Tesla Model S Differences Explained


Tesla Model S Differences Explained

Tesla’s luxury Model S electric car comes in three models, named according to their battery size, with distinct differences between models. Model S, a five-door liftback all-electric sedan, is currently one of the model types Tesla sells; there are three basic models–70, 85, and P85D—these numbers represent the battery-pack size.

The three different Tesla Model S sedans have several differences. Some of the key differences are exterior and interior designs, increased battery range, and various updates.

Looking at the original 2012 Tesla Model S, all the way through to the current 2021 Tesla Model S, the differences are evident within range, charging ability and length, performance, and software updates. Read on for the Tesla Model S differences, explained.

Differences in Model S 2012-2021

Since its inception in 2012, the Model S differences based upon production year include the following:

  • Exterior and Interior aesthetic changes
  • Drive Unit upgrades
  • Programming updates
  • Driving features
  • Battery range distance 
  • App creation

Here is an in-depth explanation of each of the  Tesla Model S Sedans starting from 2012 until the present 2021 model.

Tesla Model S 2012

The Tesla Model S was the first of its kind, a battery-electric car that lies below the floor, allowing weight to be distributed evenly and a low center of gravity. The Model S accelerated faster, drove further, and charged quicker than any other battery-electric car on the market for 2012.

The basic features of the 2012 Tesla Model S Sedan are:

  • A top speed of 134 mph, 0-60mph in 4.6 seconds
  • Driving range- 136 to 265 miles, only battery
  • Horsepower of 362 to 416
  • 40-amp charger
  • Eight-year warranty for 60kWh battery
  • 19 and 21-inch aerodynamic alloy wheels
  • 17-inch touchscreen center stack
  • All-glass panoramic roof
  • Technology Package includes keyless entry, backup camera, a power liftgate, and navigation
  • J-1772 adaptor
  • Four-door hatch seats five
  • Two additional seats for children

Tesla Model S 2013

In 2013 Tesla introduced the Model S P85, a more powerful version but ultimately the same, with minor base and performance trim changes.

One noticeable difference for buyers, outside of the changes to the car itself, was the price increase that started around $70,000, and that did not include a new federal tax credit that Tesla offered.

Other notable differences in the 2013 Model S are as follows:

  • Tesla App
  • Horsepower of 302 to 416
  • Cloth and leather upholstery
  • Top speed of 130 mph going 0-60 mph in 4.4 seconds
  • Driving range- 208 to 265 miles, only battery
  • Daytime Running Lights
  • Performance Plus suspension and handling option
  • Upgrade to shock absorbers, stabilizer bars, suspension bushings
  • Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 tires on 21-inch wheels
  • Four new packages- Cold Weather, Security, Park Assist, and Lighting Packages

In 2013 the Tesla Model S was awarded the following accolades for its innovative design, technology trends, and superior performance:

  • Car of the Year-Automobile Magazine’s
  • Top-scoring car in road testing- Consumer Reports
  • Car of the Year- World Green
  • Best 25 Inventions of the Year 2012- Time Magazine
  • Car of the Year- Motor Trend

Tesla Model S 2014

In 2014 Tesla released the dual-electric motor car named P85D. It was the first in the Model S series. This all-wheel-drive model designated the “D” was available on all Model S’s with an 85kW battery. Model S 60, 85, and P85 models were also available.

Differences in the 2014 model from previous editions were:

  • Additional safety enhancements – collision avoidance braking along with a 360-degree sonar system
  • Autopilot sensor, radar, ultrasonic sensors, and control hardware
  • Standard all-wheel-drive options for 85D and P85D
  • Three-piece titanium battery safety shield
  • Max speed of 130 mph, with ability to accelerate 0 to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds
  • Horsepower of 302 to 691

Tesla Model S 2015

2015 was Tesla’s addition of the Ludicrous Mode feature, which won the Car and Driver Car of the Century Award. This mode increased the car’s acceleration and top speed significantly. Other features such as a long drive range and a new battery were just some of the latest highlights.

This model was called Tesla Model S 70 with a 70kWh battery. The Tesla Model S P85D was also available at this time, and the Model S 60 was discontinued

Other features that differentiated the 2015 model were:

  • Beginning of the year, -0 to 60 mph in only 3.1 seconds, 155 mph top speed
  • Horsepower of 329 to 691
  • The driving range increased to 275 miles
  • Executive Rear Seats added
  • Rear seats with captain styles chairs
  • Controls that adjusted media, climate, and panoramic roof and two-zone heaters
  • Launch mode was also introduced for quicker acceleration
  • A new 70-kWh battery

Tesla Model S 2016

While speed and acceleration stayed the same for the Tesla 2016 edition of the Model S, they did produce a newer version of the model called the Tesla Model S 85D; it was a mid-range all-wheel-drive model with an 85kWh battery.

Later in 2016, another version called the P100D Ludicrous, with a 100kWh battery, was introduced. The 60 and 60D also were brought back into production.

