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Glitches Modulate Consumer Reports Praise For Tesla Model S Electric Car


2013 Tesla Model S on Chilcotin Highway, Canada [photo: owner Vincent Argiro]

2013 Tesla Model S on Chilcotin Highway, Canada [photo: owner Vincent Argiro]

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Since it purchased its 2012 Tesla Model S, Consumer Reports has basically adored its electric luxury car.

But could the love affair be ending?

As problems have gradually emerged with the long-term test car, the magazine has begun to modulate its praise.

Consumer Reports previously called the Model S as the best car it's tested since 2007,and named it "Best Overall" vehicle for 2014.

In its most recent update, however, editors say its Model S had had "more than its share of problems."

In just over 15,000 miles, the Model S has developed a few trouble spots, including door handles that became "reluctant" to emerge from the bodywork when needed.

That problem was fixed via an over-the-air software update, a method Tesla has used to correct several glitches across the Model S fleet.

Then, at around 12,000 miles, the car's central touchscreen went blank, cutting off access to virtually every function--including opening the charge port.

To fix that, a "hard reset" was performed at the same time as the car's annual service.

2013 Tesla Model S

2013 Tesla Model S

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While the magazine's Model S was in the shop, technicians also addressed a creak coming from the passenger-side roof pillar area. Tesla replaced the entire pair of third-row jump seats as well, because one belt buckle had broken.

More recently, drivers found the front trunk lid wouldn't respond to the virtual onscreen "button" that opens it. An adapter that allows the Model S to charge at CHAdeMO stations also fell apart.

Both issues were resolved by Tesla free of charge.

Consumer Reports notes that its experiences are anecdotal, and won't affect its overall reliability score for the Model S, which is determined by a survey of owners.

Those owners may be having very different experiences, as Tesla has continually updated the Model S to address problems found only in earlier vehicles, including Consumer Reports' 2012 test car.

Cars inevitably develop problems as more miles accumulate.

Still, as a new carmaker selling a radically different type of car in the glare of a bright media spotlight, Tesla will likely remain under intense scrutiny for months and years to come.

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© 2014 Green Car Reports. All Rights Reserved. Green Car Reports is published by High Gear Media. Send us feedback. Stock photography by izmo, Inc.