After seven years in the market, multiple awards, and establishing itself as the undisputed king of premium electric sedans, the Tesla Model S has earned what could very well be its most impressive award to date. Just recently, the Model S, the first vehicle designed from the ground up by Tesla, was dubbed by MotorTrend as its Ultimate Car of the Year, beating 70 years worth of motoring legends in the process.
MotorTrend started its Car of the Year awards in 1949, which was won by Cadillac. Over the years, the publication’s Car of the Year award would expand to several segments such as Imports, Trucks, and SUVs. Despite this, each winner of the esteemed award had one thing in common: each vehicle scored very well under the publication’s six criteria — Advancement in Design, Engineering Excellence, Efficiency, Performance of Intended Function, Value, and Safety.
With MotorTrend celebrating its 70th anniversary, the publication opted to do something special this year. Ninety-two vehicles have received the Car of the Year award to date, but as mentioned by the publication in an announcement, one of these 92 vehicles is more significant than the others. From this 92, eight finalists were selected, corresponding to every decade that the publication has been active. These vehicles are the 1949 Cadillac lineup, the 1955 Chevrolet lineup, the 1968 Pontiac GTO, the 1972 Citroën SM, the 1986 Mazda RX-7, the 1996 Dodge Caravan, the 2004 Toyota Prius, and the 2013 Tesla Model S.
While the 2010-2020 decade is not over yet, it is difficult to argue that the most essential car of recent years is the Tesla Model S. Created as a successor to the original Tesla Roadster and designed to prove that all-electric cars can be viable (and even superior) alternatives to gas and diesel-powered sedans, the Model S was a groundbreaking vehicle from the inside out. The sedan’s production ramp experienced some delays considering Tesla’s inexperience (the company had only been producing the low-volume Roadsters when the Model S came out), but when it did, it shook the auto industry to its core.
MotorTrend calls the Model S as a “rolling manifesto,” a car that personifies CEO Elon Musk’s view of electric vehicles as tomorrow’s form of transportation. Even before its insanely quick configurations were released, the original Model S proved enough to disrupt the luxury sedan segment. Thanks to its rear-mounted electric motor, it was quick off the line, hitting 0-60 mph in 4.0 seconds, it seated seven (two in jump seats), and it was also incredibly efficient. What’s more, it had 265 miles of range per charge, showing the auto industry that electric cars can go the distance too, literally. These, together with the vehicle’s never-before-seen tech, ultimately helped the Model S become MotorTrend’s 2013 Car of the Year.
The Model S is more than a great electric car. Rather, it is an excellent vehicle that just happens to be electric. Bold and progressive, Tesla’s flagship sedan still stands as the gold standard that competing EVs today are still benchmarked against. Constantly evolving thanks to free, over-the-air updates from Tesla, the Model S also stands as one of the only vehicles released this decade that actually becomes better with age. For MotorTrend, these characteristics make the Model S deserving of the Ultimate Car of the Year award, perhaps even more.
“No vehicle we’ve awarded, be it Car of the Year, Import Car of the Year, SUV of the Year, or Truck of the Year, can equal the impact, performance, and engineering excellence that is our Ultimate Car of the Year winner, the 2013 Tesla Model S,” the publication wrote.
The Tesla Model S’ Ultimate Car of the Year award comes just a day after its smaller sibling, the Model 3, was deemed as the 2019 Car of the Year and 2019 Premium Electric Car of the Year by AutoExpress UK. Just like its larger sibling, the Model 3 was granted the accolade for its perfect blend of technology and driving dynamics, making the car that a likely disruptor in the auto industry, but in a much bigger scale.