Edmunds: Model S 'brilliant,' but 'hard to recommend'

Edmunds tested a Tesla Model S for 17 months.

The Tesla Model S is a "fast, comfortable and technologically brilliant luxury sedan," Edmunds.com concluded in a review it posted last week following a "long-term road test."

But the electric sedan, which Edmunds purchased for $103,770, excluding the charger, is "hard to recommend" to buyers, the review also concluded. The biggest problem? The "extensive list of repairs necessary."

Edmunds editors amassed a list of 28 repairs and dealership visits for service bulletins that the car required during the 17 months and 30,251 miles it was tested.

Among the issues: replacement of the car's drive unit, three times; replacement of the main battery after the car died on the roadside; replacement of the main touch-screen display after it froze; and "extreme wear" on the tires at 9,550 miles that exposed the steel cord, which required a new set of rear treads and an alignment fix.

In all, the car required seven unscheduled service visits and spent nine days out of commission, Edmunds said.

Edmunds notes that its Model S was an "early production car," and that "several of these issues were fixed as running changes on later production models."

In an e-mail, a Tesla spokeswoman said the company "errs on the side of being proactive" in addressing service issues and often fixes problems even if they are "very minor or have a low likelihood of causing any future problems."

Following the test run, Edmunds sold the Model S to a private buyer for $83,000.