2015 Tesla Model S Review

Pros & Cons

  • Acceptable-to-excellent battery range
  • sleek styling
  • impressive performance from all models
  • lots of cargo space
  • available seven-passenger configuration
  • supported by Tesla's expanding Supercharger charging station infrastructure.
  • Lacks the convenience, familiarity and luxury polish of similarly priced sedans
  • potential reliability issues.
Other years
List Price Range
$32,495 - $55,000

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Edmunds' Expert Review

The 2015 Tesla Model S isn't just one of the most desirable electric cars available today, it's also one of the best luxury sedans, too.

Vehicle overview

Take a look at a 2015 electric vehicle and you'll find a car focused on efficiency. That's true for the 2015 Tesla Model S as well, but what separates this car from all other EVs is how much more it offers. The Model S is an all-electric flagship luxury sedan that has a performance pedigree capable of thrilling the most seasoned auto enthusiasts, as well as plenty of high-tech gadgetry and luxury interior treatments that rival tenured players like Mercedes and BMW. If there were an eco-centric mold for all other electric cars out there, the Tesla Model S would certainly break it.

Regardless of how fast or luxurious a car is, though, all EVs are subject to the same two concerns: range and charging time. Both can severely limit an EV's appeal once it leaves the connectivity of a big city, but the Model S has seemingly addressed those problems. Typical range for EVs these days tops out at about 80-100 miles, but even the least expensive Tesla Model S more than doubles that potential range with an EPA-estimated range of 208 miles. The second concern, charging time, is addressed with a nationwide "Supercharger" network where Tesla owners can recharge their cars at a rapid rate. Supercharger stations are placed along major highways, and while the network doesn't exactly cover the entire country yet, the Model S is made a much more versatile electric vehicle because of it. You can truly drive it across the United States if you want to, and at about the same pace as a gasoline-powered car -- a feat that would be pretty much impossible with any other pure electric car.

The Model S offers much more than amazing range, though. For the dual-motor, all-wheel-drive P85D, we achieved a zero to 60 mph time of 3.5 seconds, making it the quickest full-size luxury sedan we've ever tested. Tesla claims that the P90D is even quicker, with 60 mph arriving in just 2.8 seconds with the "Ludicrous Speed" upgrade. The maximum amount of performance is available in the 90kWh models, but if you're looking for better-than-average range in an EV and you don't want to break the bank, you can still go with the 60kWh model. While that may seem like a hefty price tag, it's worth noting that there are still tax credits and fuel savings to be considered. The cost of owning a Model S can be significantly less expensive than some gasoline-powered luxury cars.

Other than the obvious limitations of any electric car, there isn't much to complain about with the 2015 Tesla Model S. When we tested an early Tesla Model S for 18 months, there were several issues with reliability and we still believe those are legitimate concerns, but it should be noted that Tesla offers excellent warranties and we found repairs to be swift. Aside from that, we also noted that the Tesla wasn't quite as upscale as some luxury sedans in the same price range.

Admittedly, the Edmunds "A" rated 2015 Tesla Model S is a unique automobile, so there isn't much that directly competes with it. Gasoline-powered luxury sedans that may provide a few more accoutrements include the 2015 Audi A7, the 2015 Mercedes Benz S-Class and the 2015 Porsche Panamera. Each excels in its own way and all three come in varying trim levels and with a choice of extremely powerful engines, plenty of luxury and similar thrills. Most other electric cars aren't even in the Model S's league, but the 2015 BMW i3 and 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf are top choices that are worth a look if you're just interested in the prospect of alternative power. The 2015 Tesla Model S is a one-of-a-kind automobile, though, and if you're in the market, you owe yourself a test-drive.

2015 Tesla Model S models

The 2015 Tesla Model S is a large, four-to-seven-passenger luxury sedan. It's available in four trim levels: 60, 70D, 85, 85D, P85D, 90, 90D and P90D. The numbers in each trim level refer to the kilowatt-hour (kWh) capacity (and thus battery capacity and output) of the sedan, while the "D" denotes the dual-motor, all-wheel-drive models. Note that Tesla has been known to update the Model S throughout each model year, so what follows may not necessarily reflect the absolute latest offerings.

