Everything You Need to Know About the Model S Refresh

Everything You Need to Know About the Model S Refresh

Long time fans of the Tesla Model S have been eagerly awaiting refresh. If you have never had the opportunity to see the Model S in action, this would be a great time to learn more about what is coming. The refresh gives this luxury sedan such refined features as an increased range between charges, phenomenal acceleration, and a sleek and modern look. 

The refreshed Model S will come in different trims and is slated to introduce several new features of interest to Tesla drivers. It continues to be an all-electric luxury sedan that is fun and comfortable to drive. It is scheduled to debut in the North American market in 2021. 

If you are interested in learning more about the Tesla Model S refresh, you will want to continue reading this post. We will discuss the various features that go into its design and the specifications that make the Model S so special. 

A Brief Overview of the Refreshed Tesla Model S

When electric cars first came onto the market, range was a major concern. The Model S was one of the first luxury electric sedans that solved that problem. For the first time, there was sufficient range available between charges to allow for out of town journeys. The refresh of the Tesla Model S extends that range even further. 

The new Model S is even more environmentally friendly and fun to drive than its predecessor. You can use it to commute to work just as easily as you can to take road trips with the family. With over 400 miles between ranges now being possible, the refresh is sure to capture the attention of many drivers who had previously discounted electric vehicles due to convenience. 

While Tesla has since introduced more economical electric sedans since it first unveiled the Model S, the refresh continues to demonstrate why this particular model is in a class all its own. It has a certain look and feel about it that many people will really appreciate. Add to that the features we are about to discuss, and the refresh appears to be well received. 

What is New with the Model S Refresh?

While many of the standard Tesla features remain the same, the Model S refresh does have some differences worth noting. The first involves performance. There is a new trim level, Plaid, that churns out 1,020 horsepower. Courtesy of its three electric motors, this version of the Model S takes only 2.0 seconds to go from 0 to 60 miles per hour. 

As you can imagine, this means that the refreshed Model S has great power and is able to keep up to speed with any of its competitors on the road today. In addition to this, the powerful Plaid trim is still able to get an estimated 390 miles of range per charge. That is quite a bit more than what most people getting an electric car envisioning being able to drive. 

Beyond all of these power related features, the refreshed Tesla Model S also has a new exterior body that sets it apart from earlier versions. The interior has also received a complete upgrade. While some feel that it is not as luxurious as its price tag positions it to be, that it is a concern best left up to each individual buyer to decide. 

If you have envisioned racing in an all-electric car, the refreshed version of the Model S will get you closer to that objective. It now has a steering wheel that resembles a yoke. This is the same look and feel that you would get if you were to drive a Formula One race car. It handles quite well on the track as well. 

What About the Price?

It is only natural to wonder about the various pricing points now available on the refreshed Tesla Model S. The refreshed version seems poised to have two different trim levels. 

  • Long Range Tesla Model S – The base price is set at $81,190. 
  • Plaid Tesla Model S – The base price is set at $131,190. 

These prices are indicative of the luxury nature of the Tesla Model S, although some are questioning whether the $50,000 extra that you would pay for the Plaid is actually worth it. While that brings you 1020 horsepower, you do not want to neglect the fact that the Long-Range version will give you roughly 412 miles of range with battery charge. 

Information About the Engine and Transmission 

With the refreshed Model S, you get at least two electric motors. This means that both the front and rear axles each have a dedicated motor attached to it. The design is such that you will have a completely all-wheel-drive electric vehicle no matter which of the two versions you opt to drive home. 

No matter which type of refreshed Model S you end up with, you should be impressed with the acceleration. There is so much power coming from the engine that you sprint away from the starting line and get up to 60 mph in as little as 2.0 seconds. This is made possible because Tesla has designed the Model S to make immediate power delivery a reality. This car really goes fast. 

Three electric motors are actually put into play with the Plaid version of the refreshed Model S. As mentioned, this effectively increases the available horsepower to 1020. Given that it can accelerate from 0 to 60 in only 2.0 seconds, this has the makings of the fastest car on the road today. 

