Consumer Reports On Tesla Model S: Best Test Car Since 2007

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Chalk up another huge accolade for the Tesla Model S electric car: Consumer Reports has awarded it 99 out of 100 points, and said it's the best car the magazine has tested since 2007.

In fact, the magazine's descriptions of the luxury sport sedan brim with adjectives.

The Tesla Model S "is brimming with innovation, delivers world-class performance, and is interwoven throughout with impressive attention to detail," writes the normally sober consumer publication.

Driving the Model S electric car is "like crossing into a promising zero-emissions future," and the version tested, with its 85-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack, is "easily the most practical electric car we’ve tested."

CR reports that it gets a real-world 200 miles from that capacity, which is rated by the EPA at 265 miles of range. (The 60-kWh version is rated at 208 miles.)

The Model S was lauded for its quiet operation, its acceleration and roadholding, and its efficiency.

It wasn't perfect, CR noted, suffering a broken windshield that had to be replaced and a problem with the radio (fixed by a software update that was downloaded through the car's mobile-network connection).

The missing point was docked because the Model S takes roughly six hours to recharge its battery pack.

Jake Fisher, CR's head of auto testing, put even that drawback in context when he enthused:  "If it could recharge in any gas station in three minutes, this car would score about 110."

Clearly the CR staff pretty much fell in love with the electric sport sedan.

That stands in harsh contrast to its experience with the Fisker Karma range-extended electric car, which died during a track test and was raked over the coals in a scathing test report.

The Tesla Model S doesn't yet receive a "Recommended" rating from Consumer Reports, because the magazine doesn't yet have reliability data on the car, which has only been delivered since last summer.

To read the magazine's full test report, you'll have to have a Consumer Reports login.

But you can watch the magazine's video summary above.


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Comments (27)
  1. The Model S sure has turned out to be a big winner, if electric cars are to succeed they need a champion to lead the way and they've got one. The Model S is the first electric car that is competitive as a car, you can set the electric part aside and just look at it as a car. I think it's official, we have a successful startup company and one that the established automakers need to catch up with because if a company like Consumer Reports thinks the Model S is the best car they've ever seen what's that make everything else......2nd best? I'm not trying to be a cheer leader for Tesla, it just so happens that this is the truth of the matter see the video above as proof.

  2. Another boon for Tesla. 99 out of 100 for a second attempt from a start up is just incredible.

    CR's real world range experience is pretty disappointing though. Wonder what causes the large deviation from the EPA rating for this car.

    Don't think it requires a 3 minute recharge time to make the car perfect since the car starts with a "full tank" every morning anyway, but I hope can trim another 50% off the fastcharge time at some point in the not too distant future. Another 150 miles for 15 minutes of charging sounds perfect.

  3. They didn't use the "Range" aka fill her up, setting when charging, as that's not what Tesla recommends for everyday use. So with an 80% charge 200 miles is about right.

  4. Ah, forgot about that, but no doubt that explains it. Thanks for clearing that up!

  5. It's really fantastic to see review after review from the most respected automotive authorities in the world continue to heap praise on the Model S. Bravo Tesla!

  6. Amazing … both the report and the car!

    Hopefully we don't have to wait another six years to see a great score on a production vehicle?

  7. I hope the Big 3 and all the other car makers are on Tesla's email list. Are they paying attention. Hopefully now they are. Goes to show you it can be done and done very well Thank You. I am a cheer leader for Tesla.
    What did Ford say "A Ford in every garage"
    Wake up Car makers!!

  8. Perhaps this will shut up some of my anti-EV colleagues and others in the automotive industry. Nah, some people just can't accept change, even if it's a great change and step forward.

    I'd say "Kudos and a mighty congratulations" to Tesla Motors and its amazing staff, but I think would still be short of what they deserve. I'll check Automotive News later today and see how the hardcore anti-EV/alternative energy crowd tries to spin this stunning achievement. I'm sure it will be," sure, but at that price point"..., which is nonsense, of course, since it's being compared to similar vehicles in price as well. Let's all hope that Tesla does a similarly great job with the Model X and others to come!

