Tesla Model S 60 Luxury Sedan: Forgotten Electric Car Hero?

History is full of unsung, forgotten heroes. People (or things) which helped changed the course of history forever. Those who worked hard to help effect a change in society, achieve a monumental milestone, or simply where there to lend a helping hand when it happened.

Is the Tesla Model S 60 an unsung hero? We think so.

Is the Tesla Model S 60 an unsung hero? We think so.

We’re talking about unsung heroes like Apollo Astronaut Michael Collins, who stayed in the Command Module alone while Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon for the first time. Or Max Yasgur, the farmer who allowed the very first Woodstock festival to take place on his farm. Or security guard Rick Rescorla, one of the many heroes of September 11, 2001 who helped evacuate thousands of people from the Twin Towers before they collapsed.

Of course, a car can’t compare to any of these people or the tens of thousands of other unsung heroes going about their daily live every day, making the world a better place.

But in the insular world of plug-in cars, we think the Tesla Model S 60 is probably the most under appreciated car out there. And after spending a long weekend with it, we want to make sure it gets the attention it deserves.

Less range, lower price

Let’s start with the basics. Like its big brothers the Tesla Model S 85, Tesla Model S 85D and Tesla Model S P85D, the Tesla Model S 60 is a full-size, five-seat all-electric luxury sedan. It’s made on the same production line in Fremont, California as the rest of the Tesla Model S family, and it shares the same battery chemistry as its longer-legged siblings.

We were able to Supercharge sometimes, since our test car had optional Supercharger connectivity enabled.

We were able to Supercharge sometimes, since our test car had optional Supercharger connectivity enabled.

What’s different however, is the size and range of the Tesla Model S 60’s battery pack — and subsequently, the price of the car.

Unlike the 85x variants, the Tesla Model S 60 comes with a 60 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack, which under most situations gives an EPA-approved range of 208 miles. Driven by a 380 horsepower (283 kilowatt) electric motor at the rear, the Tesla Model S 60 manages the 0-60 mph dash in 5.9 seconds, and goes on to an electronically-limited top speed of 120 mph.

That’s nowhere near the head-snapping performance of the segment-leading Tesla Model S P85D, which manages 60 mph in almost half the time of the Model S 60, and goes on to 155 mph where allowed.

But the Tesla Model S 60 also comes in at a far more respectable $71,070 before incentives, including destination and handling fee. The P85D costs $105,670 with handling and shipping before incentives.

And that’s a hunk of cash for anyone. Or to put it another way, enough of a difference to buy a Tesla Model S 60 AND a brand-new entry-level Nissan LEAF for the same as the P85D. And while we’ll admit the Tesla Model S 60 jumps to $73,070 before incentives but including handling and shipping when you include the optional Supercharger capability — a no-brainer as far as we’re concerned — it’s still the most affordable Tesla out there.

Same great driving experience

Normally when you buy an entry-level car, it feels somewhat less than its high-end sibling. The LEAF, for example, has an entirely different interior trim on entry and high-end models, reminding you that you’ve got the base-level car.

Our test car handled and felt just like the Tesla Model S 85 we've driven in the past.

Our test car handled and felt just like the Tesla Model S 85 we’ve driven in the past — it just accelerated a little more slowly.

In fact, we struggled to detect any differences behind the wheel between the Tesla Model S 60 and a more heavily-specced Model S 85.

Of course, acceleration is a little slower and — unless you’ve added the relevant options — you won’t get the air suspension, tech package, or full-length sunroof. But like so many other luxury cars, Tesla’s a-la-carte ordering system makes it super-easy for any customer to pick the options they want, regardless of the battery pack.

And here’s the big thing: while the Tesla Model S 60 can’t travel as far per charge as the Tesla Model S 85, it handles just as well. It has the same feel behind the wheel, the same cornering abilities, and copes with everyday acceleration just as readily as its more powerful sibling.

And it still has the same things that annoy us about the Tesla Model S 85: the terrible turning circle; the temperamental bluetooth connectivity and the lack of decent cup-holders.

In the end however, you’re still driving a Tesla. It just doesn’t drive as far per charge.

Range is a non-issue

During our brief time with the Tesla Model S 60 — which was cut short after just four days due to a six-inch stone-chip in the windscreen — we covered more than 800 miles. What’s more, at no point from the Friday evening when we picked up the car to the Sunday evening when we returned from our mammoth trip, was the Model S fully charged.

Range really was a non-issue.

Range really was a non-issue.

Although Tesla’s press car arrived with 204 miles predicted on the dash, it wasn’t the range-mode charge we were expecting. Despite that however, our car managed the driving duties we asked of it without a major problem.

At this point, we should probably admit that our test car came with both Supercharger and dual charger option boxes ticked — meaning we were able to charge in the UK at 22 kW from the Ecotricity Electric Highway when needed. Given that we only used two superchargers on our trip (not counting the two minutes we were waiting at one before starting), the majority of the miles were driven on basic overnight 3kW charges, a single 7 kW charge for three hours while visiting family, and no more than a few hours of 22 kW charging on cross-country routes yet to be served by Superchargers.

But with the Tesla CHAdeMO DCQC adapter soon promising to offer 50 kW charging for emergencies, we’re struggling to find justification for recommending dual chargers for many European and American customers.

With some careful driving, we managed 283 Wh/Mile.

With some careful driving, we managed 283 Wh/Mile.

