The Tesla Model S continues to entertain us with its engaging driving characteristics and wicked speed. And now, it provides three-row seating in an electric sport sedan—an ability more often associated with some fuel-guzzling SUVs.
When we took delivery of our $89,650 Tesla two months ago, the third-row seat we had ordered was not ready for distribution. The $1,500 option would be installed when it became available. The thinking was, there is no sense holding up the car for a feature that can be added later.
Our Model S had to go back to the Tesla service center in Queens, New York, last week to have a cracked windshield replaced. Fortunately, that service visit coincided with our seat being in stock. Making the process easy for us, Tesla arranged a truck to pickup our vehicle to have the work performed and later return it.
The third seat folds into a well beneath the enormous rear hatch, like a clever piece of origami. Once deployed it becomes a rear-facing two-place child seat, reminiscent of those in old Volvo station wagons. Each of the two positions has a racing-style five-point harness. Thankfully, the Tesla rep who transported our car back to our track demonstrated how the seat folds, since the multi-step technique is a little complicated.
The wee jump seats, appropriate for tykes that would otherwise be in a forward-facing booster seat or children over 37-inches tall, bring the car's seating capacity to seven. When folded away, it still leaves plenty of room for cargo.
But even when it's occupied by a couple of kids, there is still luggage space available under the front hood, which in Tesla speak is called a "frunk." This simple addition makes the Model S the reigning EV with the greatest passenger capacity.
A couple of our staffers have kids the right age and size to use these seats; we'll let you know soon how well the seats work in the real world and if they make the Model S a viable wagon alternative.