Tesla Model S: Top Alternatives for 2023/2023
Rich Taber has nearly three decades of professional writing experience including eight years as an automotive columnist for The Standard-Times newspaper, seven years on staff at WheelsTV as a scriptwriter, production manager, and editorial vice-president, and five years as CEO of RPM News Weekly. He has written extensively for numerous regional and local publications and developed public relations products for many non-profit organizations. Having studied both engineering and liberal arts at the University of Notre Dame and worked in audio/visual services, electronic sales, graphic design, and event and entertainment production, he brings a well-balanced skill set to his automotive writing.
If there is any singular electric vehicle that has commanded attention since its inception, it undoubtedly would be the Tesla Model S. Introduced to the marketplace in 2012, the Model S surpassed expectations right from the beginning (it even landed on our list of hardest cars to steal). Since then, nearly every other major automaker has been playing catch-up.
Clearly, worthy competitors have emerged in the last several years, giving car shoppers good reasons to look around for premium alternatives to the Model S sedan.
Let’s explore a few.
Table of Contents
Tesla Model S Weaknesses
The Takeaway: As innovative and singularly successful as the Tesla Model S has been in the premium all-electric marketplace, its progression from a rear-wheel drive sedan with a 265-mile range in 2012 to an all-wheel drive one providing 405 miles of range has not been accomplished in a vacuum. Automakers around the globe have closely watched it rise in popularity while hedging their bets for full-on electric mobility, mostly with hybrid and PHEV models. Now, however, with the Tesla’s cutting-edge features, ultra-high performance, and forward-thinking charging station network as a template, rivals, are eager to get a share of the market, having put themselves at an initial disadvantage.
If quickness is one’s prime purchasing motivation, the Model S will not disappoint. Whether it’s the sublime 3.1-second zero-to-60 mph sprints that the 670-horsepower dual-motor model achieves, or the ridiculous 1.99-second zero-to-60 mph flash of the 1020-horsepower tri-motor Plaid edition, acceleration has earned this EV some bragging rights.
But there’s more to premium luxury than that. Here’s where Tesla’s fastidious adherence to a minimalistic ethos has given its rivals an edge. While the Model S cabin presents a premium look, it doesn’t exude the level of plushness found in the Lucid Air and others. No doubt, the Model S offers buyers many very technologically advanced self-driving autopilot features, but will they be enough to lure someone accustomed to the utmost in luxuriousness.
Central to the functionality of the Model S is an enormous 17-inch display that handles nearly all the vehicle’s settings. A much smaller screen sits in the gauge cluster. The exotically modernistic yoke-style steering wheel is attractive and enticing, but after a few weeks of ownership, a buyer likely will wish they had opted for the no-cost standard steering wheel instead.
Tesla Model S vs. Competitors
|Model||Best Net HP||Max Range||Rapid Charge Time||MPGe Fuel Economy||Approximate MSRP w/o options|
|Tesla Model S|
Tri-Motor - 1020 hp
Dual Motor - 1050 hp
Tri-Motor - 1200 hp
AMG - 649 hp
|Audi e-tron GT|
RS - 637 hp
1. Lucid Air
First available as a 2022 model, the Lucid Air squarely aims at the Model S audience, outdoing the Tesla in both performance and elegance. Entry-level pricing of $87,400 for the single-motor, rear-drive edition puts the Air well within reach for luxury-on-a-budget shoppers, while those looking to maximize the value of a dollar spent will find the step up to the $107,400 Air Touring well worth the effort, adding not only range but lots more horsepower, too.
A bigger step up to the Air Grand Touring puts one into an electric vehicle that currently offers the most range of any EV in production. An ultra-performance Sapphire edition, due later in 2023, will wear a quarter-million-dollar sticker. As for competing with the Model S Plaid edition, either the Grand Touring or the Sapphire will go toe-toe on performance, but the Grand Touring also will leave you with the most juice in the batteries for the ride home.
Inside, the Air wears its name well, offering over 100 cubic feet of passenger space and an executive rear seating option that features a recline function that allows one to fully stretch out. The glass canopy in the upper trims furthers the sense of airiness. Meanwhile, the trunk provides 32 cubic feet of storage while the frunck (front trunk) adds another ten.
A large 34-inch main display incorporates the instrument cluster with the infotainment/navigation screen, while a retractable lower display handles additional settings such as seats and charging. Over-the-air updates ensure that all telematics stay current. Plus, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard – not so with the Model S.
The Takeaway: The Lucid Air pretty much has it all over the Model S except for not having access to the Tesla charging network – the most comprehensive available. Nevertheless, it mitigates this by not only having substantial range capabilities across the lineup, but also by offering three years of free fast charging on the Electrify America network.
