2013 Tesla Model S


$35,799 - $41,506

2013 Tesla Model S Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2013 Tesla Model S was new.


Performance: 8.3

Test drivers praise the 2013 Tesla Model S for its responsive electric powertrain, athletic handling and comfortable ride. One reviewer notes that unlike other electric vehicles and hybrid cars, the Model S drives similarly to a gas-powered super luxury car.

  • "After gallivanting all over Detroit's sprawling metro area, I returned to Car and Driver headquarters to polish off the last few miles. Our measured range was 211 miles-not quite the EPA-predicted 265-but impressive, given our 75-to-80-mph highway speeds." -- Car and Driver 
  • "When you're in a supercar-fast electric car like the Tesla, the driving experience is an odd cognitive mash-up-somewhere between shouting Greenpeace-approved obscenities at Toyota Priuses and dusting Corvettes from stoplights on a cruise night." -- Road and Track 
  • "Unlike the quirky pod cars, golf carts or even economy car-based EVs, the Tesla drives just like a conventional luxury sedan. Our experience has been limited to the 85 kWh Performance model, and we came away utterly impressed on a number of levels." -- Edmunds (2012) 

Acceleration and Power 

All 2013 Tesla Model S sedans are powered by an electric motor and a single-speed transmission, which routes power to the rear wheels. The base Model S offers 235 horsepower and a 40 kWh battery, while more powerful 60 and 85 kWh models have 302 and 362 horsepower, respectively. The top-of-the-line 85 kWh Performance model offers 416 horsepower, and Tesla says that the Model S Performance will accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds with a top speed of 130 mph. The EPA reports that the Model S gets 94/97 mpg equivalent with the 60 kWh battery pack, and offers a driving range of 208 miles. Model S sedans with the 85 kWh battery pack get 88/90 mpg equivalent, and have a range of 265 miles.

Reviewers are amazed at the Model S’ instantaneous acceleration, saying that it offers ample power right off the line. One reviewer says that the Model S’ powertrain is so responsive, that not even cars built by Ferrari or Porsche can match it.

  • "When you floor the accelerator on a conventional car, the airflow has to increase, the turbos must spool up, and the transmission unlocks its torque converter and usually downshifts. In the Model S, you're shoved into your seat right now, with an immediacy that no Corvette, Ferrari, or Porsche can match." -- Car and Driver 
  • "I sped up, cruising over 70, riding in the left lane, mashing the gas pedal just to feel how fast the car could shoot from 65 to 80. I was practically giddy." -- CNN Money 
  • "Acceleration is eerily quiet and incredibly potent. With all torque being immediately available, it's like being shot out of a gun barrel -- with a silencer." -- Edmunds (2012) 
  • "It goes beyond the impressive spec: It's the immediate rush of off-the-line acceleration that buries you in the backrest in ways gas-powered cars don't - even if their zero-to-60 times match. This isn't new to us, having experienced it in cars as modest as the Nissan Leaf; the thrill is simply doubled here." -- Cars.com (2012)

Alternative Fuels/Charging

The 2013 Model S comes with a single charger with connectors for 110- and 240-volt outlets. Tesla says that the Model S gets five miles of range for each hour it charges when plugged into a standard 110-volt household outlet. Depending on the type of outlet, plugging into a 240-volt power source gives the Model S either 18 or 31 miles of range for each hour of charge time. An available high-power wall connector reduces charge time at home, offering 62 miles of range per hour of charge time. Tesla supercharger stations can charge half the battery in 30 minutes, which make it possible to take the Model S on road trips in some areas. Although some critics dislike the range anxiety that comes with an electric vehicle, one reviewer points out that all Model S sedans have a better driving range than most electric vehicles on the road.

  • "If we were hot for Tesla's electric car, we wouldn't consider anything less than the 60-kWh model. Who, after all, wants range anxiety? But remember that even with the bigger batteries, the Model S's range is too short and its recharging time too long for extended highway trips." -- Car and Driver 
  • "One of the best things about the Tesla S is that it lets you choose your level of range anxiety with 3 different battery-pack options: 40 kWh (160-mile range), 60 kWh (230-mile range) or 85 kWh (300-mile range). Even the base battery pack doubles the highest range from any other EV currently produced." -- The Chicago Tribune 
  • "If this is Tesla's vision of long-distance travel in America's future, I thought, and the solution to what the company calls the ‘road trip problem,’ it needs some work." -- The New York Times

Handling and Braking

Reviewers say that sharp handling and precise steering make the 2013 Model S exceptionally fun to drive, and that its available air suspension also offers a comfortable ride. One test driver notes that the Model S’ regenerative braking system can be set to slow the car as soon as you take your foot off the accelerator, which helps recapture energy and increase driving range.

  • "The payoff is a car that rolls and pitches very little in spite of dampers and air springs calibrated for a supple ride. Driven hard on a country road, the Model S is well-planted, with nary a creak or groan from its structure even on bumpy pavement." -- Car and Driver 
  • "The Model S Signature and Performance models ride on height-adjustable air shocks that soak up every bump. We didn't once encounter a pavement imperfection large enough to strike the bump stops. Body motions are controlled so well we had a hard time even noticing any." -- Road and Track
  • "The well-tuned steering and suspension further add to the experience, with a sharpness and accuracy that brought a smile to our faces on serpentine roads. This could be attributed to the larger wheels shod with performance tires, but even so, this unexpected level of athleticism was refreshing." -- Edmunds (2012) 
  • "The Standard braking setting provides so much deceleration that when you lift off the accelerator, the brake lights come on. I prefer this over the Low mode because it allows one-pedal driving in most circumstances and maximizes range." -- Cars.com (2012) 

Find the Best Price

Enter your zip code to get local pricing.

Get Dealer Quotes

To get dealer quotes, enter your zip code.

Search Used Listings

To search used listings, enter your zip code.

Change Location

Enter your zip code to see listings near you.

Please enter a valid zipcode

Best Price Program

Interested in a New?

Use the U.S. News Best Price Program to find great deals and get upfront pricing on the.