In automotive manufacturing terms Tesla is still a relatively young brand, but there are two models that have been part of the production process for a big chunk of the journey. Both the Tesla Model S and Tesla Model X are instantly recognisable and that’s perhaps because they're the two cars that have been in production the longest at Tesla’s manufacturing facility in Fremont, California.
While neither car could be described as sitting at the affordable end of the electric vehicle marketplace, both models pack in plenty of appeal. There’s power, performance and, in typical Tesla fashion, a premium feel that combines plenty of luxury with oodles of tech inside and out too. Oh, and one, the Model S is a sedan while the other’s a mid-sized SUV.
In that respect both models have lots going for them, but they probably suit different buyers. After all, not everybody needs or wants the high-up driving position provided by the loftier Tesla Model X. In fact, if you’re after a low-slung but stylish sedan then the Tesla Model S still makes an exciting proposition, even though it’s been around for a while now. Here’s how they compare.
Tesla Model S vs Tesla Model X: Specs
|Header Cell - Column 0
|Tesla Model S
|Tesla Model X
|Autopilot, Sentry mode, App control, wireless charger, tinted glass roof
|Autopilot, Sentry mode, App control, wireless charger, flat folding seats, tinted glass roof, heated seats and steering wheel
Tesla Model S vs Tesla Model X: Overview
For a car that’s been around since 2012 the Tesla Model S still looks the part and has a specification that has managed to keep it relevant. There’s a Long Range Plus version, along with Plaid and Plaid Plus editions, subject to Tesla’s fluid production plan that can change frequently. In fact, in a sudden change of heart the Plaid Plus is now off the production schedule in much the same way as Standard and Performance models have been discontinued previously
The Tesla Model X line-up has been streamlined somewhat, with the one-time 75D model morphing into the Long Range edition. Similarly, the original 100D and P100D cars are now part of the Plaid range, bringing the cars in line with Tesla’s evolving battery and charging technology.
Tesla Model S vs Tesla Model X: Price
Since the with Tesla Model S Standard and Performance models have disappeared from the range, the entry price for the dual motor Model S is currently $94,990 — which comes with twin motors and all-wheel-drive. The tri motor Plaid car will set you back $114,990.
However, it is possible to customize your specification, which can push the price up considerably. Add on full self-driving capability and you’re looking at an additional $15,000 for that alone.
Meanwhile, the Tesla Model X costs $16,000 more even in its most basic dual motor guise and you could argue that’s because you’re getting more car due to its SUV body shape. The car currently costs from $109,990, or $119,990 for the Plaid edition, but the price goes up as soon as you begin to add additional seating.
The Model X can seat up to seven, but it will cost you an additional $3,500 to get that configuration. A six seat layout is $6,500 extra, while the standard five seat arrangement is part of the basic price.
Tesla Model S vs Tesla Model X: Design and interior
One of the most striking features about the Tesla Model X is its door design, with automatic front and Falcon Wing rear doors. The gull-wing style for getting in and out of the back seats makes a lot of sense, given that the Model X is designed to have more seating capacity than the standard Model S. The same goes for storage too with the cargo space in the trunk area of the car more substantial than that of the Model S.
Growing demand for SUVs has meant the Model X has been a welcome addition to the Tesla range, offering a higher ride and larger capacity design compared to the Model S sedan. As you’d expect, however, there are plenty of similarities with the design. In fact, the interior in both cars carries a similar theme for starters, with plenty of premium black finishing on offer.
The Model X takes that up a notch though with its carbon fiber trim flourishes, which might appeal to some more so than the Ebony Wood finish found inside the Model S. Tesla has also made its beefy central touchscreen a common theme, with both cars now sporting a horizontal offering augmented by a smaller screen in the rear.
With interior air quality on everyone’s mind currently, and likely in the future too the fact that both cars feature a HEPA air filtration system makes puts them on an equal par.
Tesla Model S vs Tesla Model X: Power
There’s plenty of power at your disposal no matter whether you go for the all-wheel-drive, tri motor Tesla Model S Plaid or dual motor Long Range model. Alternatively, plump for the bulkier SUV that is the Tesla Model X and you’ll enjoy power from a tri motor on the Plaid edition alongside the dual motor Long Range car.
The Model S Plaid packs 1,020 horsepower and delivers a zero to 60mph time of 1.99 seconds, with a top speed of 200mph, although Tesla does state that this is dependent on the car having the correct wheel and tire combination. Nevertheless, the car is certainly fast, especially compared to the Long Range Model S, which sports 670 horsepower that still offers a zero to 60mph time of 3.1 seconds and a top speed of 155mph, both of which aren’t too shabby either when it comes to performance stats.
The Plaid Model X features peak power of 1,020 horsepower, which is considerably more than the Long Range edition, which has 607. In terms of performance that means you can expect a zero to 60mph time of just 2.5 seconds, a ¼ mile run in 9.9 seconds and a top speed of 163mph. That compares to the Long Range edition, which can do zero to 60mph in 3.8 seconds and features a top speed of 155mph.
Tesla Model S vs Tesla Model X: Battery and range
While the Tesla Model S and Model X have been around for a while that’s not stopped them getting regular updates. That includes the battery pack power supply, with Tesla opting to go for 12-volt lithium-ion supplies in ongoing models. This should help provide beefier capacity along with a longer life.
As it stands, the Tesla Model S Plaid can deliver an estimated 396 miles of range, while the Long Range edition boasts around 405 miles. Both the Long Range and Plaid cars support 250kW Tesla Supercharging too.
Meanwhile, the Tesla Model X models come with an estimated rage of 340 miles for the Plaid car and 360 miles for the Long Range edition. Again, both SUVs have the benefit of access to Tesla’s 250kW Supercharging network.
Tesla Model S vs Tesla Model X: Autopilot and other features
When it comes to tech features then both cars sport similar characteristics including Tesla’s Autopilot driver assistance package. Again, what you actually get is largely dependent on your budget and naturally there’s a little more scope with the Model X interior since there’s more space to play around with.
Indeed, head for the six seat captain’s chair interior for the Model X and you can beef up the interior look and comfort levels considerably, along with the cost.
Either way, both the Tesla Model S and the Tesla Model X offer lots on the infotainment front, including Bluetooth, hard drive storage, satellite radio, smart device integration and a Wi-Fi hotspot for starters. Add on big-ticket kit, such as the full self-driving option and you’re also going to add $12,000 to the asking price.
Of course if you live in the U.S. both the Model S and Model X are not eligible for Tesla's Full Self Driving subscription, which costs just $200 a month. That's a lot to spend, but it would take you four years to reach the same $12,000 asking price if you bought the module in one fell swoop. And since there are no contracts or obligations, you can stop anytime.
Tesla Model S vs Tesla Model X: Outlook
Both the Tesla Model S and the Tesla Model X are great cars, and deliver performance EV appeal to different buyers. Being a sedan the Model S is a solid bet if you’re after a comfortable, premium saloon and don’t desire the higher ride height of the Model X along with the extra capacity and storage space delivered by the latter SUV model.
However, although the Model S has been around for a few years its clear that Tesla still sees plenty of life left in the sedan market. Even more so when you consider that buyers could opt for the Tesla Model S Plaid Plus option, which was supposed to add a whole new meaning to the word performance.
Sadly that's no longer the case, because Tesla boss Elon Musk has since announced that it’s been cancelled. Apparently the ‘standard’ Plaid edition of the Model S is just fine instead, and having range over 400 miles isn't worth it.
- More: These are the best electric cars you can buy right now
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