  9. This is awesome. This is why I keep saying that Tesla has shattered the EV sterotype and we need more cars like the model S to break all the old and stupid EV myth.

    Now, we just need a cheaper verison of that car.

    BTW, CR is kind of clueless on that 3 mins recharging wish. If the 85KWh car can fully recharge in 3 mins, then that is a power requirement of 1700 KW or 1.7MW.

    I don't know about CR, but 1.7MW is certainly not something that Tesla alone can make happen...

  10. I doubt CR has much of a background in EV engineering, and power requirements. I think the 3 minute recharge comment was just the writer wishing he could "fill" the S with the convenience enjoyed by an ICE vehicle.

  11. That 1.7 MW is roughly equal to the filling rate of a gas pump - it was one of the reasons cited by Shai Agassi for his Better Place stations.
    His plan may be pretty much dead but I suspect the quick-swap battery will be revived at some point. It's too much effort to change the grid to support millions of ultrafast chargers and probably not good for battery life either. And our busy lives won't always have time for a 30 min stop to recharge.

  12. Old paradigms take a while to fade when new technology is introduced. Most EV charging occurs at night, starting each day with full tank of charge. A 30 or 90 min. charge is reasonable expectation when traveling, but rarely needed for local commutes. A 120-200 mile range enables many 30 mile trips before recharging is needed. Cost of infrastructure is critical limiter to faster charging.

    Even CARB has unreasonable expectations (for ZEV BEVs):
    - Type III ≥ 100 mile (UDDS ZEV range): capable of replacing 95 miles in ≤ 10 min.
    - Type IV ≥ 200: replace 190 miles in ≤ 15 min.
    - Type V ≥ 300: replace 285 miles in ≤ 15 min.

    We just need Mega-Farad Über-Capacitors for 1 min. charges!

  13. Those requirements were put in there in an attempt to give hydrogen vehicles an advantage.

  14. There are more comments in this thread
  15. Many of you must be forgetting that this car cost about $100,000. For that kind of $$$ it better be rated highly.

  16. @Barry: You must be forgetting that Consumer Reports also tested the Fisker Karma, another luxury plug-in, whose price starts at $106,000--more expensive than the Tesla Model S.

    CR savaged the Karma in its review; it was as damning as the Tesla's review is favorable. To assist your memory, here's our coverage of that event:

  17. so tell me, what is the first car that CR rated the same score as the Model S, is it really the Lexus LS hybrid?

  18. It was the 2007 Lexus LS460L, but it was not a hybrid. The hybrid was called the LS600hL (still is...?)and was not available until the 2008 model year, I believe.

  19. I think the Beatles said it best, dude - money can't buy you love.

  20. It's 100k for the most expensive version but you can get a Model S for 30-40% less for slightly less performance and a fair bit less range.
    Try to find a car in the Tesla's price range(s) that's elicited the same kind of kudos, rave reviews and ecstatic compliments from the sort of seasoned pros who work for AutoMag, Car and Driver, etc.

  21. There are more comments in this thread
  22. What I love the most about this CR review is the confirmation that Tesla S is the "best car it ever tested". NOT just the best "electric" car it ever tested.

    That is exactly what Elon Musk wanted in his vision.

    Not to mention that it has shattered just about every EV myth there is...

    I can't wait for the Blue Star sedan now. Test to save up.

  23. I meant to say "time" to save up.

  24. Having just read Sheryl Sandberg's "Lean In," I think it is really time to have a woman lead a car company. The market for electric vehicles that can comfortably transport families is out there! Would someone please manufacture an electric minivan. Toyota is blowing it by keeping their hybrid minivan in Japan. I promise you women will pay a premium for it!

  25. I could not agree more, Michele. I thought Ford might beat Toyota to the punch with the C-MAX, but it's too small for many drivers. This will get made by someone, soon...

  26. For the same price, get two Volts. It's the most reliable car of ANY one evaluated by Consumer Reports in 2011, has NO range anxiety, and you will be owning the original car of the future. George Jetson approves.

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