Tesla Model S
Base MSRP: From $79,990 to $139,990
- Long Range – From $79,990
- Plaid – From $119,990
- Plaid Plus – From $139,990
Estimated Range: 390-520 electric miles
Reviews of the Tesla Model S
Performance: 100-kWh battery, 557 horsepower; 100-kWh battery pack, 778 horsepower
Mileage estimate: 112-121 mpge
Price estimate: $72,990 to $132,990
Warranty: 4 years / 50,000 miles
Drivetrain warranty: 8 years / unlimited miles Roadside assistance: 4 years / 50,000 miles
Tesla Updates the Model S
Competitors are no doubt unhappy about this bit of news. The popular Tesla Model S is stepping up its game this year.
Not that there was anything serious lacking previously. The Model S was a shining star for Tesla, an automotive marvel right out of the gate upon its release in June 2012. The all-electric five-passenger, midsize luxury sedan was so innovative it quickly became the standard bearer for all electric vehicles (EV).
But imitation is the highest form of flattery and Tesla’s firm stance at the top suddenly wasn’t as wide a margin any longer. A couple of serious competitors (Porsche Taycan, Lucid Air) have emerged. So, the response from the ground-breaking American automaker is the updated 2021 Tesla Model S which gives its rivals even more to think about.
Tesla sales were 16,689 during its first full year of production. That number has risen to 235,000 for 2020. Much of that is attributed to the more affordable Tesla 3 – its sales were 167,500 last year. Due in part to its much larger sticker price, the Model S had more modest sales of 20,301 for 2020 and 91,476 over the past four years.
Car shoppers new to the Tesla brand should be aware that buying the latest model doesn’t mean changes won’t arrive later that same year. Unlike traditional manufacturers, Tesla doesn’t observe model years, instead it provides updates whenever they are ready.
So, don’t expect a Model S that was built in January of this year to be the same one produced in July. It will keep evolving because Tesla continues automatically making significant software and hardware enhancements year-round. And the regular updates should make the car even better – at least that’s the theory.
For 2021, the standard Tesla S has increased its range to 412 miles, the most of any EV currently on the road. It also bumped up the horsepower by 49 hp, putting the standard Long Range Plus model at a whopping 557, which matches the number for its pound-feet of torque. In summary, the Tesla S has the most range of any EV and its Performance trim model is unequal in sheer speed.
Yet there’s even bigger news with this year’s version of the Tesla S. There’s a new third trim model that is rather astounding. The Model S Plaid has incredible range, 520 miles to be exact. The all-wheel drive Plaid will reportedly will go 0-60 mph in less than 2.0 seconds and tops out at an estimated 200 mph, thanks to its mind-blowing 1,100 horsepower.
Power and Speed
What remains the most intriguing aspect of the Model S is speed. It’s off the hook. Tramp down on the accelerator and you’re in for quite a treat, especially in the upgraded S Performance model that features 778 horsepower and goes 0-60 mph in 2.3 seconds when Ludicrous mode is initiated.
The Model S is super quick, yet slows down just as quickly. When one simply takes their foot off the accelerator, the vehicle rapidly decelerates, thanks to its highly efficient regenerative braking system, a terrific feature that is appreciated when going at high speeds.
The Model S has fantastic driving refinement, delivering a smooth and safe ride that one comes to expect from a luxury vehicle. The turning radius is fabulous and the EV really grips the road, providing an enhanced feeling of driver confidence when navigating along challenging, curvy roads.
Charging time for the Tesla Model S is also impressive. A Level 2, 240-volt home wall connector can fully charge the Model S battery in 6 to 12 hours depending on the charging station’s power level. Tesla says its superchargers (Level 3) gets the job done in just one hour which is especially helpful when traveling.
There’s a huge 17-inch touchscreen that covers much of the dashboard and is angled toward the driver for easier access. It’s intimidating at first, too much to learn in regard to infotainment – vehicle settings, climate system, etc. Despite the advanced technology, Tesla has managed to simplify the crisp, clear, and bright instrumentation so the learning curve isn’t nearly as daunting.
One downside is simple tasks like checking the tire pressures or setting the cruise control requires searching through the digital screen, and that sometimes means taking your eyes off the road.
The Model S has improved the comfort and quality of its interior the past few years. The seating is more supportive, even after a full day of driving. The rear seats are also more comfortable and room is not a real issue. Heated front and back seats are a nice touch and so is a wireless smartphone charging pad.
The cargo area benefits from a liftback door and the space is generous – 26.3 cubic feet that expands to 60.2 cubes with the rear seat folded down. There is small-item cubby space throughout the sedan, including a large underfloor bin in the rear cargo area.
Just when this EV trend-setter finally gets some competition, Tesla smartly raises the bar. The 2021 Tesla Model S still resides at the top of its class, thanks to some significant changes this year.
Interested in other Tesla BEV options?
Additional info about the Tesla Model S:
2021 Tesla Model S by Car and Driver
Tesla used a variety of technical advances to increase Model S range to 400 miles by Charged EVs Magazine
Manufacturer details by Tesla
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