Tesla Model X – What Can It Tow?


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The Tesla Model X was the first fully electric battery vehicle which came on to the market with an official tow rating from the manufacturer in 2015. However, please note the specs below are for current generation Tesla Model X variants. The Model X is rated with a maximum 5,000 lbs towing capacity on 20″ wheels. However, fitted with larger 22″ wheels the tow rating is reduced to 3,500 lbs. All new Model X cars come with the Tow Package and Tow Mode which actively monitors trailer sway and adjusts wheel braking and speed.

Tesla Model X
The Tesla Model X has a towing capacity between 3,500 and 5,000 lbs: Image – Tesla.com

Key Tesla Model X Specs

  • Official Towing Capacity – 3,500 to 5,000 lbs
  • Availablility – Now
  • Price – Starting $74,690 (Long Range) > $94,690 (Performance)
  • EPA Range – 371 miles (Long Range) > 341 miles (Performance)
  • Estimate Towing Range (50%) – 186 miles (Long Range) > 171 miles (Performance)
  • Maximum Charge Rate – 225kW at V3 Tesla Superchargers

Tesla Model X HP & Torque

  • Long Range – AWD with 534 HP and 557 lb-ft of torque
  • Performance – AWD with 778 HP and 841 lb-ft of torque

Tesla Model X Towing Capabilites

The Model X was not only the first Tesla with an official tow rating it was the first fully electric car to market with an official tow rating. While the Model X was first introduced in 2015 as of writing this post in October 2020 it is still the most capable Tesla at towing with a maximum towing capacity of between 3,500 lbs and 5,000 lbs, depending on the chosen wheel size.

For reference, the Model 3 doesn’t have an official tow rating in the US, though in Europe it has just over a 2,000lb tow rating. Though there are quite a few people who have modified the Model 3 for towing. The Model Y does have an official tow rating of up to 3,500 lbs. Hence, before the Cybertruck comes onto the market with its 7,500 to 14,000 lb towing capacity, the Model X still rules the Tesla towing roost.

2016 Tesla Model X 1,500 lb Trailer Towing Test

One of the first video’s I ever watched which got me into the whole idea of towing with an EV was the test that Edmunds conducted back in 2017 below with a 2016 Tesla Model X. While I intend to keep these vehicle posts up to date with the latest information on the latest versions of the cars, many people will be picking up an EV on the second-hand market.

I do think its important to reference the towing capabilities of early versions of the Tesla Model X. There are important differences. For instance, as I’ve stated above that the maximum charge rate of the Model X is 225 kW, well that’s only applicable for 2020 Model X variants. In 2016, the fastest charge rate was 120 kW on V2 Tesla Superchargers.

Tesla Model X towing test of a small 1,500 lb camper

The video above is part 1 of 3 videos Edmunds filmed of their Tesla Model X towing test. Obviously, this small 1,500 lb camper is by no means testing out the full capabilities of the vehicle. However below I’ve referenced some other content covering larger/heavier campers. Also, some people do only want to tow small trailers. Therefore, its good to compare and contrast how the Model X performs between towing small and large trailers.

Towing Range/Consumption Results

About halfway through the video above looking at the consumption figures you can see that for a large section of the journey the Model X was consuming on average around 480 watts of electricity per mile. The EPA states the Model will normally achieve (not towing) around 350 watts per mile). Hence when towing on average the consumption would typically be expected to be around 700 watts per mile, based on the 50% range reduction guestimate. Therefore, the low consumption figure of 480 watts per mile was likely partly attributable to the low weight of the trailer, but also its would appear fairly aerodynamic. I also think at that point, most of the journey was along a level road with no increase in elevation.

At the end of the video, the average consumption figure over the whole 217 journey was 555 watts per mile while towing. Hence, its clear that the towards the end of that journey the car was towing uphill which is going to increase consumption. To be honest, I think 555 watts per mile consumption was very reasonable considering part of the journey was towing uphill, as that’s well below the predicted 700 watts per mile.

2020 Tesla Model X Towing An Airstream Camper

What is going to become apparent to more people as electric tow cars become more popular is the aerodynamics/wind resistance of the trailer being towed will make a big difference to range/battery consumption. This is something that I’ve been thinking about for a while, and I’m going to produce more content on in the future. Well, quite handily, to demonstrate this point I’ve included a video below from the All Electric Family YouTube channel where they take out a 22-foot Airstream camper for a towing test with their Model X. The Airstream has a GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) of 4,500 lbs. Hence, that’s getting close to the Model X’s maximum tow rating of 5,000 lbs.

The All Electric Family own a different camper (Apex Nano) with a GVWR of 4,800 lbs and they were curious how the Airstream would perform. Well, as you can see in the video below, they were pleasantly surprised with the results. While the Airstream may not be best suited to suit their needs in terms of the interior space, in terms of electric towing performance the results were very impressive.

Towing a 4,500 lb Airstream camper behind a Tesla Model X

While I encourage you to watch the whole video above at 12.51 is the Stats Breakdown section of the video. Now, a quick caveat here, as the family themselves note this is not a strictly scientific test, therefore the results should be taken in that context. For instance, while towing the Airstream they did have a tailwind which would have reduced consumption to some degree. With that been said, what results did they get?

