Tesla Model S Regains Top Rating From Consumer Reports

Tesla Model S refresh


Tesla Model S

Tesla finally brings its automatic emergency braking feature up to speed, and Consumer Reports gives it the rating it deserves.

Back in April, the Tesla Model S and X received downgraded safety scores from Consumer Reports (CR) because they didn’t have standard automatic emergency braking (AEB). The cars were equipped with the hardware to support the feature, but due to the slow rollout of incremental software updates, the AEB system wasn’t fully functional.


Tesla Model X

When CR apprised Tesla of the fact that the vehicles’ ratings were to be lowered, the Silicon Valley automaker began quickly sending the necessary over-the-air updates. However, the update wasn’t enough to push the cars back up to their previous status. The late April update activated low-speed AEB, which functioned up to 28 mph instead of the 90 mph limit found in earlier models. Since then, Tesla had been working to get the high-speed feature up and running.

Just this past week, CR moved the Tesla Model S back to its top-rated luxury sedan following Tesla’s successful implementation of highway speed AEB. The Tesla Model X also regained some of the points it had previously lost. In early July, the electric carmaker sent an over-the-air update that bumped its current fleet up to the 90 mph limit for the safety feature. This is on par with Tesla vehicles that were built before October 2016, and outfitted with the first-generation Tesla Autopilot technology.

CR tested the feature independently on its own track to assure that the higher speed system was truly functional. The publication also verified that the update has, in fact, updated fleet-wide. CR is adamant about the highway speed AEB feature because it’s been proven to save lives, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) agrees. Last March, twenty automakers joined forces in a voluntary agreement with the NHTSA, which will make AEB standard on most vehicles by 2022. A policy analyst for CR, William Wallace, insisted:

“Automakers should never treat safety as a luxury item. Proven, life-saving safety features should be in every new car sold, and automakers certainly should not wait until 2022 to make automatic emergency braking standard.”

Source: Consumer Reports

Categories: Tesla

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12 Comments on "Tesla Model S Regains Top Rating From Consumer Reports"

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Good timing, right on the eve of Tesla’s media event for the roll-out of the Model 3.

If I didn’t know better, I’d think Consumer Reports was deliberately churning out controversy over its seemingly arbitrary changes in ratings of Tesla cars to get more attention for themselves.

Oh, wait… I don’t know better.

The way I see it, Consumer Reports has always given the S the ratings it deserves. Ratings are far from arbitrary and change with the facts on the ground. That’s the mark of an objective, responsive service.


Couldn’t have said it better myself, sir!

Four Electrics said:

“The way I see it, Consumer Reports has always given the S the ratings it deserves. Ratings are far from arbitrary…”

Far from arbitrary? Then explain to me, oh Mr. Serial Tesla Basher, just how CR could give the 2015 Model S ratings, in various categories, ranging from “Excellent” (11 categories), “Very good” (1 category), “Good” (3 categories), to just one “Fair”… yet give the car an overall “Poor” rating, despite the fact that they had not given it any “Poor” rating in even one single category! (see image linked below)

If that isn’t arbitrary, then I don’t know what would be.

Here is CR’s guide to Car Reliability and their charts. https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/2012/04/reliability-histories/index.htm “To check on the reliability history of a particular year’s model, start with the Used Car Verdict. This score shows whether the model had more or fewer problems overall than the average model of that year, calculated from the total number of problems reported by subscribers in all trouble spots. Because problems with the engine major, cooling system, transmission major, and drive system can be serious and expensive to repair, our calculations give extra weight to problems in those areas. … To see a model’s individual strengths and weaknesses, look at the individual scores for each of the 17 Trouble Spots. The “Average Problem Rates” chart below shows the average problem rates for all models in the survey in each trouble spot. Scores are based on the percentage of survey respondents who reported problems for that trouble spot, compared with the average model of that year. ” From the chart further down that page you can see that a lot of the problem areas where Tesla gets an ‘Excellent’ tend to be very low problem rate for all cars, <1% average problem rate on engine stuff, transmission major, exhaust… Read more »

I don’t want to put words in your mouth, but it seems to me you’re saying that the various categories shown on the chart, the categories with the circles of various colors, are not a true reflection of what CR’s actual ratings are for the cars.

Assuming that’s true, then why does CR bother to show those categories? If it’s not a case of them being arbitrary, then at the very least their charts don’t appear to meaningfully represent how they actually rate the cars. Are the charts really that useless? And if so, why does CR devote so much space in their magazine to those charts?

I would think that after all these years, CR would have figured out a way to graphically display a meaningful breakdown of the various factors they use to arrive at an overall rating for a product. If what you say is true, then it appears to me that the breakdown they display is pretty meaningless.

Every car I’ve ever driven with any kind of obstacle avoidance or automatic emergency braking has been glitchy at best, downright dangerous at worse.

My Volt will randomly think it’s about to collide with something on the highway causing the cruise control to disengage, and the car to slow down pretty quickly due to the regen braking. I’ve nearly been hit because of it.

For more common is when I’m driving around a curve and there are parked cars on the sides of the street. It sees them straight ahead and triggers the warning tone repeatedly.

I’m still pissed at Tesla for their response to the IIHS offset crash results. Simply declaring NHSTA the only valid crash test results and implying ulterior motives in the IIHS’s results. They should bite the bullet and see why the dummy’s head was hitting and going off to the side.

The young man in China who hit the street sweeper in exactly this type of crash, may have died as a result of the very problem the IIHS discovered. If the ‘R’ word(recall) is necessary, then so be it.

They got only acceptable in that front overlap test, and Tesla has said they plan to do a seat-belt adjustment to remedy the potential problem.

Yeah, from what I read they do need to do something about the seat belt or the seat belt mount.

The “problem” with only a very small area of the car not being able to absorb an impact backed by the full weight of the car… that’s just physics, not much anybody could do about that without magically reducing the weight of the car quite a bit, so I think it’s entirely reasonable for Tesla to blow that off. Cars are not built to be literally as strong as armored tanks (despite Volvo’s ads), and if they were, only the very rich could afford them.

Tesla should aim for the Model S to meet or exceed the performance of any other sedan on the market other than some huge Bentley or something. Don’t say ‘it’s physics’ and shrug when other cars are doing better.

If other cars do better in one specific category, but worse than Tesla cars overall, then it seems rather counter-productive to suggest Tesla should redesign its cars to do better in that one category.

Let’s face reality here: Designing the nose of a car to be a crumple zone means it needs to collapse smoothly under the pressure of an impact. That means it can’t be too strong at any point. Contrariwise, the “small overlap” crash test is one where a car will perform better if its nose does not collapse so nicely under pressure. Cars with stiffer noses, not designed to collapse under pressure, would perform better there.

It seems to me this is a case of you can have one characteristic or the other, but not both.

Now, if you can point to any car which performs as well or better than Tesla cars in the overall test ratings, but also does better in that one category of the “small overlap” crash test, then I’ll concede you have a valid argument. But otherwise, I don’t see that you do.