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2012 Tesla Model S vs. Its Competition

 
2012 Tesla Model S prototype
8.4
/ 10
TCC Rating
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Our expert editors build comparisons like this one to make it easy for you to understand the small handful of cars you should compare to whatever car you are already looking at. You get general thoughts on each car you should consider plus an easy way to compare basic information for yourself.

There's no other car exactly like the 2012 Tesla Model S on the market.

The Fisker Karma might seem to be closest, but it's not all-electric, is the least efficient plug-in sold, and sacrifices interior and trunk space for swoopy styling--plus it has had worrisome quality flaws.

The Chevy Volt is less expensive than the Model S and offers far less room, but appeals to the same early adopters and technology fans.

We have to throw in the Nissan Leaf, because it's the only high-volume battery electric on sale, but it's a compact, utilitarian vehicle with only 73 miles of EPA range--and has none of the Tesla's glamor factor.

That leaves two five-door hatchback models from German luxury makers, the BMW 5-Series GT and the Audi A7.

Both are low-volume offshoots of much better-selling sedans, but they're the closest in functionality and luxury to the Tesla.

Both have far more standard and optional equipment, but they also have gasoline engines and no plugs, which for many buyer will eliminate them immediately.

2012 Tesla Model S prototype2012 Tesla Model SBrowse Used Listings2012 Audi A7 4-door HB Auto quattro 3.0 Premium Plus Angular Front Exterior View2012 Audi A7Browse Used Listings2012 BMW 5-Series Gran Turismo 4-door Sedan 550i Gran Turismo RWD Angular Front Exterior View2012 BMW 5-SeriesBrowse Used Listings2012 Chevrolet Volt 5dr HB Angular Front Exterior View2012 Chevrolet VoltBrowse Used Listings2012 Nissan Leaf, Electric Avenue, 2010 Detroit Auto Show2012 Nissan LeafBrowse Used Listings2012 Fisker Karma2012 Fisker KarmaBrowse Used Listings
Quick Specs
8.4
/ 10
TCC Rating
The 2012 Tesla Model S sedan turns out to be a much better car than most expected; it just might meld sport-sedan driving, interior space, and comfort with zero-emission running in one revolutionary package.
9.0
/ 10
TCC Rating
The 2012 Audi A7 is a tech powerhouse and design standout, showing that hatchback practicality can indeed be sexy.
8.6
/ 10
TCC Rating
The 2012 BMW 5-Series appears somewhat conservative on the outside, but it packs an armada of advanced-tech firepower, and new fuel-efficient engines, without interrupting its sport-sedan mission.
7.4
/ 10
TCC Rating
The 2012 Chevrolet Volt is the plug-in electric car you drive as far as you want--if you can find one to buy.
7.8
/ 10
TCC Rating
The 2012 Nissan Leaf is, quite simply, the first battery electric vehicle built in volume by any major carmaker; if you can get comfortable with its range of 70 to 100 miles, it's the greenest car you can buy.
7.6
/ 10
TCC Rating
The 2012 Fisker Karma is a curious and unique beast, a stylish, luxurious, and pricey sedan with 32 miles of electric range, low gasoline efficiency, and a tiny interior and trunk
MSRP From     
$57,400$59,250$46,900$39,145$35,200$102,000
Gas Mileage     
18 MPG City / 28 MPG Hwy15 MPG City / 34 MPG Hwy35 MPG City / 40 MPG Hwy20 MPG City / 21 MPG Hwy
Engine     
ElectricSupercharged Gas V6Turbocharged Gas I4Electric/Gas I4ElectricGas/Electric I4
EPA Class     
NAMidsize CarsMid-SizeCompact CarsMidsizeSubcompact
Style Name     
4-Door Sedan4-Door HB quattro 3.0 Premium4-Door Sedan 528i RWD5-Door HB4-Door HB SV4-Door Sedan EcoStandard
Drivetrain     
Rear Wheel DriveAll Wheel DriveRear Wheel DriveFront wheel driveFront Wheel DriveRear Wheel Drive
Passenger Capacity     
545454
Passenger Doors     
4444N/A4
Body Style     
SedanSedan4dr SedanHatchback4 Door HatchbackSedan
Transmission     
NAAutomatic w/Manual ShiftAutomatic w/Manual ShiftAutomaticAutomaticAutomatic
 
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