Pros Fast, High Tech, so much storage, great looking, never go to a gas station again, green, great service, did I say fast?!
Cons Expensive, range limited for cross country travel (until free superconductor network completed from Tesla anyway)
Summary I can't imagine a better car, period.
Pros Unholy performance specs, incredible styling, luxurious interior, fully customized ordering process
Cons Lacks a few high-end amenities found in comparably priced vehicles, limited rear visibility, learning curve
Summary Note that I am posting this review based on a test drive, along with information I have learned to date. I do not own one of these cars--at least, not yet.
For all the attention Tesla and the Model S have gotten as an electric revolution, I am choosing instead to focus my attention to the day to day aspects of owning this car, compared to other vehicles in the same price range. And, by price range, the Model S realistically falls around $85-95,000. Though Tesla offers configurations starting around $65,000, the higher figures mainly come about because of the cost of a battery suitable for a car that could serve as one's primary vehicle (in this case fully replacing a gas-powered or hybrid car). The vehicle I test-drove has the high capacity 85 kWh battery with advertised 300 mile range between charges. It also had a set of options similar to what I would configure for my own car, including even the same color choices. As I have followed the research and development of this car, I have planned to transition to driving Teslas, but I wanted to see how well this car would compare to other luxury cars in the same price range. Right now, I drive a Lexus GS450h, a car that is just under a year old, and about the closest thing to a more mainstream counterpart of this still fresh development.
At first glance, between the 21 inch wheels with futuristic spokes and the nearly completely LCD-based dashboard, the Model S looks like a concept car. All that was missing was the fact that the Model S actually has rearview mirrors instead of the camera replacements so often put on concepts. The sweeping curvy lines and futuristic interior looks a lot like what you see at car shows, thinking to yourself, "too bad they'll dumb that down to regular stuff in the production model." Finally, a futuristic concept car is REAL, right down to the alternative fuel source. We've been waiting for this car for a long time already.
Next I noticed that it is big; it's a lot larger than the photos would suggest. Compared to my Lexus GS or even a long-version Lexus LS, the Model S is a monster of a vehicle that looks more imposing in person on the outside and even bigger on the inside. Similarly sized gas-powered cars get around 20-22 mpg. Because of its unique engineering and technology, it has an amazingly roomy interior, and it flaunts it by offering in its trunk a pair of rear-facing third row seats (which are no better or worse than one might find in a typical sports coupe, but more honestly advertise by Tesla as specifically intended for child-sized passengers), along with a second trunk where an engine normally goes. The vehicle is very wide and very long, which can be somewhat intimidating for some of us in its green-minded target audience, who are used to getting fuel efficiency by losing weight rather than adding muscle. The car feels very solid, its hefty battery brilliantly placed all throughout the floorboard, giving the car a tight grip on the road.
However, this weight has no impairment on the car's handling and performance. One foot on the accelerator, and you are reminded that Tesla CEO Elon Musk's other job involves rocketing payloads into space. As much fun as my GS450h is to drive in Sport+ mode, this car gets into Porsche territory. But, with no gears to change or engine revving, the jump to Warp is more Enterprise-D than Original Series Enterprise, and one could find one's self inadvertently getting pulled over for driving 85 in a 60 if one is not paying attention or is expecting the typical feedback of a gas-powered vehicle.
Futurism aside, the interior is lush and elegant, holding its own against comparably priced Mercedes or the closest Lexus. A few exceptions like the plastic cupholders and undersized armrest storage will probably see some design tweaks in the coming years. The interior lining including door frames, seats, and dashboard in the test model had elegant leather with stitching, an ornately patterned polished wood, and tactfully placed chrome accents.
Getting used to the Model S' particular way of driving was a bigger jump than it was going from a Toyota Celica eight years back to my first Lexus. Familiar but redundant steps have been eliminated to the point of getting in the car, putting one's foot on the brake, shifting gear, and being in motion. I had the advantage of driving hybrids to help me get used to the lack of noise, so the adjustment may be harder for people still used to traditional cars. The car's owner had regenerative braking set to maximum, so letting off the pedal-formerly-known-as-gas brought the car to a gliding halt fairly quickly.
