2013 Tesla Model S Long-Term Road Test

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2013 Tesla Model S: Vegas Road Trip Wrap-Up

April 24, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

I drove to Las Vegas in our Tesla Model S, in and out of various hotels and restaurants, and back home across the desert. All told, I covered 820 miles and, of course, it was all under electric power. Sure, there was a little anxiety at first. But that feeling is quickly offset by other advantages. Namely, the car drives like a dream: fast, quiet and ultra-responsive.

But there were a few features that I really didn't like. And some lingering insecurities.

2013 Tesla Model S

The sculpted door handles are flush with the side of the car. When you approach the car, the door handles sense the key is in your pocket and magically appear. This is so cool. But I found it produces problems. First, you might have your fingers in the handle when it retracts. There's a safety cutoff but it could give you a really firm handshake. Secondly, the handles don't always respond. Your car is your safety capsule and you might want instant access to it in an emergency, like if a bear is chasing you. Supposedly, a double click on the key fob manually opens the handles. But that didn't always seem to work.

The other problem I have with the car is general build quality. Closing the doors doesn't produce the super solid thunk we like in quality cars. There were a few sharp edges to storage compartments and unfinished details in the cabin. The back seat provides good legroom but one six-footer who sat back there said his knees jutted up uncomfortably.

And, finally, we wondered how the car will hold up as the years roll by. Still, based on the car we drove, it is a technological marvel, a magic carpet ride into the future.

Philip Reed, Senior Consumer Advice Editor @ 3,128 miles

Most Recommended Comments

By mfennell
on 04/24/13
8:41 AM PST

The door handles are certainly an example of a solution to a non-problem. How much engineering effort was burned on them?

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