2019 Tesla Model S Review
by Sarah Shelton | March 13, 2019
The 2019 Tesla Model S brings a lot to the party, including sizzling acceleration, balanced handling, state-of-the-art technology, and an impressive electric range. This all-electric car places among the best in our luxury large car rankings.
Pros & Cons
Robust acceleration and nimble handling
Astounding all-electric range
Abundance of cutting-edge technology
Roomy seating and cargo areas
Infotainment system can be distracting
Lacks advanced smartphone integration
New for 2019
Model S 75D no longer available
Starting price increases by $10,000
New trim names
Reshuffling of features and options
Features & Specs
See full 2019 Tesla Model S specs »
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2019 Tesla Model S 2019 Tesla Model S 6All Exterior Photos »
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Is the Tesla Model S a Good Car?
The 2019 Tesla Model S is a phenomenal car. It’s brisk, athletic, and poised, making it enjoyable whether you’re enthusiastically carving corners or relaxing on a road trip. No compromises in performance are necessary to drive this electric vehicle, and its range of 300-plus miles is extraordinary for an all-electric car. Additionally, the Model S sports a high-end interior along with awe-inspiring – and amusing – technology.
Should I Buy the Tesla Model S?
The all-electric Model S is not just an attractive choice for early adopters or EV enthusiasts. This is a superb car that deserves a look from most luxury large car shoppers. This Tesla’s performance chops give sporty rivals like the Audi A7 a run for its money. A long-range battery pack and speedy supercharging access gives you the option between plugging in your EV every night and charging only as needed. Tesla loyalists may also want to consider the less-expensive Tesla Model 3 or the Tesla Model X SUV.
Converting from a gasoline-powered car to an EV means slightly shifting your routine, and this adjustment is a bit daunting for some. One option is to consider an EV with a back-up gasoline engine, such as the BMW i3 with Range Extender. For sporty performance from a plug-in hybrid powertrain, take a spin in the Porsche Panamera E-Hybrid.
Compare the Model S, i3 and Panamera »
Should I Buy a New or Used Tesla Model S?
Instead of using traditional model years, Tesla classifies its electric vehicles by build date. Model S’s produced in 2019 have different trim names than those built in earlier years, and 2018’s base trim is now gone entirely. As a result, the starting price increased by more than $10,000 for 2019. Range in the new base model is 310 miles (compared to 259 in the previous base trim). These EVs are otherwise similar, so you may be able to save quite a bit of money while still getting nearly the same car by purchasing a used Model S over a new one. You may also find older models with features that Tesla no longer offers, including rear-facing seats that expand seating capacity to seven.
If you’re considering an older model, be sure to read our 2017 Model S and 2018 Model S reviews to help make your decision.
Compare the 2017, 2018, and 2019 Model S »
We Did the Research for You: 35 Reviews Analyzed
Our goal is to make shopping for your next car as easy as possible. You’ll find everything you need to know about the Tesla Model S in our comprehensive review. It combines concrete data (like fuel economy estimates, horsepower specs, and cargo space dimensions) with 35 professional Tesla Model S reviews.
This 2019 Tesla Model S review incorporates applicable research for models built between 2012 and 2019.
Why You Can Trust Us
The Best Cars team – a division of U.S. News & World Report – has been reviewing cars, trucks, and SUVs since 2007. With more than 75 years of combined automotive experience, our editors, writers, and analysts rank a wide variety of new and used cars and issue three annual awards: Best Cars for the Money, Best Cars for Families, and Best Vehicle Brands. To keep our recommendations unbiased, we decline expensive gifts from carmakers, and a third party handles our advertising.
How Much Does the Tesla Model S Cost?
For 2019, Tesla Model S prices start at $85,000. That is one of the highest base prices in our luxury large car rankings, although it isn’t unusual for an EV to cost more than its gasoline-powered competitors. Note that this price tag doesn’t take any tax incentives or gasoline savings into account, but Tesla often includes discounts such as these in its price quotes. For more information on pricing and features, see our section below on which Model S is right for you.
