Model S

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Willis Kuelthau
Automotive Editor - April 24, 2018

2018 Tesla Model S OVERVIEW

Now five years young, the Tesla Model S remains one of the most revolutionary cars on the market. It’s still a fascinating blend of efficiency, performance, and cutting-edge technology.

What's New for 2018

Tesla tends to roll out updates year-round. Recent updates have included reshuffling powertrains so that the base battery is now a 75-kiloWatt-hour battery and the upper trims get a 100-kWh unit. Autopilot hardware continues to improve, although the functionality is still optional. Unlimited supercharging is no longer free; after 400-kWh in a year, drivers will have to pay their own way.

Tesla Model S

Choosing Your Tesla Model S

The Model S begins with its battery, which sits underneath the floor of the passenger cabin. The two options are a smaller 75-kWh unit or the premium 100-kWh option. Both are paired to a fixed-speed transmission, and while Tesla doesn’t provide exact horsepower or torque figures, expect both to be impressive. Obviously no Tesla runs on gas, but the EPA estimates energy usage as roughly equivalent to 90 mpg. All Tesla Model S cars are now all-wheel drive.

Tesla prides itself on the level of sophistication and technology in its cars, and the Model S is a fine example. All Model S cars come with suspension memory settings, GPS-enabled Homelink, and a rearview camera. Because of both front and rear trunks, cargo capacity is also a respectable 31.6 cubic feet.

Front and center on the interior is Tesla’s 17-inch touchscreen display, which controls almost everything in the car. Maps and navigation are standard, and there are two USB ports. Tesla updates its safety technology frequently via over-the-air updates, but all Model S trims feature collision avoidance and automatic emergency braking.

Models are divided by battery and performance into three trims: 75D, 100D, and P100D.


The cheapest Model S starts at $75,700 after a $1,200 destination fee, but Tesla is quick to remind buyers that they’ll get at least $7,500 as part of a federal income-tax credit. The 75-kWh batter gives an estimated range of 249 miles.

Even in base trim the Model S includes keyless entry, power-adjustable heated front seats, and ambient interior lighting. On the exterior are powered and heated side mirrors, dynamic cornering LED headlights, and a power liftgate.

19-inch wheels are standard, but 21-inchers are available for $4,500. The roof of the Model S is glass, and it can be converted into a sunroof for $2,000. Standard seats are a grippy textile, but leather is available for $3,300. Rear-facing seats behind the second row can make the Model S a seven-seater for $4,000.

The main features package is a Premium Upgrades package for $5,000. It includes a medical-grade HEPA filter with a terryifing-sounding “Bioweapon Defense Mode,” an upgraded sound system, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, wiper defrosters and washer fluid nozzle heaters. If you combine this package with the sunroof, Tesla throws in XM radio as well.

The other two packages deal with Tesla’s autopilot technology. The first level is Enhanced Autopilot, which adds three extra cameras and 12 ultrasonic sonar sensors, and a significantly upgraded computer processor. That hardware allows a Model S to match traffic speed, automatically change lanes, execute freeway transitions, park itself, and bring itself from a garage. Features will update continuously as they become available. The second level is Full Self-Driving Capability, which costs an additional $3,000 and includes an additional four cameras. As the name implies, this package allows a Model S to complete trips with no required action from the driver (although we feel it's necessary to point out that this doesn't free the driver from their behind-the-wheel responsibilities – pay attention when using AutoPilot). Self-driving laws vary widely across the country, so these features may be limited in some areas.

Tesla also offers home charging installation as part of the Model S bundle, but costs vary by home.


Upgrading to the 100-kWh battery raises the starting price to $95,200 but extends range to 335 miles (and boosts performance as well). Otherwise, this trim is unchanged from the 75 D in features or package options.


Tesla’s premiere Model S starts at $136,200. It comes with the 100-kWh battery paired with performance-oriented software that drops the Model S’s 0-60 time to a shocking 2.5 seconds. Range also drops slightly to 315 miles. The Premium package is included, as is the buyer’s choice of premium leather interior and décor. Also included is a carbon-fiber spoiler at the rear. The autopilot packages remain unchanged.

CarsDirect Tip

Choosing a trim doesn’t change the features in the Model S, so only upgrade if you need the extra range. If you want to experience the closest a sedan has ever come to a rocket ship, make sure to check out the P100D.

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