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2021 Tesla Model S Overview

The Tesla Model S is the luxury electric vehicle that put the brand on the map as a credible volume automaker when it debuted nearly 10 years ago. Since Tesla is all about continuous improvement, engineers worked on reducing weight, maximizing drivetrain efficiency, and redesigning wheels for aerodynamics. The 2021 result is a new trim, improved range across the Model S lineup, and a new interior featuring a yoke-styling steering wheel and a landscape-oriented touchscreen display. Not to mention better performance.

That lineup consists of Long Range, Plaid, and the new Plaid+ model. Long Range arrives as the base model, and comes with dual motors and standard all-wheel drive (AWD). Range increases to 412 miles, making the Model S the first production electric car to cross the 400-mile barrier. The Long Range model can also hit 60 miles per hour in just 3.7 seconds, and has a top speed of 163 mph.

If you care more about speed than range, you can opt for the Plaid, which does 390 miles but hits 60 mph in a blazing 2.3 seconds, and goes on to 163 mph. Finally, the insane Plaid+ model comes with three electric motors, AWD, 1,020 horsepower, and hits 60 mph in under 2.0 seconds. It should also do 520 miles on a full charge. That said, the Model S Plaid+ isn’t expected to be delivered until late this calendar year, and so may wind up being a 2022-model-year option.

Both Long Range and Plaid grades benefit from such standard features as premium audio, heated seats for every passenger, a heated steering wheel, wiper blade defrosters, washer nozzle heaters, a HEPA air-filtration system, Bluetooth, a location-aware garage door opener, LED fog lamps, a tinted glass roof, and auto-dimming and power-folding side mirrors. Thus, options are limited to colors and the choice of 19- or 21-inch wheels.

Every Model S includes Tesla’s Autopilot system as standard fare, which bundles automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, and automated lane centering. For a fee, you can equip your Model S with Full Self-Driving Capability, granting it the power to automatically navigate highway interchanges, on- and off-ramps, change lanes, parallel and perpendicular park, stop and go based on traffic signals, and Tesla's "Summon" feature. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the Model S high marks for front-crash prevention, but poor ratings for headlights.

The Model S continues to push the limits of electric propulsion and is worthy of consideration for that reason alone.

Updated

Kyree has always been fascinated with the automotive world, especially when it comes to premium European cars. But regardless of the vehicle—whether it's an efficient hybrid or the latest luxury sled—he's always ready to dispense information and advice. These days, he enjoys doing that here at CarGurus.

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