The Model S 60 comes with 19-inch wheels, all-season tires, automatic xenon headlights, LED taillights, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, a 17-inch touchscreen, a rearview camera, cloth and premium vinyl upholstery, heated eight-way power front seats (with four-way power lumbar), 60/40-split folding rear seats, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and a seven-speaker sound system with dual USB ports (media and charging) and HD radio. A cellular connection, Internet radio and WiFi connectivity are also included, as are a universal mobile connector (with 110-volt, 240-volt and J1772 adapters).

Options for the Model S 60 include the Supercharger Enabled package that provides rapid charging (about half of a charge in as little as 20 minutes) at Tesla's growing network of Supercharger stations around the country. Once you've paid to access the Supercharger network, getting a charge there is free. Outfit the Model S with a second onboard charger for up to twice the standard rate of charge (up to 58 miles of range per hour) when combined with the optional 80-amp at-home wall charger. Range-enhancing tires are also available.

The optional Tech package with Autopilot includes LED running and cornering lights, automatic high-beam control, lighted door handles, auto-dimming mirrors, power-folding and heated exterior mirrors, a power hatchback, keyless entry and ignition, driver memory functions and a navigation system. In October 2015, Tesla provided an over-the-air update that unlocked the "Autopilot" function on models equipped with the required features. It  allows for hands-free driving of the Model S, including automatically changing lanes by selecting the turn signal indicator, autonomous steering, a parking-spot detection system and hands-free parallel parking functions.

The Smart Air Suspension option (requires the Tech pack) adds self-adjusting (adjustable height) suspension. Optional front and rear parking sensors and foglamps also require the Technology package. A Premium Interior package (requires leather seats) covers the lower instrument panel, armrests and driver airbag in leather and adds LED interior lighting. The Ultra High Fidelity Sound package adds a 12-speaker sound system and also includes satellite radio. A Subzero Weather package adds a full row of heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, wiper blade defrosters and washer nozzle heaters.

Optional fold-flat, rear-facing jump seats (for small children) increase total passenger capacity to seven, while an Executive rear seat package replaces the rear bench seat with two captain's chairs, thus reducing overall capacity to four passengers. The Executive rear seats and rear-facing jump seats cannot be simultaneously equipped.

The Model S 70D adds an additional motor that powers the front wheels, and provides access to the Supercharger network. Otherwise, all of the above features and options apply.

Besides an increase in battery capacity and motor output, the Model S 85 comes with the range-enhancing tires. The 85D and P85D provide some additional power, plus red Brembo brake calipers. Later in the year, these vehicles were renamed the 90, 90D and P90D to reflect a larger 90 kWh battery pack, which Tesla says increases maximum range by 6 percent. Existing 85 owners are able to upgrade to the larger pack at additional cost.  Other options include a carbon-fiber rear spoiler, 21-inch wheels with high-performance summer tires, the Technology and Smart Air suspension packages, and revised suspension tuning.

2015 Highlights

Instead of typical yearly changes like other automakers, Tesla runs updates throughout the year, especially when it comes to software and electronics. The biggest non-software addition however, is the new P85D. Released late in the 2014 model year, the P85D (P stands for performance, D for dual-motor, all-wheel drive) replaced the standard P85. Also available is the 85D which also comes with all-wheel drive, but less power. Later in the 2015 model year, Tesla adjusted the Model S's lineup, adding an all-wheel-drive 70D to the mix and replacing the Model S 85 models with new "90" variants boasting slightly improved battery capacity.

Performance & mpg

The 2015 Tesla Model S is propelled by water-cooled electric motors (one motor in 60, 85 and 90 models, dual motors in 70D, 85D, P85D, 90D and P90D models) that route power directly to the wheels through a single-speed, direct-drive transmission. Single-motor models are rear-wheel drive only, while dual-motor models power all four wheels. Lithium-ion battery packs are also utilized throughout the lineup.

