The Model S Vs. Model X (What You Didn’t Know)

The Model S Vs. Model X (What You Didn't Know)

When Tesla’s first started producing cars, there was only one model to choose from. But over a decade and many models later, those who wish to purchase a Tesla vehicle now have a full range of models that they must decide between. So this may leave you wondering how the Model S and the Model X compare.

While the Tesla Model S and the Tesla Model X may look very similar in appearance, there are several lesser-known differences that set the vehicle apart. And these differences could make the difference between buying the vehicle just another car or buying the vehicle of your dreams. 

Car shopping is all about finding the car that is the perfect fit for you. And if you don’t have all the differences between the two models in mind, you won’t be able to pick the perfect car. Read on to find out more about the Tesla Model S and Model X and all the things you didn’t know about them.

The Model S

The Tesla Model S is one of the first widely produced all-electric cars to hit the market. It was built specifically to be good for the environment while also being fun to drive in the way a sports car is. The Tesla Model S is a Sedan, and it can comfortably seat four adults.

One problem with electric vehicles is that they often can’t go for long without charging, and places to charge your vehicle have yet to become commonplace at gas stations and rest stops. Tesla aimed to remedy this by making their Model S have a range of 412 miles—enough to at least get you started on that road trip. 

Since the vehicle’s first release in 2013, Tesla has since released over ten different upgraded models of the design. And currently, the company is producing its 2021 version.

The Model X

The Model X is an all-electric car produced by Tesla that was designed to infiltrate the SUV market where the Model S couldn’t go. This SUV can seat seven adults (although maybe not comfortably) and has a range of approximately 360 miles.

Like the Model S, the Model X has undergone several updates since its original release in 2015, and there are currently several versions on the market. Tesla is currently producing the plaid model of the Model X

The Difference Between the Model S And The Model X

Now that you have a basic outline of the two vehicles being discussed, it’s time to get into more about these vehicles and what makes them so different from one another.

The Range

First and Foremost, the most prominent difference between the two models is the range that you can expect to drive them. When comparing the long-range version side by side, the Model S will take you 405 miles while the Model X will only take you 360. Of course, on paper, this doesn’t look like much, but when you think of how long it would take you to walk 50 miles, this makes a big difference.

Even when you compare the all-new plaid versions of the two models side by side, you still bet a fifty-mile deficit, with the Model S taking you a total of 390 miles, still farther than the Model X plaid, which will only take you about 340 miles. So if you want an electric car that can take you as far as possible, you better stick to the Model S.


Another big difference that will become a huge player when you make your decision between the two models is how much seating you think you will need. When you are just you, a happy party of one, there’s no reason not to choose one or the other. But when you have a family, you need to drive around. That’s when you start counting seats.

The Model S can only have up to 5 seats. And some of the models only have 4. If you purchase the all-new 2021 Plaid version, you will have five seats, but double-check if you are looking to get one used. Meanwhile, the Model X, no matter which version you purchase, has seven seats. Tesla claims you can cart around seven adults, but those in the back might find their legs lacking room.

Still, when you need more than five seats in your car, the Model X is the only option Tesla offers that will work for you. Just hope that your friends sitting in the back seat don’t need that much space.

Cargo Capacity

If you’ve ever driven an SUV before, you know that the whole reason you get one is for the cargo capacity! When you need to cart around dogs, sports gear, suitcases, or use your car to move frequently, a sedan just isn’t going to cut it.

And the numbers reflect that. A Model S only offers 28 cubic feet of trunk space, while the Model X gives you 88 cubic inches to fit up to 8 carry-on bags—perfect for picking up friends from the airport!

The Battery

You may be wondering why the range between these two vehicles is so different. And while it does have to do with how much these cars differ in weight, it also has to do with the battery it is carrying around.

Most Model S and Model X vehicles alike have a 100-kWh battery installed, but if you are really wanting to burn rubber in your Tesla, then better get the Model S+ that has the option to upgrade to a 140-kWh battery that will have you driving miles further than the 100whr battery. Unfortunately, the Model X does not have any options to upgrade the battery as of now.

Top Speeds

Are you looking to drive fast? Well then, this next factor will definitely come into play as you car shop. The top speed of a Tesla vehicle differs widely from model to model, as well as in the versions of each model.

A Model S can have a top speed of 155 mph or 200 mph, depending on whether you chose the long-range or the Plaid model. On the other end of the spectrum, with the Model X, your top speed choices are either 155 mph with the long-range model or 163 with the plaid model. And when it comes to top speed, honestly, eight mph isn’t going to be enough difference for you to notice.

Therefore if you really want a car you can pedal to the metal, then it’s probably better to go with the Tesla Model S.


Besides just knowing how fast you can go, you may also be interested to know how soon you can expect to reach those speeds while driving. And like everything else on this list, the acceleration between the Model S and the Model X is quite different.

