Tesla Model S Gets Highest Consumer Reports Rank Ever

Tesla stock soaring on hype and news

Consumer Reports adores the Tesla Model S. That's the latest honor for the luxury electric vehicle, which also won Motor Trend Car of the Year. The news is pumping Tesla's share price, rewarding investors who took a chance on the start-up company.

After putting the Model S through a rigorous evaluation, the Yonkers, N.Y., independent product-testing organization has given the electric vehicle a score of 99 out of 100, the highest score it has ever awarded any vehicle. But it is holding back actually putting the car on its "recommended list."

Consumer Reports doesn't often hand out such high marks. The last car to achieve a similar score was the Lexus LS 460L, which Consumer Reports tested in 2007.

"The Tesla Model S ... accelerates, handles and brakes like a sports car, it has the ride and quietness of a luxury car and is far more energy efficient than the best hybrid cars," said Jake Fisher, director of Automotive Testing for Consumer Reports in a press release announcing results from the evaluation.
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But the fact that Tesla is still a young company with a limited dealer network and no track record of resale value or reliability was also a concern. Despite its top score in the battery of tests, Consumer Reports stopped short of giving the Tesla Model S its coveted "Recommended" rating, because there is not yet enough reliability data on the vehicle.

The good news keeps coming for Tesla. Late Wednesday, the automaker reported adjusted earnings of $15 million on revenue of $561.8 million, up from just $30.2 million last year. It was the company's first quarterly profit since it was founded a decade ago, and the news sent shares soaring, up 20 percent before the stock market opened Thursday.

Tesla reached $70.46 today before sliding back a little. That is up from a 52-week low of $25.52, far out-pacing the gains of the S&P 500 and Dow Jones this year.

"It is an astonishing run on the shares," said AOL Autos Editor-in-Chief and director of industry analysis David Kiley. "But this feel like a late 1990s dot-com stock to me ... there is ceiling on how many luxury electric vehicles the public will absorb, so I say investor beware at these prices."

Check out Daily Finance's take on Tesla here.

Voted 'Most Practical'

Consumer Reports editors said that the $89,650 Model S is the most practical electric car they've ever tested, thanks to its large 85-kilowatt-hour, lithium-ion battery, which gave it more than twice the range of the Ford Focus Electric and Nissan Leaf.

It drove 180 to 225 miles on a single charge, depending on how cold it was outside. When the temperature dropped, so did the range, because batteries discharge faster in cold weather. Road conditions, such as hilly terrain, can also severely curb the distance electric vehicles can drive on a single charge. The Environmental Protection Agency has certified the Model S equipped with the 85-kilowatt-hour battery for a range of 265 miles. A smaller, more affordable battery is also available and is EPA-certified for 208 miles.

The Tesla Model S returned the equivalent of 84 miles per gallon, which is considerably better than a Toyota Prius' estimated fuel economy of 50 miles per gallon overall. At the national average of 11 cents per kilowatt-hour, it cost about $9 to fully charge the battery, which Consumer Reports said is like running a conventional car on gasoline that costs $1.20 a gallon.

Editors liked the way the Model S drove and likened its sharp handling to that of a Porsche. Its acceleration was impressive, sprinting from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 5.6 seconds. Editors also gave high marks for the interior, which they deemed as beautifully crafted as the inside of an Audi-and quiet. In fact, the Tesla Model S is the quietest car Consumer Reports has tested since the Lexus LS, not surprising given its electric propulsion.

The review wasn't all positive, though. Editors dinged the Model S for its range, which though good for an electric car, is still limited when compared to conventional vehicles. They also cited long charge times and "coupe-like styling that impairs rear visibility and access" as significant downsides.

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