The Tesla Model X is a sleek SUV addition to the company’s line of cars. With more passenger room than the Model Y, the Model X boasts a little over four inches more width and just under a quarter of an inch on top. But the Model X does not have the capability for something that the Model Y does: a roof rack.
What you need to know about the Tesla Model X roof rack is that there is no Tesla Model X roof rack. Because of the car’s space-age Falcon Wing doors that open up for the rear passengers, the Model X is too cool for school and for extra cargo space.
With limited cargo space to accommodate all the passengers that the Model X can fit, why did Tesla create a design that effectively eliminates one of the places where storage can be added? And what can Model X owners do to get more storage space out of their SUV while looking awesome at the same time? Read on to learn more.
All About the Design
While the look and functionality of the upward opening Falcon Wing doors might be great as far as it goes, there is a price to pay for it, and that price is in limiting the usability of the roof. To have the doors hinge open with only 12 inches of clearance, some of the roof has to go for the sake of the hinge of the door.
This means that you cannot easily install a roof rack on your SUV to have more cargo space. The cargo space can be manipulated for more room by folding down the last row of seats, but the second row does not fold down at all, so carrying large items might be a little more difficult.
And if you are carrying a large family, the third row may have to be up anyway. So you are stuck with nowhere to stow all the items that you would need for a family vacation, including bags, devices, and toys such as skis or bicycles. You have to wonder why Tesla designed the Model X this way. Did they not see the storage problem coming?
The Model X and Its Design
The Model X is an SUV crossover, which means it looks and feels like a car but with the functionality of an SUV at the same time. Unveiled in 2015, the Model X was designed with doors called Falcon Wing doors. Think of the Delorean in Back to the Future. Those are Falcon Wing doors.
But on an SUV? And they open up to the passenger area, not the front area, which is accessed through traditional car doors. So why did Tesla design it like that? There are a couple of possibilities:
- It is easier for passengers to get in and out
- Looks super sexy
At its unveiling, Elon Musk claimed that the Model X Falcon Wing doors were designed that way because it made it easier for passengers to get in and out of the second and third rows. This was particularly said to be the case for parents with small children. They would not be in danger of bumping their head on the roof.
That actually makes a certain amount of sense. By opening upwards, the doors remove that awkward bit of roof that makes car seats so lovely to deal with. Also, since the doors required only twelve inches of clearance to open, they are handy for tight parking spaces. You do not have to squeeze through a minuscule door angle.
So in terms of functionality, the doors hit high marks in a couple of areas:
- Ease of entry and exit
- Clearance for tight areas
- Ease of maneuvering kids in and out
Another possible reason why the Model X was designed this way was simply that it looks cool. Aesthetics are a big deal to Tesla and its CEO Elon Musk. After all, they designed the whole concept of the Solar Roof to make solar on houses more appealing. So why not design Falcon Wing doors on the Model X to make it more eye-catching?
All Tesla products tend to have a design aesthetic in common. They stand out and are easily noticed for being:
- Futuristic looking but not cheesy
While Tesla has often been criticized for prizing gimmicks over substance, there might be a method to that approach. After all, would there be this much discussion about the Model X if it did not have the Falcon Wing doors? When Tesla is trying to be a game-changing company, they may have good reason to go for attention.
More Useful Than First Thought
The doors have proved more useful even than probably Tesla or anyone else had first thought or believed they would. The Model X has proved a boon for people with disabilities or those who have to tote a lot of medical equipment with them. If you need to navigate into a seat with help from a person or a walker, the doors are useful.
The large opening and wide open clearance that does not require you to navigate the acute angle of a normal passenger door make it easier to maneuver in and out of the car when movement might be difficult. But the same could also be said for van doors. And at the end of the day, you still have storage to contend with. Or do you?
Using the Storage You Have
It is worth commenting on the storage that you do have available in the Model X and what you can accomplish or not accomplish with that amount of space. Is it possible to get by with what the Model X offers and not even have to explore other options for storage? Can you shove your stuff in and just make it work?
The Model X comes with about 88 cubic feet of storage that is divided between the front trunk area (the “frunk”) and the rear trunk area. If you are unfamiliar with trunk space in Teslas, then you should know that they typically go much deeper than trunks in combustion engine cars because Teslas do not need all those components.
So a space that looks narrow, like the trunk area with all the seats up, goes pretty deep and can accommodate more room than you would think at first. Nevertheless, if you were going on a trip, it would probably be difficult to load up luggage for as many people as the car can hold.
If you look up YouTube videos on this, you will discover that someone loading luggage for four or more people is going to have to put the rear seats down to have enough room to store everything. Without any other storage, cargo space is going to be one of the ongoing limitations of the Model X.
Tesla’s Solution to the Roof Rack
So if you are not able to get all the stuff in the Model X that you would need to for as many people as the SUV can hold, what do you do? Even if it looks great and accommodates passenger movement in and out, the Model X still has to carry everyone’s stuff.
So what has Tesla provided for a storage solution? There is one Tesla made option, and that is:
- The tow hitch package
- To which you can add the Hitch Rack for bicycles
- To which you can add the Ski/Snowboard Carrier
The Hitch Rack Option
The tow package is a standard two-inch receiver that attaches to the tow bar and has the ability to tow 3,500 pounds. Once it is attached to your Model X, you can then attach the hitch rack. The hitch rack is made to carry up to:
- Four bikes
- A total weight of forty pounds
The hitch rack can also bend back to allow access to the back hatch. This is true even when you add the ski and snowboard carrier, and you have to have a hitch rack to use the ski and snowboard carrier. The ski and snowboard carrier can carry up to:
- Four snowboards
- Or six pairs of skis
- Or a workable combination thereof
This is a great addition for those who bike and enjoy winter sports. You can move all the bulky, muddy, wet, and dirty toys to the outside of the Model X, saving both space and the life of your interior. But what about those who just want to throw in a few extra bags and the portable crib? What solution is available for them?
