Some would say these Motor Trend editors hit the jackpot before and after they hit Vegas.

With a three-day loan of a Tesla Model S, the magazine's editors were given the opportunity to drive from Los Angeles to San Diego, then later do a round trip from the LA area to Las Vegas and back.

The goal was to see if the all-electric luxury sedan delivered the EPA-estimated single-charge range of 265 miles and approached Tesla's own estimates of a 300-mile single-charge range.

The results? For the 211-mile trip from the outskirts of Los Angeles to Las Vegas, the Model S was able to go the distance with a fair amount of charge to spare, and that included an elevation climb of about 4,000 feet, running part-way with the air-conditioning on and cruising at about 65 miles per hour.

For the return trip, an editor was able to make the 285-mile drive between Las Vegas and Motor Trend's El Segundo, CA, offices with three miles to spare. Whew. That said, the editor kept the A/C off for most of the ride, cruised at speeds as low as 52 miles per hour on freeways, and hit slow traffic (which helps range) near the end of the drive.

Either way, it can be argued that the Model S came up aces. Had the car had trouble, there is an electric-vehicle charging station along the way in Victorville, CA – at a Nissan dealership. See below for the nearly nine-minute video from Motor Trend.



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 55 Comments
      PR
      • 2 Years Ago
      It would have been more informative if they would have just drove like normal, and then spend just the 10 minutes they would have needed on the Tesla supercharger to very comfortably arrive at their destination with plenty of charge to spare. They didn't even need to completely recharge the battery, they could have just blasted a few more miles worth of charge into it and been on their way. Sadly, the thought process for a "big story" on an EV always goes down the same boring pattern of storyboards: 1) Get a hold of an EV and find out the EPA range rating. 2) Choose a distance to travel that is that long or longer. 3) Refuse to take ANY of the multiple options for recharging along the route. 4) Build a fake drama around the last few miles of range, either to make the trip or not. Gee, isn't everybody filled with all the manufactured suspense of an American Idol final round? That plot line is already old and trite, and EV's are still barely breaking onto the market! Why do they all follow that same formula? Because actually using an EV like the Model S on a daily basis is actually quite boring. You unplug every day with plenty of range to handle the day's driving. Then at the end of the day you plug back in without any drama. Repeat. I know a couple of folks who have owned the old RAV4 EV. When you ask them exactly how far they can drive before they run out of electricity, they all answer with some variation on "I don't know, why would I drive it until it runs out of electricity? I've never done that." It would be nice to see a big story about how someone just used their EV for normal everyday use, just like they used to drive their gasser -- and shockingly nothing exciting or suspenseful happens! It just does what it is supposed to do, day after day with no drama.
        Grendal
        • 2 Years Ago
        @PR
        Thanks. Very well said.
        Tysto
        • 2 Years Ago
        @PR
        This was specifically an independent test of the range, and it passed with flying colors. I haven't seen any similar tests for ANY EVs. The NEXT step is for Tesla to put a Supercharger on a similar route and show how quickly you can recharge. At that point, the implications become obvious: if we had level 3 chargers along major interstates, we could drive EVs anywhere.
          Tysto
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Tysto
          Grendal, I used have 4-5 hour drives (225-250 miles) regularly, and I would always stop once or twice for food, fuel, restroom, phone call, or just to stretch--about 10 minutes each. If Superchargers were available on the route, recharging at those ordinary stops would provide about 100 miles of additional range. It doesn't take much patience to make the Model S range effectively infinite.
          montoym
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Tysto
          I'm still curious about the long-term effects of those super fast chargers. Aren't there numerous warnings about not using them all that often and how each time you use one they degrade the battery that much more quickly? Yet despite that, those are being considered the saviors of EVs and the only way they are going to be able to compete with ICE vehicles. It's definitely not someting I'd want to rely on, especially not for more than an emergency situation.
          Rotation
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Tysto
          There are independent tests of range for every EV I've tried to look up.
          Grendal
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Tysto
          There are still some that would not like the inconvenience of EV charging vs. gas pump refilling.
      mikeybyte1
      • 2 Years Ago
      I live on the East coast, so I could care less about the LA to Vegas run. Many posters on here - one in particular - seems obsessed with having a car that MUST make that run. Whatever. IMO, the fact that they did it was impressive, even if they did baby it. This is amazing progress for EVs. It wasn't that long ago that EVs were considered to be nothing more than city cars and you would always need a second one "just in case". Most could not come close to going 100 miles without dying. Tesla is out to prove them all wrong. If I had $90k to spend on a premium luxury sedan - and I don't - this would be the top of my list.
