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TESTED: 2021 Tesla Model S Plaid travels 345 miles, tying Edmunds' real-world range leader, the Tesla Model 3 Long Range

TESTED: 2021 Tesla Model S Plaid travels 345 miles, tying Edmunds' real-world range leader, the Tesla Model 3 Long Range

This 1,020-horsepower electric rocket nearly matches its EPA range target

  • Tesla's tri-motor 1,020-hp flagship sedan covered 345 miles on Edmunds' real-world EV range loop, falling just shy of its EPA-estimated range by 3 miles.
  • It ties the 2021 Tesla Model 3 Long Range for first place on our EV range leaderboard among both luxury and non-luxury EVs.
  • The Plaid proved to be pretty efficient when driven with restraint, consuming slightly less energy than a Porsche Taycan 4S tested in similar conditions

The 1,020-horsepower 2021 Tesla Model S Plaid is capable of insanely quick acceleration. In our testing it catapulted from 0 to 60 mph in just 2.3 seconds. But it can also be surprisingly efficient in its use of electricity — if you can manage to exercise a little restraint.

It has an EPA-estimated range of 348 miles on a single charge when it's equipped with the optional 21-inch wheels. (Tesla's website cites 396 miles of range if you stick with the standard 19-inch wheels.) Either figure is pretty impressive and would be more than sufficient for the majority of people's needs.

But Teslas haven't had the best track record when it comes to actually hitting their EPA range estimates in our real-world range tests. In fact, they're 0 for 7, not including the Plaid. So we were curious if Tesla's first tri-motor electric vehicle might finally break the range test curse, in addition to breaking some acceleration speed records. Here's how it did.

Testing the Model S Plaid in the real world

Edmunds tests every new electric vehicle on the same real-world driving loop to see just how far it can travel from a full charge down to zero miles remaining. If you look at our EV range leaderboard, you'll see that most EVs have matched or exceeded their EPA range estimates in our testing. When we tested the Model S Plaid, it was one of the warmest days we've run our range test, with an average temperature of 73 degrees, matching the average temperature the day we tested the Porsche Taycan 4S.

2021 Tesla Model S Plaid

2021 Tesla Model S Plaid

After more than 10 hours of driving, we traveled a total of 345 miles in the 2021 Model S Plaid. That's only 3 miles short of, or just about 1% less than, its EPA estimate. That's an excellent result regardless, especially for a car with this much power, rolling around on large 21-inch wheels and sticky summer tires. Overall, the Plaid's range performance puts it in first place overall, tied with the 2021 Tesla Model 3 Long Range.

We also put the Model S Plaid on our scales and were surprised with its weigh-in result:

2021 Tesla Model S Plaid w/ 21-inch wheels
Tesla's claimed curb weight: 4,766 pounds (with 19-inch wheels)
Edmunds: 4,842 pounds

2020 Tesla Model S Performance w/ 21-inch wheels
Tesla's claimed curb weight: 4,941 pounds (with 19-inch wheels)
Edmunds: 4,934 pounds

Tesla somehow figured out how to reduce the Plaid's weight by nearly 100 pounds from the former Performance model despite this model carrying around an extra electric motor and rolling on wider tires (+20 mm in front, +30 mm in the rear). This certainly contributes to its impressive efficiency.

So how much did those 345 miles cost?

Now it's time for a little math, but the fun kind. While the total range of a vehicle continues to dominate the EV conversation, energy consumption, especially when talking about these high-powered cars, is an important factor as well. Energy consumption is what determines how much your miles will cost you. The unit of measurement for consumption, the kilowatt-hour, can be thought of as the EV equivalent of a gallon of gasoline. Just like gas, the price of electricity varies depending where you live. For example, you'll pay about 10 cents per kilowatt-hour in Idaho as of this writing, whereas in Hawaii it'll run you about 33 cents.

So, what can 2021 Tesla Model S Plaid owners expect to pay at "the pump"? After charging the battery back to full, we calculated an Edmunds consumption rate of 32.1 kWh/100 miles, which is 2.7% more efficient than the EPA estimate of 33 kWh/100 miles. That means that if we lived in Hawaii, our 345-mile trip in the Plaid would have cost us $36.55, while if we lived in Idaho, that same charge would cost just $11.08.

2021 Tesla Model S Plaid

2021 Tesla Model S Plaid

How does that compare within the EV world? Consider the 2021 Tesla Model 3 Long Range, which went just as far as the Plaid in our range test. For this vehicle we measured a consumption rate of 25.9 kWh/100 miles. So that same 345 miles in the Model 3 would have cost $29.49 in Hawaii and $8.94 in Idaho. You'd save a few bucks with the Model 3, especially where electricity prices are higher, but it's a drop in the bucket if you have the coin to drop on the Plaid.

How about a gasoline-powered rival? Well, finding one is kind of difficult because there really aren't any. But for the sake of comparison, we'll use the 2021 Dodge Challenger SRT Super Stock. It has only 807 horsepower and can reach 60 mph from a standstill in a claimed 3.25 seconds. Running the Super Stock Challenger for 345 miles on premium fuel would have set us back $104.42 in Hawaii ($4.54 per gallon) and $96.14 in Idaho ($4.18 per gallon) at current prices, assuming we got the Challenger's 15 mpg combined. We'd also have to stop for gas because we wouldn't be able to do it on one tank.

Based on these numbers, you could save an estimated $1,967 per year in Hawaii and a mind-blowing $2,465 per year in Idaho in fuel costs driving a Model S Plaid for 10,000 miles a year instead of the Challenger.

For more information on how we test EV range and how each vehicle performed, we invite you to visit our Real World vs. EPA testing page, which includes both our EV range leaderboard and a table with detailed test results. Our EV range leaderboard is embeddable and will automatically update every time we add a new vehicle.

Edmunds says

While the 2021 Tesla Model S Plaid is one of the quickest production cars in existence, it is still surprisingly efficient among luxury EVs. Our real-world testing has shown that it can come close to hitting its EPA range targets if driven conservatively and in ideal weather conditions. Its 345-mile result is an impressive achievement, especially given the insane acceleration. For our latest comprehensive ratings of all electric vehicles, head over to Edmunds' EV rankings page.