First Look: Tesla's Model S 70D

Credit: Courtesy Tesla

Tesla continues to reinvent itself, this morning announcing a new entry-level car. Two things to note right off the bat: It's more expensive than the current starter vehicle in its lineup but it's equipped with standard all-wheel-drive. The Tesla Model S 70D replaces the rear-wheel-drive Model S 60, which is now discontinued. While the latter had a base price of $70,000, the new 70D starts at $75,000 — and a federal tax credit brings the price down to $67,500.

With the 70D, it's clear that Elon Musk has been listening to his customers — both current and potential — who have been clamoring for a vehicle with more features and a better price. Whereas Tesla buyers once had to upgrade to the range-topping 85 kWh model for maximum range and more luxe options, there's now the 70D.

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The "D," as heralded by its introduction in the granddaddy P85D model, stands for dual motor (translation: AWD). It's also got a pretty impressive stat sheet: 514 horsepower, 140 MPH top speed and a 0-60 acceleration time of 5.2 seconds. That makes it about as powerful as a Porsche 911 Turbo. And all this comes in a "base" Tesla model. It will also have a 70 kW-hour battery good for an EPA-rated 240 mile driving range (a healthy bump up from its predecessor's 208 miles).

Inside, Tesla has disassembled a few of its options packages to add more standard equipment. Aside from the dual-motor setup, the 70D now includes the Supercharger system (normally a $2,000 option), keyless entry, navigation and autopilot hardware (which still doesn't have the software to support it just yet), lane departure warning, parking sensors, and automatic emergency braking.

As with every Model S, 70D will run on the new software 6.2 and owners will continue to receive free over-the-air updates. The tech package has been eliminated altogether and the two remaining big-ticket extras are upgraded LED headlights and a power rear lift gate. There are also three new colors: Ocean Blue, Obsidian Black, and Warm Silver. They are available to order starting today and Tesla expects to start shipping the first ones to customers in the next one to two months. 

The new Model S lineup now consists of the 70D; the sole remaining rear-drive model, the 85 ($81,070, 380 hp, 0-60 mph in 5.4 seconds); the dual-motor 85D ($86,070, 376 hp, 0-60 in 5.2 seconds), and the beastly P85D ($105,670, 691 hp, 0-60 in 3.2 seconds). As has been well documented, Tesla is working on an even less expensive entry-level vehicle, the Model 3, which is expected to start at $34,000. But that's still a few more years off.