      • 2 Years Ago
      I JUST DID THE WINDOW TINT ON A TESLA S MODEL,IT BELONGS O A FRIEND IN PALM BEACH AREA,,IT IS THE MOST AMAZING CAR I'VE EVER DRIVEN......
      paulwesterberg
      • 2 Years Ago
      The gopro camera attached to the roof didn't help aerodynamics. They should have gone the same speed as the semi trucks. The aerodynamic savings of following one of those trucks at a safe distance would have given them enough juice to go use the air conditioning the whole way.
        SVX pearlie
        • 2 Years Ago
        @paulwesterberg
        I have to assume they were drafting semis wherever possible, and *still* had to keep the AC off.
          kidcharlemgne
          • 2 Years Ago
          @SVX pearlie
          Because assumptions make the world go round! Assume whenever possible, and you will never be right
          mycommentemail
          • 2 Years Ago
          @SVX pearlie
          You have to assume this because...? Is it because this car does not fit with your world view that electric cars are, what? Evil? Infringing on your freedom? Different? Or do you perhaps already own one of these and don't get the stated range?
          purrpullberra
          • 2 Years Ago
          @SVX pearlie
          I see, not assume, you are daft everywhere possible and STILL keep your intelligence off!
        Grendal
        • 2 Years Ago
        @paulwesterberg
        And have that truck kick up a rock and crack Elon Musk's windshield. Yikes. Considering how much range they had left, 64 miles, they could have had the AC on the whole time. This video shows the range anxiety of a new EV owner very well. After driving the car for a week they wouldn't be worried at all because they'd have a good feel for how the car works.
      • 2 Years Ago
      There is one thing that really bothered me about this review that needs to be addressed. The Motor Trend reviewers mention several times that they need to keep the speed down while going over the pass in order to keep their energy usage in check; ie, they think going fast up the hill will have a disproportionately larger effect on energy consumption than going fast on flat ground. They therefore go up the pass at a painfully slow speed. An increase in speed causes an increase in energy usage mainly because of an increase in wind resistance, and a gain in elevation requires energy expenditure to raise the weight of the car and occupants X number of feet. BUT, the energy the reviewers save by driving the car ridiculously slow uphill is only because the wind resistance is less for that part of the drive, not because going uphill slowly magically saves energy. If the reviewers simply would have kept the cruise control on the whole time at an average speed that was just a bit slower than what they were doing on the flats, they would have used about the same energy. Additionally, at highway speeds, the climate control isn't going to cut the range by that much - maybe 10%. Considering how much range they had left at the end, the drive could have been accomplished in much greater comfort and without putting along in the truck lane going up the passes. I was curious what the total energy expenditure for the elevation change would be on this drive, so I did a rough estimate, assuming they are leaving from San Bernadino, CA (the total distance here is about 235 mi, so this is a bit further than they actually drove). Google Earth says the total elevation gain here is about 10200ft and the loss is about 9000ft. This means the car has to be raised 1200 ft. Additionally, the car does lose some energy because of regen inefficiencies. Assuming the total efficiency of the motor is 90%, the total efficiency of the regenerated energy from the elevation loss is about 60%, and the total weight of the car + occupants + other junk is about 5200lbs, the total energy expenditure for the elevation portion of the equation is about 10kWh - not insignificant, but you can see how cutting down on vehicle weight would save a lot of energy here.
      purrpullberra
      • 2 Years Ago
      There is no way any review will be truly meaningful until these things are used long term. The models isn't made to do road trips or commute or save the world. It's supposed to work perfectly for its owner and NONE of these reviewers are owners doing reasonable things an owner might. It seems each side, pro and con anything, will take what they already brought with them from this type of review. I see a car working perfectly here despite the naysayers bleating. I think sv and ro are jealous, nothing else logical explains the hardheadedness from people that I am confident are not dumb. Elon seems to be succeeding at something these boys dreamed of and.... The models isn't for you, we get it. So it must be useless to everyone else, naturally. Brain on-high says range not good, fine, it is for lots of us. ? is too important to take 30 minutes to charge up for 140 more ev miles, well, get your deposit back then! Quit yer bitchen' if you are too thick to see how well this works for A LOT of real people!
