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Tesla Model S, Model X get revised looks, 520-mile range option, big price increase

The Tesla Model S has gotten a thorough refresh.

Photo courtesy of Tesla

During its fourth-quarter earnings call today, Tesla revealed significant upgrades to its Model S all-electric sedan. The changes bring the car more in line with the looks and technology offerings of its Model Y and Model 3 brethren.

Tesla Model S

Tesla has tweaked the outside of the Model S, giving it a new front bumper with revised air intakes, an altered rear diffuser, and two new wheel designs (19- Tempest (included) and 21-inch Arachnid ($4,500) designs). The Model S's exterior trim is now finished in black, like the Model Y. White will remain the only no-cost paint job option Tesla offers on the car.

Tesla will sell the Model S in three different grades. The Tesla Model S Long Range is priced at $79,990 (a big jump from the $69,420 entry model on the previous Model S) and comes with two electric motors and all-wheel drive. The company says the car gets from zero to 60 mph in 3.1 seconds and has a top speed of 155 mph. The range of that model is 412 miles.

2022 Tesla Model S The Model S has received exterior revisions while the Model X has not. They share interior design.Photo courtesy of Tesla

2022 Tesla Model S

The mid-grade Tesla Model S Plaid has three electric motors and torque vectoring functionality. It gives the driver access to 1,020 horsepower and has a zero to 60 mph time of 1.99 seconds. This version of the Model S has a 390-mile range and a $119,990 price tag.

The top-tier Tesla Model S Plaid+ delivers over 1,100 horsepower and can get from zero to 60 mph faster than the Model S Plaid. It has a top speed of 200 mph and a range of over 520 miles. It comes with a $139,000 price tag.

The most significant changes are inside the cabin of the Model S where there's a horizontally-orientated 17-inch touch screen at the center of the dashboard with up to 10 teraflops of processing power. The screen boasts 2200x1300 resolution. In front of the driver, there remains a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster. Rear-seat passengers get an 8-inch screen that gives them access to the same infotainment and games as the main screen. It works with wireless controllers.

There's more small item storage in the new car and wireless charging and Bluetooth for multiple devices. There's also USB-C charging ports. Heated seats in both rows and ventilated front seats are standard.

A new steering wheel and infotainment screen dominated conversation surrounding the interior changes of the vehicle.Photo courtesy of Tesla

The talk of the town is Tesla's new steering wheel though it's not exactly a wheel insomuch as a Formula 1 car is driven by a steering wheel. Rather than having traditional stalks for turn signals, lights, and wipers, those functions are controlled by touch buttons on the wheel.

The Model S now comes with more carbon fiber and wood trim, covering door panels and parts of the dashboard. Black, beget, and white remain as the only interior color scheme options. Tesla has redesigned the car's door cards and rear seats, which now have a fold-down armrest with cup holders.

Tri-zone climate control; a 22-speaker, 960-watt audio system; HEPA filtration; and a glass roof are standard. The only besides exterior enhancements is Tesla's Full-Self Driving suite of driver assist systems that is not actually autonomous vehicle technology. That's a $10,000 add-on.

The car lacks traditional climate control buttons, instead relying on the screen to command those functions.Photo courtesy of Tesla

Tesla is currently accepting orders for the upgraded Model S now. The company expects the first deliveries for Model S Long Range and Plaid cars will happen in March. The Plaid Plus version isn't due until late 2021. Keep in mind, Tesla's timeline usually gets pushed a bit.

Tesla Model X

Meanwhile, the Model X will continue to have the same exterior design, but gets the new infotainment screen, steering wheel, and rear passenger screen that the Model S does.

Tesla is pricing the Model X Long Range at $89,990 (a $10,000 jump from the previous edition). It has 360 miles of range, a top speed of 155 mph, and a zero to 60 mph Tim elf 3.8 seconds. A more robust Tesla Model X Plaid has 340 miles of range, a top speed of 163 mpg, and a zero to 60 mph time of 2.5 seconds. That version will run buyers $119,000. There is no Model X Plaid+ variant.

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What was your best car-related experience this year?

Chris Teague

This year has been a lot of things, but it hasn't been boring. Even if we focus only on the car world, there's plenty to talk about, from microchip-related new vehicle shortages to the wave of new electric vehicles hitting the market. That leaves us with a question for all of you: What was the best or most memorable car moment for you in 2021? I'll get the conversation started.

Porsche Cayenne GTS My SoCal Cayenne śaw snow for the first time in its nearly 200k-mile life last week.Chris Teague

I'd spent a good portion of 2021 wanting a new-old car to drive when I wasn't testing a new vehicle. That's harder than you'd think for someone who thinks, talks, and writes about cars all day, because there are so many interesting, risky, and downright funky options out there in every price range. The added headache for me was that I'd chosen to shop for a "fun" car in one of the most volatile car markets ever seen. Even the extremely high-mileage "untouchable" European cars I wanted to buy were commanding ridiculous prices.

After a solid few months of waffling between various rattletrap Mercedes-AMG, BMW M, and Audi S/RS cars, I landed on an option that had escaped me before: The Porsche Cayenne. First-generation Cayennes are a real bargain now, but the 955/957 (Porsche's internal code for the SUVs) can experience major problems that occur with or without regular maintenance and care. I was determined to buy one, and wasn't overly concerned about mileage, as long as I could count the number of owners on one hand. There was a beautiful 2009 Cayenne GTS with 90,000 miles but nine owners, a gorgeous 2004 Cayenne Turbo with a concerning engine tick, and many more just like them. Finally, I decided to risky-click a 196,000-mile Cayenne GTS in Southern California. It had one owner and one dealer-owner for a month or two prior to sale, its condition looked decent in photos, and I was able to negotiate a reasonable enough price that shipping it from San Diego to Maine wasn't a huge problem.

Porsche Cayenne GTS The pics look great, but hands-on tells another story.Chris Teague

I had two traveling Euro mechanics check the car out, and both confirmed that it was well-worn but mechanically sound, so I jumped. Ten days later, on a snowy, icy, dark Maine afternoon, the Cayenne arrived. Cosmetically, there were a few things the dealer and mechanics failed to mention, but overall, it looked good. The SUV passed Maine safety and emissions testing without problem, got a new set of Michelins, and I was on my way.

Porsche Cayenne GTS I'm in danger, but thankfully this should be a reasonable fix.Chris Teague

A few days of driving revealed what I was really in for. A check engine light revealed a camshaft position sensor error and the Cayenne displayed a nasty vibration at idle. A new sensor and motor mounts, and I'm on my way. I'll update you as more things break or miraculously work, but I want to hear your memories from 2021.

Email me at chris@automotivemap.com, and I will compile the best and most interesting stories for a story on New Year's Day. May you all have a wonderful 2022.

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