Influential nonprofit Consumer Reports magazine on Thursday said the Tesla Model S electric sedan has earned the highest rating score in Consumer Reports recent history.
The magazine, which has been seen as an objective voice in reviews since 1936, said the all-electric luxury sports car, "performed better, or just as well overall, as any other vehicle—of any kind—ever tested by Consumer Reports."
That's why the Model S earned the highest score in Consumer Reports’ ratings: 99 points on a 100-point scale. The last vehicle to achieve a 99 in CR’s testing, the consumer watchdog said, was the Lexus LS 460L, which CR tested in 2007.
Here's why, according to Consumer Reports:
The Tesla Model S takes everything you know about cars and stands it on its head. It's a very agile, super-quick electric luxury sedan (with a hatchback!) that seats seven and gets the equivalent of 84 mpg. Got your attention yet? With the 85 kWh battery, the largest available, it can go between 180 and 225 miles on a charge, depending on the weather. That's about twice as far as any other electric car. With optional equipment, it can be charged from empty in as little as five hours. Performance all-around is exceptional, with short stops, a superb ride, and an eerily hushed cabin. Almost all controls are done through a quick and capable iPad-like center screen.
“The Tesla Model S is packed with technological innovation,” said Jake Fisher, director of Automotive Testing for Consumer Reports in a statement. “It accelerates, handles and brakes like a sports car, it has the ride and quietness of a luxury car and is far more energy efficient than the best hybrid cars.”
Tesla Motors all-electric Model S sedan
So is the Tesla Model S the best car ever? While it might be one of the the best cars ever tested, Consumer reports will not recommend The Model S. "To be recommended, a vehicle must perform well in CR’s battery of tests, has average or better reliability in CR’s Annual Auto Survey and perform well in government and industry crash tests," the Yonkers, New York-based magazine said. It said Tesla Motors Inc., the maker of electric cars run by PayPal founder Elon Musk, did not have sufficient reliability data for its newest star.
Consumers Reports said The Model S had other drawbacks including its limited driving range, long charging times, "and coupe-like styling that impairs rear visibility and impedes access."
There's something else that impedes access: the price tag. The consumer watchdog tested a Model S that cost $89,650. The basic Model S starts at $62,400 after a federal tax credit. Tesla Motors was the recipient of a $465 million loan from the U.S. Department of Energy.
Nevertheless, the car's score has created a lot of buzz. "With a famous streak for independence, which includes buying its cars at dealerships rather than borrowing them from automakers, Consumer Reports' reviews are among the most closely watched," USA Today reported.
Will the buzz turn into sales? For Tesla to reach a broader market, Reuters reports, the company must successfully deliver a third-generation car by 2017 that will cost between $30,000 and $35,000.
In an interview with Bloomberg, Musk said his priorities for Tesla over the next few years is to bring out an electric car priced close to $30,000 that most families could afford.
“I’ve said from the very beginning, from the creation of Tesla, that our goal is to create a compelling mass-market car,” Musk said. "We’re several years away, obviously.”
A full review of the car will appear in the July issue of Consumer Reports.
Until then, here’s a video the magazine released about its experience:
(Tesla Model S drifting at the Consumer Reports test track)