Tesla has shook up the car business in more ways than one since the release of the original Model S in 2012. Traditional manufacturers have struggled to market an all-electric vehicle, but the firm has succeeded. It’s also the first automaker to deploy frequent over-the-air software upgrades to introduce new features or solve bugs, ensuring that your car gets better over time. That alone distinguishes its automobiles, such as the 2015 Model S. Even more surprising is the fact that it outperforms traditional premium cars while emitting zero emissions. The 2015 Model S P85D sedan is deserving of our Editors’ Choice award since it outperforms the competition in terms of technology.
Design and Pricing
Tesla, unlike traditional automobile businesses, does not follow standard model year time frames and instead updates its vehicles via software on a regular basis. The 2015 Model S we tested comes in two versions: rear-wheel drive (RWD) and all-wheel drive (AWD) (AWD). The standard 70 model, which comes with a 70 kWh battery, starts at $70,000 for RWD and $75,000 for AWD. The RWD variant has 315 horsepower and a range of 230 miles, while the AWD version has 328 horsepower and a range of 240 miles.
19-inch wheels, automatic xenon headlights, LED daytime running lights and taillights, power-folding and heated side mirrors, retractable door handles, a 17-inch capacitive in-dash touch screen, a rearview camera, 12-way power and heated front seats with memory, keyless entry and ignition, parking sensors, blind spot and lane departure warning, automatic emergency braking, cruise control, Bluetooth for phone and streaming audio, navigation with voice recognition, and keyless entry and ignition Each Model S also has an eight-year “infinite mile” battery and drive unit guarantee, as well as Supercharger access.
The 85 model, which comes with an 85 kWh battery, starts at $80,000 for RWD and $85,000 for AWD, and has many of the same standard amenities as the 70. The 85 RWD has 373 horsepower and a 265-mile range, while the 85 AWD has 417 horsepower and a 270-mile range.
With a starting price of $105,000 and dual electric motors, we tested the top-of-the-line P85D model (the “P” stands for Performance). The front electric motor generates 259 horsepower, while the rear electric motor generates 503 horsepower for a total of 762 horsepower and a range of 253 miles.
A $1,000 carbon fiber rear spoiler, $1,500 Pearl White paint, $4,500 21-inch wheels, $1,500 twin chargers, a $2,500 panoramic sunroof, $3,500 Next Generation seats, $650 interior wood accents, a $2,250 Smart Air Suspension system, and a $2,500 Ultra High Fidelity Sound package with 12 speakers were among the options on the loaded P85D we tested. There are also two optional bundles. Nappa leather console and armrests, Alcantara headliner and accents, interior accent lighting, fog and cornering lights, lighted door handles, and a power liftgate are included in the $3,500 Premium Interior and Lighting package. Adaptive cruise control, lane keeping with automatic steering, self-parking, and automatic high/low beam headlights are all included in the $4,250 Tech Package with Autopilot. Future software enhancements will enable hands-free highway driving, including autonomous lane changes initiated by a turn signal. The total cost of our test car was $133,320, including a $1,170 transportation and document fee.
A Subzero Weather package with heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, wiper blade defrosters, and washer nozzle warmers is also available for the Model S. The rear bench seat is replaced with two captain’s chairs with the Executive Rear Seat package. A range-extending 90 kWh battery can be added to the P85D, as well as a “Ludicrous” acceleration mode (more on that in a bit).
If you don’t consider the retractable door handles, the Model S’s exterior appearance is probably the least revolutionary aspect of the vehicle. While the Model S has a distinctive appearance, it shares the same long, low, and wide stance of gas-powered competitors like the Porsche Panamera and Jaguar XJ. Aside from the large 17-inch touch screen in the middle of the dashboard, the interior is likewise fairly understated. The Premium Interior and Lighting option package elevates the cabin to the level of comparable high-end cars in the class.
Intuitive Information Display
The 17-inch touch screen not only controls the majority of the infotainment features, but also a slew of other key functions in a simple and easy manner. Small indicators for outside temperature, time, airbag status, battery level of a paired phone, and the strength of the car’s built-in 3G connection are located along the very top of the screen in the car we tested, along with touch tabs to access the GPS-enabled HomeLink garage door opener, Bluetooth menu, and driver profiles. A Tesla logo in the center can be touched for further information about the automobile model.
