Power On | 2017 Tesla Model S

January 2017 View more

nmag0117_fortheroad_2120x920_ms-bluesunset-use_800pxThe Tesla Model S might just be the most modern sedan you can drive. I’m not talking about modern only in terms of technology (though that’s a big part of it). I mean modern in terms of the whole driving experience.

First, there’s the all-electric thing. Depending on the battery size you choose (Tesla’s analogy for the old V6 vs. V8 debate) and how you drive, the Model S has a range of about 200 to 300 miles between charges. For most daily driving, “range anxiety” is a non-issue. Plug in your car overnight at home (or during the day at a public charging station) and you’ve got enough battery capacity for most regional driving. If you’re planning a road trip, the navigation system will helpfully suggest where you might charge along the way.

Second, there’s the interior—specifically, the giant touchscreen that dominates the center of the console. Canted slightly toward the driver, it is the interface for controlling just about everything in the car—from drive modes (sport or comfort) to temperature to the rearview camera. Using the touchscreen feels exactly like what we’re used to doing on our tablets and smartphones.

Third—and here’s where the ownership experience really changes—Tesla delivers software upgrades over their cars’ built-in wireless connections. Owners get tweaks every once in a while to keep their vehicles up to date, just like our smartphones. Current owners recently woke up to find that Tesla had refreshed not just the look of the touchscreen, but also a range of functions like the audio system and Autopilot.

Yes, Autopilot. If you’ve paid for that option, you can turn over some of the driving responsibilities to your car. In the future, Tesla plans to enable completely autonomous driving; in fact, every car they build already has the necessary cameras and sensors to make that possible. When the time is right, the company will send a software update to all those cars, and voila—self-driving. Granted, some buyers will choose a Tesla precisely because of those self-driving features. But what a shame, because actually driving the Model S yourself is such a pleasure.

Available with rear- or all-wheel drive and a number of battery options, the Model S is electric-car quiet and, depending on the battery, remarkably fast. In normal driving, and with one of the smaller batteries, the Model S feels as comfortable and quick as the luxury sedans that are its competitors.

After about four years during which the Model S was your only Tesla choice, the company is expanding its lineup. The new Model X—Tesla’s take on a three-row SUV, with “falcon-wing” doors and the same level of driving performance as the Model S—shares the swoopy profile that you’ll see on some of the latest high-riding models from Mercedes and BMW. It also sports the largest windshield you’ve ever seen, four self-closing doors, and touchscreen controls that let the driver adjust all six or seven seats.

Hoping to capture buyers beyond the high-end luxury bracket, Tesla also announced the upcoming Model 3—a smaller, less-expensive sedan. Early projections from the company promise the full Tesla driving experience and a range of 215 miles. Reserving one of these future cars is a snap—just go online and put down a $1,000 deposit.

The 2017 Tesla Model S starts at $66,000; adding engine capacity sends the price up as high as $134,500. The Model X ranges from $85,500 to $135,500. The Model 3 has attracted significant customer interest, in large part because it will be priced at about $35,000.

nmag0117_fortheroad_modelsinterior2-use_800pxWhere to buy
Tesla Oak Brook
58 Oakbrook Center
Oak Brook, Illinois