2022 Tesla Model S

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2022
The Car Connection
2022
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Senior Editor
August 2, 2022

Buying tip

The Plaid is very tempting, but most folks will find the dual-motor version’s 670 hp to be more than plentiful.

features & specs

AWD
Plaid AWD
MPG
Coming Soon
MPG
Coming Soon
MSRP
$104,990
MSRP
$135,990

The Model S offers a formidable mix of technology, performance, and style, if you can live the annoyance of the yoke.

What kind of vehicle is the 2022 Tesla Model S? What does it compare to?

The Tesla Model S is an electric sedan that offers supreme performance and a large interior. It competes with a slim set of luxury electric cars including the Mercedes-Benz EQS, Lucid Air, Audi E-Tron GT, and BMW iX.

Is the 2022 Tesla Model S a good car?

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The Model S has been a mainstay of the Tesla lineup and even though it’s now about 10 years old, it’s been updated at several points and it still offers plenty of delights. While the yoke threatens to put a damper on the whole experience, its incredible acceleration and impressive technology carries the Model S to a TCC Rating of 8.2 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

What's new for the 2022 Tesla Model S?

This is our first time covering the Model S in a couple of years and while changes for 2022 are minimal, 2021 saw a series of large updates including the elimination of the steering wheel, a new horizontally oriented touchscreen (a la the Model 3 and Y), and the introduction of an exciting new variant: the Model S Plaid. Yes, that’s another Spaceballs reference meant to reflect a new level of speed beyond the “Ludicrous” speed of previous Model S trims.

Even with all of these changes the Model S’ exterior styling holds constant. The fastback design has aged well and remains instantly recognizable despite its simplicity. This design also has impressive aerodynamic efficiency with a coefficient of drag of just 0.208, putting it within a hair of the Mercedes-Benz EQS without having to go with the awkward egg shape of that sedan. Wheel options measure 19- and 21-inches, with the larger wheels having a detrimental effect on range.

As of this writing, only a pair of Model S variants are currently available for order from Tesla: a dual-motor AWD variant (the Long Range designation appears to have been dropped) and the Plaid, which has tri-motor AWD. Both models feature the same 100-kwh lithium-ion battery pack, but the Plaid has extra cooling capacity that enables it to perform its high-speed tricks better (more on that later). The dual-motor vehicle is far from a slouch, it produces 670 hp and sprints from 0-60 mph in just 3.1 seconds, making it faster than the vast majority of performance cars. 

But the Plaid turns those numbers silly: 1,020 hp, a top speed of 200 mph with the right wheels equipped, and 1.99 seconds from 0-60 mph. That 1.99 second figure is up for some debate, it requires an initial rollout to be taken out of the calculation and a prepped surface (aka a dragstrip) to post that kind of time, but even if it turns out to be 2.1 seconds on the street that’s faster than nearly anything short of a dragstrip racer.

Range tops out at 405 miles for the dual-motor car with the smaller wheels dropping that estimate to 375 miles. In the Plaid, those numbers drop off slightly to 396 and 348 miles respectively.

Inside, there are two very noticeable changes up front: the screen has been tilted 90-degrees on its side and there’s no more steering wheel, just a racing-car style yoke. The 17.0-inch screen serves as a hub for nearly all of the vehicle’s functions and doing most things (like adjusting the yoke position for example) requires use of the screen even if the actual adjustments are done via the steering wheel controls. Orienting the screen in this way seems to have increased its usability but the opposite could be said of the yoke, which is an answer to a problem that nobody asked for.

Tesla’s Autopilot suite comes standard, it includes automatic emergency braking, active lane control, adaptive cruise control, and blind spot monitoring. An enhanced system is optional that adds automatic lane changes, summon features for parking lots, and an automatic parking feature. And finally, there’s Tesla’s “Full Self-Driving Capability” package that doesn’t include self-driving, but does include traffic-light and stop-sign recognition, along with some future features that haven’t been released yet.

