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Tesla Model S vs. Tesla Model X: which is better?

Tesla cars are at the forefront of the electric vehicle revolution in the UK, but which of the Model X and Model S come out on top in our comparison?

Side-by-side image of blue Tesla Model S and grey Tesla Model X driving

The Tesla Model S had already been around for several years before electric cars became mainstream and has made a name for itself as a desirable car to buy.

If you’re after a large, spacious electric car, you may be struggling to decide between it and the quirky Model X.

Each has its own benefits, so we’ve outlined some of the main differences between both models below.

Compare Tesla Model S vs. Model X: style?

Side-by-side view of grey Tesla Model S and white Tesla Model X in dark rooms

Although both cars share many parts and they’re not too dissimilar in length, the Model S and Model X are entirely different cars in terms of how they look.

The Model S is a saloon-style car with a low-slung design, which makes it look sportier than similarly-sized petrol and diesel saloons.

The Model X, on the other hand, is a much larger car – it looks even bigger in person than it does in pictures.

The Model S uses conventional doors, but the Model X swaps out its rear passenger doors with what it calls ‘falcon-wing doors’. They are hinged at the top, not the side, so open upward.

On the whole, Tesla’s range is fairly simplistic, so you’ll generally find the same colours and configurations available for both cars. There are no trim levels, so entry-level models look just as stylish as range-toppers, except for a few customizable aspects like alloy wheel designs.

Is the Tesla Model X or Tesla Model S better to drive?

Side-by-side shot of red Tesla Model S and white Tesla Model X driving

There are a handful of rear-wheel-drive Model S cars available to buy secondhand, which tend to have reduced electric ranges and power outputs, but they’re still much quicker than other typical saloons and are a lot of fun to drive.

The majority of Model S cars – along with all Model X SUVs – are four-wheel-drive, with power coming from a motor on each axle and, in some cases, a third motor too.

Hundreds of horsepower and the extra grip provided by the all-wheel-drive setup make them incredibly effective at putting all that power down.

Even in the 2020s, now that electric cars are more mainstream, very little comes close to the acceleration of a top-spec Tesla, and even the slowest Teslas are quicker than most basic EVs.

Because the batteries are mounted low between the wheelbase, both cars have a low centre of gravity that helps add to the stable feel on twisty backroads. SUVs tend to lean in corners because they’re so tall, but this is less of a problem for the Model X.

Tesla Model S vs. Model X interior

Side-by-side interior view of Tesla Model S rear and Tesla Model X front

There’s not a lot that separates the interior of the Model S and Model X – in fact, it’s a copy-and-paste job with the insides being virtually identical.

They have the same minimalist steering wheels with just a few key buttons, including a voice control shortcut button.

All of the car’s controls are managed through the central, portrait-mounted touchscreen. It measures 17 inches, so it’s bigger than most laptop screens, but it’s more powerful than many basic laptops.

Tesla uses its own operating system, and it’s a shame that there’s no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto integration, but the car continues to get free over-the-air updates for life. There’s a Spotify app though, and in late 2022 – via one of these free updates – Tesla added an Apple Music app.

The key differences are behind the front pair of seats. In the Model S, you’ll find a bench of three seats in the rear. A handful of cars also sold with a pair of rear-facing seats that fold out of the boot floor, but they’re only good for really small children.

The majority of Model X cars sold as five-seaters, but you should be able to find seven-seaters available to buy used. The rearmost seats are useable, even by adults, but are best for shorter trips.

A different configuration saw the middle bench replaced with two individual seats, making the Model X a strict six-seater. These are rare.

Model X vs. Model S: which has more boot space?

Side-by-side view of Tesla Model S and Tesla Model X with boots open

The Model S saloon has a massive 745-litre boot, which is around 200 litres more than you’d find in large premium saloons like the Mercedes S-Class or BMW 7 Series.

Under the boot floor is a large storage area capable of holding a few shopping bags, and there’s a further storage area under the bonnet where you’d expect to find an engine, which is a handy place for storing charging cables.

The boot is a very usable space and is almost one metre wide, so there’s plenty of floor space for a handful of suitcases. Unlike many saloons, it also has a wide-opening hatchback-style boot.

It’s hard to imagine needing a bigger boot, but if you regularly carry extra large items, a Model X with the seats folded offers 2,180 litres of space, which is even more than you’d find in the equally large BMW X7.

It also has the largest under-bonnet storage area of any Tesla, measuring 187 litres, which is just a few litres short of a Citroen C1’s entire boot.

Because all Teslas are built to be electric cars from the ground up, they are designed to make the most effective use of space, which translates to a lot of storage space regardless of the model you pick.

Tesla Model S vs. X: reliability and safety

Both cars were awarded full five-star ratings from Euro NCAP when they were subject to testing, and they’re among some of the safest cars for passengers and pedestrians alike.

There are a few safety features worth mentioning, not least the handful of cameras and sensors dotted around the outside of the car designed to read its surroundings.

These help the Model S and Model X prevent collisions with other vehicles, road users and pedestrians, and there have even been examples posted online of Teslas swerving out of the way of an oncoming car to completely avoid an accident.

The cameras also work as a central CCTV system when you leave the car, but enabling this drains the battery by a few per cent after a couple of hours.

Since Tesla started selling its mainstream electric cars, the batteries have proven themselves to be very reliable and reports have emerged of models driving hundreds of thousands of miles with better-than-expected battery degradation.

Teslas typically require less servicing, tyres can last a long time, and brake components need replacing less frequently due to the cars’ battery regeneration modes, so overall maintenance costs are especially attractive.

Tesla Model X dimensions vs. Model S

At 4,979mm long, the Model S is around the same length as a Mercedes E-Class, but it’s substantially wider, measuring 2,187mm.

The Model X is only slightly longer at 5,037mm, but it’s wider than many other SUVs. At 2,271mm wide, it can be a challenge to fit into tight parking spaces.

Because of the aerodynamic sloping roofline, its 1,684mm height makes it a lot shorter than similarly-sized SUVs like the BMW X6, and shorter than smaller models like the BMW X3.

Tesla Model X vs. Tesla Model S: which should you buy?

If you need access to seven seats regularly, then a Model X makes a lot of sense, and it’s among the most efficient electric seven-seaters you can get.

For most, a Model S will be suitable. It’s incredibly spacious, can travel hundreds of miles between charges with the largest batteries, and is more affordable to buy.

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