2023 Tesla Model S Plaid

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2023 Tesla Model S Plaid Review: Still A Super Sedan

The Tesla Model S started the mass EV shift more than a decade ago when it first launched in the USA as a 2012 model. It's been substantially improved and upgraded in the years since then, but Tesla's lineup has been aging as the automaker struggles to get new models to the market and postpones launch dates repeatedly. The Model S is still a force to be reckoned with, however, and the simply ballistic Plaid is the performance flagbearer that will rip off a two-second 0-60 run, leaving a bunch of hypercars in its wake. $105k is a lot of money for a Model S, but it's pocket change for this level of performance, and rivals such as the Lucid Air Sapphire that can match its muscle cost twice as much. The more expensive Porsche Taycan Turbo Cross Turismo is the closest thing Porsche has to the practical liftback Model S Plaid, but that can't hold a candle to the Tesla's straight-line speed. The Porsche is a much more accomplished driver's car, though, and you can actually take it on a dirt road. Should you still consider the Model S plaid? Let's find out.

Read in this review:

  • Exterior Design 9 /10
  • Performance 10 /10
  • Fuel Economy 10 /10
  • Interior & Cargo 9 /10
  • Infotainment & Features 10 /10
  • Reliability 8 /10
  • Safety 10 /10
  • Value For Money 9 /10
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2023 Tesla Model S Plaid Changes: What’s The Difference vs The 2022 Model S Plaid?

Tesla doesn't make scheduled annual changes to its cars but improves them as new features become available. In our last review of a Tesla Model S Plaid, we reported on new features that included a Track mode and the imminent availability of carbon-ceramic brakes, though the latter has still not made an appearance, so the 2023 Model S Plaid sees relatively few changes. In an apparent admission of defeat, a proper round steering wheel is now a no-cost option in place of the much-criticized steering yoke. This can be retrofitted to current yoke-equipped cars at a cost of $700. The key fob is also replaced with a new key card. Lastly, Ultra Red replaces last year's Red Multi-Coat on the paint palette. The starting price of the Tesla Model S Plaid before options or potential savings is $104,990.

Pros and Cons

  • Shattering performance
  • Practical hatch and large trunk
  • Many tech features
  • Excellent range
  • Supercharger network
  • Steering yoke
  • Substandard build quality
  • Cabin not as upmarket as premium rivals
  • No smartphone mirroring

What's the Price of the 2023 Tesla Model S Plaid?

Following another round of price cuts in January 2023, the MSRP of the Tesla Model S Plaid is now $104,990 - down massively from a year ago, when the same car would have cost you $135,990. The price excludes the $1,390 destination cost and $250 ordering fee.

Best Deals on 2023 Tesla Model S Plaid

2023 Tesla Model S Plaid Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
Single Speed Automatic
All-Wheel Drive
See All 2023 Tesla Model S Plaid Trims and Specs

2023 Tesla Model S Plaid Handling and Driving Impressions

Many headlines are dominated by the Plaid's mind-bending performance, and with 1,020 hp on tap and AWD, getting to 60 mph takes under two seconds, so it's certainly sickeningly rapid and will show a clean pair of heels to almost anything on four wheels. But there's more to going fast than straight-line speed, and it soon becomes apparent that the Plaid is more Charger than 5 Series. It goes around corners quickly and sure-footedly but without much adjustability, feeling its weight and reminding you that it's a large four-door car. More worrying is that the standard steel brakes soon overheat and give up in enthusiastic driving, so we can't wait for the carbon ceramics that are supposed to become optional in due course. The terrible steering yoke can now be replaced with a normal round item and is best skipped until Tesla can come up with a proper variable steering ratio that allows you to keep your hands on the wheel, like in a Lexus RZ. Even with the round wheel, the light steering action and lack of feel remind you that this car is not a corner carver. The standard air suspension provides good ride quality and makes the big sedan very comfortable when you're just cruising.

Verdict: Is The 2023 Tesla Model S Plaid A Good Car?

Tesla is at pains to point out that the Model S has been continually improved and has very little in common with the car that was launched a decade ago, but it still looks much the same, and more modern rivals illustrate that, even in Plaid format, the S is an updated old car and not a new one. The Lucid Air leads the field on range now and looks appreciably more modern, while the Porsche Taycan is much better to drive and offers some crossover or wagon practicality in Cross Turismo guise, albeit at a significantly higher price. The S still puts up a strong fight, and nothing can touch the Plaid for sheer performance at this price, especially after the price cuts for this year. And it's as tech-rich and roomy as ever. Just skip that silly yoke.

What 2023 Tesla Model S Plaid Model Should I Buy?

There's just one Plaid, so it's down to how you spec it. First of all, tick the box for the normal round steering wheel; it's a no-cost option. We love the 21-inch Arachnid alloy wheels, but they're a $4,500 extra and reduce the range by nearly 50 miles, so we'd stick to the standard 19s. The $6,000 Enhanced Autopilot with its summon feature, automatic parking, and auto lane change is worth it, but not the $15k so-called Full Self-Driving Capability. If adding $6k for the Enhanced Autopilot sounds like a lot, keep in mind that it's still far cheaper than last year's model without any of these extras. It also undercuts its Porsche and Lucid rivals on price. All the heavy-set Plaid now needs is that set of promised carbon-ceramic brakes so it can stop as well as it goes, but Tesla is yet to add this option to its configurator.

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