out of 10
Range anxiety, safety, complexity--there are a lot of concerns for the average car buyer when it comes to electric cars. Ultimately, those concerns all come down to a simple lack of familiarity--at least with the Tesla [NASDQ: TSLA] Model S. Buyers in the know recognize the Model S for what it is: the first real electric car.

The first real car that is, coincidentally, electric, at any rate. Why? Because the Tesla Model S can travel up to 265 miles on a single charge in the largest-battery version. Because the Tesla Model S can sprint from 0 to 60 mph in under five seconds in the Model S Performance version. And because build quality, styling, and equipment levels are all on par--more or less--with equivalently-priced gasoline or diesel-powered luxury sedans.

The Model S, too, is nominally a four-door sedan, but in truth, it's a five-door hatchback. Optional rear-facing jump seats (two of them) can up passenger capacity to seven in total, though those in the rear jump seats had better be small children that can tolerate a four-point safety harness.

Three core variants of the 2013 Tesla Model S are offered, varying primarily in battery capacity, but also in other features. The lowest-cost option is the 40 kilowatt-hour (kWh) model, rated at 160 miles of range. It gets the standard 270-kilowatt (362 horsepower) electric motor. So does the 230-mile-range, 60-kWh battery version, and the standard 85 kWh version as well. The Model S Performance model gets a more powerful 301 kW (416 hp) motor paired with the 85 kWh battery pack.

You may have noticed there's been no discussion of transmissions so far--that's because there is none in any Tesla Model S, at least not in the traditional multi-gear sense. A single-speed gear reduction system delivers the electric motor's power to the rear wheels.

While the huge 17-inch touchscreen interface and colorful, intuitive menus in the Model S give the cockpit a glamorous feel, the car is actually a bit light on electronic equipment and safety systems compared to other modern luxury sedans. You won't find advanced lane-departure warning systems, adaptive cruise control, or self-parking systems on the Tesla, though you will on its petro-chemical alternatives.

Pricing is surprisingly reasonable, all things considered, starting at just over $57,000 for the base model and up to nearly $88,000 for the top-tier model--before options. With upgrades, a Model S can easily approach the $100,000 mark--but all of these prices are before local, state, and federal incentives.

With ample range in the 85-kWh version, a comfortable ride, dynamic performance, and elegant looks, the 2013 Tesla Model S is, truly, the first real electric car to reach the market in our book.  For more details on why we think so, read the full review at The Car Connection.

UPDATETesla Model S Unintended Acceleration Complaint Filed With NHTSA

At this early stage, it's too early to know if this unintended acceleration complaint is an isolated incident, or even due to a fault with the Tesla Model S. Read Update

UPDATETesla Ups Prices On Some 2013 Model S Options

Tesla has increased prices on some of its options while making others only available as part of packages. Read Update

UPDATETesla Buys Test Track Next To Fremont Factory

The next round of cars from Tesla will benefit from a larger in-house test track. Read Update

UPDATETesla Model S, Roadster Set New EV Lap Records At Laguna Seca: Video

The Tesla Model S and Roadster continue to impress with their performance. Read Update

UPDATETesla Model S Production Hits 400 Per Week, Exceeds Targets

Will demand for Tesla's Model S stay high enough for the company to arrive at real-world profitability? Read Update

UPDATE2013 Tesla Model S Recalled Due To Faulty Seat Installation

A total 1,228 Tesla Model S electric sedans are included in the latest recall. Read Update

UPDATEElon Musk Confirms Battery Swapping For Tesla Model S

Will battery swapping make the Model S the killer app in electric cars? Read Update

UPDATETesla Model S Top Speed Run: Video

Watch the Tesla Model S hit its top speed in this owner video. Read Update

UPDATETesla Model S Residual Value Increased, Is It Enough?

Tesla continues to amend its financing plan. Read Update

UPDATETesla Claims "World's Best Service And Warranty Program"

A new full-service warranty program offers impressive coverage and service. Read Update

UPDATEWould You Track Your Tesla Model S If Laguna Seca Had A Supercharger?

Just how likely is anyone to track their Tesla Model S? Read Update

UPDATETesla Model S For $500 Per Month? No. Just No.

Contrary to Tesla's ambitious claims, you can't really buy a Model S for $500 per month. Read Update

UPDATETesla Cancels Most Affordable 40-kWh Model S Due To 'Lack Of Demand'

The most affordable, lowest-range Model S won't be built. Read Update

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