Acceleration is another factor that depends on the version, but in the Model S, you can expect to accelerate from 0-60mph in 3.1 seconds, which is great, but you’d probably rather have the plaid model that can do the same in under 2 seconds. In a Model X, the acceleration is still fast at 3.8 seconds in the long-range and 2.5 seconds in the plaid, but still not quite the same as getting to 60mph in under two seconds!

Still, both models of the car accelerate well and do so fast, so the rate of acceleration shouldn’t matter when it comes to your Tesla purchase as much as other features on this list.


The wheels your car needs widely depend on the size of the vehicle, and thus it is to be expected that the Model S and the Model X have different size wheels. The Model S requires 21″ wheels, while the Model X requires 22″ wheels. Not a huge difference, but something to be aware of.


Of course, the deciding feature for many people when it comes to purchasing a vehicle is the final price you will pay, and Tesla’s do not come cheap. Whether you pick the Model S or Model X, you should be prepared to shell out a large amount of cash, all the way up to $150,000 depending on the style you want and upgrades you decide to include.

The Model S long range is the cheapest variation of the two models at just $80,000 new—and of course, this is without that autopilot you want so badly. But if you want the Model S plaid, you’ll need to have at least $120,000 to purchase the vehicle.

This is a discount compared to the Model X, which starts at just over $90,000 (again, without that oh so coveted autopilot!) And extends all the way up to $120,000 for the plaid version of this model.


As expected, the two models do differ in appearance, and it is easy to tell which is which if you see the two driving down the street. But this doesn’t address the main difference between the two vehicles, which is the falcon-wing doors.

The Model S has doors you would expect in a sedan, as they all open the same way, but in a Model X, the vehicle is equipped with falcon doors. These doors open up, making the vehicle look like it has falcon wings. This isn’t just for looks, though, as Tesla claims it makes it easier to load and unload the car. But hey, they do look pretty cool.

The Similarities Between The Model S And The Model X

Although it has become clear that the Model S and the Model X have several differences between the two, they are both still produced by Tesla, meaning there are several similarities between the two cars as well.

The Colors Available

Starting on the simple end, it is known that many people look for a specific color car when they shop. And if this is you, then don’t worry because the Model S and the Model X have no distinguishable differences when it comes to color options.

Both the Model S and the Model X come in a base white color, and if you are going to want to see a different color sitting in your driveway, you are going to have to pay for it. Tesla offers to paint either model in black, blue, or grey for a set fee, as well as red for a double fee.

The Interior Colors

It isn’t just the exterior colors that matter to some people, and the interior color needs to be considered as well. Both the Model S and the Model X come with an automatic black interior. But if you want to upgrade, you can, and both have the options of cream or a mix of black and while for a set price.

Signature Autopilot

Many people want to buy a Tesla because of the signature autopilot feature that plans to one day convert to completely self-driving to be the car of the future. If this is one of the features you are concerned about, you should know that any Tesla vehicle you purchase will be outfitted with the necessary hardware for this feature.

That being said, unless you purchase a very old model of a Tesla, it doesn’t matter if you purchase the Model S or the Model X, as neither comes with the software to activate the autopilot, and you will need to pay an extra $10,000 in either case to get the self-driving features you want to badly.

The cool thing is, if you do pay the extra for the software, your Tesla will receive automatic remote updates from the factory whenever they are released, so you know you and your car will always be up to date with the best self-driving capabilities on the market.

Motor and Battery

Although the exterior and many of the extra features differ widely between the two vehicles, what is underneath the hood remains widely the same. Both the Model S plaid and the Model X  plaid have three motors and a battery made of cylindrical 18650 cells. They are also both all-wheel-drive automatics—so no need to worry about shifting gears.

This means that despite the slight differences in range and acceleration previously mentioned, you can widely expect the two vehicles to perform the same on the road.


Gone are the days where you need to walk out into the cold to start your car in order for it to “warm up” before you go to work! All tesla vehicles are able to be started remotely and starting with the most recent Model S and Model X, both vehicles will have heated seats for every passenger in the vehicle (no more fighting over the front seat!)

But it doesn’t end there, both models will also have a heated steering wheel, a heated windshield, and premium air conditioning for the summer months.

Center Console Screen

Another premium and sought-after feature in Tesla vehicles is the center console screen that controls much of the interior functions of the car. This screen is another feature that is universal across all Tesla vehicles, and it will only be different if you decide to purchase an older model of Tesla used.


When you purchase a new car, it almost always comes with a warranty, and this is a good thing because it means you will be protected in the case that something on the car doesn’t work within the first couple of years after you buy it.

Tesla has a fairly universal warranty for all of its vehicles that covers it for 50,000 miles or four years, whichever the customer hits first. However, Tesla also has a more specific warranty for different parts of the vehicle, such as the battery drive and power train unit.

Since the Model S and the Model X share the same battery drive and power train unit, they are both protected by an eight-year or 150,000-mile warranty when it comes to these parts—which for the amount of money you are shelling out for one of these vehicles it makes total sense.