The Model S 60's motor output is rated at 380 horsepower and Tesla estimates it can reach 60 mph in 5.9 seconds. The EPA estimates energy consumption at 35 kWh per 100 miles and a range of 208 miles. The 208-mile range is a realistic number, but as with all EVs, driving style greatly influences actual range. According to Tesla, the range also decreases by 3 percent if a Model S 60 is equipped with the 21-inch wheels. The dual-motor Model S 70D is rated at 259 hp from each of its motors and 387 lb-ft of torque, and Tesla claims it will hit 60 mph from a standstill in 5.2 seconds. EPA-estimated energy consumption stands at 33 kWh per 100 miles, and a range of 240 miles.

The Model S 85 is available with either one or two motors. The single-motor, rear-wheel-drive model is rated at 380 hp (same as the 60, but with a more capable power inverter) and is able to deliver an estimated 0-60-mph time of 5.4 seconds along with a higher top speed. Energy consumption increases with the 85 to an EPA-estimated 38 kWh per 100 miles, with an estimated range of 265 miles. The 85D gets an additional front motor and overall horsepower drops to 376 hp. Despite that decrease in power, the 85D also gets an even higher top speed, a quicker 0-60 mph time of 5.2 seconds, an energy consumption rate of 34 kWh per 100 miles and 270 total miles of range.

Tesla says the high-performance P85D boosts output to 691 hp (221 hp through the front wheels and 470 hp to the rear). During Edmunds performance testing, a P85D accelerated from zero to 60 mph in just 3.5 seconds and the EPA rates the P85D's range at 253 miles with an energy consumption rate of 36 kWh per 100 miles.

Later in the model year, 90 kWh batteries replaced the 85 kWh packs. Power output stays the same, but Tesla claims range increases by 6 percent.

All Teslas can be recharged from all standard 110- and 240-volt household outlets and from various public charging stations using the included Universal Mobile Connector and adapters. Charging with a 110-volt outlet is very slow -- you'll only be able to recharge about 3 miles worth of range per hour. For instance, an overnight charge of 8 hours on a 110-volt outlet would only net you 24 miles of range. In contrast, by utilizing a 240-volt outlet with a 50-amp circuit (referred to as a NEMA 14-50 outlet, and common at RV parks), you can recharge about 30 miles of range per hour, which works out to about 7 hours to completely recharge the Model S 60's 60 kWh pack with the single onboard charger and about 8 hours for the 70D. The Model 85's 85 kWh pack would need about 9 hours.

The dual-charger system -- which needs a 100-amp circuit to operate at full capacity -- is an option. Using the optional wall connector doubles the recharge rate to about 60 miles of range per hour, meaning a full recharge for the 60 kWh version takes about 3.5 hours, 4 hours for the 70D and about 4.5 hours for the 85 and 90 kWh versions.

The Model S can also use a nationwide network of "Superchargers" that Tesla continues to expand. Tesla says the industrial-grade, high-speed chargers can replenish up to 170 miles of range in the 90 kWh batteries in about half an hour, enabling long-distance travel. Although an hour-long stop every 170 miles may not be the swiftest way to travel, it does enable Tesla owners to drive across the United States if they plan their journey carefully enough.

Safety

Standard safety features for all Tesla Model S variants include head, knee and pelvic airbags for the front passengers as well as front and rear side curtain airbags. All models have stability and traction control, crash sensors for high-voltage disconnect, antilock disc brakes and a rearview camera. Also, the rear-facing seat option augments the existing rear bumper with a second, high-strength aluminum framework.

In government crash tests, the Model S earned a top five-star rating for overall crash protection, with five stars for total frontal-impact safety and five stars for total side-impact safety.

In Edmunds brake testing, a P85D with high-performance summer tires came to a stop from 60 mph in just 102 feet. To put that distance in perspective, most large luxury sedans take about 110 feet to stop, and even high-performance sports cars take about 106 feet. Considering the Tesla's significant mass, that is a truly impressive number.

Driving

The 2015 Tesla Model S is unlike every other electric car on the road. You may have experience with quirky podlike electric cars, electric golf carts or even economy car-based EVs, but the Tesla doesn't drive like any of those. Acceleration is both quick and eerily quiet. With all the torque being immediately available, under full acceleration it's like being shot out of a gun barrel -- with a silencer. The P85D model, in particular, provides supercar acceleration with a 0-60 time of just 3.5 seconds and nearly 700 hp on tap. Energy use will suffer quite a bit if you're using "Insane" mode and lead-footing it away from every stoplight, but getting up to speed quickly in the Model S is one of the most exhilarating experiences you'll ever have in a car.

