KBB Editors' Overview
By Joe Tralongo, Contributing Editor - Updated Date: 4/2/2014
To most consumers, the electric car is a novelty. A compact, limited-range vehicle like the Nissan Leaf whose owners can also afford to have a second, gasoline-powered car in the garage. Tesla understands public fears about long charging times and of being stranded miles from an electric socket, so they designed the Model S to be a different kind of electric car. The new platform allows for maximized efficiency, five passengers, lots of cargo, high performance, and an extended driving range. While charging time is still an issue, different battery pack options that allow for rapid charging coupled with the company's aggressive move to begin installing a network of Superchargers should go a long way to improving confidence in the 2014 Model S.
You'll Like This Car If...
If you're looking for a mean, green machine, the 2014 Tesla Model S fills the bill. It's the car to be seen in, but it's wickedly more fun to drive. With a 0-to-60 time of just 4.4 seconds, this is the electric car to win over the most ardent skeptics.
You May Not Like This Car If...
Unless you live in an area with abundant charging stations, the Tesla Model S will be an inconvenient daily driver. With a 300-mile range, the Model S is fine for day trips or a few days around town, but long-distance interstate travel is better left to a Porsche Panamera hybrid.
What's New for 2014
Tesla model year changes do not coincide with updates and improvements. Rather, Tesla simply adds features and options as they become technically feasible. Hence the center console data screen shows fields for blind-spot warning, lane-departure warning and all-wheel drive, all desirable, but with none not yet offered on the 2014 car.
When you think electric car, the Tesla Model S isn't what generally comes to mind. Tesla is working to change the electric's commuter car image, starting with a 0-to-60-mph run in less than six seconds – and that's with the slowest 60-kWh trim. Move up to the 85-kWh Performance model and that time drops to a scathing 4.4 seconds. With the battery packs in the floor and no heavy combustion engine up front, the Model S retains a low center of gravity that, coupled with its quick steering ratio, permits extreme stability in turns with very little lean. On the freeway, the Tesla Model S moves effortlessly and has abundant power to overtake slower traffic. The omission of engine growl inside the passenger compartment takes some getting used to, but the silence is quickly welcomed, especially when making phone calls using the Bluetooth hands-free system.
17-INCH INFOTAINMENT SCREEN
The centerpiece of the Model S' interior is a massive 17-inch touch screen taking up the entire center stack. Easily configurable, this clear, sharp screen operates similarly to a tablet computer, reacting to finger taps, pinch and drag movements, and cursor control. Next to the Tesla's infotainment screen, everything else feels as antiquated as a rotary phone.
REAR-FACING JUMP SEATS
The 5-passenger Model S can be outfitted with a rear-facing jump seat, allowing two more to come along for the ride. Like the station wagons of yesteryear, these rear-facing seats are best appreciated by kids. Unlike those old wagons, however, the Model S' seats include 5-point seatbelts for improved safety.
For vehicle details and pricing notes…