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The Tesla Model S is the best car I’ve driven this year

2013 is coming to an end fast and it’s a favorite time of year to do a “best of” segment for your favorite news, products, celebrity gossip, and more. The automotive world is no different, as important vehicles make their mark on the landscape each year. For me, the best vehicle I drove this year was the Tesla Model S.

Before continuing, I must mention this disclaimer. I am a lover of technology and interesting concepts. I happen to own a Chevrolet Volt, so I’m no stranger to the merits and penalties of an electrified powertrain. In fact, if you had the financial means to pay for a Model SI, you would pour gasoline on the sidewalk and power electrons for the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, I am not rich so I have to settle for a test drive.

Pros:

All-electric long-range driving. The version I drove was the P85 edition which has the largest battery currently available. This battery will offer around 300 miles of range under ideal conditions. More than enough for the average driver.

Exceptional ergonomics and build quality. The interior and exterior are well matched, which is to be expected for a conventional vehicle in this price range. The interior looks simply amazing with its minimalist design and gigantic touchscreen center console. The interior is equivalent in build quality to the last two BMWs I have owned.

Size. There is no denying that the Model S is a large car. Personally, I think this is a benefit because it is significantly larger than almost every other electric car currently on the market. My Volt is small in comparison. Of course, the larger size will appeal to a wider audience, which will broaden your appeal in the market.

Velocity. The P85 version is incredibly fast. Like I have more power than I could quickly need and since it’s more power than I could possibly need, I obviously need it. Even the 60 kilowatt-hour versions will compete with the power and speed of their gasoline competitors.

Cons:

Price. At nearly $ 70,000 for the cheapest model, this car is by no means cheap. That’s a shame too, as the cheapest electric cars available have significantly less range. Mid-priced buyers will have to wait for the next Model E.

Tire noise. It’s amazing how the lack of powertrain noise can amplify all the other sounds a car makes. I noticed that with the summer tires on the P85 the tire noise was quite pronounced. Specifically, the sound of pebbles and other road debris being lifted by the tires and colliding with the wheel wells. I think more soundproofing would be beneficial.

Battery degradation. Every time a lithium-ion battery is charged and discharged, it loses some of its capacity. Anyone who has owned a cell phone or laptop is well aware of this fact. Now multiply the size and price of the battery by the thousands and it will become a legitimate concern.

For me, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages related to ownership of the Model S. I can live with increased road noise and a loss of battery capacity. Unfortunately, what I cannot live with is the incredibly high price of this vehicle (although I wish I could). If this vehicle is in your price range, I suggest you take one for a test drive. It’s good enough to turn an EV skeptic into a true believer.

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