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Test drives whet appetite of Model X believers

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Test driving Tesla's Model X SUV

Bob Drucker has been on more than a few test drives in his day. But at age 91, he's finally making the test drive he's waited the longest for: the Tesla Model X.

"If you were to have asked me five years ago if it was worth the wait, I would've questioned it," said Drucker as he zipped along the Edens Expressway just north of Chicago in a 2016 Model X. "But having experienced this, it's worth it."

Drucker put down a $5,000 deposit for a Tesla Model X in early 2015. As is the case with more than 20,000 Model X reservation holders, he's waited patiently for the chance to drive the electric SUV. That chance is finally coming as Tesla launches "Meet the Model X," a tour of more than 30 cities where reservation holders will get a chance to see and drive the electric SUV.

The test drives serve two purposes.

First, the drives help Tesla convert Model X reservations into firm orders, which will be critical as the company ramps up production.

Second, it helps Tesla reassure customers, and investors, who have heard skeptics, analysts and others raise doubts about the Model X and its new technologies.


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"Giving them (reservation holders) just a taste is going to be important for Tesla to keep those people who wait in line happy," said Patrick Min, an industry analyst for ALG, a TrueCar company.

Natalie Slotnick from Glencoe, Illinois, is happy hear her Model X should be coming in the next few months.

She put down her deposit more than four years ago, shortly after Tesla CEO Elon Musk first announced plans to build an EV SUV. Since then she's been tracking when she would finally get her X.

"The expected delivery date was March of 2014, so I called and they said 'they want to deliver the best car we can and we assure you it will worth the wait,' " said Slotnick. "I knew it would be worth the wait once I got it, and it has surely exceeded our expectations."

Like all new vehicles, the Model X is in the honeymoon phase with the buying public. Those interested in it will no doubt look past potential flaws.

But unlike most other new cars, trucks and SUVs, the Model X comes with more scrutiny.

The delays in developing the high-end electric SUV and challenges in making sure all of its features (especially the falcon wing doors) have some on Wall Street wondering if the X will live up to sales expectations.

As Slotnick drove the demo version of the Model X in ludicrous mode on Highway 41 north of Chicago, she summed up what many Model X reservation holders said after spending time behind the wheel of an X: "This is awesome."

Questions? Comments? BehindTheWheel@cnbc.com.