      SVX pearlie
      • 2 Years Ago
      "The editor kept the A/C off for most of the ride, cruised at speeds as low as 52 miles per hour on freeways" So, basically, MT proved that even a top-end EV is no match for a used $10k compact car which would go farther, faster, and in greater comfort. If I'm driving to Vegas, I expect AC to be on the entire way, at a comfortable 72 degrees vs 96+ outside. I expect to run 75+ mph when traffic permits. And I don't expect to be arriving on fumes & vapors, literally sweating my next refuel. Really, if they're going to take an extra hour or two on the road, just ride the bus with the blue hair crowd.
        Grendal
        • 2 Years Ago
        @SVX pearlie
        It showed that people who are not used to electric driving let the fear of the electric range get the better of them. They had plenty of range to get there in comfort and at normal speed but their fears had them driving slow without the AC on. They had 64 miles of range left, 25% of the pack, after they arrived in Vegas. What they proved was that you can get more than 265 miles out of the car if you baby it. LA to Las Vegas is 265 miles which is what the EPA says the battery packs range is. It was not a good review. And not of the car but of the reviewers. Fifth gear did an excellent review similar to this of the Tesla roadster. In that case they put tape over the range indicator and the driver, Tiff Needell, drove completely normally and if the car ran out of juice then that was what happened. It didn't. Now they need to do another trip to Vegas where they just drive normally and, guess what, the car makes it then also.
          SVX pearlie
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Grendal
          Having to "baby" a $90k car just shouldn't be necessary to make a short road trip to Vegas, simple as that. And, the maybe they make it, maybe not? That's not a good strategy, either. The idea of possibly spending an hour in the 100-degree heat of the Vegas desert, waiting for a tow, isn't my idea of fun. Hypothetical of the Tesla making it is just that, hypothetical - it didn't happen. At that rate, I might as well claim a 600+ hypermiled range for my Subaru SVX, extrapolating from 500-mile actual driven range. This is why the Volt sells, and things like the Leaf don't.
          Grendal
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Grendal
          If you read my comment you'd see that my point was that they didn't need to "baby" the car but they chose to do so because they don't understand how the car works. That's why it is a bad review. The Volt is a great car. If the reviewers had driven one for a month they probably would have understood how to drive the Model S correctly.
          Nick Kordich
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Grendal
          @SVX pearlie - the Volt and Leaf sales are proportional to the Cruze and five-door Versa. That is, the Volt sells more than the Leaf by the same ratio that the Cruze (same platform as the Volt) outsells the Versa 5-door (same platform as the Leaf). Chevy (over 3000 dealerships) outsells Nissan (under 150 dealerships). If people really preferred PHEVs, wouldn't you expect them to choose a Volt over the Leaf more often than they choose a Cruze over the Versa? Given the Leaf's limited range, I'm surprised the ratio's not higher. By the way, you never got back to me on the terms and stakes for our bet on riding in a Tesla Model S (http://green.autoblog.com/2012/08/06/thus-far-tesla-has-built-50-model-s-units-delivered-29/).
        SVX pearlie
        • 2 Years Ago
        @SVX pearlie
        LOL, EVtards downvoting in force today. The fact is, the LA to Vegas run was a failure, simply because the driver didn't drive like a normal car at normal speeds and comfort. "Shoulda, woulda, coulda" are all excuses by losers, and I'm reading nothing but excuses for failed performance here. When someone actually makes a normal non-stop run from LA to Vegas in a BEV, then I'll be interested. Until then, EVtards need to accept that BEV technology simply isn't ready for the real world.
          mycommentemail
          • 2 Years Ago
          @SVX pearlie
          You are absolute right. Because nothing says "real world" like a non-stop trip from LA to Vegas. I can't believe I still live in the fantasy world where I commute to and from work every day. In that rare, edge case scenario a BEV does seem to shine. But in the normal, real world where everyone has to drive nearly three hundred miles non-stop every day, the Tesla is a complete failure.
          kidcharlemgne
          • 2 Years Ago
          @SVX pearlie
          Haha SVX is such a reliable grumplestiltskin
          Grendal
          • 2 Years Ago
          @SVX pearlie
          You come here and promote GM products and then call names at people for calling you on your bias. Please stop. There is no need to call names. You usually make very reasonable and logical points that show you know what you're commenting on. Calling names just makes any point you make seem silly. BEV tech works different than ICE tech and you know that. When people come on here and take shots at the Volt's EREV tech you're all over them because it works different. Well BEV tech works different too. It has advantages and disadvantages that you are already well aware of. This was a bad review. Period. If a reviewer drove a Volt across the country and posted a big review about how they only got 22 MPG for the trip you'd be the first to point out how they used the car incorrectly. So knock it off. Please.
          purrpullberra
          • 2 Years Ago
          @SVX pearlie
          Waaaaaa. WAAAAAAAAAA. WAAAAAAAAAA. Dude, you're wrong. You are the evtard by trying to make stupid comparisons not one Tesla models owner would make. Resorting to name calling like you do instead of argued points proves you are on the wrong side. This isn't FOXLIES so your sophomoric argumentative style doesn't work on the non-brainwashed. Yep, you will prove Elon wrong and boy, he'll be sorry he didn't listen to a sage like you.
