6 rivals for the 2015 Tesla Model X SUV

It seems strange to conjecture what rivals a new car might have nearly a year before it goes on sale, but the 2015 Tesla Model X SUV looks set to whip up such a storm that it’s probably worth investigating.

Before we go any further, however, know that this list does not include the Audi Q8 e-tron – a hotly anticipated electric SUV from the premium German automaker with enormous range. There simply isn’t enough concrete information on the car to speculate with any real certainly, other than the fact that it will be built. You can find more on that project here.

There is also the hydrogen-powered Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell, which goes on sale shortly (with a decent lease deal) offering a zero emissions range of 300 miles, although here we’ve focused on battery-electric cars that can charge up anywhere.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk recently disclosed some new details on his company’s third car, but the upshot is that the Model X will seat seven and develop similar levels of power to the Model S sedan, all in addition to featuring four-wheel drive as standard.

It will likely start at around $70,000 with an EPA-rated electric range of at least 210 miles for the 60kWh version and 265 miles for the more expensive (think at least $80,000) 85kWh models.

As it stands the 2015 Tesla Model X won’t have a direct rival, as such, when it arrives. Nothing else either confirmed or in development, at least to our knowledge, will offer the same blend of performance and practicality while being powered purely by electricity. This is perhaps evidenced by the 13,000 reservations to date that Tesla has already taken for its upcoming SUV.

It means that while the prospective rivals below all the share the same general characteristics – a raised ride-height, space for families – as the Model X, under the skin they are subtly different. Most of them are plug-in hybrids, offering a small electric range and plenty of power, but without any range anxiety.

In descending order of availability, then, here are your real and anticipated 2015 Tesla Model X rivals.

1

Toyota RAV4 EV

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The Toyota RAV4 EV is closer to the Tesla Model X that you might think – its electric hardware is actually built by the Californian automaker. That said, the junior SUV only offers front-wheel drive and a 103-mile range, so it will fall far short of the Tesla in practical terms.  Given that the Tesla’s range will also be nearly three times as great as the RAV4 EV manages it’s no contest, even with the $25,000 premium the Model X will command.

Availability? On sale now in California

How much? $49,800

2

Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid

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The Mitsubishi isn’t purely electric but it does come across as a brilliant proposition. It’s just gone on sale in the UK at the same price as the diesel Outlander – take a moment to digest that – and features a 32.5-mile electric range. Off-road ability is also commendable, if not on par with a Range Rover Hybrid, while interior dimensions are vast.

Availability? Expected during the first half of 2015

How much? Potentially as low as $40,000

3

BMW X5 eDrive

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While the first two cars on this list are already on sale somewhere in the world, the BMW X5 eDrive brings us into the realm of (mild) speculation. Fortunately, sales of the plug-in hybrid BMW SUV are a question of ‘when’ not ‘if’ – test mules have already been spotted. This car will be built and will match the Tesla for brand appeal. Electric range is modest, at 18 miles, although in typical BMW fashion the X5 eDrive’s performance will make up for it – expect similar numbers to the gasoline X5 xDrive35i.

Availability? On sale in Europe next year

How much? Similar to the XDrive40d in Europe, which translates to around $70,000

4

Volvo XC60 Plug-in Hybrid

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If the plug-in hybrid version of the XC60 SUV is anything like the V60 PHEV we drove last year then it will fly out of dealerships. The diesel-electric drivetrain from the V60 will be reworked to run on gasoline for the US market and electric range will be limited to 35 miles. Like the V60, Volvo’s plug-in hybrid SUV will also be fast – the concept boasted 280hp. Expect an announcement from Volvo later this year.

Availability? Nothing yet, but they’d be mad not to build it

How much? North of $65,000

5

Porsche Cayenne Plug-in Hybrid

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Porsche hasn’t hinted at release dates or price for a plug-in hybrid version of the Cayenne SUV, but recent spy shots showing a prototype charging up mean it can’t be too far away. Porsche already has a plug-in hybrid drivetrain it can slot into the Cayenne, and performance will be similar to the Panamera S E-Hybrid. Expect around 20 miles of electric range and a 3.0-liter V6 gasoline engine helping to develop just under 420hp.

Availability? Almost certainly next year

How much? At least $90,000

6

Giugaro Clipper

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Italdesign Giugaro is an Italian coachbuilder headed by perhaps the most legendary car designer that ever lived, Giorgetto Giugiaro. The company unveiled a rakish pure electric family car at this year’s Geneva Motor Show, complete with a decent turn of pace, a striking design, and an electric range of 335 miles. It is, to all intents and purposes, a kindred spirit with the Tesla Model X. And why does any of this matter? Because Audi recently took over Italdesign Giugaro.

Availability? Er…

How much? Priceless for now, but potentially extremely competitive