The Model S has built in performance features that allow drivers to handle the car at high speeds easily. Even the base model of the car has been reviewed as an agile sports sedan. It has direct steering capability, and the driver has the ability to choose between light or heavy steering. This allows the driver to set the car to his or her own preferences, making it even more fun to drive. 

Even when traveling at high speeds, the refreshed Model S is whisper quiet inside. This makes for a smooth ride out of town or on your daily commute. It also has excellent handling ability, allowing drivers to take even the sharpest of turns effortlessly. Even given all of its technology, it is still simple to learn how to drive. 

What You Need to Know About the Battery

This is perhaps one of the more impressive and notable characteristics of the refreshed Tesla Model S. Electric car enthusiasts are understandably concerned about how much range they will get from each charge. That is not a concern with this luxury sedan. The long-range, or standard, version will go for an average of 412 miles. 

The exceptional battery charge on the Tesla Model S is due to the battery pack situated on the vehicle’s floor. This gives the car a low center of gravity. The weight from the battery is distributed evenly from the very front of the car all the way to the rear. This results in minimal drag and puts less strain on the battery. 

The Real World MPG of the Refreshed Tesla Model S

While it might not seem natural to measure the efficiency of an electric vehicle based on its miles per gallon, that is exactly what the EPA requires at this time. The refreshed standard version of the Models S has one of the highest ratings of any vehicle on the road today. You can expect 121 MPG in the city and about 112 MPG on the highway. 

The Interior Has a Lot to Offer

The interior of the Tesla Model S is designed to have everything that a luxury car owner desires. Whether it has achieved that mark is most likely an individual decision, but many amenities in the refreshed Model S were not available when the sedan first came on the market back in 2012. 

Let’s begin by talking about the cargo space. There is now an available 26 cubic feet of space available directly behind the rear seats of the refreshed Model S. If you fold down the seats, that increases to 58 cubic feet. This is actually more than enough room to stow away some golf bags, luggage, and even small furniture. In an electric luxury sedan, that isn’t bad. 

To make everything convenient, Tesla has added a rather large liftgate to the Model S. This makes it much easier than before to put items in the car and take them back out again. You will also notice that the new version of the car has a small trunk in the front of the vehicle. You can put in a few bags of groceries or a small personal bag in this space. That is quite handy. 

Available Seating in the Model S

While electric cars have not always been known for their ability to seat large groups of people comfortably, the Model S bucks that trend just a bit. This is a four door sedan that has five seats in it. Each one is covered with synthetic leather, and the seats in the front are both heated and ventilated. The rear seats are also heated, and Tesla has recently added a heated steering wheel to the mix. 

To add to the comfort level, the seats in the front of the Model S contain ample cushioning. Compared to other vehicles in its class, there is also plenty of head and legroom. You can easily adjust the driver’s seat and steering wheel for added convenience. 

When it comes to the rear seats, there are several different possibilities. Two adults can comfortably fit back there. Alternatively, three children will find that there is plenty of room for them as well. To be fair, people who are a bit taller may find the back to be a bit cramped, which is an issue for many electric cars. 

How About the Quality of the Interior?

This is where the most noticeable difference lies with the refreshed Tesla Model S. There is a completely redesigned dashboard. It is made to look more modern and contains even more features than before. The traditional steering wheel has actually been replaced with a steering yoke. This is a revolutionary change and is a feature not available in many other cars. 

Throughout the cabin of the refreshed Model S, you will find synthetic leather on most hard surfaces. There are also touches of wood and carbon fiber throughout. This gives the car an even more luxurious look and feel, even though some have argued that it is still not quite up to par with an Audi or Porsche. 

The Technology Features Inside the Refreshed Model S

The new Model S contains a 17-inch touchscreen. You can’t help but notice this as soon as you open the door. It is massive and has a graphical interface that rivals anything you would see on a high-dollar computer screen. It is built to function as an iPad, making it easy to learn how to use and operate.

