Tesla Model X: First Look

  • Looks like: The Tesla Model S gets the crossover treatment  
  • Defining characteristics: All-wheel drive, electric drivetrains, massive roof-hinged rear doors 
  • Ridiculous features: Huge touch-screen might make MyFord Touch look simple  
  • Chances of being mass-produced: Deliveries start in early 2014

While the first Tesla Model S sedans have yet to reach customers, the automaker feels confident enough to show its next new model, the Model X.

The Model X is a three-row crossover that's based on the Model S. Shown here in prototype form, the electric carmaker says it's investing about $150 million into designing the new body style. Tesla also expects the Model X to go into production late next year, with it showing up in early 2014 at customers' doorsteps.

Why should you choose this over the Model S, which also has the ability to seat seven people in a pinch?

The Model X has the versatility of a minivan, says Tesla. Instead of rear-sliding doors like a minivan, however, the Model X comes with roof-hinged doors that lift up and away. The “Falcon Wings,” as Tesla calls them, are more than a gimmick. The doors were designed so that an adult could stand in the middle row and conveniently position a child-safety seat, says Tesla. We'll definitely want to validate that claim in our Car Seat Check series. A sliding second row offers easy access to the third row.

Tesla says the Model X will be priced similarly to the Model S, which starts at $57,400 before any applicable tax credits. The crossover will be available in Model X, Model X with AWD and Model X Performance trims. Battery capacities include a 60- or 85-kilowatt-hour battery, which on the Model S provide a 230- or 300-mile range, respectively. Tesla expects a zero to 60 mph run of less than 5 seconds, depending on trim.

Unlike the Model S, the X will be optioned with a new all-wheel-drive system. The system has a rear electric motor, which can help increase torque by 50% when road or weather conditions demand it.

Tesla aims to sell 15,000 Model X crossovers per year once production starts in the San Francisco area in late 2013. For more information, check out Tesla's website, and continue below for more photos.

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