How much does the 2022 Tesla Model S cost?

The dual-motor version starts at $106,190 (including a $1,200 destination charge), while the Plaid starts at $137,190, though the base Plaid doesn’t achieve the same top speed in base form.

Where is the 2022 Tesla Model S made?

In Fremont, Calif.

7

2022 Tesla Model S

Styling

Over a decade later, the Model S’ design remains distinctive and handsome.

Is the Tesla Model S a good-looking car?

It still is somehow! Put the 2022 Model S up against the car that debuted over 10 years ago and some of the details will be different, but the shape hasn’t changed much at all and that isn’t a bad thing. It is still instantly recognizable as a Tesla, it’s aerodynamic, and its shape allows for extra cargo room. We give it a point for its exterior design and another point for an attractive interior that showcases its beautiful center screen nicely, giving the Model S a 7 in this category.

The Model S should put other automakers on notice (looking at you, Mercedes), that you can have a very aerodynamic car (0.208 coefficient of drag) without completely going the egg-shaped direction. The solid front of the Model S has just enough detailing and creases to prevent it from looking too slab-like, and the sides have a slightly tilted-up beltline that still allows for large windows that provide good outward visibility from all seats.

Inside, the yoke looks cool, even if its usability is bad, and the central screen is so sharp that I could read it from the cargo area. The air vents have been hidden to keep the design even more minimal—their direction must be controlled from the screen—and the center storage bin does a great job of blending form and function. Each of the smaller storage spaces including the cupholders and retract and multiple covers allow each to be hidden as needed.

Review continues below
8

2022 Tesla Model S

Performance

The way the Plaid explodes off-the-line is mind bending

The Model S acceleration in the dual-motor version is enough to snap heads back into seats and requires warning to passengers before unleashing. Then the Plaid takes that a few levels beyond. It gets 2 points for its ridiculous powertrains and a point each for a compliant ride and solid handling, but we’re going to take one back for the yoke to give it an 8 on Performance.

Is the Tesla Model S 4WD?

Yes, both versions of the Model S come with standard AWD though one has two motors and the other three.

How fast is the Tesla Model S?

If there’s such a thing as too fast, the Model S starts to break into that range. The dual-motor “base” Model S has ridiculous figures of its own: 670 hp, 3.1 seconds from 0-60 mph, and a 155-mph top speed. That acceleration time puts the Model S in rarified air already, but the Plaid soars to new heights of its own. With 1,020 hp from its three electric motors, it can make the 0-60 mph sprint in just under 2 seconds (with some caveats) and runs to a top speed of 200 mph with the larger wheels equipped.

While that 0-60 mph time can’t be replicated on the street, the Plaid still offers acceleration like nothing we’ve ever tested. Beyond the usual comfort, normal, and sport drive modes, there’s a separate “Drag Strip” mode button that can be pressed on the screen—really, only when you’re on a flat, dragstrip-like environment. After a designated routine, you just take your foot off the brake and you explode forward with great force. Turns out that the difference between around 3 seconds to 60 mph and 2 seconds is pronounced and very, very noticeable.

The Model S’ adaptive suspension does a good job oscillating between everyday comfort and performance rigidity. Its longer wheelbase eliminates the sometimes chintzy ride found in the smaller Model 3, making the Model S a great cruiser in addition to a drag monster. Steering feel is a bit numb, but it’s easy to hold the car on center, and it has enough firmness to not feel loose.

The yoke, to put it plainly, is terrible. Nothing has been done to make the ratio of the steering tighter, it’s still nearly 2.5 turns from lock-to-lock so anything more than a simple left at an intersection requires you to turn the yoke more than your arms will physically allow. It’s a poorly thought-out addition that really detracts from the Model S experience.

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8

2022 Tesla Model S

Comfort & Quality

Room inside is plentiful for both passengers and cargo.

The Model S offers good room for passengers and cargo, along with a comfortable set of seats. It earns a point for each of those to get an 8 in this category.