The Mercedes-Benz EQS sedan may not come to this competition boasting superior performance statistics, but it did arrive with uncompromising elegance and refinement. Not that its numbers are bad. It’s just surprising that it lags behind the leaders in horsepower, quickness, range, and fuel efficiency.
It is peculiar, though, to think that it's zipping from zero to 60 mph in 3.4 seconds could be considered sluggish. Unfortunately, that’s the case when compared with the under 2-second marks set by both the Model S Plaid and the Air Sapphire.
Nevertheless, the EQS., with inimitable Mercedes panache, shakes off any semblance of boredom. It’s smart, learning your face and fingerprint while adapting to your habits so to anticipate what you’re about to do. It’s aware, with 350 sensors providing a full scope of information about what is going on around the vehicle. It’s totally elegant, offering 4-zone climate control, massaging seats, aromatherapy, and a 56-inch hyperscreen that spans the dashboard utilizing artificial intelligence to bring features and commands to the front, so you don’t have to riffle through multi-layer menus.
Then there’s the sophistication of features such as rear-axle steering that turns the rear wheels with the front wheels to assist lane changes. At low speeds, it turns the wheels in the opposite direction up to 10 degrees to make parallel parking into a tight spot a cinch.
The Takeaway: The EQS sedan assumes the title of flagship model in the new EQ division at Mercedes-Benz. Had it arrived a few years ago, it might have generated more attention, but with other new premium all-electric sport cars able to steal the limelight with faster charging and longer range, the remarkable elegance of this luxury sedan gets a bit overlooked.
3. BMW i7
Debuting for the 2023 model year, the all-electric BMW i7 offers classic 7 Series luxury sedan curb appeal minus the internal combustion engine emissions. Dual electric motors deliver a hefty 536 horsepower with 549 lb-ft of torque, suggesting that this 5917-pound executive class sedan has some quickness, which it does, but zero-to-60 mph in 4.5 seconds is hardly impressive among this group of EVs.
Where the i7 really steps out from the crowd is with the intangible element that has always defined BMW – style. If exceptional comfort and quietness are driving one’s purchase, the i7 will not disappoint. Plus, conveniences abound, including a heated steering wheel, wireless device charging, a full-color head-up display, and a power rear sunshade.
An impressive floating glass dashboard layout incorporates a digital gauge cluster display with an infotainment touchscreen (iDrive 8). Meanwhile, included state-of-the-art collision avoidance and parking assist technologies take some of the load off the driver, while an available Driving Assistance Professional package offers hands-free driving at speeds up to 85 mph.
BMW has arranged with Electrify America to provide i7 owners with three years of complimentary charging. To help the driver find chargers, the onboard Navigation assists in planning route-specific charging station stops based on available range.
The Takeaway: Unmitigated style and elegance define the BMW i7, and it’s no laggard when it comes to performance, either. However, for full-on all-electric stamina and efficiency, it’s not yet at the head of the class even though quite proficient.
Built on the same platform as the all-electric Porsche Taycan, the Audi e-tron GT leads the charge in luxury performance sedans for the German automaker. There’s no avoiding that its driving range comes up significantly short of the leaders in this group, but this dual-motor EV makes up for it in pure exhilaration and fun.
Unique to this comparison group of electric sedans is the e-tron GT’s 2-speed transmission that’s designed to maximize acceleration while improving efficiency and, consequently driving range. Selectable regenerative braking controls built into what would otherwise be paddle shifters give the driver a hands-on way of managing energy recapturing.
Meanwhile, an intuitive all-wheel drive system with electronically controlled torque vectoring separately powers front and rear axles, enhancing traction and stability. A worthwhile option is all-wheel steering, which improves high-speed stability as well as low-speed maneuverability.
Plush leather and leather-free interiors are available, and one can lavish massaging heated and cooled front seats upon the sumptuous experience this vehicle offers. But the low-slung front seating position suggests that the drive is intended to be more sporty than cushy. For ultimate acceleration and power, look to the RS edition, which peaks at 637 horsepower.
The Takeaway: The Audi e-tron GT makes a good argument for the idea that going all-electric isn’t always just about the efficiency. It may be a zero-emissions luxury sedan, but its level of exuberance says that its engineers had sportier intentions, too.
Frequently Asked Questions
What vehicle is the best alternative to the Tesla Model S?
This comparison of five top contenders in the premium all-electric sedan marketplace is a starting point to finding the vehicle that will best meet your needs. Electric vehicles are new experience for most drivers. If possible, test driving each of these models will bring you closer to deciding which is best for you.
Which luxury electric sedan provides the best combination of power and range?
Clearly, the Lucid Air comes out on top if one just considers power and range statistics. However, owning any one of the vehicles in our comparison has its own special advantages and rewards.
Should I expect to pay over $100,000 for a new all-electric luxury sedan?
Not necessarily. Although, a six figure MSRP is more the rule than the exception for a first-owner luxury sedan in the all-electric vehicle marketplace.