Some minor differences were made aesthetically:

  • Roof with three treatment options painted, solid glass or active panoramic
  • The faux-front grille is removed
  • Interior vegan option
  • Standard autopilot hardware – Full Self-Driving Capability
  • 210 to 315 miles for range with battery-only
  • Horsepower of 315 to 691
  • Later in the year- Ludicrous Mode 0-to-60 down from 3.1 seconds to 2.8 seconds

Tesla Model S 2017

Throughout the year’s Tesla has been known for making constant revisions to its performance and technology features.

Again, speed and acceleration remained the same in the Model S; in 2017, Tesla focused more on looks rather than performance with these changes:

  • Sleeker headlights that created a more streamlined look
  • 48-amp onboard charger
  • HEPA air-filtration system
  • Two interior trim choices -figured ash and dark ash wood
  • Interior options were bundled to include standard a glass roof and power liftgate
  • Driving range 210 to 335 miles
  • Horsepower 382 to 691

Tesla Model S 2018

While adding luxury interior and performance enhancements is a Tesla consistent, 2018 proved to be the year of letting go of some of their previous upgrades.

Tesla canceled the following options in their 2018 Model S series to simplify the products they offered:

  • Removal of the panoramic sunroof
  • All black interior textiles were discontinued
  • Rear-facing child seats were no longer an option
  • The lifetime supercharging referral program for an original buyer ended
  • Range changed to 259 to 335 miles
  • Horsepower increased to 518

Tesla Model S 2019

Tesla 2019 introduced the newest version of the Model S called the Longe Range, showcasing increased driving rangeability due to an electric motor.

Building the Model S with a smaller battery was no longer an option, and a 100kWh battery was the base level.

A few other differences in the 2019 model included:

  • Entry-level Tesla 270-mile driving range – Long Range model range is 335 miles
  • Low Rolling resistance tires
  • Adaptive air suspension upgrade
  • Low friction wheel bearings
  • Low rolling- lighter resistance tires
  • Ride height automatically adjusts based on the route instead of speed
  • Trims were renamed Performance and Longe Range

Tesla Model S 2020

A complete redesign of the Tesla Model S version was introduced in 2020. The Plaid, as Tesla calls it, comes with new exterior and interior options as well as a tri-motor powertrain that takes the driver from zero to 60 miles per hour in under 2 seconds. The current warranty covers four years or up to 50,000 miles, while the powertrain covers unlimited mileage and up to eight years.

Other differences in the updated Tesla 2020 are listed below:

  • New powertrain upgrades that include battery modules, packs, and drive units
  • Complete revamp of interior and exterior
  • Model S Long Range- driving range of 373 miles and 0-60 mph in 3.7 seconds
  • Long Range Plus – driving range of 402 miles, 0-60mph in 2 seconds
  • Horsepower is 778
  • Model S Performance- driving range decreased 348 miles, 0-60 mph in 2.4 seconds
  • V3 Supercharging software updates- reduce battery charge time by 25 percent

Tesla Model S 2021

In 2021 Tesla decided to drop the Performance and Ludicrous branding for the new Plaid layout.

The Tesla Model S Plaid was said to have the most extended range and fastest acceleration mode of all-electric vehicles in production at the time. It was marketed to be the highest-performing sedan ever built.

Some of the newer differences to this model are:

  • Horsepower of 1,020
  • A driving range of 390 miles
  • Speed of 0-60 mph in 2.28 seconds
  • There is a new carbon-sleeved, tri-motor setup
  • Carbon fiber or wood trim and more interior storage
  • Rear seats are bigger with more room, armrest folds down, and an 8-inch screen with gaming abilities

How Model S Differences Compare

Now that we have broken down all of the Tesla Model S series in detail, here is a cheat version of each of the differences according to the year of production.

Tesla Model S Performance Differences

The table below outlines the differences in performance between Model S years, including horsepower, driving range, speed, and battery size:

Model S YearHorsepowerDriving RangeSpeed/AccelerationBattery kWh
2012362 to 416136 to 265 miles134 mph 0-60 in 4.6 seconds60 kWh lithium-ion
2013302 to 416208 to 265 miles130 mph 0-60 in 4.4 seconds60-85 kWh lithium-ion
2014302 to 691208 to 265 miles130 mph 0-60 in 4.2 seconds60-85 kWh lithium-ion
2015329 to 691275 miles155mph 0-60 in 3.1 seconds70kWh lithium-ion
2016315 to 691210 to 315 miles155 mph 0-60 in 2.8 seconds85-100 kWh lithium-ion
2017382 to 691210 to 335 miles130 mph 0-60 in 5.5 seconds60-100 kWh lithium-ion
2018518259 to 335 miles155mph 0-60 in 3.9 seconds75-100 kWh lithium-ion
2019518259- 370 miles155 mph 0-6 in 2.4 seconds100 kWh lithium-ion
2020778348-402 miles155 mph 0-60 2 seconds100 kWh lithium-ion
20211,020390 miles155mph 0-60 in 2.28 seconds100 kWh lithium-ion

Tesla Model S Interior And Exterior Differences

For those Tesla aficionados out there, the Model S interior and exterior differences might be obvious. But for those that aren’t, here’s a cheat sheet of what those differences are from year to year:

Model S YearInteriorExterior
201217-inch touchscreen center stack Technology Package includes keyless entry, backup camera, a power liftgate, and navigation Cloth/leatherette seat Three interior colors Four-door hatch seats five Two rear child seats Top of the line safety features Lane warning ability  19-21″ Aluminum Wheels Nine exterior color choices Faux-front grille LED headlights All-Glass Tilt-Slide Panoramic Roof
2013Daytime Running Lights          Performance Plus suspension and handling option Upgrade to shock absorbers, stabilizer bars, suspension bushings Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 tires on 21-inch wheels Four new packages- Cold Weather, Security, Park Assist, and Lighting Packages  
2014No upgradesAdditional safety enhancements – collision avoidance braking along with a 360-degree sonar system Autopilot sensor, radar, ultrasonic sensors, and control hardware
2015Executive Rear Seats added Rear seats with captain styles chairs Controls that adjusted media, climate, and panoramic roof and two-zone heatersNo Upgrades
2016Interior vegan option Standard autopilot hardware – Full Self-Driving CapabilityRoof with three treatment options painted, solid glass or active panoramic The faux-front grille is removed
201748-amp onboard charger HEPA air-filtration system Two interior trim choices -figured ash and dark ash wood Interior options were bundled to include standard a glass roof and power liftgateSleeker headlights that created a more streamlined look
2018All black interior textiles were discontinued Rear-facing child seats were no longer an optionRemoval of the panoramic sunroof  
2019No upgradesLow Rolling resistance tires Adaptive air suspension upgrade Low friction wheel bearings  
2020Carbon fiber or wood trim and more interior storageNew powertrain upgrades that include battery modules, packs, and drive units New carbon-sleeved, tri-motor setup
2021Stalkless U-shaped butterfly steering wheel Landscape dashboard screen Rear passenger screen with gaming ability Rear seats are bigger with more room, armrest folds down Latches on the inside of the doors are removed A rear liftgate opens to a 26-cubic-foot trunk Sloped roofline Small-item stowaway compartments Rear cargo has a large underfloor binA standard large glass roof Front fender -extra body creases Headlights and taillights- brighter and sleeker The trim around windows and door handles- blacked out

Tesla Model S Price Differences

Possibly the biggest, most noticeable difference in the Model S sedan is the price different. There’s quite a bit of variance when it comes to the different years and price ranges. Check it out below:

Model YearPrice Range
2012$57,400- $87,400
2013$69,900- $89,900
2014$69,900- $119,000
2015$85,000- $108,000
2016$75,000- $105,000
2017$69,500- $135,000
2018$96,000- $135,000
2019$76,000- $79,990
2020$79,990- $93,190
2021$81,190- $131,190

What Model S Year Is The Best?

When deciding which Tesla Model S to purchase, most information guides buyers to first take into account their budget and priorities. Although Tesla does have a Model 3 that is rated the cheapest of all the sedan models, a Model S still leads the way in value, performance, driving range, and cargo space.

A majority of the top reviews for Model S, what year is the best, claim that models from 2016 and older are all equipped with AutoPilot 2 features and are maximum rating for speed and range.

Tesla has claimed the Model S Long-Range is capable of traveling 412 miles on a single battery charge, while the Plaid and Plaid Plus versions are estimated at 390- 520 miles. The electric motors are designed to control front and rear axles, and each model is equipped with all-wheel-drive capabilities.

Depending on those two criteria, buyers can determine if they want new or used and then research warranty limitations as most older versions warranties are soon to expire.

Another thing buyers should keep in mind is that in late 2019 Tesla announced that all their dealerships would be closing to move sales to their online Tesla site.

New Competition for Tesla Model S

Currently, Tesla has several sedan options for each model type and has plans for a 2022 reveal. Along with new vehicles, Tesla also plans to build a brand new factory in Austin, Texas, and provide more service stations for its current buyers.

Mr. Musk has also mentioned a cheaper version of the Model S with a price tag in the range of $25,000.

The list below is the full range of all the Tesla Models currently and set to be in production as of 2021:

  • Tesla Model S – Long Range Plus and Plaid (70, 85, and P85D were discontinued)
  • Tesla Model  3- Long Range, Standard Range Plus, and Performace
  • Tesla Model X – Plaid and Long Range
  • Tesla Model Y- Performance and Long Range
  • Cybertruck – Single RWD, Dual AWD, and Tri AWD motors
  • Roadster- AWD – in production
  • The Semi – in production

With the newest production of the brand’s Model Y option, Tesla’s founder Elon Musk revealed that if you parked each model next to each other according to year the Model S, Model 3, Model X and Model Y, the model numbers spell out S3XY.

Final Thoughts

The Tesla luxury ride, the Model S, is no doubt one of the most noticeable electric vehicles on the road. The three different types of Model S do have their difference, as outlined and described above, although each Model S still comes with those classic features that Tesla owners know and love. Model S also varies from year to year, as Tesla is constantly developing new and improved technology to better their vehicles and stay on top of the market.

Greg

Hi, I'm Greg. My daily driver is a Tesla Model 3 Performance. I've learned a ton about Teslas from hands-on experience and this is the site where I share everything I've learned.

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