Braking is also praiseworthy, not just because the pedal feels like one from a conventional car, but also because it gets the Model S stopped with authority. The well-tuned steering and suspension further add to the experience, with a sharpness and accuracy not typically found in an EV. This big luxury sport sedan is good around corners, too, with the low-slung weight of the batteries keeping it balanced and the sharp steering giving the driver lots of feedback. Notably, Tesla also has one of the best adaptive cruise control systems we've ever sampled. It reacts extremely well to traffic conditions and inspires an eerily high level of confidence to let the car control the accelerator.

Fortunately, the Model S's sporty capabilities don't come at the expense of comfort and compliance, as the ride quality is smooth and agreeable. Through neighborhoods and around town, the electric propulsion of the Model S means it's super quiet. At freeway speeds, however (especially when the Model S is equipped with the wider, high-performance tires), wind and road are noticeable, and the big sedan becomes merely average in terms of overall cabin quietness. Attentive drivers will also notice the whine from the electric motor up front in dual-motor models. Put the stereo on at any decent volume, though, and the road noise drowns out pretty quickly.

Interior

If you like the sensation of using a touchscreen tablet, you'll almost certainly love the Tesla's massive center control screen. There are very few buttons or knobs along the dashboard, replaced by a sleek 17-inch vertical touchscreen that controls almost all onboard systems. Besides looking futuristic, the system actually functions well, too. Users can configure the placement of audio, climate and navigation controls to their liking. We'd opt for the Tech package's enhanced navigation system, though, as the standard system provides only maps and no turn-by-turn directions.

In terms of comfort, both front and rear seats offer ample legroom for adults, though taller rear seat passengers may run out of headroom. The front seats are nice, but they do lack the multitude of adjustments (and, ultimately, comfort and support) found in other similarly priced luxury sedans. If you have a soft spot for classic station wagons and you opt for the optional rear-facing jump seats, you'll have seating space back there for two small children. The seats have multipoint safety belts, so no added safety seat is necessary, but they're also comically small.

Those third-row seats fold flat into the footwell, allowing for a capacious 26.3 cubic feet of cargo space, which is significantly more than in other large luxury sedans. Folding the middle row flat expands that space to 58 cubes. There's also a secondary trunk under the hood that offers a few cubic feet of additional storage space, but the front trunk on a dual-motor Model S has about half the space.

While the cabin materials are nice looking, they don't quite match those found in luxury cars in the Model S's same price range. In extensive testing, we've found the leather upholstery holds up well over time, but the leather seen in premium luxury brands feels a bit more supple and high-end. Elsewhere, the typical window switches and driver controls have been sourced from Mercedes-Benz, making them hard to fault by any measure.


Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2015 Tesla Model S.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Zapped and Glad
hmp10,02/01/2016
P85D 4dr Sedan AWD (electric DD)
I'm a "car guy" and have owned 3 Audi R8's, a Mercedes SL55 AMG, a Corvette, and a Jaguar. I traded in an R8 V10 Spyder for this car and haven't looked back. This Tesla is significantly faster, just as sure-footed, far more practical (at least for local driving) and, in its own way, just as cool. It is also has the structural solidity of a bank vault and the handling tautness and tactile feel of the best cars I have owned. I thought I would miss the roar of the V10. Instead, I find the barely audible whine and whoosh of the electric drive train just as appealing. I thought I would miss the manual gear shifting of the R8. Instead, I find the eerie silkiness of the Tesla drivetrain addictive to the point that driving my internal-combustion cars is now vaguely annoying. I thought the regenerative braking would take some getting used to. It took me about 30 seconds to adapt, and I now find it one of the best features of electric driving. I thought the 17-inch screen would be distracting. Instead, I find it the best driver interface I have ever seen in a car. My biggest worry in buying the car was range. Unfortunately, this is not a car I would take on a long road trip, as the supercharger network still requires too much bobbing and weaving off ideal routes to keep the car charged. However, there is no amount of local driving that has left me anywhere near the end of the battery range. I picked the car up at a dealer on the east coast of Florida and drove it home to the west coast. I was driving well above the speed on which the range claims are based, I did some hard acceleration runs (this car requires no break-in), and I made a couple of detours for errands. The car still had 103 miles of indicated range remaining when I got home. Since then I have used the car for long days of running errands and lengthy pleasure drives and have yet to return home with less than 138 miles of indicated range remaining. The downsides: It's absurd to build a car with so little interior storage space, despite there obviously being room. (This is the one area where Elon Musk's attempts to be stylistically chic backfire.) Fortunately, EVannex makes a center console that matches the interior perfectly and helps with storage. But I still miss door pockets. On the other hand, the front and rear trunks offer immense trunk space for things you don't need to reach while driving. Despite the car's large exterior dimensions, the rear seat is a bit cramped and difficult of entry and exit for adults. Also, the rear seat backs (at least in the Executive Seating option) are not raked back quite enough due to the low roof line. However, the upgraded Recaro front seats and the front seat accommodations in general are absolutely best in class. Reliability and Service: In 6 months of ownership the car has only needed service once, due to the failure of the door handles to retract. I called Tesla service at 9:30 p.m. the evening it happened and, to my surprise, got an answer. I was a bit aggravated at the prospect of having to take the car 100 miles to the nearest service shop. But then I found out that Tesla had a service tech who works out of a truck in my town and who keeps a supply of parts in a local storage unit. He was at my house before 9:00 a.m. the next morning and fixed the problem right in my driveway. In short, it was most convenient and quickest repair I've ever had done on a car. (It also turned out that the service tech was Buddy, the mechanic who worked on my R8 at the Audi dealer. He had just moved to Tesla and was loving it.) Since then there have been a few software glitches with the car, seemingly related to bugs in updates. However, they have all disappeared of their own accord, probably as a result of correction downloads that came in overnight when the car is programmed to receive automatic updates. Would I buy a Tesla again? In a second . . . as long as it's not my only car (at least until there are more superchargers).
So far so good.....
Armand Mintanciyan,01/08/2016
P85D 4dr Sedan AWD (electric DD)
I went from a 2013 Mercedes SL550 to the 2015 Tesla P90D Ludicrous. I purchased (Dec 2015) all the options except for the extra seats and the winter package. Wish there was more options for exterior color, seat color, and trim. I chose Obsidian Black exterior , Black next gen seats, and piano black trim with white Alcantara Headliner. I was hesitant until I got the car but having driving in the car a few weeks now I am glad I chose the color combination I did. I used to have Lunar Blue for the SL550 and burl wood trim and tan interior. I miss the wood/leather steering wheel (not available in Tesla). Right before I committed to the car news came out about potential reliability issues. This did not help my nerves. No major issues (one minor one) but again only a few weeks driving. The car is a beast. Super performance. Much better acceleration that the SL550 and much better transmission (Ludicrous mode). Smooth as silk. Alot more trunk space then the SL550. Have had the car only a few weeks so I cannot compare reliability at this point. So far so good. Things that I have notices as negatives from the SL550: 1. Headlights. In the SL550 when I made turns the headlights turned with the car. Doesn't seem that the P90D does this. 2. Windshield wipers look alittle "cheap" compared to the SL550. In fairness there have been pretty strong storms the last few days and they seemed to work well. 3. Sirius radio reception. I have been having problems with this. In the SL550 never had a problem with the Sirius radio. Have an appointment to have it looked at. 4. Front center console. I think this should have been standard in the P90D. I ordered this. Had a 220V outlet installed in the garage. No issues charging. Have the car charge at 11pm at night with my tiered electric rates. Takes about 3 hours for a 60 mile round trip. Would I do it all over again. Absolutely. This car is awesome.
Best vehicle I've owned
Nicholas Devaud,12/05/2015
85 4dr Sedan (electric DD)
1. Driving an all electric vehicle takes a little adjusting as compared to gasoline. Once you get there, you'll never want a traditional gasoline/ICE car again. 2. Damage/repairs- an important factor in decision that is often not factored. This car has mostly aluminum vs steel constructions. It keeps car light, but it can cost more to repair. I would also caution buying if you are far (>75miles) from a service center. Services and repairs could be a hassle. 3. If you hate or can't adjust to new things - this car is not for you. 4. Safety. My wife was recently hit by another driver who ran through a red light (estimated impacted was about 40-50mph). The Tesla was declared a total loss, but my wife survived the accident. In most other cars, I'm not sure she would have survived such an impact. 5. No more dirty fuel (assuming your local utility provides you with clean energy) 6. Proactive service. The car communicates back with Tesla all the time. If it thinks there's a problem, Tesla service will proactively contact you to pick-up the car to have it checked and provide you with a loaner. When my wife was in accident, the first news of that accident I received was from Tesla service. 7. Remote monitoring. If you have kids... you can see where they are, how fast they are driving, lock/unlock car, pre-cool/heat the car before you use it, etc... 8. Charging - It's really easy at home and free while you travel out of your city using their supercharger network. By the time you finish your meal, the battery (which will give you realistically at least 240 miles range vs 265 EPA range) is nearly full again. We drive about 1,500 miles/month and electic bill is up about 30-40 / mth 9. No pesky dealerships, no negotiating. Buy online. Ask for help from sales or service centers. Just great modern service. Seems like most reviews complain about minor things in their cars. I've always found Tesla very accommodating to fix defects and make their customers happy. About me - I've owned Lexus, Toyota, Nissan, Audi in past. I liked most of my cars, but never truly loved them. Tesla team - you guys are awesome. * update 18months into ownership: love the car just as much than when I got it. * update after 3years of ownership: I’ve had to service related actions over the last 12 months. One of my door handles ceased to function and a SW update bricked my car. In both separate instances, Tesla came to my home and fixed the problem. I was proved a loaner free of charge when my car was bricked and they could not immediately fixed the issue. I still love this car and we bought a model 3 earlier this year. We are now 100% free from fossil fuel. ** update Dec 2019: We still love the car even after 4 years of ownership. since last update, I’ve had another door handle break. It took a month to get that fixed. They just added another service center near me. It still takes too long in this area (SoCal) to get car serviced.
Touch screen failure a major disaster
Bernie Kuzava,09/02/2015
4dr Sedan (electric DD)
I have now owned this 2015 (not 2013) Tesla Model S for 5 years and 65K miles. The major issues that required service included a door handle repair, a window that would not close, Steering U-Bolts required replacement, replaced weatherstripping deterioration on roof and currently the touch screen has failed rendering the car undriveable. This is a common problem after 65K miles. Parts are hard to come by. Car can not be charged and directional signal lights do not function. Cost of repair is north of $3,000.00. Avoid Tesla’s built before 2019.

