Active Air Suspension - 2013 Tesla Model S Long-Term Road Test

2013 Tesla Model S Long-Term Road Test

  • Full Review
  • Pricing & Specs
  • Road Tests
  • Comparison
  • Long-Term (6)

2013 Tesla Model S: Active Air Suspension

March 27, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

Our 2013 Tesla Model S is equipped with the Performance trim package which features active air suspension. The system uses pneumatic springs to lower the vehicle automatically as it accelerates. This improves aerodynamics and increases range (even if just slightly) but you also have the option to change it manually, which is a great addition to the car's versatility.

I've always enjoyed lowered cars, especially those with sleek and swooping lines like the Tesla Model S. Cars look infinitely better when there is no wheel-gap between the tire and the fender, but this can cause some serious usability issues.

Pictured, the Model S is in 'Standard' suspension mode which is perfect for driving around town. The car sits high enough that you can open the doors without scraping them as you get out, as well as negotiate steep driveways that would beach some exotics. Most important, getting in and out of the Whole Foods parking lot in this thing is a breeze.

2013 Tesla Model S

Travis Langness, Associate Editor


  • quadricycle quadricycle Posts:

    Question, can you use the voice activation to change these settings while driving? Because if so, that is a very big plus.

  • cobryson cobryson Posts:

    @quadricycle Why would that be a plus? You shouldn't ever really need to change it while driving, other than the automatic lowering at speed. When parked or in a parking lot, the touchscreen seems fine to me...

  • quadricycle quadricycle Posts:

    Where I live, road conditions vary greatly and some people have steep or very rough driveways. If I'm pulling in somewhere like this and I can just say "set height on high" on the fly instead of flipping through a touchscreen menu, then that's pretty valuable to me. Also, if you could switch the Tesla's damper settings (not sure if you can but some other cars allow it) it would be advantageous to do that on the fly when I turn off the main road onto one that gets leveled about every month by a tractor.

  • cobryson cobryson Posts:

    I suppose that makes sense, but making any changes to the car's physical behavior while moving is probably a no-no for voice activation. I'd honestly be surprised if the touchscreen even lets you change these settings at >5mph anyway...

  • greenpony greenpony Posts:

    Please explain "no wheel-gap". Yesterday I saw a '90s Nissan Z of some sort with what I would consider "no wheel-gap" - it was lowered so much that any suspension movement would result in tires touching wheel arches, and was literally crashing like a go-kart over every little bump in the road. What's important to me is *consistent* wheel gap. Whether on a truck, minivan, BEV, or sports car, if the gap is consistent around the entire wheel arch, it looks better IMO. That's one reason I don't particularly like the looks of the GM trucks - their wheel arches are kind of squared off. Maybe it looks rugged, but it also looks just as silly as that Z car I just described.

  • quadricycle quadricycle Posts:

    @cobryson again: Right, the touch screen probably won't, and shouldn't, let you play with it while on the move, while say a Panamera with PASM/air-suspension lets you just push one of it 19,253 buttons to control this. But at least you can still do it on

  • zhangrenhou zhangrenhou Posts:

    That is a very stunning side-view photo of the Model S!

Leave a Comment

Past Long-Term Road Tests

Have a question? We're here to help!
Chat online with us
Email us at
*Available daily 8AM-5PM Pacific
Call us at 855-782-4711
Text us at ED411