The 85-kWh model has a practical real-world range of at least 200 or so miles, no matter how it's driven.
We'll see what the comparable figures are for the other two, but even the entry-level Model S is likely to deliver the 120-plus miles that many observers feel is the minimum acceptable for owners to avoid range anxiety.
For longer trips, Tesla is rapidly opening a network of Supercharger quick-charge stations--and the power they provide is absolutely free.
The Tesla sport sedan, mind you, is hardly a cheap car.
Prices for the 2013 Model S start at $59,900 for the lowest-range version and rise in $10,000 increments from there, with the Performance version adding $10,000 more on top of the cost for the 85-kWh version.
On the other hand, almost no advanced automotive technology enters the market at the low end--and electric propulsion is just one reason to buy a Model S.
2012 Tesla Model SEnlarge Photo
It holds four people comfortably, five people adequately, and Tesla promises a pair of optional child-sized rear-facing jump seats to fit into the load bay at some future point.
Our award is no guarantee that Tesla Motors will survive, that the Model S will provide durable electric transportation for decades to come, or even that battery-electric cars will take noticeable market share any time soon.
But the disbelief, criticism, and sneering that often confronts startup companies with radical new ideas has, in the case of Tesla, already given way to grudging acknowledgment even by skeptics that the 2013 Tesla Model S is a viable, well-built, functional, and competent car that's also fun to drive.
For that reason, there was really little other competition for our Best Car To Buy Award for 2013.