        Joeviocoe
        • 2 Years Ago
        @SVX pearlie
        "So, basically, MT proved that even a top-end EV is no match for a used $10k compact car which would go farther, faster, and in greater comfort." -SVX Big difference... the next day, the Tesla goes back to be awesome.. and your econobox, well, still sucks!
        Rotation
        • 2 Years Ago
        @SVX pearlie
        Yeah, if you are willing to drive your $90K car like it was an $8K econobox with no A/C, you too can get over 90% of the advertised range of a Tesla! Tesla really has to abandon the 300 mile claim. It would be great to see Tesla drop a fast charger in the middle of this route. Then you could make the trip in the car without much worry and no sacrifice.
          Rotation
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Rotation
          I thought the Fifth Gear test was a great idea. I think it helps both with people over-babying the car and with people just plain getting too excited about the low figures in the range-remaining gauge. I think this test did prove something. It proves that unless you are planning on making a significant stop (about 2 hours, maybe more if you can't get on a Tesla charger) you don't really want to use this car for this trip right now. For some people that's fine, they don't might stopping, many others will. Also, once Tesla gets a DC fast charger out there, it'll be smooth sailing. Put it in the right spot of course, ideally Barstow. A simple stop of even 15 minutes would make the trip into one where you have plenty of charge and so can use all the accessories you want and drive 70. If you're willing to stop for 25 minutes or more, you could pretty much let 'er rip. There are 3 Tesla chargers in Vegas too. Reports are they are a little difficult to get access to, but hopefully that'll get better. There are quite a few J1772s, so if you can leave your car alone for 15 hours during your trip you'll be able to leave with a full charge. Vegas also seems like a good candidate for a DC fast charger. There's quite a bit of power in that town, any casino should be able to get the feeds in for Tesla, CHAdeMO or SAE DC fast charging.
          Grendal
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Rotation
          @Rotation You might be right. But even if they had the proper adapter those reviewers probably wouldn't know how to use it. This review really proves that this is new technology for most people. They didn't know what to do or how to do it. I reiterate that the Fifth Gear review for the roadster was much more useful in the real world. Doing the same thing in a much more reasonable way. Imagine those same two reviewers covering up the screen and driving the car like a normal person and dealing with the consequences. If the car made it - then yeah! If it didn't they would have proven something.
          Tysto
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Rotation
          They drove 212 miles *uphill* with the AC on part-way and still had 64 miles left; that's 276. In cool weather, on flat land, you could get another 20-40 out of it pretty easily.
          Tysto
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Rotation
          They drove 212 miles *uphill* with the AC on part-way and still had 64 miles left; that's 276. In cool weather, on flat land, you could get another 25-45 out of it pretty easily.
          Rotation
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Rotation
          Grendal: You don't know the car had an adapter onboard and even with an adapter, it's still not a fast charger. There's no fast charger in Victorville either. There's no Tesla charger in Victorville from what I can tell, so you're talking about 6kW charging, which only adds about 15 miles range per charge hour. I didn't say they should charge for this review. I said that if there was a charger you could make the trip in the car without much worry and no sacrifice. For this review they experienced much worry and much sacrifice. Tysto: Over a range of 212 miles, a climb of 4,000 feet doesn't add that much energy usage. You're right, it's definitely not 0. With my 90% figure, I was referring to the return trip. I ignored that it was downhill. I shouldn't have to hope for cool weather to get 90% of the stated range for the car. The EPA figures take into account A/C use, as they should. For the price of the car I shouldn't have to pretend I have an $8K econobox with no A/C in order to get near the range the company advertises.
          Grendal
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Rotation
          Rotation "They should drop to the EPA figures, as should all the other EV companies." Reread my second comment. That exactly what I said too. So I agree with you. And there are 3 EV charging stations in Victorville. Tesla provides you with an adapter to charge using a Roadster plug. For this review they shouldn't have charged at all - it wasn't necessary. It just proved that the reviewers were unfamiliar with EV's.
