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2019 Tesla Model S Performance Review


Performance: 9.7

The 2019 Tesla Model S stands out from the pack in two key areas: acceleration and range. This is one of the quickest cars around, even alongside gasoline-powered rivals. Its all-electric range is exceptional. The icing on the cake is that the Model S is also planted, agile, and fun to drive.

  • "If the Model S simply accelerated with unbelievable speed yet did nothing else well, it would still get a top grade. But that's not the case. All-wheel drive gives it a ton of grip, and it changes direction like a much lighter machine. It's a total blast to drive." -- Edmunds
  • "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 (2018)
  • "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 (2017)

Acceleration and Power

The Model S delivers immediate and scorching acceleration both from a standstill and at any speed. All trim levels have a top speed of 155 mph and come with two electric motors and a 100-kilowatt-hours lithium-ion battery pack. The principal differences between the trims are acceleration rates and range. The base Model S (previously called the 100D) can drive up to 370 miles on a single charge and goes from zero to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds. It has an mpg-equivalent rating of 111 combined city/highway.

The Model S Performance, formerly known as the P100D, can reach 60 mph in 2.4 seconds. It has an estimated range of 345 miles and a 104 MPGe rating.

Every Model S has access to Tesla's network of superchargers on a pay-per-use basis. For every half an hour of supercharging, about 170 miles of range is added. With a 240-volt home charger, it takes between 4 3/4 hours and 12 hours to fully recharge a Model S, depending on the type of charger.

  • "Even the older P85D we tested managed a 0-60 mph sprint in just 3.5 seconds. And it's incredibly easy: Just floor the accelerator pedal. Even in typical situations, acceleration is impressive." -- Edmunds
  • "The top-dog Tesla Model S P100D … has two driving modes dubbed Sport and Ludicrous. The latter can generate a zero-to-60-mph run in under three seconds, which is insanely fast for any car let alone a $140,000 luxury sedan. However, unlike a traditional car that has its engine up front and power routed to the wheels via a transmission and driveshaft, the Model S has its electric motors affixed directly between the wheels. There's an odd sensation upon takeoff, with all that speed being generated minus the accompanying growl of a V8 or V12 engine." -- Kelley Blue Book (2018)
  • "The new Model S … 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 … 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)

Handling and Braking

The Model S comes standard with dual-motor all-wheel drive. Between its low center of gravity, responsive steering, and strong brakes, the Model S is a joy to take on a spirited drive. It also provides a comfortable ride, though the suspension isn't as silky as some top rivals. Unlike the overly abrupt systems of some electrified vehicles, this Tesla's regenerative brakes smoothly slow the car.

  • "Routine deceleration is aptly handled by the regenerative braking, while panic stops are smooth, short (just 102 feet from 60 mph) and stable with consistent distances. It gives a more predictable pedal feel than some other electric vehicles." -- Edmunds
  • "Once in motion, the Model S proves it's more than just a one-trick electric pony, delivering a refined ride, excellent steering feel and, thanks in part to its low center of gravity, impressive cornering." -- Kelley Blue Book (2018)
  • "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)
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