2013 Tesla Model S Long-Term Road Test

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2013 Tesla Model S: All-Electric Weekend

March 7, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

I spent the last weekend in the 2013 Tesla Model S and it has quickly become my favorite car in the fleet. It's fast, quiet, high tech, comfortable and looks great from every angle. Here are three things I noticed about the Tesla as I drove it.

Size
This is a big car. As someone who has a small hatchback as a daily driver, it took me some time to get used to the Tesla's size. The Model S is 195.9 inches long and 77.3 inches wide. This is roughly the size of a new BMW 7 Series. I made my right turns a bit wider because I didn't yet have a feel for the corners of the car. And I'd park on the far end of parking lots to make sure I found a large enough space. I have a small single-car garage at home and the Tesla just fit with inches to spare in the front and back. It was such a tight fit that I had to have my wife direct me as I inched the car into the garage.

Charging at Home
I didn't leave the office Friday with a full charge, which would be about 265 miles of range. I drove home, went to dinner with my wife and had about 183 miles of range remaining. I wanted to "top off" the car for the following day. I wasn't sure where my day would take me and I also wanted to get a feel for what it was like to charge the car.

The handy Tesla iPhone app told me that I was charging at a rate of three miles of range per hour on a standard 120-volt plug. This is about six times slower than if it were plugged in at our 240-volt charger at work.

I plugged in at 9:18 p.m. and didn't unplug until 2:25 p.m. the following day. The 17 hours of charging wasn't enough to fill the battery. It still needed another 30 minutes. That charge consumed 27.7 kilowatts of electricity, which was about $4.16 at my rate of electricity. This was more than enough charge to last me the weekend and I didn't charge the Tesla again until I returned to the office on Monday Morning.

This car was obviously designed with the 240-volt plug in mind. We've ordered Tesla's charging station and when installed, it will charge the Model S at a rate of 60 miles of range per hour.

Presence
The Tesla gets a lot of attention from people on the street. Some are drawn to its looks, while others are trying to figure out what it is. A woman driving a late-model Camry rolled her window down and said "Your car is beautiful! What is it?"

"Thanks. It's a Tesla Model S," I replied. She was still confused, and I said "It's an electric car from a new company," though I'm not sure if that helped any.

The following day, I had the car parked in the driveway and I noticed some teenagers walking around it and peeking inside.

Finally, on the way to work on Monday, I got a thumbs-up from a fellow Model S driver. I was driving behind a Chevrolet Volt and passed a Nissan Leaf earlier that morning. I didn't get a thumbs-up from either of them. Maybe they were silently approving.

Ronald Montoya, Consumer Advice Editor @ 1,027 miles

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