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- Highs So quick it'll make you dizzy, fun-to-drive nature, class-leading maximum driving range.
- Lows Cabin isn't as nice as the price suggests, large infotainment screen is distracting at times, rear passengers have no space to store small items.
- Verdict If Tesla stopped building cars tomorrow, the company's legacy would still forever be cemented in automotive history books thanks to this car.
Without it we wouldn't have the growing selection of electric vehicles we have today, yet the 2022 Tesla Model S remains one of the most compelling and desirable options in that growing market segment. It also earns a spot on our 2022 Editors' Choice list. With up to 412 miles of estimated driving range—depending upon model—the S can easily be used for long drives, and the 1020-hp Plaid version can deliver supercar acceleration while seating four adults. The Model S is also practical, with a large rear cargo area and a secondary front-trunk for extra space. New entrants in the luxury EV sedan category includes the Porsche Taycan and the Audi e-tron GT, both of which challenge the Model S in terms of performance and comfort, but its superior range and available semi-autonomous driving technology continue to draw consumers to this Tesla.
Where This Vehicle Ranks
What's New for 2022?
Last year, the Model S received a styling refresh for the exterior and interior that resulted in the addition of a unique yoke-style steering wheel and a beastly 1020-hp Plaid performance model. For 2022, we are expecting few changes, but Tesla has announced a large price increase for the base trim.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
We'd stick with the base model, which carries an estimated range of 412 miles per charge. The 1020-hp Plaid model sounds compelling, but its six-figure asking price represents diminishing value—unless you must have a car with the performance of a Top Fuel dragster.
EV Motor, Power, and Performance
With an electric motor dedicated to each of the front and rear axles, the Model S offers full-time all-wheel drive no matter which version you choose. Acceleration of the various models ranges from outstanding to ferocious. We haven't tested the Model S Long Range or Plaid yet, but our 2020 Model S test vehicle delivered a blistering 2.4-second zero-to-60-mph time and proved endlessly entertainment thanks to its immediate power delivery. The Plaid model boasts a third electric motor, which boosts combined output to 1020 horsepower, which is enough to send it to 60 mph in just 2.1 seconds in our testing. The standard Model S has proven itself an agile sports sedan with well-controlled body motions and direct steering. Two different settings allow drivers to choose heavy or light steering effort, but neither of them enable more feedback from the road. Ride comfort is good, the handling is crisp, and it's confident and almost tranquil on the highway.
Range, Charging, and Battery Life
Under the Tesla's floor lies a battery pack that yields a low center of gravity and evenly distributed weight from front to rear. Driving range and acceleration performance varies from model to model, with the base version's battery providing up to a 412-mile range while the Plaid model offers up to 390. Upstart Lucid Motors says its Air luxury sedan is rated for up to 517 miles per charge.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPGe
While EVs such as the Chevy Bolt and Polestar 2 deliver serviceable driving range the Model S remains an impressive alternative to gasoline-powered vehicles when it comes to long-distance usability. The base model receives the highest MPGe ratings at 121 city and 112 highway. In our real-world, 75-mph highway fuel economy test, a 2020 Model S we tested posted a 222-mile highway range number against its 326-mile EPA estimated driving range; the Plaid managed 280 miles of its claimed 390 miles of range. For more information about the Model S's fuel economy, visit the EPA's website.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
With Model S prices starting at over $90,000, buyers would be reasonable to expect a certain amount of luxury inside the car. The cabin's atmosphere is nice enough, but it's not nearly as plush as those of our favorites such as the Mercedes-Benz E-class and the Volvo S90. The Model S's sloped roofline cleverly hides a rear liftgate that opens up to reveal a huge 26-cubic-foot trunk. We managed to stash eight of our carry-on-size cases without folding down the rear seats. Paltry small-item cubby stowage throughout the interior—especially in the back seat—is offset by a large underfloor bin in the rear cargo area.
