2013 Tesla Model S Long-Term Road Test

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2013 Tesla Model S: Road Trip Dynamics

December 13, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

Okay, so what is our long-term 2013 Tesla Model S like to drive on a long freeway road trip, putting aside the particulars of its unconventional refueling?

In some ways, it's brilliant. Its instantaneous and seamless flood of torque is just wonderfully, brutally effective when you want to pop into holes in traffic or put some distance between you and a brain-dead I-5 driver. But that's not all. See, in the Tesla you can be stealthy. Hit the throttle in a conventional car and the soaring engine noise tips your hand. Mat the Tesla's accelerator and the car simply shoots forward. Very rapidly, I might add.

Of course, this ability must be deployed with great care on a trip like this due to the seriously deleterious effect it has on range. But, man, it sure is a nice thing to have in your pocket.

The ride in Standard ride height is supple and dispatches bumps quite effectively. In Low, the ride gets too busy as the suspension seems to bounce off its bump stops. The steering is quite good, too, as it's precise and has natural weighting around center. For a first-effort car by a new automaker, this is pretty astonishing stuff.

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor


  • cpd87 cpd87 Posts:

    I was actually surprised when I was following one this morning (second one I've ever seen in Michigan). The dude was travelling at like 55 mph in the left lane, so I'm pretty sure he was texting or something, but when he finally saw me behind him he took off. Instead of silence like I expected, the thing actually had a really audible whirr (about the same sound level I'd expect from a regular ICE car). So no, this car isn't entirely silent, but it definitely accelerates quite hard.

  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:

    "Hit the throttle in a conventional car and the soaring engine noise tips your hand." Tips your hand how? Like a tenth of a second before your car takes off? So what? The thousands of times I've hit the throttle to make a hole in traffic, I have never noticed any nearby driver hearing my engine rev and putting the kibosh on my move. You're reaching here.

  • juddholl10 juddholl10 Posts:

    @Fordson Suspend your practicality for a minute and remember that these guys are journalists, not PhDs.

  • @juddholl10 Yes, just like when one of them spec sheet complained about the 911. On the spec sheet it does not have much torque (relatively speaking) down low, which led to the complaint that it may be caught flat footed. But actually driving it, the tra

  • actualsize actualsize Posts:

    @desmo. We did address our Jeep's cylinder head issues. Blogged on it extensively. Ours had the issue and our head was replaced. There are blow-by-blow descriptions of the dealer visit and photos after the fact. And then I bought it, unreservedly, and it'

  • actualsize actualsize Posts:

    Glad to hear about standard mode on the highway. My trip to Monterey happened before the software was changed. Low mode was automatic at highway speed and could not be overriden. Along the way I developed the feeling that low mode was doing the ride no favors over expansion joints, cracks and potholes. Can't wait to try it out.

  • jvonbokel jvonbokel Posts:

    @fordson1 In my Tesla, the engine noise of other cars tips their hand early enough for me to thwart them with ease. It helps that I can accelerate faster than most other cars I've encountered on the road.

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