Consumer Reports ‘Impressed’ With Model S

Calling the Model S “the electric car that shatters every myth,” Consumer Reports (CR) magazine recently posted that of its staffers evaluating the top-of-the-range Signature Performance on loan from Tesla, “everyone has come out of it impressed.”

CR’s first impressions seem reaffirming of the formal accolades the Model S has received recently.

Notable among the Web article’s observations on the all-electric luxury sedan is that testers are getting 200 miles out of a single charge from the Signature’s 85 kilowatt-hour battery.

A 60-kwh and 40-kwh battery will power two other trim levels yet to be released by Tesla.

“We’ve been getting about 200 miles of mixed driving – including expressways –without babying the car at all. Treating the Model S like any other car,” writes Gabe Shenar. “I had no problem covering my 160-mile round-trip daily commute with heat, seat heaters, and lights blazing, plus I arrived back at the office with enough leftover range for ample peace of mind.”

Tesla says the largest of the three batteries has a range of 300 miles – and has also said a hyper miler may be able to squeeze out 400 – while the EPA rates it at 265 miles.

The advertising-free magazine also has mostly favorable driving impressions and remarks on the car’s aesthetics.

“Takeoff from a standing start is smooth and effortless; 416 horsepower never felt so cultured … Acceleration stats put it in Chevrolet Corvette and Porsche 911 territory, but the sensation makes it feel faster absent the engine and exhaust noise.

The cabin is well finished and nicely detailed, especially the dash and door trim. The electronic shifter, stalks and window switches are sourced from Mercedes-Benz.”

On the Model S’s prominently placed 17-inch touch-screen/info display CR mentions the center console-placed unit is easy to use, with “large landing areas for your fingers and quick response,” while also noting the display’s layout is well organized.

Like so many electric cars that rely on large banks of batteries to store energy, the Model S posts portly numbers in the weight column on its specs sheet.

However, CR’s experience with the car’s handling is reflective of what various other magazine testers have noted: that the Model S is surprisingly nimble, paralleling it with venerable car brands known for sport performance.

“Despite the car’s hefty 4,700-pound curb weight, it is agile, tied down, and light on its feet,” says CR’s reviewer. “The ride is firm yet supple, even with the optional 21-inch summer tires—not quite Mercedes E-Class plush, but more compliant than a Porsche Panamera.”

Overall, Consumer Reports gives the car that lists in excess of $100, 000 as equipped a decidedly positive preliminary review. But a few elements are pegged as mild annoyances if not outright shortcomings.

“The retractable door handles impressed everyone, but there are moments when you want them to be more readily available, especially when it’s cold outside,” and “the front cabin has lots of storage but, oddly, there are no map pockets anywhere. (Tesla did this intentionally for a clean interior look, but it’s still nice to have places for stuff).”

For now CR is using a loaner test unit as noted, but as is CR’s practice of providing readers with as unbiased as possible product evaluations, the magazine is planning to purchase a Model S for comprehensive review.

Consumer Reports

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  • Mark Z

    One advantage of not carrying the extra stuff is the additional range occurring from less weight in the vehicle. I do miss a door pocket for a small umbrella. The massive center floor tray is very handy to place anything, but it’s uncovered forcing the occupants to keep it clean or covered with a dark cloth while parked in a public location.

  • Julie

    I am very interested in this car, but my one question is; is there a way to drive more miles in one trip than the 300 (or whatever your particular model allows on one charge)? Is there a back-up battery or something?

    The allotted miles is great for around town, but my sister lives about 350 miles away from me and I want a car that allows me to drive to visit her. So I’m hoping there’s a way the Tesla makes it work for people like me. Does anyone know?

  • pickupdoctor

    Answer to your question depends on few things, so I will just provide all the possible answers. Since Model S is sold in 4 different trims: 40 kWh battery = 160 miles, 60 kWh battery = 230 miles, 85 kWh battery = 300 miles(0-60 5.6s), 85 kWh (performance) battery = 300 miles (0-60 4.4s) depending on which model you purchase or plan to purchase you may need to recharge the battery twice before you make it to your sister’s house.

    You have many different ways to recharge Tesla S and depending on the type of outlet you are using or charger it may take you from 30 min to get half capacity back (so 85 kWh battery will get 150 miles back in 30 min or 300 in 1 hour) or it may take whole night

    NEMA 5-15 Standard Outlet 110 V / 12 A 1.4 kW 5
    NEMA 14-50 RVs and Campsites 240 V / 40 A 10 kW 31
    NEMA 6-50 Welding Equipment 240 V / 40 A 10 kW 31
    NEMA 10-30 Older Dryers 240 V / 24 A 5.8 kW 18
    NEMA 14-30 Newer Dryers 240 V / 24 A 5.8 kW 18

    Either way, best case scenario would require that you charge it once on your way there, then again once on the way back.

  • Russell

    To build on what @Jakub Kudlacz said, it seems logical that you would need to stop at least once for gas or a charge anyway, regardless of the type of car you drove. I know many newer cars are averaging over 300 miles per tank, but for the most part, the average is about 300 miles. Therefore, you would have to stop for gas before you got to your destination.

    If as Jakub says, you could get a half charge in 30 min, then you probably could get a quarter charge, or 75 miles worth for the 85kWh batter, in about 15 minutes. That is probably about the length of your average stop at the gas station anyway. Granted, you would not have much additional range when you got to your destination, but it would definitely get you there.

    With a little planning to find a charger located along your route, it doesn’t seem like a problem at all to complete the trip.

  • Van

    Not sure what is being said here, but lets take a look. If a person wants to drive 350 miles with spending hours plugged into a battery charger, they would need at least a 60 kwh Tesla and a “supercharger” about half way. So lets say the Tesla travels 175 miles on 48 Kwh of juice. Then it plugs in and recharges for 1 hour over lunch, at a rate of 48 kw. So after a little over 1 hour, the 60 Kwh Tesla hits the road again, fully charged, or at least charged enough so it can go the remaining 175 miles. That is the best I think we can do.

    In a Volt, you could drive it without stopping or only for a rest stop, dtto with a Prius PHV or C-Max Energi. And the car would cost about 1/2 as much.