At the Model X unveiling in 2012, the Tesla Model X was compared to the Honda Odyssey in several of the presentation slides. Elon Musk claimed that Model X would be quicker than a Porsche, have better styling than an Audi SUV, and have more function than a Honda Odyssey. But Model X is no Odyssey. In fact, the only thing Model X has in common with the Odyssey is that it has 3 rows of seats. The Odyssey far exceeds the Model X in terms of passenger seating and comfort, cargo capacity, and utility. There’s a reason why there are long lines of Odyssey’s at every suburban elementary school dropoff and pickup each day. Tesla should consider making a variant of the Model X to truly compete with the Odyssey.
While the Model X technically seats up to 7 adults, it does so in a compromised way as compared to the Honda Odyssey and similar minivans, and even compared to the Honda Pilot and similar SUVs. The 7-seat Model X offers very little headroom and legroom for the 3rd row, and very little headroom and legroom for the middle seat of the 2nd row. There’s limited luggage space behind the 3rd row due to the slopped roof. On older 7-seat Model X, lack of folding 2nd row seats further limit cargo carrying capability. On newer 7-seat Model X, the 60/40 split of the folding 2nd row severely limits child seat placement and 3rd row ingress/egress options.
Non-removable 2nd row seats further limits the utility of the Model X. While there are 5, 6, and 7-seat configurations, it is unfortunate that prospective buyers have to make a choice at all. The 7-seat Model X has the most passenger capacity but many people opt for the 6-seat Model X to increase comfort for the 2nd and 3rd row (the open space between the 2nd row seats accommodates 3rd row passengers’ feet and gives an alternate ingress/egress pathway), or 5-seat Model X to maximize cargo capacity and utility. But having to make a choice at time of order pretty much defeats the multi-purpose functionality of the SUV form factor. The Honda Odyssey in comparison can quickly change between several dozen seating configurations of 2 to 8 seats.
What Tesla needs to do is create a Model X variant (it should be named Model XL) that is a few inches longer, with the roof extended further back over the rear, and the rear life-gate given a more vertical orientation, similar to most SUVs on the market.
This gives us a functional 3rd row with 3 seats, actual headroom and legroom for the 3rd row, and more room for luggage behind the 3rd row. Tesla could even adopt the stow-and-go style 3rd row seats that flip and fold backwards into the trunk.
Tesla Model XL does NOT have to be a minivan. The front 2/3rd’s of the vehicle can still keep the current Model X design. This would only be a re-design of the rear 1/3rd.
Or… alternatively, Tesla should just embrace the minivan and make Tesla Model XL an actual minivan. There should be no shame in it, especially when it expands Tesla into another massive market. Tesla can remove the falcon-wing doors and use traditional doors or minivan sliding doors and an all-glass roof. This results in significantly more headroom, shoulder room (due to not needing extra structural support for falcon wing doors), and cargo capacity. The 2nd row seats should be individually removable and foldable. The 2nd row middle seat in particular should have the multiple purpose role as an open space, a seat, and an armrest/console as is common in many minivans and SUVs.
The Model X and Model XL should be two different vehicles targeting two different markets. While the Model X is the stylish, sporty, SUV, the Model XL is the ultimate multi-purpose family/cargo hauler.