Tesla Model S Versus the Competition
Which Is Better: Tesla Model S or Audi A7?
The Audi A7 and Tesla Model S are both well-rounded luxury cars; you can’t go wrong with either. The A7 was fully redesigned for 2019. Among its updates is an impressive state-of-the-art infotainment system that boasts Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which aren’t available in the Model S. The Audi has a more opulent interior than the Tesla, with numerous high-end upgrades available. However, the A7’s turbocharged V6 engine can’t match the launch speed or the efficiency of the Model S.
Which Is Better: Tesla Model S or Porsche Panamera?
The Porsche Panamera is one of our top-ranking super luxury cars. It delivers the electrifying performance that sports car enthusiasts dream about, while also treating passengers to sumptuous seats and top-shelf materials. Among its bevy of powertrain choices is a potent plug-in hybrid option. Porsche’s record of excellent build quality (which is partly why the automaker won our 2019 Best Luxury Brand award) is also reassuring for many. In comparison, Tesla’s predicted reliability is still a gray area, as it doesn’t receive a rating from J.D. Power. Ultimately, both the Panamera and Model S are outstanding choices.
Compare the Model S, A7, and Panamera »
Model S Interior
How Many People Does the Model S Seat?
The Model S is a four-door car with seating for five people. Previous build years were capable of seating up to seven with an optional rear-facing seat, but this is not available for 2019. The front seats have 12-way power adjustments and offer a great view of the road. All passengers are pampered with spacious, heated seats, but opulent upgrades are notably lacking. The uplevel Model S Performance comes with ventilated seats, but options such as massaging seats or upscale interior trimmings are not on the menu.
Model S and Car Seats
On each outboard rear seat, the Model S has a full set of LATCH connectors, which includes two lower anchors and an upper tether anchor. The middle seat has an additional tether anchor.
Model S Interior Quality
The Model S’ attractive interior boasts lots of first-class materials and a striking infotainment screen. Most professional reviewers say the interior is well-constructed, though a few note some build-quality inconsistencies.
Model S Cargo Space
The hatchback body style of the Model S grants more cargo space – around 26.3 cubic feet – than most luxury large cars. With no gasoline engine under the front hood, a separate storage area takes its place. This 5.3-cubic-foot “frunk,” as Tesla labels it, is roomy enough for a medium suitcase.
Model S Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation
The Model S boasts plenty of cutting-edge technology, starting with the 17-inch touch screen that dominates the cockpit. The interface is responsive, and smartphone and tablet users will find it mostly intuitive to use. A navigation system, a Wi-Fi hot spot, and voice-activated controls come standard. Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s sense of humor also comes through in the myriad Easter eggs hidden throughout the system, with “Spinal Tap” and James Bond references among the surprises.
The Model S’ system isn’t perfect, however. It lacks advanced smartphone integration options such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Professional reviewers say features such as navigation aren’t dependable and that using the system can be overly distracting while you are driving.
For more information, read What Is Apple CarPlay? and What Is Android Auto?
Read more about interior »
Model S Performance
Model S Engine: More Than Enough
The acceleration rates of the all-electric Model S are exhilarating whether you’re merging onto the highway or overtaking slower traffic. The electric motors grant instant torque – while gasoline engines slowly build power when launching from a stop, an EV can blast off the moment the accelerator pedal hits the floor. The base Model S can spring to 60 mph in about 4.1 seconds. Model S Performance editions with the Ludicrous Mode upgrade can get there in a mere 2.4 seconds. Both models have a top speed of 155 mph and come with a 100-kilowatt-hours lithium-ion battery pack and two electric motors.
Model S Gas Mileage: Excellent for Long-Distance Travel
The Model S has one of the longest ranges among EVs. You can drive the base model up to 310 miles on a single charge. This trim is available with an Extended Range option that ups the range to 335 miles. Range for the Model S Performance drops slightly, to an estimated 315 miles. Compare that with the maximum range of mass-market rivals such as the Nissan Leaf (estimated at 226 miles), Jaguar I-Pace (234 miles), and Chevrolet Bolt EV (238 miles). The Model S has a 102 MPGe rating from the EPA (learn more about mpg equivalent here).
