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2023 Tesla Model S: Choosing the Right Trim


The 2023 Tesla Model S started the EV luxury sedan revolution. Now in its 11th year of production, the Model S is surrounded by competitors offering newer styling and a more comprehensive dealer network. Among them are the Audi e-tron GT, Porsche Taycan, and Mercedes-Benz EQS. While all these competitors offer more opulent interiors with greater emphasis on luxury, none can match the 405-mile range of the Model S.

One car that surpasses the Model S is the Lucid Air, which promises up to 516 miles of range and 1,050 horsepower.

For the Tesla faithful, the Model S comes in two flavors. The standard Model S offers a nice balance of performance and frugality, capable of traveling 415 miles on a single charge and dashing to 60 mph in a scant 3.1 seconds. Dual electric motors give the Model S all-wheel drive (AWD) traction and stability.

The Model S Plaid is the high-performance variant, touting an additional electric motor, a 2-second 0-60 mph time, a 200-mph top speed, and a 396-mile range.

For 2023, Tesla has chopped $10,000 off the Model S price tag, which should help soften the blow now that it no longer qualifies for the $7,500 federal tax credit.

2023 Tesla Model S: $94,990

The Model S comes nicely equipped, with only a few options. The dual-motor AWD setup gives the Model S superior traction on wet or dry pavement, and its adaptive air suspension delivers a smooth ride and adept cornering.

The Model S rides on 19-inch alloy wheels and boasts adaptive Matrix LED headlights, a fixed glass roof, a power liftgate, plus auto-dimming and power-folding heated side mirrors.

Where gas-powered cars have an engine, the Model S has a frunk (front trunk), providing additional storage beyond the cabin and rear cargo area.

The Model S features keyless entry, with an available app turning your smartphone into a key. With your phone on you, you need only approach the Model S, and the door handles electrically extend. There’s also a wallet-sized key card that allows its owner to unlock and drive the Model S.

Other exterior features include rain-sensing wipers and a 360-degree camera system with Sentry Mode.

The Model S interior is an exercise in starkness. Color choices are limited to black (standard), black and white ($1,000), or cream ($2,000). Vegan leather upholstery abounds, covering 12-way adjustable power front seats.

Model S buyers can choose between a tilt/telescoping yoke-style steering wheel or a traditional round steering wheel. Both feature capacitive-touch controls for the horn, wipers, and turn signals.

Directly in front of the driver is a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, with a massive 17-inch center touchscreen to the right. The center screen electrically tilts left or right, making it easier for the driver to see and reach. The touchscreen controls just about every feature inside the Model S, including the heated and ventilated front seats, tri-zone automatic climate control, navigation, and infotainment.

There are two wireless charging pads in the front console and USB-C fast charge ports for every passenger.

Rear seat passengers enjoy heated seats in all three positions and a 9.4-inch touchscreen with 10 teraflops of processing power, ideal for on-road gaming. The setup even includes wireless controller capability. The rear seat also gets a stowable center armrest with integrated wireless charging.

Audio reproduction comes from a 22-speaker, 960-watt Premium audio system. The Model S streaming arsenal includes FM and SiriusXM satellite radio, Bluetooth, and Google Maps.

What you won’t have access to is Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. However, you can subscribe to Tesla’s Premium Connectivity service, which adds live traffic visualization, satellite navigation maps, video streaming, Caraoke (Tesla’s version of car karaoke), music streaming, and access to the Google internet browser.

Tesla’s Autopilot comes standard and includes forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, a blind-spot monitor, lane departure warning, and lane-keeping assist.

Also standard are automatic high-beam headlights and adaptive cruise control.

Optional upgrades include Enhanced Autopilot, which adds another $6,000 to the bottom line. Check this box, and you’ll get features such as the ability to navigate on Autopilot, Auto Lane Change, Auto Park, Summon, and Smart Summon.

For $15,000, you get Full Self-Driving Capability, which adds traffic light and stop sign control and, coming soon (or so says Tesla), Autosteer on city streets.

The Full Self-Driving feature still requires you to pay attention and keep your hands on the wheel, although its parameters seem to change with every over-the-air update.

Keep in mind Tesla can make many changes and upgrade simply by uploading new software, so new features may be added or deleted at any time.

Buyers can also opt for 21-inch wheels, which somewhat reduce the range.

With the $1,390 delivery fee and $250 nonrefundable order fee, the 2023 Tesla Model S costs $96,630. On a 60-month loan at 3% financing and zero down, the monthly payment comes to about $1,736. See 2023 Tesla Model S models for sale near you

2023 Tesla Model S includes:

  • Heated and ventilated front seats – These vegan leather front seats keep you cool in the summer and warm in winter.
  • Premium audio – The 22-speaker Premium Audio system envelopes Model S passengers in an auditory nirvana.
  • Available Smart Summon – With the ability to self-park and pull out of a parking space, the Model S can also maneuver itself through a parking lot, delivering the car to wherever you’re waiting.

2023 Tesla Model S Plaid: $114,990

The Plaid is the high-performance Model S featuring most of the same equipment as the standard Model S but with a more potent punch.

The Plaid adds torque vectoring, better brakes, and a carbon-fiber spoiler.

It also gets a third electric motor at the rear, giving the Plaid a 2-second 0-60-mph time and a top speed of 200 mph.

With the $1,390 delivery fee and $250 nonrefundable order fee, the 2023 Tesla Model S Plaid costs $116,630. On a 60-month loan at 3% financing and zero down, the monthly payment comes to approximately $2,096. See 2023 Tesla Model S Plaid models for sale near you

2023 Tesla Model S Plaid includes:

  • 1,020 horsepower – The Plaid’s third electric motor produces impressive torque and horsepower, which Model S rockets to 60 mph in just two seconds and covers the quarter-mile in 9.23 seconds at 155 mph.
  • Torque vectoring – The Plaid uses its electric motors for torque vectoring, which increases or decreases power to each wheel for improved cornering.
  • Upgraded brakes – Given the insane speed and acceleration of the Plaid, enhanced brakes with better resistance to heat fade are smart and necessary.

FAQ

What is the best 2023 Tesla Model S trim?

The Tesla Model S is more than adequate, with superior range over the Plaid while still capable of whiplash-inducing acceleration.

How long does it take to charge a 2023 Tesla Model S?

The 2023 Tesla Model S can reach full charge in about 7 hours when using an at-home Level 2 AC charger.

Using a Tesla DC Supercharger, the Model S can receive up to 200 miles of range in just 15 minutes. A full charge can be reached in about 30 minutes.

Which 2023 Tesla Model S trim offers the most safety?

The Model S is an exceptionally safe sedan, although neither the government nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has crash-tested the 2023 car. In former crash tests, the IIHS gave the Model S a Top Safety Pick+ designation.

We’d definitely advise upgrading to the Enhanced Autopilot to get the most from Tesla’s driving-assist technology.

Joe Tralongo
Joe Tralongo
Joe Tralongo is a longtime contributor who started in the industry writing competitive comparison books for a number of manufacturers, before moving on in 2002 to become a freelance automotive journalist. He’s well regarded for his keen eye for detail, as well as his ability to translate complex mechanical terminology into user-friendly explanations. Joe has worked for a number of outlets as... Read More about Joe Tralongo

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