2018 Tesla Model S Expert Review

Editor's Overview

If you can live with the longer refueling times, owning a 2018 Tesla Model S can be a very satisfying experience. Priced $15,000 less than an entry-level Mercedes-Benz S 450, the Model S delivers impressive performance, advanced driver-assist features and excellent scores. Opt for the P100D and you’ll experience 60 mph in a mere 2.5 seconds.

You'll Like The 2018 Tesla Model S If...

If you have the cash to spend on a high-end luxury car, and you want something forward thinking, environmentally friendly and really, really fast, the 2018 Tesla Model S is it. Standard all-wheel drive enhances performance, while autonomous capability allows the Model S to practically drive itself.

You May Not Like The 2018 Tesla Model S If...

If you’re the kind of person always in a hurry, the Model S’s charging time may seem an eternity. Life with an electric takes some compromises, such as limited repair facilities. Some may find the Model S’s touch-screen control panel a bit too much technology.

What's New

In keeping with its non-traditional image, Tesla does not do model-year specific upgrades. The base 2018 Model S now has a standard 75-kWh powertrain and all-wheel drive. The unlimited free supercharging offer is reduced to 400 kWh per year, after which the owner must pay a fee.

Interior Features

The interior of the 2018 Model S is dominated by a massive 17-inch touch screen that takes up most of its dashboard and houses controls for its climate system, all infotainment and vehicle settings. It’s a masterpiece: fast to react, simple to use and beautifully crafted. It’s the benchmark for the industry for in-cabin technology. Actually a hatchback, the Tesla Model S offers a ton of cargo space behind its rear seats. In addition, there's a supplemental front trunk, or "frunk" as Tesla calls it. All seating positions are comfortable, and visibility is excellent. Unfortunately, fit and finish can be inconsistent.

Exterior Features

The Tesla’s clean, uncluttered lines debuted back in 2012, and it immediately became one of the most striking cars on the road. It still is. But Tesla has continued to make more upgrades, such as ditching the faux grille. Last year’s refresh saw the sedan get a new look with a more daring grille-less design and revised headlights. It’s a small change, but it makes a big difference. Other highlights like the car’s signature retractable door handles, which emerge when the key is nearby, and its recharging port that's hidden in the taillights, remain unchanged.

Driving Impressions

The top-dog Tesla Model S P100D for 2018 has two driving modes dubbed Sport and Ludicrous. The latter can generate a zero-to-60-mph run in under three seconds, which is insanely fast for any car let alone a $140,000 luxury sedan. However, unlike a traditional car that has its engine up front and power routed to the wheels via a transmission and driveshaft, the Model S has its electric motors affixed directly between the wheels. There’s an odd sensation upon takeoff, with all that speed being generated minus the accompanying growl of a V8 or V12 engine. Once in motion, the Model S proves it’s more than just a one-trick electric pony, delivering a refined ride, excellent steering feel and, thanks in part to its low center of gravity, impressive cornering. Those in the back seat will find headroom a bit snug, but passengers riding up front should have no complaints other than they’re not in the driver’s seat.

Pricing Notes

Excluding tax credits, the 2018 Tesla Model S 75D has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of about $74,500, including the $1,200 destination charge. For the high-horsepower Model S 100D, you’ll spend nearly $94,000 and for the P100D with its Ludicrous mode, you'll shell out over $135,000. Click all the options boxes and you'll be looking at about $150,000 worth of luxury-electric vehicle, putting it in competition with "green" luxury cars like the Mercedes-Benz Hybrid and Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid instead of more commonplace electric cars like the Chevrolet Bolt and Nissan Leaf. Check the KBB Fair Purchase Price to see what others are paying in your area. Kelley Blue Book isn't currently tracking residual values for the Tesla Model S because of its low production volumes, though exclusivity generally leads to higher resale value.

Notable Equipment

The 2018 Tesla Model S luxury EV has power heated front seats, navigation and a rearview camera as standard equipment. All models get collision avoidance with automatic emergency braking, Bluetooth, a power rear hatch, keyless entry, eight airbags, a 7-speaker/200-watt audio system with two USB inputs and a 17-inch touch screen handling climate, entertainment and vehicle controls. It also has the most advanced starter system imaginable: There's no "Start" button -- you simply climb in, shift into gear, and start driving.