This one display screen manages just about every available function on the Model S. That includes the:

  • Audio system
  • Navigation features
  • Climate control system
  • Heated seats
  • Sunroof
  • Driver assistance features
  • …and much more

One thing that might be a disappointment to some drivers is that the refreshed Model S still does not offer any support for either Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. However, there are still plenty of other features offered with the infotainment system in the Model S that seems to more than make up for this deficiency. 

Here are three new features available with the refreshed Model S that have already proven to be quite popular:

  • Accessible features when parked or charging – When the car is either parked or in charging mode, drivers and passengers can surf the Internet, play streaming videos, or even watch television and movies. This is all accessible right from the touchscreen display. 
  • Dog mode – This is a new feature that, when activated, ensures that the air conditioning will keep running when the car is parked. Your dog will stay cool as a result. In addition, the screen will be activated so that anyone passing by the car will be able to see the temperature of your car and know that your pet is ok. 
  • Sentry mode – This is designed to help keep your car safe when it is parked. It will record anything adverse that might happen, such as someone trying to break in or trying to damage your car. 

The refreshed Model S includes numerous standard features. There are almost no features that one would have to purchase as part of a premium addition. For example, every Model S comes with the following features available inside the car courtesy of its infotainment system:

  • A digital cluster gauge
  • A comprehensive navigation system
  • Built-in rear seat display
  • An HD radio system
  • A complete 22-speaker stereo system
  • Bluetooth capability
  • Five total USB ports
  • Wireless charging capability for mobile devices
  • A functioning WiFi hotspot (subscription required)

Beyond all of this, the refreshed Model S also has a keyless entry system. This makes it easy to access the vehicle when your hands are full. The climate control system also has three zones, allowing different areas of the vehicle to maintain a different temperature level. There is also now a panoramic sunroof to enjoy. It is also easy to operate. 

Safety Features on the Refreshed Model S

This is where the Model S really begins to shine. The refreshed version has already received a rating of Superior by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety when it comes to the efficacy of the vehicle to a vehicle front crash prevention system that is built into its design. This is the highest possible rating. 

Beyond the construction of the vehicle itself, there are a number of driver assistance features that Model S owners can look forward to. 

Included standard on every Model S is the following features:

  • Rearview camera – With the 17-inch display in full effect, drivers get an HD picture in real-time of what is happening behind them. This makes going a reverse much easier and safer. The angles are incredible, as is the quality of the image. 
  • Forward and side collision warning system – The array of sensors and radar signals built into the design of the Model S make it possible for the car to alert a driver of potential obstacles in their path. This includes vehicles that are approaching too quickly from either the side or the front. 
  • Pedestrian detection signal – Pedestrians are often difficult to see. The Model S has certain sensors that are on the constant lookout for individuals who might impede the path of the vehicle. When one is detected, the driver will be immediately notified so that corrective action can be taken. 
  • Automatic emergency braking – While humans do have a fast reaction time, it is often not quick enough to stop the vehicle before a collision happens. If the Model S senses a problem that the driver cannot respond to in time, the brakes can be automatically applied in order to avoid an accident. 
  • Blind-spot monitoring – Driving the Model S is also made safer when it comes to the inevitable blind spot. The system will alert drivers if they are about to change lanes when an obstacle is in their way. This is done via an audible and visual signal. 
  • Front and rear parking sensor system – Parking is also made easier with the Model S. There are sensors placed in the front and rear of the car that are designed to help the car ease into a parking space. It will signal when you are too close to another object, in addition to providing a visual picture to aid in your parking. 
  • Lane departure warning system – This is a feature that alerts the driver if they are starting to move outside of their lane on the highway. This is an audible signal that helps the driver correct the steering before an unsafe lane change is executed. 
  • Lane keep assist feature – This feature takes the lane departure warning system to another level. When activated, the Model S will actually move the driver back into the proper lane if the vehicle senses it is swaying away from its intended path. The exception is when the turn signal is properly engaged. 
  • Adaptive cruise control – As one of the more useful features on the Model S, this is for use on the highway. Once set, the Model S will maintain the desired speed, slowing down automatically when traffic is approaching. When the coast is clear once again, the car will once again accelerate automatically. 

