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2013 Tesla Model S

Overview
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2013 Tesla Model S Review

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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 13

Fuel Economy

#9

out of 10

Horsepower
View all rankings

Consumer Rating

9.5 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.
Favorite Features

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

Pricing Notes

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
9.5
Out of 10

Based on 33 Ratings for the 2013 - 2014 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    9.2/10
    Quality
    9.6/10
  • Reliability
    9.8/10
    Performance
    9.7/10
  • Comfort
    9.3/10
    Styling
    9.5/10

Best Car Ever Built!

By on Monday, March 24, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 10,000

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
9/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Excellent Design, Fast, $7=230mi, Hi Tech, Green"

Cons: "Pricey for many, so quiet pedestrians don't hear u"

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

"Best vehicle I have ever driven! Mostly charge in my garage costing me a mere $7 for a range of 230 miles.(300mi models avail.) Tesla superchargers being installed around the U.S.A. along interstates are free and only take around 1 hour depending on how low in miles you are. It makes me smile every time I drive it. Everywhere I go, someone wants to know all about it. 17" screen has internet web/music, GPS map,and all the high tech controls easily learned. AC freezes me out in FL hot summers. Excellent handling, very smooth in pickup and slowing down. Rarely need brakes (unless a fast stop) due to regenerative braking. Don't care about gas prices anymore. No more exhaust fumes. Test drive one, you will want one."

17 people out of 21 found this review helpful

This is where the auto future is going...

By on Friday, February 14, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 4,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
6/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Fun to drive, "gas-free", very quick acceleration."

Cons: "Rear-view sight."

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

"A thrill to drive. No problems at all. Have been through 0 degree weather in Chicago with it. Range decreases by 20% overall. Very reliable. Ride is exceptional! Have encountered lots of "Anti-Tesla" individuals who are just jealous. Car is expensive, but all good things must encounter "rough beginnings", and people should be happy that investors and individuals are taking a chance on "the future" of automobiles- Hey, the average Joe should be glad someone is willing to give this alternative "a try". So far, so good! I believe in this company. The product has been great, and the customer service just as good. This is a great "2nd car" for any family. Be sure to have one regular combustion engine style vehicle on hand to travel those infrequent "long-haul" distances. Overall, I travel no more than 60 miles a day, and the 60kw Tesla Model S has been more than enough to do the job of getting me to where I need to go 99.99% of the time."

14 people out of 15 found this review helpful

Exceeds my pre-purchase expectations

By on Sunday, December 22, 2013

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 8,500

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "see below"

Cons: "see below"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

"The Good: Fun to drive. Addictive. Powerful, instant torque, fun handling Forward-thinking interface all handled by touch screen. Beautiful Constant over-the-air software updating Good warranty. Excellent customer service. Superchargers make long distance driving worry free. Did I say fun to drive? No Gas! The Not So Good: New company. Must continue to prove itself to maintain loyalty. Teething pains on some of the hardware. Good service addresses this worry, however. Expensive. Model E will be much more affordable. Some may suffer range anxiety, but for 95% of life, it's just not an issue at all."

13 people out of 15 found this review helpful

Amazing car

By on Wednesday, August 14, 2013

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 7,900

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: "The frunk, the touchscreen, fun to drive"

Cons: "small vanity mirrors, too many questions by people"

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

"Had the car for 8 months and I love it. It's fast, looks great and has a very sleek interior. I'm a car guy who grew up in the 80's, so there's alot of minor things to appreciate on this car. The fact that the speakers and fan go to 11! It's great that they have a sense of humor. Made me smile, when I found those Easter eggs. The fact that I don't need gas, the fact that it's easy to charge and when you drive it. No big issues, small issue, maybe the radio, AM does get lousy reception and FM OK in my area, The car is in effect a Faraday cage so what do you expect? Just don't put metallic window tint and you'll be fine. Easy fix is to listen to Am radio it via streaming internet radio- problem solved."

25 people out of 31 found this review helpful

Great but not perfect

By on Tuesday, August 13, 2013

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 3,000

10 7.0
overall rating 7 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
7/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
8/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
7/10

Pros: "Good acceleration"

Cons: "Poor service"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8

"The car performs and accelerates well. However I am 5'4", and have to raise the seat. This partially blocks the rear view, The vehicle has a FM radio reception problem. It has been in service three times, but the problem is not fixed. The Tesla forums are full of such reports.It is a shame that Tesla cannot fix this problem. The Tesla service blames the radio stations and poor placement of FM towers!"

10 people out of 19 found this review helpful

Best car ever, faster than my Porsche 911 60-80mph

By on Monday, July 22, 2013

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 2,500

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
9/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Great fun to drive, great value, beautiful looks!"

Cons: "Had to pay $1100 to get a 240V outlet"

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

"I waited for 11 months to get a Model S (60kWh); but it certainly is worth the wait! Talk about the great performance, looks, technology, and guilt-free driving experience since it produces zero emission. I have driven it 2500 miles and I have just thoroughly enjoyed it. I did a cost of ownership estimate and came up with $0.35/mile over 7 years, which is cheaper than the Honda CR-V (cost $0.52/mile over 7 years) that it replaced! And, I get to use the HOV lane, which saves me $400/yr on express lane toll. Not having to get gas every 5-6 days has been so wonderful - I didn't even figure the amount of money (people say time is money) that I save over 7 years not getting gas. PG&E's PEV rate makes it very cheap to charge during off peak hours."

26 people out of 29 found this review helpful

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