Consumer Reports: Tesla Could Be The Best Car Ever; But Can’t Recommend It

Consumer Reports’ just-released Model S road test says it may be the best car it has ever tested, but the publication cannot recommend it.

While the review gushes with praise for the car that “takes everything you know about cars and stands it on its head,” keeping to a tradition of conservatism, it essentially says do not be an early adopter, let others go first.

“Another concern is investing in a new car and startup company with no track record for reliability or resale value, and a skimpy (although growing) service network,” offers the publication in its full review published today. “So, yes, despite its stratospheric road-test score, we can’t recommend the Model S until we have sufficient reliability data.”

For EV advocates this might be the most disconcerting portion of Consumer Reports’ evaluation, but the rest is so overflowing with praise for the startup company’s product, many a reader may be tempted to overlook the prudent advice.

“Slipping behind the wheel of the Tesla Model S is like crossing into a promising zero-emissions future,” opens the review. The car is “brimming with innovation, delivers world-class performance, and is interwoven throughout with impressive attention to detail. It’s what Marty McFly might have brought back in place of his DeLorean in ‘Back to the Future.’”

See anything missing? No black and red circles to rate past performance. The Model S thus cannot be recommended. Imagine if all consumers were as cautious.

See anything missing? No black and red circles to rate past performance. The Model S thus cannot be recommended. Imagine if all consumers were as cautious.

What exactly did Consumer Reports like about the Mode S it purchased for $89,650 plus $1,200 high-powered wall charger before $7,500 federal tax credit? Everything except it lacked a lane departure warning system, and had limited range compared to internal combustion cars, long charging times, limited access, visibility, and some controls.

Overall, the Model S still scored 99 out of 100, and the magazine said it had an internal debate over whether it was the best car it has ever tested, some saying yes, some maybe or no.

By comparison the Porsche Panamera previously tested scored 84, and the Fisker Karma scored 57.

Actual range recorded by the 85-kwh model tested was “roughly 180 miles on cold winter days to about 225 in more moderate temperatures.”

Zero-to-60 mph time for this version just below the top Signature Performance model was tested at CR’s test track at 5.6 seconds.

The ride is “luxury car” smooth, said the publication, and it is “the quietest car we’ve tested since the Lexus LS.”

Handling is “pinpoint” and “reminiscent of a Porsche.” (Presumably a Porsche Panamera, not a Cayman or 911, etc.).

Braking also is excellent, says the report, as are cabin storage, cargo space, practicality with such innovations as the front trunk or “frunk” and optional two-small-person rear jump seats expanding the seating to seven.

In short, Consumer Reports has jumped on board being wowed by the 85-kwh Model S like many other reviewers.

The publication prides itself on fastidious protocols, says it has no conflict of interest in reporting because it purchases its own cars, and its reviews are held as reliable by many.

Others have noted even with all the safeguards in place to maintain objectivity in its evaluations, opinions given by Consumer Reports are ones they would not agree with, to put it in benign terms.

In this case, CR is not bucking trends as it did when it initially came out panning the Chevy Volt, a couple years ago. But keeping to its roots of being at least somewhat contrarian, it does say to withhold purchase of the Model S until a sufficient track record is established by others.

Consumer Reports