May 10, 2013
On Thursday, product-review powerhouse Consumer Reports announced that the all-electric Tesla S sedan “outscores every other car in our test Ratings. It does so even though it's an electric car. In fact, it does so because it is electric.”
The Tesla impresses. It goes zero-to-sixty in 4.2 seconds, travels up to 265 miles between charges, and uses about half the energy of a Toyota Prius every mile. (Its price impresses, too: Consumer Reports paid more than $89,000 for its test vehicle with the biggest available battery. “Cheaper” versions with more limited range start at $62,400 after accounting for a $7,500 federal tax credit.) This writer recently enjoyed 20 minutes of ear-to-ear-grin driving in a Tesla S. My only trepidation involved was provided by the many squirrels that populated the roads near Tesla’s Palo Alto, California, headquarters, and the fear of local headlines that would follow if a Sierra Club employee crashed the pricey ride trying to avoid hitting one.
The S sedan is a no-compromises electric vehicle. Writes Consumer Reports: “Built from the ground up as an EV, this car's overall balance benefits from mounting the battery under the floor and in the lowest part of the body. That gives the car a rock-bottom center of gravity that enables excellent handling, a comfortable ride, and lots of room inside.” Several other manufacturers modify existing gasoline-powered cars for EV use, along the way cutting into cargo and interior space because of the bulk of electric-vehicle batteries.
“So is the Tesla Model S the best car ever?”, asks Consumer Reports. “We wrestled with that question long and hard. It comes close. And if your needs are confined to the Tesla's driving range, it just may be. But for many people, the very thing that makes cars great is the ability to jump in and drive wherever you want on the map at a moment's notice. And on that measure the Tesla has its limitations. So the Model S may not satisfy every conceivable need, but as we've learned through our testing and living with it, the Model S is truly a remarkable car.”
Image by Tesla Motors.
Reed McManus is a senior editor at Sierra. He has worked on the magazine since Ronald Reagan’s second term. For inspiration, he turns to cartoonist R. Crumb’s Mr. Natural, who famously noted: “Twas ever thus.”