$76,000 Tesla Model S 70D hits the sweet spot

New base model brings AWD, free Supercharging, and longer range

Published: April 08, 2015 01:30 PM
Tesla Model S 70D

For luxury enthusiasts drawn to the the Tesla Model S P85D's “insane” performance but deterred by its eye-popping price, there's a new Tesla to consider: the Tesla Model S 70D.

Starting at $76,200 before taxes and incentives, the 70D provides a worthy step into Tesla ownership, replacing the slow-selling 60-kWh model. Where the previous 60 model felt like a compromised package that existed to hit a price point, the 70D promises all the range and performance most drivers could want.

The 70D has Tesla’s dual-motor all-wheel drive system, along with a 70-kWh battery that gives it an EPA-rated range of 240 miles. That’s up from 208 miles with the 60-kWh model.

Like the Tesla P85D (and 85D) announced last fall, the 70D has front and rear motors. Finding its place in the pecking order, the 70D has an official horsepower rating of 329 hp.  That’s less than half that of the mighty P85D, but more than enough to deliver real-world thrills and catch some would-be stoplight competitors by surprise. (And Tesla has a history of boosting horsepower with sofware updates, as it did with the 85D, which is now rated at 422 hp.)

Tesla says the 70D has a top speed of 140 mph and will go 0-60 in 5.2 seconds, compared with 3.1 seconds for the P85D. Rest assured, the 70D would still likely be the quickest electric car on your block. The 70D is also the most efficient Tesla you can buy, with an EPA energy-efficiency rating of 101 mpg-equivalent (MPGe).

Tesla 70D 85 85D P85D
Range (miles, EPA)
240 265 270 253
MPGe, combined 101 89 100 93
Horsepower 329 362 422 691
0-60 mph (seconds, claimed)
5.2 5.4 4.4 3.1
Top speed (mph, claimed)
140 140 155 155
Price $76,200 $81,200 $86,200 $106,200

Perhaps more important, base-model Tesla owners now get standard access to the company’s nationwide network of fast-charging public "Superchargers," which owners of 60-kWh cars used to have to pay extra to use.

Tesla also introduced three new color choices on all Model Ses: Ocean Blue, Obsidian Black, and Warm Silver.

It makes sense that Tesla is upgrading its base model. Looking at units registered with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the company built only two 60-kWh cars in the last month, and they made up less than 2 percent of production in 2014.

Tesla buyers have been gravitating toward the most capable models with the longest range. Most Teslas produced so far in 2015 have been dual-motor, all-wheel drive, 85-kWh cars, according to government numbers. That includes both 85Ds and the 691-hp, high-performance P85D.

But if Tesla expects to broaden its market, it needs to appeal to less well-heeled buyers as well. The company is hoping the 70D model will fill that gap until its expected $35,000 Model 3 debuts in 2017.

Read our complete Tesla Model S road test.

—Eric Evarts

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