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2013 Tesla Model S Review

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2013 Tesla Model S Expert Review

By

Why don't people buy electric cars? Perhaps elevated vehicle costs, charging infrastructure challenges, stunted battery development, and limited driving range have something to do with it. The 2013 Model S electric sedan is Tesla Motors' attempt to tackle those issues head-on. Unlike the Nissan Leaf or Ford Focus electric the Model S's structure was purpose-built with electrification in mind. This clean-slate approach allowed Tesla to create a sedan that handles well and accelerates like a theme park ride while providing surprisingly abundant passenger and luggage space. The Tesla Model S isn't just a better electric car – it is a radical reinterpretation of automotive fundamentals. Though recharge times remain an issue, the Model S is the first electric car to make a combustion-free future seem desirable.

You'll Like This Car If...

Sure, the Tesla Model S dazzles environmentalists and fans of energy independence, but the sleek sedan's appeal goes much deeper than that. Play with the slick 17-inch infotainment screen, fill the cavernous cargo areas with gear, or just floor the accelerator and, provided you have a pulse, we're guessing you'll be impressed.

You May Not Like This Car If...

Making the Tesla Model S your primary mode of transportation would be unwise, or at least inconvenient, if your living situation excludes the installation of a home-based charging station or you regularly partake in long distance travel.

How It Ranks

#2

out of 16

Fuel Economy

#13

out of 14

Horsepower
View all rankings

Consumer Rating

9.6 out of 10
View all
consumer ratings
2013 Tesla Model S Low/wide front photo What's New for 2013

For 2013, the Model S now has the ability to receive over the air software updates, providing buyers with new features and services as they become available.

Driving the Model S
2013 Tesla Model S Front angle view photo

Driving Impressions The Tesla Model S is the antithesis of a boring electric car. Even in slowest form – the 60-kWh version – the Model S accelerates from standstill to 60-miles per...

... hour in a mere 5.9 seconds. The pace quickens further in the 85-kWh model, peaking at a supercar-like 4.4 second 0-to-60 time in the raciest 85-kWh Performance model. Matching the thrill of seamless and instant electric thrust are agile handling enabled by the vehicle's low center of gravity and a quick steering ratio that is fun while also hindering stability at speed. Unlike some electric cars, the Model S cruises effortlessly at freeway speeds, easily overtaking slower traffic when the need arises. Lacking an engine, the cabin is oddly quiet when the vehicle is in motion, an initially strange but quickly appreciated trait.

17-INCH INFOTAINMENT SCREEN
The Model S's standard 17-inch touch screen is remarkable and not just due to sheer size. The screen is easily reconfigurable, bright, vivid, intuitive, and reacts to taps, pinch and drag gestures with snappy immediacy. It is almost certainly the best in-vehicle infotainment system available.

REAR-FACING JUMP SEATS
Like wood-paneled wagons of yore, the Model S can be equipped with rear-facing jump seats that boost total seating capacity from five to seven. The smallish jump seats feature 5-point seatbelts and make fine supplemental seating for children eager to taunt whomever their parents have just passed.

2013 Tesla Model S Details
2013 Tesla Model S Dashboard, center console, gear shifter view photo Interior

Absent a gasoline engine, the Tesla Model S boasts a staggering amount of cargo and passenger space. In addition to a sizable rear cargo area, the Model S's hood hides a supplemental front trunk, or "frunk" as Tesla calls it. Passenger accommodations are ample in the front seat, becoming progressively tighter as you move rearward. Headroom in the second row can be tight for taller passengers, and the optional rear-facing jump seats are sized for children only. Though some areas could be improved, material quality is generally good throughout the simple modern cabin.

Exterior
2013 Tesla Model S photo

Tesla calls the 2013 Model S a sedan, but it's really more of a hatchback, marked by a wide rear hatch that leads to a spacious cargo area. However it's classified, we think that Tesla has crafted a handsome, restrained shape made all the more appealing by its impressively slick 0.24 drag co-efficient. Adding to the wind-cheating design are retractable door handles that automatically emerge when the key is nearby. Ride quality is generally good, even with the optional 21-inch performance tire and wheel package, but if ride comfort were our top priority we'd probably stick with the standard 19-inch wheels.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

Standard Model S features include 12-way-adjustable heated front seats, cloth/synthetic-leather upholstery, eight airbags, a 7-speaker 200-watt audio system that lacks a CD player but includes two USB inputs, and a 17-inch screen handling climate, entertainment and vehicle controls. Interestingly, the Model S also lacks any sort of "ignition" or start button – just buckle up with the key in your pocket, put your foot on the brake, pull the gear selector into drive, and the car is ready to go. Black or white exterior paint is offered free of charge but for any other color expect to pay extra.

