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COMMENTARY: Tesla Model S tops Consumer Reports ratings

Would CR be as laudatory if the same car had been spawned by one of the Detroit Three?

Published: May 11, 2013, 9:00 PM
Updated: July 9, 2020, 6:01 PM

Tesla Model S – Golden State Warriors - Both the Tesla Model S and the NBA Champion Golden State Warriors are flashy and lightning fast. The Model S was an industry game changer as it made the auto electrification movement sexy. When it comes to the NBA, the Warriors play has that same game changer element, quickly moving up and down the court with accurate passing and precision shooting. The Warriors are the team to beat with three consecutive finals appearances, capturing two championships. Much like the team from the 'Bright Side of the Bay', the Tesla brand is seen by many as the way of the future, as other automakers attempt to catch up to the level of power and range achieved by the Model S.

Has Consumer Reports, that last bastion of vehicle-as-appliance road-test ratings finally been besotted by a car to the point of revealing some passion?

The answer would appear to be yes and the unlikely source of its new-found infatuation is the Tesla Model S.

In fact, with a score of 99 out of 100, the Tesla Model S outscores every other car in the organization's vehicle test ratings, falling just the tiniest bit short of perfection in the eyes of the pocket-protector set.

It does so not just in spite of the fact that it's an electric car but "because it is electric," the organization proclaims.

"Built from the ground up as an EV," CR enthuses, "this car's overall balance benefits from mounting the battery under the floor and in the lowest part of the body. That gives the car a rock-bottom centre of gravity that enables excellent handling, a comfortable ride, and lots of room inside."

As a bonus, "it has a front trunk where other cars' gasoline engines would be, in addition to its large rear cargo space. This big luxury hatchback even seats seven, with its optional third-row jump seat."

All fair enough, and there's no denying that the Model S is a proficient performer, as well as being undeniably luxurious.

"In all, the Model S worked better than we expected," CR enthuses, "especially being the first home-grown model from a brand-new car company."

But therein is the basis for another question, or two or three.

CR does acknowledge that, "The Model S may not asatisfy every conceivable need." But would the organization be as generous with its praise and ratings if the same car had been spawned by – oh, say – one of the traditional Detroit Three?

Would they have ignored the not-insignificant limitations of a limited driving range and a dramatically extended recharge (refuel) time, in comparison to any more-conventionally-powered vehicle?

Or seemingly ignored the car's far from every-day consumer price?

Would the CR you and I have come to know and respect give such unrestrained endorsement to any unproven, fresh out-of-the-box, first-year product?

Just asking.