$45,195 - $86,413

2017 Tesla Model S Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2017 Tesla Model S was new.


Performance: 9.3

The Tesla Model S has some of the best performance of any car on the market. It accelerates swiftly and has strong power as it continues to move. Handling is superb as well, with precise steering and agility. Unlike other athletic cars, the ride quality is comfortable.

  • "Ever been in an electric car? It's different to say the least. It's super quiet, offers sporty handling and delivers exceptional torque -- 325 lb-ft in our Model S 60 test car, to be exact." -- Autotrader
  • "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 (2016)
  • "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)

Acceleration and Power

The Model S is available with several different batteries and electric motors. Note that Tesla has mostly stopped rating its motors in traditional horsepower. The base 2017 Model S 60 puts out 315 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque, and it has a range of 210 miles (218 with optional all-wheel drive). According to the EPA, it gets a combined 104 mpg-e. The Model S 75 has a range of 249 miles (259 with AWD) and an mpg-e of 103. Both the Model S 60 and Model S 75 can go from zero to 60 mph in as little as 5.2 seconds.

The 2017 Model S 90D has a range of 294 miles, gets 95 mpg-e, and goes zero to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds. The Model S 100D has the same zero-to-60 time and a range of 335 miles. The Model S P100D is the high-performance model and can go zero to 60 in as little as 2.5 seconds. It also has a range of 315 miles and an mpg-e of 98.

The Model S has incredible acceleration and power from all of its available motors. It moves quickly from a stop, especially in the performance 100D models.

  • "And with 315 horsepower, you'll leave even most gas-powered competition in the dust." -- Autotrader
  • "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 (2016)
  • "The new Model S can go from 0 to 60 mph in an absurd 2.8 seconds, with horsepower that rivals the Lamborghini Huracán and other supercars that only bad guys in James Bond movies drive. It feels impossibly fast. You lightly touch the pedal and suddenly you're flying at 90 mph. The first time I hit the pedal hard, I cursed. You know all the little ways a car tells you it's accelerating: The growl of the engine, the resistance of the pedal, the rumble in the seats? There's none of that here. 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. That power will go woefully underused cruising suburban streets. But even at city speeds, it keeps the car feeling responsive, agile and light." -- The Washington Post (2016)

Alternative Fuels/Charging

The Model S comes standard with charging adapters for 120- and 240-volt home outlets, as well as a J1772 adapter for public charging stations. You can also install a special Wall Connector in your home for faster charging speeds.

When using a standard 120-volt wall outlet, the Model S gains about 3 miles of range per hour of charging. With a 240-volt power source, the Model S gets up to 29 miles of range for each hour of charging. The Wall Connector allows for 34 miles of range per charging hour, and an optional High Amperage Charger increases that capability to 52 miles per hour.

Model S owners have access to Tesla's nationwide network of Supercharger stations. In previous years, charging was completely free at these stations for Tesla owners, but starting this model year, the company decreased the amount of free charging available. Now owners can get up to 400 kWh (or about 1,000 miles) per year, with a small fee incurred after that. Prices are fixed within each state, and for the most part, owners are billed per kWh, though owners in some areas may be billed per minute.

Handling and Braking

Rear-wheel drive is standard in lower-range Model S trims, and all-wheel drive is optional. Higher trims are only available with AWD. An adaptive air suspension that can be adjusted manually or automatically is also optional.

Because of its low center of gravity, the Model S exhibits incredible handling. It stays firmly planted to the road and moves athletically through turns. Despite its excellent performance, the Model S still retains a smooth and comfortable ride quality.

  • "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 (2016)
  • "But the Tesla battery isn't just a box of lithium-ion cells packed in the trunk or behind the seats. It contributes to the car's structure in a way that serves as an asset to handling. The battery pack is close to the ground, essentially serving as the car's floorpan. 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. … It's surprisingly fun to drive on any road, whether you're on the highway (where you can put down your foot and effortlessly pass slower traffic) or country roads (where it offers poised handling, predictable steering and impressive braking). The steering could use a little more weight, however; it feels a little light, which is a common complaint we have about many modern sporty cars." -- Autotrader (2015)

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