          Rotation
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Rotation
          Grendal: There is no fast charger (DC fast charger) on the route. There is a Tesla Roadster charger in Barstow, but that's not a fast charger and a Model S won't connect to a Roadster charger anyway, they use different connectors. Hopefully Tesla will drop down a DC fast charger (supercharger) on the route soon. SVX pearlie: Tesla says "300 miles at 55mph" on their site. That is the main messaging for the 85kWh figure. Grendal: The figure quoted isn't even an old-style number, it's an at 55mph figure. But either way, it doesn't matter if they're technically lying (they are not), they're setting an unrealistic expectation and that's not good. They should drop to the EPA figures, as should all the other EV companies.
          Grendal
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Rotation
          And Rotation, considering they had 64 miles of range left after driving over 250 miles they kind of proved that a 300 mile range is possible if you baby the car. Though I do agree with you that Tesla should be sticking to the 265 mile EPA range and drop the 300 mile at 55 MPH that they still like to quote. There's nothing wrong with saying a 265 mile range with normal everyday driving. The 300 mile range feels like there should be an asterix attached to it, which is not good.
          Grendal
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Rotation
          On the old EPA 2 cycle program they would have got 300 mile range. That was how the Roadster was tested. So no "smoke and mirrors" just the program changed which changed their numbers.
          SVX pearlie
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Rotation
          So Telsa is advertising 300 "Niles" (Nissan Miles), smoke-and-mirrors style? Nice. And EVtards wonder why we don't take their stuff seriously.
          Grendal
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Rotation
          There is a fast charger in the middle of the route, they just didn't use it.
        Spec
        • 2 Years Ago
        @SVX pearlie
        They showed you should not expect to drive 285 miles with a pure electric car without some type of charging stop. If you are going to go 285 miles, then fly a plane, take a train, take a bus, drive a PHEV/hybrid/ICE car, etc. Pure electrics are not built for non-stop 300 mile trips.
      Nick Kordich
      • 2 Years Ago
      From what I've read elsewhere, a 1000' climb saps an additional 6.5 miles from a Roadster's range. I thought the Model S might be worse, given its greater weight, but it seems to hold up well. Cajon Pass is around 3800', while Las Vegas is about 2200'. I'd venture the elevation changes soaked up about 20 miles on the climb and gave back about 5 miles on the descent. On the return trip, they probably did just a little better than break even.
      Tysto
      • 2 Years Ago
      This is great! I've been hoping to see a long-distance drive that confirms the range estimates, and they seem to right on. If only they had had a Tesla Supercharger to try out that 1 hr charge claim. Once those chargers are rolled out, it will be possible to drive a Model S cross country with very little difference from a gas car. Juice up at every leg-stretcher; top off at every meal stop. And if battery tech continues at the current pace, we could see a Focus EV and Leaf with this kind of range at a reasonable price in just a few years....
      porosavuporo
      • 2 Years Ago
      The real question unanswered here, is if you actually want Jessi Lang to be cool or all hot and sweaty, once you get to Vegas.
        Gubbins
        • 2 Years Ago
        @porosavuporo
        Put me down for "hot & sweaty"...assuming you're keeping track of course.
      goodoldgorr
      • 2 Years Ago
      How did they recharged the car in vegas and for how long. With 110 volts it would have taken 24 hours to recharge so they probably use 220-240 volts level 2 charging for 6 hours approx. Please do complete article with all the informations needed. Im shopping here since a lot of years and we need all the informations necessary to make a good concious choice for a car or a truck or shoes.
        Rotation
        • 2 Years Ago
        @goodoldgorr
        That car takes more than 15 hours to charge at level 2 (6kw) if it is empty. No idea where you got the 6 hour figure from.
          goodoldgorr
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Rotation
          So we are still in the dark because we still don't know how they recharged in vegas. Each and all recharging process done to any electric car have been a story and exactly nobody have written abouth it.
        SVX pearlie
        • 2 Years Ago
        @goodoldgorr
        Just buy a Volt. It's EV for all short-range driving, but lets you drive 100s of miles without a problem, if you need to. Or a C-Max Energi / PIP for most of the useful effect. Worst case, you'll just get amazingly good gas mileage on a degraded battery pack.
        kidcharlemgne
        • 2 Years Ago
        @goodoldgorr
        Best of luck shoe shopping. I hear they don't include range estimates on soles... *welp*
      • 2 Years Ago
      How could those two eat in the car borrowed, and from Elon Musk? But seriously, this proves the car should be no worry for most owners - commute and day trips. Beautiful car, clean, way lower maintenance than an IC engine car, never having to visit a gas station...what's not to like?
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