The 2013 Tesla Model S is quite clearly the most audacious electric car sold in the U.S. this year. In its few months of existence, it has awed journalists, lured more than 13,000 buyers to put down deposits, and won several prestigious industry awards.
Tesla Motors, unknown to the world until five years ago, has created from a clean sheet of paper an all-electric platform that will hold not only a mid-size sport sedan but also an all-wheel drive sport-utility vehicle (the Model X) to be launched next year. And it's good.
No other maker offers the choice of three different ranges, based on battery packs of different capacities. And the high-end Performance version of the Model S with the 85-kWh battery pack is all but silent--and stunningly quick.
Despite its size and capaciousness for passengers and cargo, the EPA has rated the 85-kWh 2013 Model S at 89 MPGe, or "miles per gallon equivalent," a measure of the distance a car can travel electrically on the same amount of battery energy as is contained in 1 gallon of gasoline. While that efficiency rating is slightly lower than those of the Nissan Leaf (99 MPGe) and Ford Focus Electric (105 MPGe), it's nonetheless quite impressive for a larger, heavier, and much faster five-seat luxury vehicle.
As do all zero-emission battery electric vehicles, the 2013 Tesla Model S earns our highest Green rating of 10 out of 10 on the scale.