Larger touch tabs labeled Media, Navigation, Calendar, Energy, Web, Camera, and Phone are located just below this, and they access submenus for each of these features on the screen below. The screen’s default setting is a split view, which shows two functions or menus at once. Touch a small, double-sided arrow sandwiched to the right between the two parts to shift the two screens from top to bottom (and vice versa). One function can take up the entire screen thanks to an icon on the other side.
Another tray of huge touch tabs sits at the bottom of the screen. Climate controls, heated seats, and front and rear defrosters are located between the Control and Volume buttons on the left and right, respectively. Another button brings up further temperature options, including the ability to change the mode and fan speed, among other things. The Control button activates a menu that allows you to access a variety of car settings, including Sunroof, Suspension, Driving, Trips, Displays, and E-Brake.
Over-the-air software updates make updating the infotainment system and the automobile itself as simple as updating a phone or tablet. Tesla, for example, just issued an Autopilot update for the Model S that includes an autonomous driving option. That’s right: self-sufficient. The technology is currently in testing, but it means that when enabled, your vehicle will drive itself using a sophisticated system of sensors (which you can see in the video below).
Stop signs and red lights aren’t being taken into account by Autopilot, although it can handle lane changes and interstate driving. The more drivers use this new capability, Tesla claims, the better it will become over time. That’s very amazing.
Navigation and Connectivity
For the first four years of ownership, the Model S comes with free built-in 3G connectivity. After the first four years, Tesla is yet to reveal pricing.
Although most people no longer bring CDs into the car, the car does include AM and FM HD Radio, two USB ports for plugging in a portable music source, Bluetooth audio, and two streaming services (Slacker and TuneIn) via built-in 3G connectivity. The popular Pandora and Spotify apps aren’t available, and satellite radio requires the expensive Ultra High Fidelity Sound option. Recently Played is a feature that we particularly enjoy because it retains your radio listening history without requiring you to select presets.
The functions of Bluetooth phones are simple but limited. For easy phone syncing, the Bluetooth system, like most automobiles these days, uses Simple Secure Pairing. It includes all of the expected capabilities, such as address book download and recent calls, but it lacks hands-free texting, which is a disappointment. You do, however, receive a full Web browser, which is quite useful. While at a stoplight, you can surf your favorite websites.
Google Maps is used for mapping, direction, traffic information, and local search, all of which are presented large and gorgeous on the 17-inch screen. For a given search, the system provides various destination possibilities and calculates routes to avoid traffic. The Model S navigation, like Audi vehicles like the 2015 Allroad ($42,140.00 at Truecar), can display satellite images from Google Earth. Maps and other data, unlike Audi, are not cached, thus if you drive outside of a cellular service region, you may lose your connection and navigation.
Conclusions and Performance
You’ve probably heard of the Model S P85D’s “Insane” acceleration setting. Stomping on the pedal in Insane mode, which produces almost 700 horsepower and nearly 700 pounds of torque, is about as thrilling as it gets without buckling into a rollercoaster, a race vehicle, or a far more expensive production supercar. Insane mode’s 0-60 time is 3.1 seconds, but Ludicrous mode’s 90 kWh battery reduces that to 2.8 seconds. The fact that it does so almost silently adds to the thrill.
However, amazing acceleration is only one aspect of the overall performance appeal. The sedan’s sportiness doesn’t come at the expense of comfort on less-challenging routes, thanks to the low-slung weight of the batteries distributed down the middle of the car. The Model S is also extremely quiet around town, however the front motor vibrates rather frequently. Wind and traffic noise are apparent but not bothersome on the motorway.
It’s easy to see why the Tesla Model S has surprised the traditional auto industry and attracted some ardent admirers with its unprecedented performance, cutting-edge technology, and zero emissions. The fact that the car has only improved with software updates demonstrates how technology is becoming more important in the automotive business, and how Tesla is leading the way with the Model S. (and the forthcoming Model X crossover). Infiniti Q50S ($42,140.00 at Truecar) and Toyota Avalon ($42,140.00 at Truecar) are examples of hybrid automobiles.
are far less expensive, however they come with performance and technology compromises. The Model S is certainly your best option and our Editors’ Choice if you have the money to spend on a luxury electric sedan.