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Tesla Model S Aces Its Consumer Reports Test

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On: Thu, May 16, 2013 at 12:31PM | By: Chris Weiss

Tesla Model S Aces Its Consumer Reports Test

It's a good week to be Tesla. On the heels of announcing its first profit in 10 years of business, the electric luxury carmaker gets a nearly perfect rating on its Model S. After testing the sedan, Consumer Reports slapped a big, old "99 out of 100" on it, a first for an electric vehicle.

It's been more than five years since any vehicle has earned a score as high as 99. The LexusLS 460 was the last one to reach the feat back in 2007. The Tesla Model S becomes the first electric vehicle to earn the exemplary mark.

The Model S ($89,650 as tested)performed well on several fronts. Consumer Reports wrote that it handled comparably to a Porsche, had quick acceleration (0-60 mph in 5.6 seconds), treated occupants to a high-end interior comparable in level to an Audi, and was super-quiet thanks to its electric motor. CR said that it was the quietest car it tested since the Lexus LS.

"The Tesla Model S is packed with technological innovation," said Jake Fisher, director of Automotive Testing for Consumer Reports. "It accelerates, handles, and brakes like a sports car, it has the ride and quietness of a luxury car, and is far more energy efficient than the best hybrid cars."

In addition to its stylish looks, premium-level interior and high performance, a major factor that distinguishes the Model S from other electric vehicles is its range. While other EVs struggle to get 100 miles on a single charge, Tesla estimates that its most expensive 85-kWh Model S can go up to 300 miles. Last year, the EPA gave its own rating of 265 miles and Consumer Reports found it closer to 200 miles. Even using the lower numbers, that's double or triple the range of other available EVs, leading CR to call it the most practical electric car it's tested.

Consumer Reports' testing revealed an average fuel economy of around 84 mpg-e. "With a full charge costing about $9 (at the national average of 11 cents per kWh), it's like running a conventional car on gasoline that costs $1.20 per gallon," it wrote. That's like 1990's level.

The Model S may have been almost perfect, but Consumer Reports still noted a few complaints, including limited rear visibility, long charging times, and a range that, while better than other EVs, was still limited as compared to gas vehicles. Because the car has been on the market for a short time, CR lacked the reliability data it would have needed to give the car a "Recommended" label. It warned customers that the company is a start-up with little reliability track record one way or the other, a limited service network, and an unknown resale value.

Complete test and ratings information is available at ConsumerReports.org and in the organization's July issue.


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