Features & Specs

See all Used 2015 Tesla Model S features & specs

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    Overall5 / 5
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    Overall5 / 5
  • Side Barrier Rating
    Overall5 / 5
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front Seat5 / 5
    Back Seat5 / 5
  • Rollover
    Rollover5 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of Rollover5.7%

More about the 2015 Tesla Model S
More About This Model

Quick Summary
The 2015 Tesla Model S P85D does zero to 60 in 3.5 seconds and that might be the least interesting thing about it.

By now, the Tesla Model S is a known quantity. We've been testing Teslas for a couple of years now, and we even had a 2013 Model S P85 in our long-term test fleet. It seats five (seven with the optional jump seats), boasts a range of over 250 miles and has the styling, materials and driving dynamics sport/luxury sedan buyers are looking for. And now Tesla has brought out a version that's even better.

All-wheel drive, 691 horsepower and a host of refinements from previous iterations have solidified the Model S P85D's spot among the best cars in the world.

What Is It?
The 2015 Tesla Model S P85D is an electric car that seats five and has a range of 253 miles. This 691-hp, two-motor (one for the front wheels, one for the back) sedan sits at the top of the Tesla lineup and has a base price of $104,500. It replaces the previous P85, which was a sport version of the Model S 85, the most powerful version of this luxury sedan.

Our tester is far from a base car. All told, this car has $15,000 worth of options. One of the more important options is the $4,250 Tech Pack, which lumps together Tesla's autopilot system, automatic keyless entry, power liftgate, lane keeping with automatic steering and the automatic cruise control. Another notable option is the $3,500 Next Generation seating package.

