When Consumer Reports bought a Tesla Model S for road testing this spring, its $127,820 hatchback got off to an inauspicious start. After 27 days and 2,300 miles, an electric door handle failed, locking the driver’s door shut.
It got fixed. And as testing moved forward, it became clear that it was Consumer Reports’ rating scale that was broken. The Model S P85D scored a 103 on a scale designed to top out at 100, forcing the magazine to recalibrate its ratings.
“It blew away everything else we’ve ever tested,” Jake Fisher, the automotive testing director at Consumer Reports, said in an interview. Not only was it the quickest car tested in the magazine’s history, dashing from 0 to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds, it delivered the equivalent of 87 mpg from its electric powertrain.
“For the right price at least, you can have your cake and eat it, too,” Fisher said. “Now we’re just waiting for this technology to come down to a lower price point.”
It is not the first time Consumer Reports has praised Tesla’s engineering acumen. Two years ago, the magazine gave the original rear-wheel-drive Model S a score of 99, the highest rating it had ever assigned.
Still, the accolades from Consumer Reports -- considered the most influential third-party rating service in the U.S. with 8 million-plus subscribers -- may aid Palo Alto, Calif.-based Tesla as it challenges luxury carmakers such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus.
The magazine’s next-highest-rated large luxury car is the Mercedes-Benz S550, with a score of 96.