Consumer Reports: Tesla Model S P85D highest rated

David Shepardson
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Consumer Reports says the Tesla Model S P85D electric car is the highest-ever rated vehicle in its review of the nation’s cars and trucks.

The car, which starts at $105,000, received an overall test score of 100 points and set a new benchmark for the magazine.

“When the Model S P85D was evaluated at Consumer Reports’ test track in East Haddam, Connecticut, it initially earned a raw 103-point score in a system that by definition doesn’t go past 100. Consumer Reports had to make changes to its scoring methodology to account for the car’s exceptionally strong performance,” the magazine said.

In 2013, the Tesla Model S earned a 99-point score from Consumer Reports; the P85D is the only car to score 100 in the current ratings system. The second-highest performing vehicle in the large luxury car category after the P85D is the Mercedes-Benz S550, which scored 96.

“The P85D represents a glimpse into the future of automotive technology in which cars will be more energy-efficient than ever, while still delivering a terrific blend of performance and practicality,” said Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports director of automotive testing. “The Tesla is a shining example of how higher fuel economy standards can be achieved without sacrificing performance.”

Consumer Reports said the P85D’s is the quickest car it has ever tested, accelerating from zero to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds. But it was slower than the 3.1 seconds that Tesla had promised. Tesla says a new “ludicrous” mode will drop that to 2.8 seconds.

The 85-kWh battery in Consumer Report’s original Model S test car got the equivalent of 84 mpg. The P85D delivers the equivalent of 87 mpg.

The magazine calls it a “quick-and-efficient futuristic car manages to be practical and stylish, as well. What makes the Tesla so successful is how seamlessly it blends into everyday life. It seats five adults, plus two kids in an optional third-row seat. The cockpit feels spacious, especially with no center floor console, which opens up the space between the driver and front passenger. Innovations include a gigantic touch screen that is clear to read and easy to use.”

Still, even scoring a 100 doesn’t make the car perfect — even when it cost $127,820. “The interior materials aren’t as opulent as other six-figure automobiles that the organization has tested, and its ride is firmer and louder than the base Model S. While no other fully electric car comes close to its 200-mile-plus range, a lengthy road trip can be a logistical hurdle if a quick-charging station isn’t along the route,” the magazine said.

Consumer Reports said the P85D is too new to provide a reliability rating; the base Model S had average reliability in the 2014 annual survey.