All in, this 2015 Tesla Model S P85D costs $129,820.

2015 Tesla Model S P85D

How Does It Drive?
The standard rear-wheel-drive Tesla Model S drives very well. The smart electronics make for easy traction all the time, even if only the rear wheels are powered. The P85D turns all of that up to 11.

As expected, grip is phenomenal. Thanks to smart, instant power metering to the correct tire at the right time, the P85D rearranges the rules of driving. With no fear of any tail-out antics when you get on the throttle, you can attack corners differently. And thanks to aggressive off-throttle regeneration, you don't have to use the brake pedal nearly as often either. Add to that the immediate thrust that electric motors provide and you have a recipe for a very, very fast canyon carver, even if it does weigh 4,933 pounds with a full tank of electrons.

All of that weight has consequences: The P85D only managed 67.4 mph through our slalom, an average number for the class. It also has a lower projected range than the previous P85. On the plus side, it has a much more composed ride than the old P85. Everyone likes to point out the downsides of a heavy car, but it can't be denied that a heavier car rides better and is less unsettled by road imperfections. The Tesla was a good cruiser before. Now it's exceptional.

2015 Tesla Model S P85D

For this new car, Tesla added a new option pack with two new features. The first of these features, automatic cruise control, is very good. The system works exceptionally well and takes advantage of the full abilities of energy regeneration, only dipping into the actual brakes when real force is needed. This not only increases range, but makes for a darned smooth ride even in the most annoying traffic.

The second option, lane departure warning with steering assist, is less good. The system doesn't seem to understand what constitutes a line on the pavement and will frequently warn the driver about old lane markings, rain grooves, pavement irregularities and, sometimes, sound an alarm for no reason at all. This system isn't ready for prime time yet.

This all helps support Tesla's upcoming Autopilot system. It combines a forward-looking radar, 12 ultrasonic sensors and a forward-view camera to sense a 16-foot bubble around the car. All of this is supposed to enable the system to theoretically drive the car for you in certain situations.

That said, given that the basic lane departure system didn't work very well, excuse us if we didn't feel comfortable handing complete control over to the car to execute lane changes and self-parking maneuvers just yet. There are a few necessary software updates to fix these issues before Autopilot goes live to the streets.

Is "Insane Mode" Just a Marketing Gimmick?
Pretty much.

Instead of "Normal" and "Sport" settings, Tesla went with the kitschy "Sport" and "Insane" designations. Had Tesla simply called this mode "Sport Plus," we'd take no issue. With this setting engaged, the Model S P85D is truly, shockingly fast. Scramble-your-brain fast. Make-pregnant-women-and-people-with-heart-conditions-sign-a-waiver fast.

2015 Tesla Model S P85D

But insane? Hardly. Flip the switch and the P85D's 0-60 falls from 4.3 seconds to 3.5 (3.2 with 1 foot of rollout as on a drag strip) and the quarter-mile time drops from 12.4 seconds at 113.5 mph to 11.8 seconds at 113.3 mph.

That's a very quick 0-60 time (just about the same as a Corvette ZR1) but while it flips your eyeballs from convex to concave, it lacks any drama at all. Insane Mode should spin all of the tires while flashing the headlights and squirting washer fluid all over the place while blaring a custom mash-up of Michael Bolton and Skrillex. Instead, it's the easiest 11-second quarter-mile you'll ever run, even if the trap speed is a little disappointing. The aforementioned ZR1 trapped at 126.1.

Insane Mode's greatest benefit is getting people to post it to YouTube.

2015 Tesla Model S P85D

What Kind of Range and Economy Can You Expect?
The P85D may be the most expensive car in the Tesla line, but that extra cost doesn't translate into extra range. The Model S 85 can manage 265 miles on a charge, but the P85D's multiple motors, 311 additional horses and extra weight cut the range estimation down to only 253 miles. Still, this is nearly three times the range afforded by most EVs on the market today.

