$41,738 - $65,290

2016 Tesla Model S Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2016 Tesla Model S was new.


Performance: 9.2

Auto writers rave about the 2016 Tesla Model S' exceptional power delivery and quick acceleration. It has precise steering and strong brakes, as well as a comfortable ride that’s still nimble around turns.

  • "What sets the Model S apart from every other electric car on the market is that it matches or betters its gas-powered rivals in terms of performance, technology and value while requiring little compromise in terms of driving range." -- Left Lane News
  • "The 2015 Tesla Model S is unlike every other electric car on the road. You may have experience with quirky podlike electric cars, electric golf carts or even economy car-based EVs, but the Tesla doesn't drive like any of those." -- Edmunds (2015)
  • "The low-mounted battery makes it highly maneuverable, and the quick steering and excellent power delivery make it downright fun to drive." -- Kelley Blue Book (2015)
  • "So yes, the battery architecture enables a level of performance, of over-the-road mastery, that is thus far unmatched by any other electric, and the S even betters many conventionally fueled cars." -- Car and Driver (2015)

Acceleration and Power 

The base 2016 Model S 60 has an electric motor that makes 315 horsepower and has a range of 210 miles. Though not listed on Tesla’s website anymore, the Model 70 that makes 315 horsepower is still available. According to the EPA, it earns 88 mpg-e in the city and 90 mpg-e on the highway with a range of 234 miles. The all-wheel drive Model S 70D has two electric motors that combined make 328 horsepower. It gets up to 101/102 mpg-e and has a range of 240 miles.

The Tesla Model S 75, introduced in mid-2016, has a 75 kWh battery pack with a range of 253 miles with rear-wheel drive and 259 miles with all-wheel drive, according to Tesla. Interestingly, some Model S 70s made in 2016 carry the 75 kWh battery pack, and its full 75 kWh capacity can be enabled with a $3,250 over-the-air update from Tesla.

The performance-oriented all-wheel drive Model S P90D has two electric motors that make up to 532 horsepower and 713 pound-feet of torque. Tesla reports that the P90D can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in as little as 2.8 seconds and has a top speed of 155 mph.

The Model S has thrilling, yet quiet power on the road. It accelerates quickly from a stop, especially the performance-oriented P90D. However, the Model S' batteries will deplete more quickly with lots of enthusiastic driving.

  • "This Tesla's exploitation of Newtonian physics tops anything you're likely to encounter this side of an amusement park or the Navy's flight school. Nailing the right pedal vents a massive torque gush, and weird, wonderful, and addictive bursts of dopamine flood your brain's pleasure center when this tsunami sloshes the juice in your inner ear." -- Car and Driver (P90D)
  • "You press the pedal in 'Ludicrous' mode - which replaces the previous model's ‘Insane’ mode, and actually accelerates your body faster than if you were falling to Earth - and soundlessly, instantly teleport to hyperspeed." -- The Washington Post (P90D)
  • "Acceleration is both quick and eerily quiet. With all the torque being immediately available, under full acceleration it's like being shot out of a gun barrel -- with a silencer. … Energy use will suffer quite a bit if you're lead-footing it away from every stoplight, but getting up to speed quickly in the Model S is one of the most exhilarating experiences you'll ever have in a car." -- Edmunds (2015)

Alternative Fuels/Charging

A charger with adaptors for 110- and 240-volt outlets, as well as one for use at public charging stations, come standard with the 2016 Tesla Model S.

Using a standard 110-volt outlet, the Model S gains up to 3 miles of range for each hour of charging. With a 240-volt power source, the Model S gets up to 29 miles of range for each hour of charging, or up to 58 miles of range when using the optional dual charger.

 Model S owners can use Tesla's system of Supercharger stations at no cost. Tesla's Superchargers give the Model S 170 miles of range in 30 minutes.

Handling and Braking

The 2016 Model S is equipped with standard rear-wheel drive, while all-wheel drive (models with a "D" designation) and an adaptive air suspension are optional. The Model S has a smooth, comfortable ride, and due to its low center of gravity, it is agile around corners. The steering is responsive and precise, and the brakes are strong.

  • "Although it was designed as an advanced EV first and foremost, the Model S has not forgotten its role as a high-tech luxury sedan. The ride is comfortable and, thanks to the low-mounted battery, the handling is superb." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Braking is also praiseworthy, not just because the pedal feels like one from a conventional car, but also because it gets the Model S stopped with authority. The well-tuned steering and suspension further add to the experience, with a sharpness and accuracy not typically found in an EV." -- Edmunds (2015)
  • "Whether you're hustling down an on-ramp or meandering home from your tech incubator, the Model S feels through-bolted to the earth's mantle, its center of gravity close to the pavement. And because the weight is so low, Tesla can run softer springs while still preserving good roll control, so the ride is relaxed." -- Car and Driver (2015)
  • "And the ride is soft and comfortable, particularly for a car with as much performance as the Model S offers." -- AutoTrader (2015)

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