Road Trip: 2013 Tesla Model S, Paris to London (Ontario) travel tesla green reviews
Road Trip: 2013 Tesla Model S, Paris to London (Ontario) travel tesla green reviews
Road Trip: 2013 Tesla Model S, Paris to London (Ontario) travel tesla green reviews
Road Trip: 2013 Tesla Model S, Paris to London (Ontario) travel tesla green reviews
2013 Tesla Model S, Paris to London (Ontario). Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Michael Bettencourt

Paris, Ontario – I always promised my wife we’d visit Paris some day. The Paris Hotel in Las Vegas apparently didn’t cut it, even with its oh-so-realistic Eiffel Tower. So this end of summer road trip through Paris and onto London, Ontario, would be a nice little Euro-themed door-stopper of an overnight getaway, to hold us over another year until we could visit the real thing.

The true destination here was getting to know the long-distance abilities of the Tesla Model S, in this case a Performance edition with the largest 85 kWh battery. With our start and end point in Toronto, and an overnight in Niagara-on-the-Lake, this top-level $100,000+ Model S is the only plug-in car on the Canadian market that could cover our entire 372 km second day itinerary without using a drop of fossil fuel. All in monk-challenging silence, with zero noise, emissions or pollution coming out of the battery-electric Tesla four-door’s non-existent tailpipes.

The Model S is still a relative rarity on Canadian roads outside Ontario, but sold so well in Toronto there are now two permanent Tesla showrooms in the city, before Tesla’s planned expansion into Vancouver and Montreal in 2014. Despite a hefty base price of about $79,000 for the 60 kWh model, running to about 130 large for a fully loaded Performance model, it was surprisingly the best-selling battery electric vehicle (BEV) in Canada in 2013.

This particular ’13 tester hit an as-tested price of $112,920, before discounting the full $8,500 provincial rebate for green plug-in vehicles. To some folks, that six-figure price tag sounds awfully high for something that won’t take you as far as a $15,000 sub-compact car. But as electric car owners ourselves, this car is the EV Holy Grail, the one that every plug-in owner aspires to own.

Plenty of non-plug-in owners admire it too, considering it garnered the highest test score ever of 99 out of 100 by the very thorough Consumer Reports (tied with the ’07-‘12 Lexus LS 460L, which dropped for 2013), plus it won Car of the Year awards from enthusiast mags Automobile and Motor Trend – all with virtually no PR or advertising budget.

We also felt a strange personal connection to the Model S, since it is built on the same California grounds as our trusty 2002 Pontiac Vibe, a car still going strong as my lonely ‘orphan’ car that I leave in automaker lots most weeks, but served faithfully for a decade as my wife’s first-ever car and now fondly remembered daily commuter.

Talk about evolving a practical but stylistic caterpillar into a butterfly beauty.

Our overnight stop in Niagara-on-the-Lake was the local Hilton, which we chose because it offered a Level 2 EVSE and two plug-in dedicated, green-painted spots where we could park and fill up for free. These chargers are sprinkled all over Niagara Falls and at various hotels in the area, but the 107 km highway distance from our place to there is just a shade past the comfort-zone range of any other BEV sold in Canada. In the Tesla, it was smooth sailing all the way, the cruise pegged at 119 km/h, with no range concerns when passing or cranking the A/C.

Road Trip: 2013 Tesla Model S, Paris to London (Ontario) travel tesla green reviews Road Trip: 2013 Tesla Model S, Paris to London (Ontario) travel tesla green reviews Road Trip: 2013 Tesla Model S, Paris to London (Ontario) travel tesla green reviews
2013 Tesla Model S, Paris to London (Ontario). Click image to enlarge

The optional rear-facing child seats are brilliant, making the Model S a sexy kid-hauler extraordinaire, as long as the kids are short enough to have some headroom under the back glass. Our nine-year old (about four foot nine) is now close to the upper height limit here, but both he and his six-year old brother enjoyed the novel experience of facing backwards out the rear hatch glass so much that they’d run to the back as soon as that powered hatch started opening like hungry cats at the sound of a powered can opener.

Smartly, Tesla has integrated two-point belts that ensure the belts can fit properly of kids of varying heights, and as a bonus, younger kids don’t need to sit on their usual booster seats. And when not needed, these seats can be folded away entirely, leaving a perfectly flat hatch floor. Another reason why the young ‘uns love being back there, as they can ditch their booster to be more like their older siblings.




About Michael Bettencourt

Michael Bettencourt is on the World Car of the Year jury, has been a long-time AJAC member, and is on its Technology of the Year judging panel.