While we never went that far (we have a high-powered wall charger at our office and made use of Tesla's Supercharger network), our energy usage calculations confirmed that 250 miles was indeed possible with careful driving and liberal use of the Tesla's automatic cruise control. Overall, we averaged 44.7 kWh/100 and 75.5 MPGe. That's down from the EPA estimates of 36 kWh/100 and 93 MPGe. Blame the traffic, the hills or the 691 hp on tap. We'd expect every P85D owner to miss the EPA mark for the first few weeks as they stretch their new car's legs.

What's the Interior Like?
As it has been since its inception, the interior of the new P85D is excellent. There's wood, leather and Alcantara trim, all of it artfully arranged and well put together. The 17-inch touchscreen is still comically large and phenomenally useful.

There are still quirks. Using the cupholders makes it so you can't use the armrest and instead of storage bins, you have a very large, flat tray that separates the two front seats. Carry lots of small knickknacks in the car? Maybe not so good. Bring a small laptop or notebook everywhere? It's a pretty good, though uncovered, solution.

2015 Tesla Model S P85D

But this is old news. What's new about the P85D is the availability of what Tesla calls Next Generation seats. These optional seats replace the flat, boring and slippery seats of the normal Model S with grippy, well-bolstered buckets that look and feel as if they belong in a six-figure sedan. They still lack some of the hyper-adjustability — not to mention massage and cooling — of the best the Germans have to offer, but they're a big step in the right direction.

Unfortunately, all of this all-wheel-drive hardware and the second motor had to live somewhere, and that means the once giant front trunk is down by a few cubic feet. You can still get a few weeks' worth of groceries in there, but a golf bag will have to go in the back.

What Are Its Closest Competitors?
BMW i8: The Tesla was the hottest alternative car on the market for a couple of years, but then BMW swooped in with the i8 and made Tesla's designers look lazy. The i8 may not be as practical, quiet or quick as the Model S, but it's straight from the future and still very fuel-efficient.

Mercedes-Benz S-Class: The Mercedes-Benz S-Class is still the default pick for anyone who wants the best of the best without spending Rolls-Royce money. It's not electric and it doesn't have a small billboard in the center console, but the comfort, quietness, build quality and Mercedes' hyper advanced automatic cruise control with steering assist more than make up for that.

Porsche Panamera: The Porsche Panamera may not be a true EV, but it is the most like-like competitor to the Model S. It's all-wheel drive, an absolute hoot to drive fast and thanks to a hatchback body shape, functional enough to be a real family car. It even comes in a plug-in hybrid version.

Why Should You Consider the Tesla P85D?
Now that the rear-drive P85 is gone, the P85D is the lone pick for Tesla buyers who want that extra oomph, and boy does it deliver. Except for a small range decrease and a small price increase, there's no downside to the P85D compared with the P85, and you get the grip of all-wheel drive and the thrust of 691 hp.

Why Should You Think Twice About the Tesla P85D?
First, while the Next Generation seats are better, nearly every luxury maker's seats have ventilation and more adjustments. Beyond that, EVs still aren't for everyone; charging is still harder than filling up with gasoline, and trips require planning. Finally, you may not need 691 hp. That is a lot. If zero to 60 in 3.5 seconds doesn't interest you and you don't need AWD, check out the normal Model S 85.

The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.

Used 2015 Tesla Model S Overview

The Used 2015 Tesla Model S is offered in the following submodels: Model S Sedan. Available styles include 70D 4dr Sedan AWD (electric DD), 85 4dr Sedan (electric DD), 85D 4dr Sedan AWD (electric DD), P85D 4dr Sedan AWD (electric DD), and 60 4dr Sedan (electric DD).

What's a good price on a Used 2015 Tesla Model S?

Price comparisons for Used 2015 Tesla Model S trim styles:

  • The Used 2015 Tesla Model S 60 is priced between $32,495 and$41,000 with odometer readings between 37866 and84704 miles.
  • The Used 2015 Tesla Model S 85D is priced between $33,725 and$47,000 with odometer readings between 14605 and96992 miles.
  • The Used 2015 Tesla Model S P85D is priced between $47,295 and$55,000 with odometer readings between 26592 and53831 miles.

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Which used 2015 Tesla Model SES are available in my area?

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Should I lease or buy a 2015 Tesla Model S?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

Check out Tesla lease specials
Check out Tesla Model S lease specials