The sedan uses its large footprint efficiently. There’s 28.0 cubic feet of cargo room behind the rear seats, and the hatchback makes it easy to load in larger items as well. Fold down the rear seats and that expands to 61.4 cubic feet.

Both the front and outboard rear seats offer plenty of support, four adults could fit comfortably for long trips and even five adults could squeeze in without too much trouble for jaunts around town. 

Overall build quality can be hit or miss on Tesla models. The example that we tested was one of the better ones, with consistent panel gaps inside and no sealing issues with any of the windows so wind noise was kept to a minimum. There is some tire noise, with those low profile tires fitted to the larger 21-inch wheels, but it’s not so loud that it becomes an annoyance.

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2022 Tesla Model S

Safety

Tesla’s safety technologies work well, but the feature names are misleading.

How safe is the Tesla Model S?

The Model S has yet to be crash-tested by either the IIHS and NHTSA for this year, so we’ll hold off on giving it an official rating until then. Last year’s model wasn’t crash tested by the IIHS but they did give it a “Superior” rating for its front crash prevention systems and a “Poor” rating for its headlights.

Standard safety equipment includes automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitors, front and rear parking sensors, and active lane control. Tesla’s instrument cluster display that shows the safety systems at work is still the best execution in the industry, providing a real-time look at what the safety systems are seeing and that inspires more confidence from the driver. Also offered are automated lane changes, automatic parking, a summon feature, and traffic light/stop sign recognition. Beware of the names of the Model S’ safety packages: Enhanced Autopilot and Full Self-Driving are both misnomers, as the Model S will not drive itself.

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8

2022 Tesla Model S

Features

The touchscreen is fantastic, intuitive and extremely fast.

The Model S doesn’t have any interior feature options, because everything comes standard, including the 17.0-inch touchscreen up front and the 8.0-inch touchscreen for backseat passengers. It earns a point for its strong feature set and we’ll give it two for the screens, making it an 8 on Features. 

Which Tesla Model S should I buy?

Go for the dual-motor in most cases, its starting price of $106,190 is $30,000 less than the Plaid and its performance will be enough for the vast majority who might consider this super-sedan.

The large screen is beautiful, with 2200x1300 resolution and responds instantly to all kinds of inputs. There’s no jittering when zooming the map or opening any of the menus, showing what can happen when a company doesn’t skimp on processing power as well as horsepower. Behind the center console is an 8.0-inch touchscreen for backseat passengers to watch videos or control the climate functions.

Artificial leather upholstery, wireless charging pads that can each fit two phones front and rear, and heated/cooled front seats all come standard as well. There is no Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, but with such a good native setup they are not missed.

How much is a fully loaded Tesla Model S?

Equipping the Plaid with all of the safety options, the larger wheels, a light-colored interior, and an eye-catching coat of red paint pushes the price up to $158,190.

The Model S comes with a 5-year/40,000-mile basic vehicle warranty and an 8-year/150,000-mile warranty for the battery and the motors. 

Review continues below
10

2022 Tesla Model S

Fuel Economy

The Model S offers great range to go with its superlative performance.

The Model S tops out at an estimated 405 miles of range for the dual-motor version with the smaller wheels—and an efficiency of 3.6 miles per kwh, according to the EPA, which easily makes it a 10 out of 10. 

The Plaid gets 396 miles of range with the smaller wheels as well (though that limits the car’s top speed), with efficiency nearly as good. Going for the 21-inch wheels on both vehicles drops down the range estimates to 375 miles for the dual-motor and 348 miles for the Plaid.

Tesla’s Supercharging networks continues to be the standard for charging, with simple plug and charge operation and the ability to easily find stations and plug availability in the car’s navigation system. It’s all part of a single system, and it shows it every step of the way.

Review continues below
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The Car Connection Consumer Review

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$104,990
MSRP based on AWD
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8.2
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 7
Performance 8
Comfort & Quality 8
Safety N/A
Features 8
Fuel Economy 10
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