Tally up the time spent charging on the road, and we’d guess it’s split between 1 hours’ worth of Supercharging (at times peaking at more than 100 kilowatts in power) and probably 2 hours, 45 minutes of 22 kW charging at various points. But at no point did we charge until full, and with one exception, our charging coincided with food or bathroom breaks.

Admittedly, we could have charged for longer: in two cases, we arrived with 1 mile of range remaining not because of a lack of total range, but because the car wasn’t full enough when we left. But it’s important at this juncture to note that we don’t feel this was down to failings of the Model S 60. Even with the Tesla Model S 85 and a similar usage pattern, we’d have likely spent less time charging, but drained the battery in a similar way.

Like any other electric car, the Tesla Model S 60 can be pushed to achieve some impressive energy figures. On one occasion, we managed 283 watt-hours per mile, a figure we’d have been proud to manage on any electric car. Similarly, we were less careful on other legs, pushing the car into 600 or 700 Wh/mile economy figures and eating range at an alarming rate.

Yet again however, this was a factor of our driving style, not our battery pack. And while we loved the Tesla Model S 60’s comfortable seats, we’re not sure spending 245 miles in them as opposed to 208 miles would really be worth the extra money of a Model S 85.

A true hero, with one tiny flaw

With far more range per charge than any other plug-in car on the market today, the Tesla Model S 60 is more than enough for most uses, especially if you’re coming from a smaller-range car.

With careful use, it can supplement its range with ease and if you’re lucky enough to have Superchargers in your area (and add the Supercharging option) it can use the Supercharger network like any other Tesla.

Supercharging was a welcome feature.

Supercharging was a welcome feature.

Admittedly, it won’t go quite as far per charge or accelerate as quickly as the Tesla Model S 85x variants, but for everyday uses and most family trips, it’s more car than you probably will ever need.

There’s just one tiny, niggling problem about the Model S 60 which we really can’t forgive: its 8-year, 125,000 mile battery warranty and drive unit warranty. While the rest of the Tesla lineup comes with 8-year, infinite mile warranties, the Model S 60 is limited to just 125,000 miles.

That’s equivalent to travelling just 15,625 miles a year for 8 years, something we’re sure most Tesla owners exceed if only because of the free fuel of the Superchargers and the sheer pleasure of driving a Model S.

So we’re making a small plea to Tesla CEO Elon Musk: Give the underdog the warranty it deserves, and watch the number of Tesla owners — specifically those who can’t afford the 85 — soar.

Because in our book, the Tesla Model S is one unsung hero, and dare we say it, a little more everyday and approachable than its superstar sibling.


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  • Michael Thwaite

    Is it the 2014 Golf Driver?

  • Nice review u2026 I have to agree, the 60 kWh version is really an unsung hero. nnAs Tesla continues to build out it’s Supercharger network, many locations are now only 200 km (~120 miles) apart. nnFor many potential owners in, or near major a metro area a 60 kWh will enable a large portion of their driving needs. For owners not caught in an emotional wrestle of range concerns, or the eye popping acceleration and performance, this is an excellent pragmatic choice.

  • Haggy

    You also have to factor in tax credits and rebates. In my state they are $10K. Now you are down to a $60K price range. If you spend $50/week on fuel for your old car, you might save $12,500 over a five year period. Consider car payments with no extra charge for gasoline compared to car payments for a $50K car with added fuel expenses per month, and you’d be able to afford the loan for the Tesla more readily. You might do some of your charging at home, but you’d likely spend under $1K/year if you do all of it at home. In some places, you have added benefits such as HOV lanes, which often reduce or eliminate bridge tolls. $2.50/workday adds up to another $600 or so a year, assuming vacation days. That could go a long way toward paying for electricity. nnnThis scenario certainly wouldn’t cover everybody. Some people might drive more and save more on gas, making it a better deal. Some might use superchargers more than others. And many will keep the car more than five years, meaning another $2500/year saved each subsequent year. You’d have to consider your personal situation, including how much you drive, what you spend now on fuel, what you spend per Kwh, and how long you would keep the car. Don’t be surprised if you find that it’s competitive with a car in the mid to high $40K range. But don’t expect the math to hold true once you get to the showroom. You may just find some of the add-ons too irresistible and then it’s no longer anywhere close to an economy car. But it will be a great deal for the price.

  • D. Harrower

    I’ve always been curious about the justification for the 60’s warranty. Elon Musk said before unveiling the new 85kWh warranty that they’ve always claimed EVs were more reliable so they should put their money where their mouth is. Somehow this didn’t apply to the 60kWh.nnWhat about it makes it deserving of lower warranty coverage? I can understand the slower acceleration and top speed figures; those are just a function of the smaller motor but the battery uses the same chemistry and the drivetrain uses similar tech to the 85.nnPersonally, I’m of the opinion that Tesla should cut the 60 from its lineup altogether. Less parts to stock, less complexity on the assembly line, and less superchargers to build. Budget-minded consumers will just have to wait for Model E or a second-hand S85. Tesla already has enough 85kWh customer to tie up their production capacity for the foreseeable future. They don’t need the 60.nnThat said, while they DO have it, it should benefit from the same warranty.

    • You’ve got to remember that not everyone can afford a Tesla Model S 85, and not everyone NEEDS a Tesla Model S 85. The Model S 60 is at the low-end of the Tesla price range, but it also sits at the absolute maximum many current mid-range car buyers will consider. Canning the 85 only pushes the entry point higher, and denies Tesla those who really could do a lot for the brand and the reputation.

    • Maxwell Erickson

      What do you know – they did cut the 60.

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