All Model S trims are capable of charging with Tesla’s network of superchargers on a pay-per-use basis. Supercharging can add about 170 miles of range in half an hour. At home, it takes between 4 3/4 and 12 hours to fully recharge the 100-kWh battery at 240 volts, depending on the type of charger you are using.
Model S Ride and Handling: Well-Balanced
The Model S comes alive when you push it through a twisty canyon, but it’s just as enjoyable during a laid-back Sunday drive. Its lithium-ion battery adds weight, but it also increases stability, partly by lowering the center of gravity. Add in the car’s precise steering and composed ride quality, and handling becomes effortless and enjoyable. Furthermore, the EV’s regenerative brakes feel natural and responsive. Every model now comes standard with Tesla’s dual-motor all-wheel drive.
Read more about performance »
Model S Reliability
Is the Tesla Model S Reliable?
The 2019 Model S does not have a predicted reliability rating from J.D. Power.
Tesla Model S Warranty
The Model S comes with a four-year/50,000-mile warranty and an eight-year/unlimited-mile battery and powertrain warranty.
Read more about reliability »
Model S Safety
Model S Crash Test Results
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has not tested the 2019 Model S as of this writing. In limited testing by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the 2019 Model S received five out of five stars in the rollover test.
Model S Safety Features
In addition to a rearview camera, all Model S cars come standard with Autopilot. This collection of advanced safety systems includes automatic emergency braking, front collision warning, and side collision warning. It does not give the EV any self-driving capabilities. You’ll need Enhanced Autopilot, a $5,000 option available in all trims, to enable semiautonomous actions. It incorporates features such as adaptive cruise control and blind spot monitoring to do things like change lanes and manage the vehicle’s speed in traffic. It also receives frequent over-the-air updates from Tesla.
Read more about safety »
Which Tesla Model S Model Is Right for Me?
Tesla slims down its Model S choices for 2019, offering only two trim levels and a single interior setup. As of this writing, trim levels include the Model S (previously called the Model S 100D) and the Model S Performance (formerly known as the Model S P100D). Because the former base model, the 75D, is no longer available, the price tag jumps by about $10,000. The base Model S starts at $85,000 (applicable tax credits may lower your final cost). Only a couple upgrades are available, including Enhanced Autopilot. For $5,000, this self-driving system can steer the car, accelerate, brake, and change lanes.
Between its 310-mile range and its list of upscale amenities, the base Model S is an alluring pick. We recommend this trim unless you want the scorching acceleration rates associated with Ludicrous Mode.
Tesla Model S
The base Model S, previously known as the Model S 100D, has a 100-kilowatt hours battery, a 310-mile range, and dual-motor all-wheel drive. Standard features include a 17-inch touch screen, a navigation system, a Wi-Fi hot spot, heated front and rear seats, and ambient lighting. The standard Autopilot isn’t the self-driving Enhanced Autopilot, but a collection of advanced safety systems that include automatic emergency braking, front collision warning, and side collision warning. Prices for the Model S start at $85,000, and production time is estimated to be one to eight weeks.
In addition to Enhanced Autopilot, an Extended Range upgrade is available for $8,000. This option releases a software lock on the battery, extending range by 8 percent (or about 25 miles).
Tesla Model S Performance
The Tesla P100D is now called the Model S Performance. Like the base model, it features a 100-kWh battery and dual-motor all-wheel drive, but it accelerates faster than the base Model S. It has a range of 315 miles and no extended range option. Carbon fiber trimmings and ventilated seats are among the few interior upgrades. Prices start at $112,000.
For $20,000, you can add Ludicrous Mode to the Model S Performance. This high-performance upgrade provides 20 percent faster acceleration, according to Tesla, and cuts 60-mph sprint times from 3.0 to 2.4 seconds.