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Our Tesla Model S gets a third-row seat and now seats seven

Consumer Reports News: March 19, 2013 02:08 PM

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.

Making the Tesla Model S suited for an even bigger family, we had a third-row seat installed in our electric test car, increasing passenger capacity to seven. (Read our complete road test of the top-scoring Tesla Model S.)

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.

Tesla-Model-S-third-row-seat.jpgOur 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.

Visit our Hybrids/EVs car buying guide for quick access to the latest advice, Ratings, road tests, and videos.

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.

Winter chills limit range of the Tesla Model S electric car

Gabe Shenhar

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