Infotainment and Connectivity
Fans of modern minimalism will adore the Model S's cabin, which comes standard with a giant infotainment screen that controls almost all of the vehicle's functions. Technophiles will be in heaven, but we're not completely sold. The screen's positioning on the dashboard will require some drivers to lean forward in their seat to reach certain icons, especially those near the top right of the display. Unlike the cheaper Model 3, the Model S provides a secondary display for the gauge cluster and a small touchpad in the rear seat as well.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
Although the Model S has sparked a nationwide conversation about the safety of partially autonomous vehicles and has been reported to catch fire after certain types of high-speed impacts, its safety credibility is buoyed by decent crash-test results from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the knowledge that car fires aren't uncommon, either in electric- or gasoline-powered vehicles. For more information about the Model S's crash-test results, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) websites. Key safety features include:
- Standard automated emergency braking
- Standard lane-departure warning
- Available adaptive cruise control with semi-autonomous driving mode
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
Tesla offers a comprehensive warranty package to protect the Model S's powertrain and hybrid components but lacks the lengthy bumper-to-bumper coverage and complimentary scheduled maintenance packages of the Jaguar I-Pace.
- Limited warranty covers four years or 50,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers eight years and unlimited miles
- No complimentary scheduled maintenance
2021 Tesla Model S Plaid
Vehicle Type: front- and rear-motor, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door hatchback
Base/As Tested: $131,440/$137,440
3 permanent-magnet synchronous AC
Combined Power: 1020 hp; Combined Torque: 1050 lb-ft
Battery Pack: liquid-cooled lithium-ion, 99.3 kWh
Transmissions, F/R: direct-drives
Suspension, F/R: multilink/multilink
Brakes, F/R: 15.0-in vented disc/14.4-in vented disc
Tires: Michelin Pilot Sport 4S; F: 265/35R-21 (101Y) T1; R: 295/30R-21 (102Y) T1
Wheelbase: 116.5 in
Length: 197.7 in
Width: 78.2 in
Height: 56.3 in
Passenger Volume: 100 ft3
Cargo Volume: 28 ft3
Curb Weight: 4828 lb
C/D TEST RESULTS
60 mph: 2.1 sec
100 mph: 4.3 sec
130 mph: 6.9 sec
1/4-Mile: 9.4 sec @ 151 mph
160 mph: 10.8 sec
Results above omit 1-ft rollout of 0.2 sec.
Rolling Start, 5–60 mph: 2.3 sec
Top Speed (gov ltd): 162 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 150 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft Skidpad: 1.08 g
C/D FUEL ECONOMY
Observed: 71 MPGe
75-mph Highway Driving: 91 MPGe
Range: 280 mi
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Comb./City/Hwy: 101/102/99 MPGe
Range: 348 mi
2020 Tesla Model S Performance
front- and mid-motor, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door hatchback
PRICE AS TESTED
$108,690 (base price: $96,190)
front: permanent-magnet synchronous AC, 275 hp, 310 lb-ft;
rear: induction AC, 503 hp, 531 lb-ft;
98.0-kWh lithium-ion battery pack
single-speed direct drive
Suspension (F/R): multilink/multilink
Brakes (F/R): 14.0-in vented disc/14.4-in vented disc
Tires: Michelin Pilot Sport 4S, F: 245/35R-21 96Y TO R: 265/35R-21 101Y TO
Wheelbase: 116.5 in
Length: 195.7 in
Width: 77.3 in
Height: 56.9 in
Passenger volume: 95 ft3
Cargo volume: 26 ft3
Curb weight: 4998 lb
C/D TEST RESULTS
60 mph: 2.4 sec
100 mph: 6.1 sec
130 mph: 11.4 sec
150 mph: 19.3 sec
1/4 mile: 10.6 sec @ 126 mph
Top speed (mfr's claim): 163 mph
Standing-start accel times omit 1-ft rollout of 0.3 sec.
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/city/highway: 97/98/96 MPGe
Range: 326 miles