Beyond these standard features, the refreshed Tesla Model S also has the following safety feature available as an optional add-on:

  • Hands-free parking assistant – This feature allows the car to be parked without the driver when added to the Autopilot. This is great for tight spaces where it might not be possible for the driver or passengers to exit the vehicle once parked. It can only be used in limited situations and only for parking. 
  • Automated highway driving – This is designed to help drivers encounter safe and easy driving to their destination. It is meant for highway driving only and effectively maps out the best route to take, and then the system will automate the driving, with driver involvement the entire way. 
  • Automatic lane change feature – This works in conjunction with the automated highway driving feature. The Model S will automatically change lanes when necessary in order to position the vehicle to exit the highway at the right time. 
  • Summon feature from parking spot – This will automatically move the car from a parking spot to the driver. It only works in a parking lot and is not meant to be a driverless feature on the road. 

These features alone highlight why the Tesla Model S is one of the most advanced electric luxury sedans on the road today. 

What About the Model S Trims?

Currently, the refreshed Model S is available in two trims. Both of them contain similar technology, but the features vary a bit. 

The Tesla Model S Long Range

This is the new version of the Model S that most consumers today will be interested in. It is based on a lithium-ion battery back and offers a single speed transmission system. The car contains two electric motors and runs on an all-wheel-drive system. As previously mentioned, the total range on the refreshed Model S Long Range is 412 miles. 

This version includes an adaptive air suspension system. This makes the sedan incredibly comfortable on rough roads and whisper-quiet while operating. The Long Range Model S also has 19-inch wheels included as a standard feature. The front and rear parking sensors, along with a rearview camera, are also included.

For those interested in a few upgrades, they are available for a price on the refreshed Model S. You can opt for 21-inch wheels for an additional $4,500. There is also the option to change the interior upholstery to either a two-tone black and white or black and cream for $2,000. 

The refreshed Model S also contains the latest Tesla Autopilot technology. For those wishing to upgrade to the full Self-Driving package, which includes hands free parking and several other features, this can be added for $10,000. Keep in mind that even the refreshed Model S is not capable of fully autonomous driving. The driver must still be actively involved at all times. 

The Tesla Model S Plaid

With an announced price of just under $120,000, the Plaid version of the refreshed Model S may not appeal to everyone. However, it will definitely please those who like speed. It is going to get you from 0 to 60 in slightly under two seconds. This makes it the fastest car on the road today, getting up to a possible 200 mph in regions that allow for it.

The Plaid Model S will goes about 390 miles between charges. Owners will also have all of the standard features that are available on the Long Range Model S. Drivers might be a bit chagrined that they must pay for the optional features, but they do get 1,020 horsepower to make up for the difference. 

With both the refreshed Model S trims, you will get free premium connectivity options for one year. This will provide you with the following features:

  • Live traffic visualization
  • Satellite Maps
  • Video Streaming, including access to such services as Netflix, Hulu, and Youtube
  • Karaoke
  • Streaming music
  • Internet browsing

After the one-year, Model S owners can subscribe to these features and gain access via a simple software update. 


The newly designed and refreshed Tesla Model S has a great deal to offer. The exceptional range and the number of available features are just the tip of the iceberg. The Model S is able to compete well with other major competitors in its field. It is certainly a luxury electric sedan that you would feel proud to have parked in your garage. 


The articles here on ThatTeslaChannel.com are created by Greg, a Tesla vehicle and Tesla solar expert with nearly half a decade of hands-on experience. The information on this site is fact-checked and tested in-person to ensure the best possible level of accuracy.

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