Model strengths: All-electric drivetrain; luxurious interior with plenty of space, great performance, good looks; competitive pricing.
Model changes: Since its introduction in mid-2012, the Tesla Model S has forced the industry to rethink the luxury car segment. Rather than adhering to traditional model years, Tesla makes running changes as needed throughout the calendar year. The most recent changes to the Model S for 2019 include a revised interior with new finishes plus a reduction in the number available options. Extended-range batteries have been introduced as well.
Model value: A big challenge with electric vehicles has always been range. Tesla has dealt with this by employing bigger and better batteries in the Model S than have previously been seen in electric vehicles. Even with the smallest batteries in its most basic trim, Tesla still claims a 200-plus-mile range for the Model S, easily besting the range of any of its potential competitors. Beyond the drivetrain though, the Model S is a competent luxury car with impressive performance. There is plenty of room both inside the passenger cabin and in the trunk, making the Model S spacious and practical. Model S ownership starts at under $80,000, making it comparable to many large European luxury sedans, and while the Model S matches most of these sedans in terms of luxury and performance, it offers environmental benefits and technology unmatched in any category.
Model overview: The Tesla Model S comes with one of three basic powertrain choices, based around battery size. The Standard Range Model S has range of 270 miles and is capable of 0-60 mph in 4.2 seconds. The Long Range Model S offers 335 miles of driving on a single charge, while shaving a tenth of a second in the sprint to 60 mph. Finally, the Performance Model S, with its 315-mile range, will do 0-60 in just 2.4 seconds. All Model S trims handle much better than their size would suggest thanks to an extremely low center of gravity, made possible by the low, flat battery pack stored under the floor. All trims are all-wheel drive.
The driver interface of the Model S is as groundbreaking and unconventional as the rest of the car. Where traditional design is to offer a vast array of buttons and knobs on the dashboard and between the front seats, the Model S simply has a huge 17-inch capacitive touchscreen. All of the media, communication, infotainment and in-cabin controls function through this screen, resulting in an amazingly uncluttered interior.