I did notice a few features absent in the Model S but present in other luxury cars. My Lexus GS has radar-adaptive cruise control, not offered in the Tesla; this would be a nice feature, as it brings the car one step closer towards the futuristic vision of self-driving cars. The GS also has a driver alertness monitor, a camera mounted on the steering wheel, watching for eye movements, to make sure I'm not falling asleep on a long drive. Admittedly, its an extremely rare feature on the GS. Other Lexus offer lane-keep assist alerts and blind spot monitors, and other competing luxury vehicles offer similar features, again not available on the Model S. However, the Model S is ahead of the game in terms of Internet connectivity, bringing its own 3G connectivity and WiFi hotspot whereas my Lexus has to borrow my phone. The Model S dashboard also does not limit available controls on the dashboard display while in motion, so in one instance a safety feature is actually a ding against my Lexus, though it does mean one will have to be all the more careful about directed attention.
The test Model S had the Technology Package, which includes many of the features familiar to luxury car drivers, such as Homelink and an automatic power trunk. Interestingly, though it adds turn-by-turn navigation, Tesla Model S'es without it still have Google Maps, which offers more information than my Lexus navigation bundle, without the need for subscriptions for traffic condition overlays. The test car also had the upgraded sound system. It was full and rich, but it did not have the full dynamic range--crisp high treble and depth of bass--as my Lexus' Mark Levinson-branded sound system upgrade. Luddites might notice the absence of a CD/DVD drive in the Model S, relying instead on USB ports and web services for music. Most C-Net enthusiasts, however, have already made that transition and would miss it about as much as I do my ES350's cassette deck. Still, it may be a minor point for your friends and family.
I have been looking at Tesla since the days when the original Roadster was still struggling to get into production. Up until now, I've considered a Tesla as an extra car to have for my days off. But, driving this Model S, I realize that when it comes time to trade in my current vehicle, the Model S is intended more as one's main vehicle, the car to drive most of the time. It has all the power and performance of a sports car, but the comfort and amenities of a luxury sedan. That was the same set of features I sought in my Lexus sports-performance hybrid sedan, but with both goals enhanced to almost ludicrous levels.
Well played, Tesla. This would be a car to consider even if it were not the equivalent of 100+ mpg and capable of being powered by the sky. As an ER physician, I work in several different cities, with two to three hour commutes for each 24-hour shift; the fact that this car is also the only all-electric car other than the original Roadster that is practical for these distances only enhances further my interest.
Pros Beautiful looks in a refined package. Excellent ride and handling. Very quiet. I have the performance package and it is very quick - incredibly fast and fun to drive. A real adrenaline rush - every time I take it out.
Cons Battery range does limit it's use. If you like driving fast, it eats up battery. Cold weather slightly limits total range.
Summary The Tesla Model S is the perfect combination of "out on the town" luxury along with blazing performance.
Pros Lots of tech
Continously updated (overthe air) software
Cheap to maintain
Road trips with Tesla Superchargers (free for life)
Range of 230-300 miles
"full tank" every morning
Cons Expensive (though cheap to maintain)
Need some patience to learn about electric cars: installing charging outlet, planning road trips
Summary Best car I've ever had. Period.
It will change your life.
Easy car to live with, just plug it in each night, wake up, drive with a 'full tank' every morning
Continously updated (overthe air) software which not only updates user interface but almost anything on the car, including improving maps, features, battery efficiency, etc), the issue with only north facing map has been fixed with recent software update.
Minimal maintenance(only once a year service recommended, but not required). No oil changes, sparkplugs, transmission, emmisions testing, timing belt, etc.
"Sleek and Sexy"on by Vee5955
Pros Sexy, and fast. NEVER uses gas-- better for the environment, and also good on the eyes
Cons Hmm... none I guess
Thanks for your submission!
Write a Review
|Initial Sort Order|
|Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price From Edmunds.com||No|| |
|See all prices|