failed, which required a new front motor free of charge, fitted and supplied within three days.

The main battery failed at 250,000km. That was supplied and fitted within seven days and covered by its eight-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.

The front motor needed changing again at 280,000km. I drove in at 8:30am, then drove out at 3:30pm on the same day with a new front motor, free of charge under warranty.

Both front headlights failed, and these cost an astronomical $3600 each to replace!

It’s a heavy car, about 350kg heavier than the Mercedes GLE that it shares lots of components with. In fact, very few people know that if it wasn’t for Daimler-Benz and its early $55 million investment in Tesla, along with technical and parts support, Tesla simply wouldn’t exist today.

Hop into a Model S or Model X, then jump into a 6–8-year-old Mercedes GLE or S-Class, and immediately you will recognise so many shared components. These include the full steering column with all controls, electric window controls, while outside the Bilstein shock absorbers, and upper and lower control arms, look very similar to those from a Mercedes. The electric power-steering rack looks like it comes off a Land Rover model.

In the 389,000km it’s operated, it’s only gone into limp mode five times. Four times have been through something silly that I have done.

The rectification procedure was an eye-opener. Calling the 24-hour helpline and speaking to a Tesla technician in Nevada, he was able to remotely diagnose the issue, ensure that all was okay to clear the fault code, and send me on my way with full power restored!

I asked if I would be billed through my account, and the reply was no, this was just a customer service call, which is free for the life of the car!

Try getting a European car diagnosed and a fault code cleared for less than $160!

For a commercial vehicle like mine, all the days off the road that this electric car saved me because of its minimal servicing and remote diagnostics was a huge plus.

The newer models due next year will be getting battery upgrades that will nearly double their range and halve the charging time required. New adaptive suspension is on its way also.

Regular software updates that are free for life keep the car fresh with new features. Its solid, simple and reliable design makes me certain this car is good to operate for eight years and around 700,000km.

Owner: John Aquilina

Owner’s Rating

2017 Tesla Model X 90D Wagon

9.4/ 10

Technology & Connectivity

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2017 Tesla Model X 90D: owner review