Tesla Model S Long Range Plus Breaks Car and Driver Record

Test drivers with Car and Driver were blown away by the Tesla Model S Long Range plus. It’s the first EV tested by Car and Driver to make it more than 300 miles on a single charge. The Long Range Plus is currently the longest range Tesla. What sets the Model S Long Range Plus apart and gives it this incredible range?

A Tesla Model S EV sedan on a highway
Tesla Model S | Alex Kraus/Bloomberg via Getty Images

How the Tesla Model S Long Range Plus was tested

Silver Tesla logo badge on a white Model S
Tesla logo | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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Car and Driver employs more than 60 years of experience when testing cars. Each year Car and Driver tests more than 400 cars gathering more than 200 stats on each. Testing is performed under strictly controlled conditions to ensure the integrity of the data.

Vehicles are driven at a consistent 75 mph on a loop of Michigan’s I-94 highway. Testing is rescheduled in the event of extreme weather or traffic interference. Climate control is set to 72 degrees, and no extra passengers are allowed. For EV’s these tests don’t include a meticulous and methodical fill-up beforehand.

EVs are tested a bit differently than gas-powered vehicles. An electric vehicle can not be driven at highway speeds once it enters low-battery or “limp” mode. For EVs, Car and Driver records the battery state and estimated range every 5 miles, then plot that data along a curve to project its full range. The Model S Long Range Plus gave Car and Driver an impressive 320 miles on one charge.

Tesla ranges have come a long way

A blue Tesla Model S charging
Tesla Model S charging | Richard Baker / In Pictures via Getty Images Images

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Tesla released its first car in 2008. The Roadster offered drivers 245 miles of range on a full battery. The first Model S was released in 2012. The luxury sedan delivered 265 miles, a bump over its sportier sibling. Two years later, new editions of the Model S boasted 285 miles per charge.

Ludacris mode was introduced in the Model S in 2015. Drivers love the dramatic and exciting features. It may have come at a cost as these models offered a paltry 253-mile range. The Model X was introduced the same year and could only muster 250 miles per charge.

2018 saw the first Tesla models with potential ranges reaching 300 miles per full charge. The upcoming Cybertruck is projected to have the longest range of any vehicle the automaker has produced. The trimotor version of the Cybertruck is estimated to have a range of up to 500 miles.

How Tesla gave the Model S Long Range Plus a boost

Several changes were made to the Long Range plus to improve its performance. Surprisingly, no change was made to the battery, which is the same as the previous edition. Instead, the increase in range was created through efficiency. Interior materials were trimmed down in weight to put less strain on the motors. The Long Range Plus has improved aerodynamics to create less wind resistance. Custom vehicle-specific wheels and tires eke out extra miles. The motors were tweaked for better performance as well.

The Long Range Plus may reign supreme for now, but the upcoming Plaid Plus edition may dethrone it. It’s projected to have 30% more range than the Long Range Plus. The Plaid Plus Model S should be released by mid-2022.