The first mass-production EV retains its panache nearly a decade on.
The Tesla Model S was introduced in 2012. Nonetheless, the Model S still impresses with its sleek styling, sporty handling, quick acceleration, and a sophisticated aura. Major differences worth noting are a new front fascia and increases in battery sizes. The big change for the 2019 is the elimination of smaller battery packs and respective cheaper vehicle prices. The entry model S is priced at $85,000 (all incentives disappear at the end of 2019).
All Model S versions have 300-plus miles of range and dual-motor AWD. The Model S Performance model offers much quicker acceleration and a bit more range for $100,000–$106,000 (depending on options). If that’s not quick enough, “ludicrous mode,” which provides more power, is available for an additional $20,000. During instrumented testing, we recorded a 0-60 mph time of 3.0 seconds in this mode.
The Model S is dynamically excellent, with smooth and quiet acceleration, sporty handling, and responsive steering. Ride quality, however, is on the firm side. Inside, there’s a huge 17-inch center display that handles audio, navigation, vehicle settings, and Internet access and contributes to the cabin’s modern look. However, the plastic-looking carbon fiber–like trim detracts from the minimalist cabin.
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Model years: 2018–2019
Vehicle layout: Full-size 4-door sedan, two electric motors (463 hp), single-speed automatic, AWD
MSRP: $135,000 (base), $144,700 (well equipped)
MPGe, city/hwy/combined: 92/105/98
Crash-test ratings: NHTSA: 5 stars overall. IIHS: good (all crash-related ratings except driver-side small-overlap front [acceptable])
Basic warranty: 4 years/50,000 miles
Spare tire: Tire-inflator kit
Final assembly: United States
Range: 315 miles