Optional Equipment

If driving a vision of the future isn't interesting enough, consider indulging in options like a panoramic glass roof, Nappa leather, a 580-watt 12-speaker premium audio system, or a Tech Package that bundles features like HID headlights, navigation, a backup camera and a power rear liftgate. An active air suspension is offered as well, which adapts to current road conditions and allows the vehicle to raise itself to clear steep driveways or lower itself for improved aerodynamics at speed. Lastly, an optional wall connector allows for charging at home while a second on-vehicle charger helps shorten recharge times.

Under the Hood
2013 Tesla Model S Engine photo

The 2013 Model S lineup is defined by a battery hierarchy. The 60-kWh, 85-kWh and 85-kWh Performance models each offer increasing levels of driving range, power and performance. All versions feature rear-wheel drive and an 8-year battery warranty with varying mileage limitations. Tesla is also in the process of constructing a network of "Superchargers" strategically placed along heavily trafficked corridors, giving owners of 85-kWh and properly equipped 60-kWh Model S's the ability to quickly replenish their batteries to 50-percent charge in 30 minutes. By exponentially speeding recharge times Tesla's Supercharging network hopes to make pure-electric long-distance travel a reality.

60-kWh
302 horsepower @ 5,000-8,000 rpm
317 lb-ft of torque @ 0-5,000 rpm
Range 230 miles @ 55 mph

85-kWh
362 horsepower @ 6,000-9,500 rpm
325 lb-ft of torque @ 0-5,800 rpm
Range 300 miles @ 55 mph

85-kWh Performance
416 horsepower @ 5,000-8,600 rpm
443 lb-ft of torque @ 05,100 rpm
Range 300 miles @ 55 mph

Taking into account a $990 destination fee, a $180 vehicle-preparation fee and a $7,500 federal tax credit, pricing for a 2013 Model S with a 60-kWh battery starts at about $63,570. The 85-kWh and 85-kWh Performance models are each about $10,000 pricier than version beneath them. Add all the options to a top-of-the-line Model S and the price tag lands around the $100,000 mark. Electric cars like the Ford Focus Electric, Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi i are all much less expensive than the Tesla Model S but the performance, design and general appeal of the Tesla do plenty to justify its elevated costs. Be sure to check the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price for the most up-to-date pricing of the 2013 Tesla Model S in your area. Due to low production volumes Kelley Blue Book doesn't yet track the residual values of the Model S, though it is worth noting that limited availability tends to drive higher resale numbers.

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2013 Tesla Model S Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
9.6
Out of 10

Based on 37 Ratings for the 2013 - 2014 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    9.3/10
    Quality
    9.7/10
  • Reliability
    9.8/10
    Performance
    9.8/10
  • Comfort
    9.4/10
    Styling
    9.6/10

Awesome, like driving a spaceship!

By on Friday, November 21, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 12,500

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Technology, speed, fun, eco-friendly!"

Cons: "Pricey but if you can afford it, why not buy it?"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"I have never been a true car lover, but this car with its amazing technology and performance has changed all that. Service is second to none. A whole new world for cars. Love it! Will never own another kind of car. Tesla is a breath of fresh air when it come to quality, service and perfomance. Like the iPhone of cars. This will change the US car industry for the better."

8 people out of 11 found this review helpful

The worlds first Perfect Car

By on Friday, July 04, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 17,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Smooth drive, Performance, Simplicity of Ownership"

Cons: "With this acceleration?!! Tires Cost!!"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"A rocket ship! Unbelievably smooth and fast to drive. Simple to refuel at home. never think about gas again. 100% reliable. No maintenance. Wider than a 750i. Far More luggage space than a 750i. Perfect customer service. Love the new free 'apps' and features updates with each new software release. Love the fact that supercharger refills are free for life. All I need to pay for is tires and wiper blades. This is the only car I have ever driven where strangers on the street wave at you and give you a thumbs up! So many strangers walk up in the parking lot and ask about the car. Everyone wants one. Everyone loves it. I have given so many test rides to strangers.. as they just love this car. I can't recommend it enough! THE Chick MAGNET to beat all CHICK MAGNETS! Hey, it even looks like the best car!"

51 people out of 65 found this review helpful

Best car ever. And I mean EVER. Surpasses

By on Wednesday, May 21, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 32,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Everything"

Cons: "Little fit and finish issues which will improve"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"What more can be said about the Model S. The car is one of a kind. I've owned the car over a year and I am still amazed that this thing was ever built. Believe the hype the car is rock solid. I never really cared about cars in the past but this one changes the game. The only thing that I can say negative about it outside of the little fit and finish parts of the vehicle because Tesla is a new company would be the price but hey it is worth every penny. And when you have to take the car in for one of the fit and finish items Tesla service is beyond anything dealers offer today they fix the issue and you are back driving the best car ever."

31 people out of 38 found this review helpful

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