What It Is
A luxury electric sedan.
Quiet, smooth ride and abundant technology.
Finding a way to charge it without a home charger.
The 2014 Tesla Model S offers unrivaled feature content, luxury, along with a few headaches.
Tesla has emerged as the top electric luxury vehicle on the market, and for good reason. It comes fully loaded with all the necessities you'd ever need, thanks to its gigantic tablet-like infotainment system that features all the latest bells and whistles in terms of technology and connectivity. We loved the ease-of-use that the car offered, along with the ride quality and spacious interior. But because there is so much hype about this car, we decided to take everything with a grain of salt. Just how did this all-electric vehicle stack up against its gas-powered luxury competitors? Read on to find out.
What We DroveOur Tesla was the top-of-the-line P85 model, or Performance model, that offered a 265 mile all-electric range, 416 horsepower, and a 0 to 60 time of just 4.2 seconds. Yes, it's an electric car that's also powerful. Powered by an 85 kW battery, our model was also offered with an extended range in times of need, but we never had to use it.
While there aren't any options or packages to add to this vehicle in terms of technology, safety, or creature comforts, it still had a few styling options that gave us a total price of $106,220. Those features included the Red Multi-Coat paint ($1,500), an all-glass panoramic roof ($2,500), black performance leather seats ($2,500), 21-inch grey turbine wheels ($4,500), and an Obeche wood gloss trim ($650).
The CommuteJust like with other luxury makes, the 2014 Tesla Model S proves to be one of the best options when commuting in bumper-to-bumper traffic. The seats are supportive and comfortable, the brakes are solid and confidence-inducing, and acceleration is strong for an electric vehicle. Even using the infotainment system is easy and intuitive, thanks to its tablet-like qualities.
One thing we would have liked to see on this model is a blind spot monitoring system when switching lanes. While it offers nearly everything under the sun in terms of technology, its driver assist features are at a minimum. And compared to other luxury makes, those systems at least come as an option if not a standard feature.
The Grocery RunWe think the Model S is one of those cars that is made for trips to the store. While it is sporty and has great performance aspects, it's still a sedan and a potential family-hauler. Thanks to the two trunks, finding space for hoards of groceries or other necessities is a breeze. Need more room? The rear seats fold easily to accommodate those larger items.
Surprising for a vehicle in this segment, the Tesla Model S offers seating for up to seven passengers. You may be thinking to yourself, "How is that possible?" Well, it's because the car is a hatchback, so the roofline in the rear is slightly taller than in a regular sedan. Two small seats unfold from the trunk floor and face outside the rear of the vehicle, and while we wouldn't recommend an adult try and squeeze into these seats, they're perfect for kids.
The Weekend FunGetting this thing out on the open road is a thrill. You can literally creep up on people and speed away thanks to the quietness of its surprisingly powerful engine. Even with a lead foot, the electric range didn't deplete as quickly as we would have expected, but our biggest challenge with having this model over the weekend was finding a way to charge it up.
Living in an apartment complex isn’t a good idea for people with plug-in hybrids or electric vehicles. They don't have charging stations, and extension cords only reach so far. We are fortunate enough that we live near a Tesla charging port, but with a two-hour limit, getting a full charge is hard to come by. Granted, there is this nifty little thing called PlugShare, which points out all the shared electric charging stations in the area, but it takes time to get a solid charge. Luckily, we also work fairly close to a Tesla Supercharger station, which can charge the car halfway in just 20 minutes. Still, we don't think this is practical, everyday solution, considering the limited number of these stations.
SummaryElectric cars are gaining more popularity among luxury buyers, and Tesla has found itself in a unique position in the market. Right now, there are few, if any cars that can compete with it, aside from maybe the BMW i3 or i8. And while we thoroughly enjoyed our time behind the wheel, our biggest concern is simply charging up. If you live in an apartment, this will be a hard vehicle to have, as you lose the convenience of a gas station. You may be saving money every month, but you'll be pulling your hair out making sure you don't run out of a charge. However, if you can install a charging unit in your residence, we'd highly recommend this model.
Spec BoxPrice-as-tested: $106,220
EPA City: 88
EPA Highway: 90
EPA Combined: 89
Cargo Space: 31.6 cubic feet
Child Seat Fitment, Second Row: Excellent
Estimated Combined Range: 265 miles
Intellichoice Cost of Ownership: Average