Notable Options

Options on the base 75D model include a panoramic glass roof, Nappa leather, high-end audio, and an enhanced version of Tesla’s Autopilot automated driving technology. Buyers can also step up to a Full Self-Driving Capability package. An active air suspension and a Subzero package, which adds a heated steering wheel, heated rear seat, heated washer nozzles and a windshield-wiper de-icer, are also available. An available Premium Package adds a HEPA air-filtration system with a bio-weapons defense mode and leather trim to the interior. Two rear-facing seats can also be added to the cargo area to increase seating capacity to seven.

Favorite Features

LUDICROUS MODE

Never has there been a more aptly named feature than the 2018 Tesla Model S’s Ludicrous mode. With a push of a button, the electric motors put full power to the wheels generating a neck-snapping zero-to-60-mph run in just 2.5 seconds.

AUTOPILOT

Using a complex array of cameras, GPS and sensors, the Model S can not only stop and go without input from the driver, it can also steer. The system monitors traffic and events around the car at all time and will alert the driver should he or she need to take control.

Under the Hood

With the 75D, even the least expensive Tesla Model S has an estimated range of nearly 260 miles thanks to a 75-kWh battery. This model also comes standard with a dual-motor system and all-wheel drive. We expect that the 100D and flagship P100D boast well over 700 horsepower -- although officially Tesla doesn’t offer specific power numbers -- and an estimated range of 335 miles for the 100D and 315 miles for the P100D.

Dual AC electric motors with 75-kWh battery pack (S 75D)

N/A horsepower

N/A lb-ft of torque

EPA city/highway economy: 102/105 MPGe

Range with full charge: 259 miles

Dual AC electric motors with 100-kWh battery pack (S 100D)

N/A combined horsepower

N/A lb-ft combined torque

EPA city/highway economy: 101/102 MPGe

Range with full charge: 335 miles

Dual AC electric motors with 100-kWh battery pack (S P100D)

N/A combined horsepower

N/A lb-ft of torque

EPA city/highway economy: 92/105 MPGe

Range with full charge: 315 miles

Editors' Notes

Conceived and built in California, the 2018 Tesla Model S is the future of automotive design available for purchase right now. The all-electric Model S is Tesla’s flagship, producing zero emissions and offering a range in excess of 300 miles. The Model S features cutting-edge technology allowing nearly full autonomous driving, as well as more traditional features like all-wheel drive. A pair of electric motors generates massive torque permitting this 4-door hatchback to outrun some of the world’s most prestigious performance cars, yet it costs less than most premium luxury sedans. Those concerned with long-distance travel will be happy to know Tesla has built over 1,100 charging stations in all 48 contiguous states plus parts of Canada, totaling nearly 8,500 superchargers.

Road Test Video Reviews

2018 Tesla Model S Owner Reviews

4.58
19 Reviews
79% 16% 3 star 0% 2 star 0% 1 star 0%
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Very electronically advanced and luxurious

2018 Tesla Model S 100D

This is the first fully electric car I have owned (owned a Nissan leaf :/), the range is great It lasts multiple trips from work and back ~280M. The comfort and ride is great and there is even full self driving features which works nicely on the highway. It has great features and accessories such as lots of storage space, front and back are open, it has a very and I mean VERY large screen interface, well the whole dashboard is a screen, and the really cool thing it doesn't have a sunroof because the windshield goes above your head. It's really comfortable and is also pretty much looks and feels like a luxury sedan. I've been using this car as my go to and it's had no problems, the tesla service has been great, and it has run into any problems so far. This is by far my favorite car, and since it's 2019 there are a lot more supercharging stations especially in urban areas so I can charge when I go to a cafe or whatnot (for free too)

- Ahmed A

The best of its kind. Better than most.

2018 Tesla Model S P100D

The car has to be the most superior manufactured vehicle of its kind. The trim, design, details, are but a few of the outstanding quality the vehicle has to offer. The all electric nature of the vehicle transcends time and space in a modern neo classical way with an air of perfection with every nuance. It's timeless driving experience is the greatest beyond any vehicle in its class -hands down, on top of that it boasts some of the most luxurious, ergonomically driven elements that contain the best features of any interior of its kind. The parameters of such an amazing apparatus could only be lead by the most innovative .

- Kenneth T

Tesla performance and 'easter eggs'.

2018 Tesla Model S 100D

I love my car however occasionally I have to reset the car because some of the electronics stop working. Once reset the car works perfectly. The Sirius radio also does not work consistently. The 'easter eggs' found on the car are fun and I love that the car does not become outdated since it gets updates through the car so all tesla's have the same features. Unlike other cars that become outdated once you drive them off the lot. I have owned many cars and this one is my favorite car ever.

- Sandra S

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