2013 Tesla Model S Preview

Jeff Youngs | Jul 26, 2013
  • Money-saving battery options are offered for 2013
  • New trim levels added for second model year
  • Seating for 5 or 7 is available
  • Maximum cargo capacity is 58.1 cubic feet
  • Storage space includes a "frunk"


The 2013 Tesla Model S is a full-size 5- or 7-seat hatchback with luxury and sporty features that runs entirely on electrical power. It's a rear-motor, rear-wheel-drive vehicle, now in its second year of production. The 2013 Tesla Model S is the only large all-electric luxury car currently available, so it has no direct competitors, but it might be shopped by those who are also considering an Audi A7, BMW 5 Series, or the Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class. It's available in four trim levels: standard, Performance, Signature, and Signature Performance. The main differentiator is a more powerful battery in the Performance trim levels.

Exterior Features

The 2013 Tesla Model S is available in solid black or white, metallic silver, grey, blue, green, brown, or multi-coat white or red. The roof can be had in the body color, black, or all-glass panoramic. Standard are 19-inch wheels with all-weather tires; 21-inch wheels with sport tires are optional. Standard features include power-retractable door handles, rain-sensing wipers, LED running lights, and LED taillights. Tesla calls the car's front cargo compartment a "frunk" (for front trunk) and it provides 5.8 cubic feet of storage. The Model S Performance and Signature Performance include a spoiler and an extra 21-inch wheel option.

Interior Features

The base trim level of the 2013 Model S includes black cloth upholstery. Nappa leather upholstery in black, grey, or tan is available at a premium. Rear-facing jump seats are optional. Standard equipment includes 8-way power-adjustable front seats, power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control, and Piano Black interior treatment. A 17-inch in-dash control panel screen includes navigation, mobile Wi-Fi service, Internet browsing, smartphone connectivity with Bluetooth calling and music streaming, and dual USB ports. A 7-speaker audio system includes HD Radio and flash memory storage for 500 songs. The Performance trim levels have standard leather upholstery and a choice of interior treatments that include carbon fiber and three different wood finishes in addition to Piano Black. Without the jump seats, and with rear seats folded, and including the "frunk," total cargo space in the 2013 Tesla Model S comes to 58.1 cubic feet.

Optional Features

The Performance Plus package adds upgraded dampers, bushings, stabilizer bars, and tires that the maker says will improve the vehicle's range. The Tech package includes upgraded lighting, GPS navigation system with seven years of free map updates, automatic keyless entry, high-definition backup camera, xenon headlights, electrochromatic side mirrors, LED cornering lights, ground lighting under door handles, power rear liftgate, GPS-enabled HomeLink system, and memory seats. The Sound Studio package adds a 12-speaker Dolby sound system with SiriusXM satellite radio. Optional active air suspension improves aerodynamics at high speeds or increases clearance at lower speeds, Tesla says. Other options include a parcel shelf and paint armor.

Under the Hood

The Tesla Model S's standard engine is a 3-phase, 4-pole AC induction electric motor with a copper rotor and a single-speed fixed gear with a 9.73:1 reduction ratio. Three liquid-cooled rechargeable Lithium-ion battery packs are available: 40-, 60-, or 85-kWh. Respectively, on a full charge, they provide 160, 230, or 300 miles of driving range, and allow maximum speeds of 110, 120, and 125 mph, according to the manufacturer. Charge times are 5.2, 7.2, and 9.7 hours, respectively, in a standard household outlet. The 85-kWh battery is standard on the Performance and Signature Performance trim levels, along with a high-performance driver inverter that boosts the vehicle's top speed to 130 mph, according to Tesla.

Fuel Economy

EPA fuel-economy estimates for the 2013 Tesla Model S are:
  • Model S with 40-kWh battery pack: 93/94/96 MPGe (city/highway/combined)
  • Model S with 60-kWh battery pack: 94/95/97 MPGe
  • Model S with 85-kWh battery pack: 88/89/90 MPGe


The Tesla Model S features 8 air bags, traction and stability control, and 4-wheel ventilated disc anti-lock brakes as standard safety equipment. A standard-definition reversing camera is included for base and Performance trim levels, while the Signature and Signature Performance versions have a high-definition reversing camera.

As of this writing, neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has published crash test ratings for the 2013 Tesla Model S.

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