2012 Tesla Model S Our choice for CNET Tech Car of the Year goes to the 2012 Tesla Model S, a car that shows superb technology throughout while also challenging our conceptions of how a car should work. Most people know the Model S for its electric drivetrain, which not only gives it tremendous acceleration, but also the best range among current production electric cars. Compared with an internal combustion engine, the Tesla's electric motor delivers magnitudes of better energy efficiency. The EPA estimates the cost of electricity for a year of driving at $700, about 25 percent of the cost for gasoline in an equivalent luxury sedan.
Beyond its efficiency, the Model S modernizes the whole idea of a car's cabin. Tesla streamlined the entire process of getting into the car and setting off, taking out steps that have become anachronistic. A big touch screen handles all in-cabin functions, eliminating the need for an array of buttons across the dashboard. A 3G data connection feeds the infotainment functions, providing maps, destination search, and music, similar to what we have become used to with our personal electronics.
The Model S went up against the Audi S5, BMW 640i Gran Coupe, Ford Focus Electric, and Toyota Prius C, a formidable field nominated for technical excellence in drivetrain and cabin. The BMW proved popular with our jury, and we liked how the Focus Electric drove, but the Model S trumped the others with its innovative approach and capabilities.