For the first time since Tesla introduced the Model S in 2012, the electric automaker is giving its large sedan a major overhaul. While the Model S received a new nose and slightly updated styling in 2017, the 2021 model year marks the first time Tesla has given its sedan a fresh look. The changes affect the Model X, as well, marking the first time the large SUV gets a refresh in its history. Both electric vehicles are now available in high-performance Plaid trims, too. For the 2021 model year, Tesla is clearly flexing its muscles.
While things aren’t that different on the outside, the interiors of the two electric vehicles see the largest changes. The orientation of the touchscreen has been flipped to be horizontal instead of vertical and the screen measures in at 17 inches. The new screen offers more processing power, as well, being capable of playing videogames like Cyberpunk 2077 and the Witcher 3.
The most radical change, though, is the new steering wheel. It doesn’t look like a traditional steering wheel, but like a yoke out of an airplane. In addition to the strange design of the steering wheel, the Model S and Model X don’t have any stalks. If you’re looking for the turn signals, the car’s headlights, or other things that are normally controlled via a stalk, you’ll find them in the touchscreen. The electric vehicles also lack a traditional gear shifter. According to Elon Musk, the electric vehicles guess which direction the driver wants the vehicle to go in by examining its surroundings. If this sounds like a horrible feature to you, you’ll be happy to hear that you can manually shift gears through the touchscreen.
Elsewhere, the center console has been redesigned to have a more upscale design and more storage compartments, and it can support wireless charging for multiple devices. In the back, the EVs feature an 8-inch screen that offers the same infotainment features as the main touchscreen. It can even be used to play videogames with wireless controllers. The rear seats also appear to be new, with more bolstering than before and a new fold-down armrest with cupholders.
Lastly, there are new trim levels. For the Model S, the sedan is available in Long Range, Plaid, and Plaid+ trims. Pricing starts at $81,190 for the Long Range trim, which has a two-motor layout, a range of 412 miles, and a zero-to-60 mph time of 3.1 seconds. The next step up is the Plaid that costs $121,190. It has a range of 390 miles and can get to 60 mph in 1.99 seconds. The range-topping Plaid+ starts at $141,190, boasts a range of more than 520 miles, and can sprint to 60 mph in less than 1.99 seconds. The two Plaid trims come with a three-motor configuration, carbon-sleeved rotors, more than 1,000 horsepower, and torque vectoring.
The 2021 Model S sees a huge increase in pricing over the previous electric sedan. Previously, the sedan started at $73,190 for the Long Range trim, while the Performance carried a price tag of $93,190. The Plaid trim, which came out last September, used to cost $141,190.
Pricing for the 2021 Model X Long Range starts at $91,190, while the Plaid costs $121,190. The Long Range trim has a range of 360 miles and a zero-to-60 mph time of 3.8 seconds. The Plaid, has a three-motor design, a range of 340 miles, and can get to 60 mph in 2.5 seconds. Previously, the Model X was available in three trims: Long Range Plus ($81,190), Long Range ($86,190), and Performance ($101,190).
The changes help the Model S and Model X continue to be leaders in their respective segments. Compared to the competition, the Model S offers more range than any other vehicle on the market. With over 1,000 hp, the Model S is also one of the more powerful EVs on sale. On the flip side, it’s one of the more expensive EVs, as only the Porsche Taycan Turbo and Turbo S are more expensive. Still, Tesla continues to raise the bar with better EVs.