The Tesla Model S is an all-electric, large luxury sedan introduced in 2012. Unlike other recently introduced electric vehicles, this one offers a combination of advanced styling, luxury and performance to provide formidable competition to top luxury models from Mercedes-Benz and BMW.
Tesla Model S Overview
Unlike other manufacturers, Tesla Motors provides updates to its models throughout the year. The Model S is still identified by model years, but the no-cost revisions may take place at any time. The changes are usually made by software updates received over the air. These updates contribute new features and functionality, and are performed in a manner comparable to making updates to your smartphone.
The Tesla Model S is available in rear- and all-wheel drive configurations. Tesla uses a liquid-cooled drivetrain composed of a lithium-ion battery and one or more electric motors. Initially, Tesla offered 40-, 60-, and 85-kilowatt battery packs, but quickly dropped the 40-kW option due to insufficient demand.
The 40-kilowatt model offers 235 horsepower and just over 100 miles of range. The 60-kilowatt model initially offered 302 horsepower and 208 miles of electric range. The 85-kilowatt model initially offered 416 horsepower and the same range as the 60-kWh model. All models come with a single-speed transmission.
At the start, the Tesla Model S was offered in four trim levels: base, Performance, Signature and Signature Performance. Beginning in 2014, Tesla offered the Model S in 60, 85 and P85 editions. Starting in 2015, those choices were expanded to include a 70D model with a 70kWh battery, all-wheel drive and 240 miles of range, as well as all-wheel drive 85D and P85D models.
Range for the 85D is 270 miles, while the P85D comes in at 253 miles. The P85D is also the fastest Model S built as it relies on a 259-horsepower electric motor on the front axle and a 503-horsepower electric motor on the rear axle. Both of the higher trim models are available with an upgrade to 90 kWh that extends range by about 6 percent.
European automobile designer Franz von Holzhausen designed the Tesla Model S, a vehicle that competes with Europe's finest luxury sedans. Its silhouette compares favorably to other luxury sedans, and is marked by an Aston-like gaping maw. Sleek wraparound headlamps with standout LED daytime running light accents are also present. The lower part of the front fascia is composed of stylish deep recesses, which house the fog lamps.
From bumper to bumper, the Tesla Model S flows, its large wheels and strong shoulders give this model a bold, yet confident look. The roofline sweeps back to the rear deck and the beltline rises at the back pillar. Side character lines and body sculpting contribute to a look that demonstrates a four-door sports car persona.
Examining the Model S from the rear, this sedan has a pronounced rear haunch. Elegant LED-infused tail lamps are connected by chrome garnish. At the bottom of the bumper (where tail pipes are typically found) is a diffuser with fog lamps. All models come with a pair of trunks — the front trunk is known as a frunk and offers 5.3 cubic feet of cargo space. The rear trunk has 26.3 cubic feet of cargo space and that can be doubled with the rear seat folded.
Inside, the Tesla Model S offers two rows of seating for five or three rows for seven. The third-row option did not appear until 2013, with rear facing two-place car seats that otherwise fold into a well when not in use.
Up front, driver-oriented seats provide superior support and comfort. The cabin is large, bright and covered in leather, wood and soft-touch materials. Behind the steering wheel is a digital instrument cluster, but the focal point of the car is the oversized, 17-inch touch-screen display composing the center stack. This screen serves as the nerve center for the Model S, handling most of the car's functions including opening the glass panoramic roof with just one swipe or click.
The Tesla Model S comes with a long list of standard equipment, including keyless entry, power accessories, a high-definition backup camera, voice-activated controls, Wi-Fi and Internet connectivity, two USB ports, a 12-volt outlet, heated and power-operated front seats, Bluetooth connectivity and power-folding, heated side mirrors.
Upgrades include a subzero package adding heated rear seats as well as heated wiper blade and windshield washer fluid defrosters. Later models add autopilot convenience features such as parallel park assist, parking space detection, automatic lane centering and changing and adaptive cruise control.
All Model S owners are provided with a single charger and a mobile connector with adapters for a 110-volt outlet and a 240-volt outlet. A public charging station adapter is included. Tesla owners also have free access to the company's supercharging network located coast to coast.
Chief competitors for the Tesla Model S include the BMW i8 and Cadillac ELR. Gas-powered models to consider include the BMW 5 Series and 7 Series, Mercedes-Benz E-Class and S-Class, and the Audi A6 and A8.