2016 Tesla Model X electric SUV first drive by Model S owner

Its maker is doing a great job these days of quarantining the new 2016 Tesla Model X electric crossover SUV from unwanted prying eyes.

The only folks lucky enough to get up close and personal with the slick, powerful electric SUV are those who’ve plunked down deposits of up to $40,000 to order the car. 

 A fortunate thousand or so have already taken delivery, and probably a few hundred more have gotten behind the wheel at Tesla’s Meet-The-Model-X road show, open by invitation only to paying customers farther down the waiting list.

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As of this writing, I’m not aware that Tesla has made a Model X available to more than one or two members of the press.

And the rest of us civilians? Fuggedaboudit. 

No Model Xes seem to have appeared in any Tesla store showroom for inspection by the general public. Cars that arrive for delivery to customers are typically sequestered away, mostly out of sight.

A month or so ago, at a Tesla service center, I noticed a Model X being prepped for delivery off in a far corner.

It was the first one I’d seen, so I innocently asked the sales rep if I could wander over and take a closer look, and perhaps sit in it. 

“Oh, no,” she told me, eyes wide with horror. “I’d lose my job if you even touched it.”

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So pretty much the only way for us mere mortals to get a close look at a Model X—let alone a chance to drive one—is to somehow connect with a Lucky Owner and beg for a ride.

What are the odds?

Well, that’s exactly what happened to me last week.

2016 Tesla Model X owned by Ron Merkord, March 2016 [photo: David Noland]

2016 Tesla Model X owned by Ron Merkord, March 2016 [photo: David Noland]

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Hanging around Tesla’s Santa Barbara service center waiting for my Model S to get a new door handle and a set of tires, I ran into a fellow named Ron Merkord, of Filmore, California.

He was there to pick up his brand new Signature Model X. Having waited more than two years, he and his family were giddy with excitement.

We struck up a conversation. As a three-year/60,000-mile veteran of the Model S, I was eager to see the differences in the two cars, which are built on the same platform and use the same batteries and motors.

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Taking a wild shot, I asked if he might consider letting me take a test drive in his Model X at some point.

Like a true Tesla brother, he quickly agreed, and we set up my drive for the following day.

Merry Christmas, Ron

Merkord’s car is a loaded P90D—as are all of the first 1,000 “Signature” cars. The paint was a gorgeous dark red available only on Sig cars.

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