Even if you buy a used Model S or Model X from Tesla, you are still covered by the remainder of the original owner’s warranty, whatever may be left. If there is nothing left of the original warranty, Tesla will grant a one-year or 10,000-year warranty to any used vehicle purchased from them.


Another thing you need to consider when purchasing a vehicle is how much maintenance it will require. This is especially important with a Tesla since there aren’t service shops that can handle a Tesla on every corner.

Luckily, Tesla’s don’t tend to need a lot of maintenance—and if they do, it is usually due to a battery issue or driver error. Thus there should be no unexpected surprises when you are driving your Tesla around town.

This doesn’t mean there won’t be maintenance problems as these Tesla Models age; however, there is currently no data from cars that have only been around 9 and 7 years.

Which Tesla Should I Buy?

If you have made it this far, your mind is probably filled with pros and cons about both the Model S and the Model X, and when it comes to choosing between them, well, you will have to select the option that is best for you and your family.

You should look primarily at the features you cannot change, like how many seats you need and whether or not storage space matters to you. If you find that it doesn’t, then you can begin to look at other features of the car, such as the range and how fast it goes.

Price will be a major player, of course, unless you have an endless supply of money to spend on cars. Therefore it is probably worth it to be sure you can secure the financing for your Tesla before you pick one out. This way, you will know which Tesla models you can choose between as well as any extras you will be able to afford.

Which Vehicle Will Be Delivered First?

One of the reasons you may get stuck between the Tesla Model S and the Tesla Model X is because you aren’t sure which one will be delivered first. And unfortunately, as of April 2021, Tesla has halted production on both the Model S and the Model X.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t order one of these amazing models. It just means that you might have to be patient when it comes to waiting for delivery—and you can’t pick which model to order based on its delivery time.

Which Tesla is Safer?

When it comes to safety, Tesla was previously one of the top players in the space, but recently, the company has come under fire for some features that people deem not safe about their vehicles.

Fortunately for Tesla, most of these items which are deemed to be not safe are more of cosmetic issues that all-out safety recalls, but there have been stories of people’s Tesla’s dying on them in the middle of driving. Not only that, but several people have reported getting locked out of their Tesla due to a door lock failure—imagine making that call you your mechanic.

Model S

As far as actual recalls go, the Model S has quite a few. The multimedia chip in the computer being one of them, as well as the motor that assists the steering, the seatbelts, and one accessory adapter. However, when purchasing a brand-new vehicle, these recalls shouldn’t be an issue, as the dealer will correct them before your car is shipped.

Model X

Surprisingly, or maybe not so much considering how similar these vehicles are, the Model X was affected by nearly all the same recalls as the Model S. The multimedia chip, a motor that assists the steering wheel, and a software update are all on the recall list for this vehicle. What’s missing? Well, the seatbelt recall is just for the Model S, so maybe that does make the X slightly safer.

One thing that does need to be mentioned is that it has been reported that the falcon doors on the Model X can be difficult to open in the event of a power failure. This is because the motor which operates the door will be dead, and you will need to provide all the power manually. This can be very scary, especially if you have young passengers in the back. So keep this in mind if you are thinking about the Model X.

Where Are The Model S and The Model X Available?

When it comes to purchasing a Tesla, because the company doesn’t have traditional dealerships yet, you will need to order online and arrange delivery. This can severely restrict your options when it comes to ordering a Tesla.

The good news is, the Model S and the Model X are both available in the US, UK, and Europe. If you are outside of one of those three zones, you will need to contact Tesla about delivery before you order to make sure you can get your Tesla to your home without incident.

Do I Get The Tax Credit With Either Vehicle?

Many buyers of Tesla love the brand because their government gives them tax credits for buying the vehicle. Although the incentive varies based on when and where you buy the car, both the Model S and the Model X are applicable for the tax credit.

Tesla has a webpage dedicated to helping you find out how much money you can expect to get back, depending on the state in which you live when you buy your Tesla. You can check on your specific tax credit here. Generally, in the USA, anyone who buys a Tesla is given at least a $1,500 tax credit either via rebate or as a sales tax discount with their purchase.

Final Thoughts

Purchasing a Tesla is a big deal, especially because they are one of the most expensive cars on the market! So if you are stuck between deciding on the Model S or the Model X, make sure you understand the differences between the two before you jump in and buy one blindly.

The model of Tesla that is perfect for you and your family will widely depend on what you expect to get out of the car. Whether that is speed, comfort, distance, or extra space, it is up to you to decide what is best for you.

As different as the Model S and the Model X are, they are both still Tesla’s and have quite a few of the same features. Therefore you can’t go wrong when it comes to purchasing either one! So whether you end up with the Model S or the slightly pricier Model X, you will absolutely love your new vehicle. Happy Driving!


The articles here on are created by Greg, a Tesla vehicle and Tesla solar expert with nearly half a decade of hands-on experience. The information on this site is fact-checked and tested in-person to ensure the best possible level of accuracy.

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