Consumption Stats Breakdown

The Model X towing the Airstream camper achieved a consumption of just 498 watts per mile. That would give the Model X a range while towing the Airstream of 177 miles. Towing their Apex Nano trailer they have previously recorded consumption of 800 watts per mile, leading to a range of just over 100 miles.

So there are a lot of factors at play here, such as the tailwind while towing the Airstream as referenced above. Furthermore, the Apex Nano is a heavier trailer weighing 300 lbs more than the Airstream. What I do think is clear though, and the tailwind is part of this, these results emphasize how important aerodynamic drag is to how far an electric tow car can go.

Understanding MPGe

Now, in most cases, you will see/hear people refer to the consumption/efficiency of an electric car in terms of watts/kilowatts per mile/kilometer. As the cars consume electricity to provide propulsion its simply the most logical means to express the efficiency of an electric car. However, another means used to describe the efficiency of an electric car is MPGe (Miles Per Gallon Equivalent). In other words, if you were to compare an electric car to an ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) car, how efficient is it?

How do you convert electrical consumption per mile into MPGe? Well, there is a formula but I’m not going to bore you with it. Just checkout this table instead for the conversion. I’m going to be writing more articles on MPGe and comparisons between electric and ICE tow cars in the future. However, the reason I wanted to bring this up now is the reference to MPGe in the video above and a comparison made between the Tesla Model X and Ford F350 pickup in terms of towing efficiency.

Based on the results in the video above the Tesla Model X achieved an efficiency rating of 66 MPGe while towing. The family also owns a Ford F350 which achieves just 8-12 MPG while towing. Therefore, the Model X in terms of energy required to tow is around 600% more efficient than a Ford F350!

Tesla Model X Features and Reviews

So above I’ve referenced several resources which explore how well the Tesla Model X performs as a tow car. However, if you were ever interested in purchasing a Model X you would also want to know what’s it like in general, what are it’s other features are etc. As can be seen in the image at the top of this post, no one can fail to notice the ‘falcon wing’ doors of a Tesla Model X.

While the falcon wing doors do have their advantages for better access into the rear of the car, they also come with some downsides. Furthermore, the falcon wing doors presented a significant engineering challenge that I believe must have increased the costs to produce the Model X above those intended. It has been previously reported, that perhaps even Elon Musk regrets included the Falcon wing doors into the design.

Consumer Reports review of the 2016 Tesla Model X

When Consumer Reports released their review of the Model X above back in 2016 they received quick a bit of flack, as the review was not overly positive. To this day, the video has a roughly a 50/50 like to dislike ratio. However, concerns over the reliability of the falcon wing doors etc have borne to be true in some cases. Now if you are looking to purchase a later version of the Model X that not be the case. Or you may not experience issues at all with the Falcon wing doors. The point being though, both the pros and cons of the falcon wing doors need to be acknowledged.

Ben Sullins review of his 2016 Tesla Model X after 1 year of ownership

While Ben does praise the power/torque output of the Model X and the air suspension, which are all good features for towing, he’s doesn’t actually recommend the Model X as a sensible purchase. First off, Ben describes the falcon doors as “both a benefit and a curse, but mainly a curse“. I’ll let you watch the video above to fully understand why. However, the main point being the doors can be unreliable in certain situations, and potentially dangerous in others.

Early vs Later Tesla Model X Range Differences

Ben also found that he was achieving on average a 74% efficiency rating. Hence, while his 2016 Model X came with a rated range of 240 miles, the real-world range at 74% efficiency produced just 177 miles. Therefore, towing with early versions of the Model X (@ 50% range reduction) will likely produce a range around 88 miles. Hence, not much range for what is still today an expensive vehicle to purchase on the second-hand market.

Granted, the latest specification Tesla Model X’s have a much higher rated range of 341 to 371 miles, and a roughly estimated towing range between 171 to 186 miles. However, as shown above, the size/weight and aerodynamic drag of the trailer will make a big difference to those figures. Furthermore, the Model X today is significantly cheaper than when it first launched in 2015. Though, with the Tesla Model Y now on the market, and the Cybertruck coming soon. The appeal of the Model X as an electric tow car may be numbered.

My Thoughts….

From looking at the video above of a 2020 Tesla Model X towing an Airstream camper the latest versions can indeed achieve a very respectable tow rating. While the above experience of the All Electric Family cannot be judged as a typical experience I know very few people who would predict they would hear of a Tesla Model X having the potential to tow nearly a 5,000 lb camper up to 200 miles.

Then again, with the Model Y now on the market with its 3,500 lb towing capacity and at much cheaper price point compared to the Model X that’s probably a better option for many people, presuming they wanted to purchase a Tesla. Furthermore, once the Cybertruck comes on the market, in terms of a towing performance vs price point, the current Model X will not be competitive. Then again, if you find the styling of the Cybertruck ‘challenging’, then the Model X may still have appeal.

Chris

Hi, I’m Chris. I own and write all the content on ElectricTowCars.com. The content above is purely my own personal thoughts/opinions/research and should not be treated as professional advice. I hope you find the content above useful to help you find your future ideal electric tow car or truck.

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