Aftermarket Storage Solutions
One possibility for finding a solution to the storage problem with your Model X is to look at aftermarket products and solutions. This may not be as risky as it sounds. There are a number of suppliers that make products specifically designed for Tesla cars. A lot of these products are made to fit snugly and interact seamlessly with the car.
Also, any solution to the storage problem sold in the aftermarket will probably revolve around utilizing the tow hitch. Since the hitch receiver is a standard two inches, it is likely that you would be able to find something workable, just like you could find a hitch attachment for any other car with that size of a receiver.
Any company that makes cargo solutions for a hitch will probably work if the specifications meet the hitch requirements. There are a lot out there. They could include companies such as:
- King Bird
Below are just two examples from two different companies of the type of hitch solutions that may work for your Tesla Model X. Be sure to check the size and dimensions of any solution before you commit.
One such aftermarket solution is the X-Rack, developed by a Model X owner named Nick Deninno. The rack is a very simple but sturdy design that comes in two models for light and heavy-duty loads. Capacity is 250 and 500 pounds respectively.
With a what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind of approach, the rack is basically a platform that attaches to the hitch receiver. You can then strap what gear will fit the size and weight specifications onto the platform. Simple. They weigh between 16 and 21 pounds and are designed to fit inside the Model X trunk for easy storage when not in use.
The X-Rack also has options for containers that fit easily onto the rack and can quickly be strapped in. These containers are waterproof, so they would work well in the elements while traveling. There are a lot of these kinds of racks available for hitch applications in cars and SUVs.
Another solution can be found with the Stowaway 2 Max Hitch Cargo Box. This is another solution that utilizes the hitch to create cargo space for the Model X. The Max Hitch Cargo Box looks pretty much the way it sounds. It is a big black cargo box that extends from the back of the Tesla.
The solution adds about 16 cubic feet or about 200 pounds of stuff to the cargo capacity of the Model X, making long road trips a little easier. In spite of the added length, it allows for charging without a lot of hassle moving it. It also swings to allow for the trunk to open.
If you have luggage and miscellaneous bags that you need room to transport, this might be a good option. While the X-Rack is versatile, this option allows you the opportunity to cover soft suitcases securely and safely from the elements.
The other possible way to solve the storage rack problem is to get creative. If Tesla does not provide a roof rack or a comparable solution, maybe there is a way to create one yourself with a little tweaking of roof racks and compromise in how you use your Model X. This solution is not for everyone, but it is worth exploring.
One Model X user did just this with a Thule roof rack and reported about it. Below is a summary of the details and could be an example of making something similar work for you. In this case, the individual was able to contrive a roof rack without:
- Damaging the Model X
- Altering the Model X
Considering it did no damage to the vehicle, it is safe to say that it is a worthwhile possibility for those wanting a DIY option.
The DIY Roof Rack
This solution revolves around the use of TreeFrog or Seasucker roof bars. These items use vacuum mounts (which are basically suction cups) to attach to the roof and hold the cargo container or whatever else in place.
So you need to get a couple of bars with vacuum mounts, but you also need the tools to saw one of the bars in half, creating a much narrower mount for the rear of the rack. Essentially, what you get is a front bar that seals across the width of the front of the car and a rear bar that covers only half.
The result is that you can put a cargo carrier on one side or the other of the roof of your Model Y in addition to whatever you have attached to the hitch. As long as you feel comfortable with vacuum mounted racks (and there is plenty of reason to trust them), then the solution works well.
But it comes with a compromise. You have to not use one of the Falcon Wing doors. The back of the rack has to attach somewhere, even if it is just to half of the roof. The other falcon door will not want to open because it will sense the roof rack, which means you have to manually override it.
But is the DIY Solution the Best?
The DIY solution will not work for everyone. Not everyone is comfortable working with the tools necessary to create this kind of rack. Also, once you modify something like that, you are on your own as far as warranty is concerned.
But if you have used up your hitch options and you still need more room, this solution or one similar might be worth considering. As long as you are comfortable making changes to things on your own, then put your creative juices to work and see what you come up with.
Use What the Model X Has
The final possibility for a storage solution is to simply work within the limitations of the Model X. A family of four will probably not have a concern about space since they can fold down the rear seat for more room. The rear seats would be to accommodate guests on short trips.
If you have a family larger than four and the additional storage options will not work, then you can always make vacations a two-car trip. One car can hold the people, and another car can hold the luggage. If they are both Teslas, then at least you do not have to worry about the cost of gas.
The unfortunate reality for Tesla Model X owners is that the design of the SUV, while cool looking and utilitarian in some ways, prohibits the use of a roof rack. This is a huge bummer because if you are going to transport as many people as the Model X will hold on a long trip, you need another storage solution to carry all their stuff.
That solution might be something simple like shifting all the skis, bikes, or snowboards to the hitch rack. Likely, though, that will be useful only in limited ways. If you need more storage space, you will have to go with a hitch solution that provides space to tie suitcases to or a cargo carrier. Or, if you are brave, you can try a DIY solution.