Tesla Motors is an unconventional company that thrives on throwing normality out the window with its lineup of electric vehicles. And while breaking the mold can benefit consumers, if it goes too far, the benefit is questionable.

And that, pretty much, sums up the Tesla Model X sport-utility vehicle. Filled with enough gee-whiz gizmos to give Isaac Asimov a thrill, this egg-shaped electric SUV sacrifices practicality and pragmatism for the purpose of showboating.

We gained some seat time with a Model X we rented from Tesla, to tide us over until we take delivery of our own purchased version sometime this summer. Our first impression: Where were the responsible grownups when this machine was birthed?

Tesla Model X electric vehicle
The Tesla Model X on the Consumer Reports test track

Apart from the prominent rear doors that articulate upward like the wings of a pterodactyl, another striking feature of the Tesla Model X electric vehicle is its humongous windshield, which arcs up and into the ceiling. This creates a transparent capsule that makes the interior unusually airy—it’s almost like riding the London Eye Ferris wheel.

The interior is minimalist yet ultramodern. For instance, the rear seats seem to float on air. The vibe of slick, modern industrial design is certainly unique. It might not be to everyone’s taste, and it most certainly compromises practicality.

For those prospective owners who have sold their startup firms and made a nice exit, the Model X starts at $83,000 for the base version with a 75 kWh battery. Initially, only high-end P90D models were delivered, priced at $115,500 before options. The Model X we drove stickered at a whopping $149,450.

It’s only natural to expect the world from the Tesla Model X. After all, this electric vehicle shares the basics of the Model S, which is the top-scoring car in Consumer Reports' road tests—based on its performance, ride, handling, quietness, roominess, and frugal energy consumption.

Tesla Model X electric vehicle
The Model X can out-accelerate many supercars, for better or worse.

With the bigger of the two battery sizes, the 90 kWh, the Model X 90D is pegged with an EPA estimated range of 257 miles on a single charge, while the P90D high-performance version has an estimated range of 250 miles. All Model Xs have all-wheel drive.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk bragged the Model X would be the fastest SUV ever built. So, is it? Like its predecessor sedan, the Model X is quick—a blur of acceleration off the line, and an instant and gratifying burst of thrust available for the asking anytime, anywhere.

If you spend the extra $10,000 for your Model X to come with Ludicrous mode, the full-throttle catapult will slam you back into your seat and make you dizzy to the point of a head rush. Not only is it ludicrous, it’s frivolous.

Tesla claims a 4.8 second 0-60 mph acceleration with the regular 90D (that’s about as quick as a Ford Mustang GT V8) and a frighteningly silent 3.2-second zap to 60 for the Ludicrous upgrade. Porsche and Corvette drivers will weep after being left for dead by this two-and-a-half-ton behemoth that weighs 100 pounds more than a Range Rover.

With a big, heavy battery pack under the floor, the center of gravity is kept low. Cornering is stable and even-keel, contrasting with the top-heavy feel of many SUVs. The suspension and steering are well-tuned and make the Model X quite nimble. You have to push it really hard through corners until the expected tire squeal comes. This thing is pretty foolproof, even on our wet track.

All Model Xs ride on an air suspension, making the Tesla’s ride feel steady and composed. But our vehicle’s giant 22-inch wheels with summer tires conveyed a bit of jitter when encountering bumps. We would venture to say that the ride would be more comfortable on the smaller 20-inch wheels.  

Tesla Model X falcon-wing doors
The Model X's rear doors pivot and articulate upward, although their showmanship might outweigh practicality.

But it’s upon entering the car that the theatrics begin. You touch the door handle and the front door opens toward you by itself. If you program the car a certain way, the door will even open for you as you approach the car, like an invisible valet.

Unlike the Model S, the door handles don’t emerge, but rather stay flush with the body. Sensors monitor the car’s surroundings to stop the doors before they can hit an adjacent car or a person. Same goes for the falcon-wing rear doors. But the fail-safe is not 100 percent accurate, as we found with the occasional door bump on the dallying leg, or the wayward backside. And some owners have complained of their falcon-wing doors hitting protrusions in their garages.

These two huge rear wings certainly revel in their drama as they open. But, anticlimactically, if you stand near the door—as you naturally might, wanting to get into the car—the door will sense you and stop midway, forcing you to repeat the process. Seriously, who has the patience for that show-stopping spectacle on a daily basis? Especially with little kids in tow.

Those unique rear doors, which open with a huge chunk of the roof, eliminate the possibility of a sunroof or a roof rack. Yes, a rear hitch accessory can carry bikes and skis, but forget about hauling kayaks. Incidentally, the cargo hold length is shorter than it is in the Model S, cutting into the spontaneity with which you can acquire antiques on a Sunday stroll.

On the plus side, the falcon door opening itself is large, allowing you to practically walk in, it requires less ducking than a traditional door, and can serve as a shelter from the rain. However, any water lingering on the door will cascade off in a mini-waterfall as it opens.

Tesla Model X second-row captain's chairs
The second-row seats more closely resemble pods, and restrict the ability to load larger parcels into the back of the vehicle.

The Model X can be configured as a five-, six-, or seven-passenger vehicle. We rented the six-passenger format, which has two captain's chairs in the middle and two seats in the third row. The captain's chairs, perched on a monopod, are comfortable enough. But unlike any other SUV known to mankind, they are molded as one-piece, so they don’t fold flat, and barely even recline forward—ultimately limiting utility. Accessing the third row comes via a button that makes the second-row seat slide and tilt forward, which can be done even if a child seat is strapped there.

There’s a small trunk behind the third row. Because there is no engine, just like the Model S, there is a front trunk, or in Tesla’s lingo, a frunk.

Tesla Model X dashboard and massive touchscreen
The familiar iPad-like center display gains even more functionality in the Model X.

Also like the Model S, you get a giant touch screen as a centerpiece for the dash. This iPad on steroids is your interface with audio, phone, and navigation. Fortunately, it has big on-screen buttons and it’s not a far reach. Over-the-air software updates get beamed to the car. One thing we’re not happy about: The touch screen allows you to surf the web when driving, which is a distracting temptation.

While the touch screen’s web ability irks our safety sensibilities, we are reassured by the racks of standard advanced safety gear, including blind-spot monitoring and forward-collision warning with automatic braking. You can also get Tesla's AutoPilot, which, in the right situation, can essentially drive the car itself if the car recognizes the road you’re traveling. And the “Summon” feature can move the car in or out of a tight parking space while you watch from the outside, impressing your friends.

We appreciate the aura and cult following that has been building up around the Tesla brand, and we don’t underestimate the public’s insatiable thirst for SUVs of any kind and price. However, when looking at the Model X with eyes wide open, it’s hard not to see the added complexity, reduced practicality, and a theme of trying to be different for the sake of being different. It's also important to consider that all these complicated new items could have a further impact on the Tesla production line's already below-average reliability, which has been seen in early versions of the Model X.  

Check back with us for more on the Model X including range and charge times as soon as we take delivery of our own test car.