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Consumer Reports gives near-perfect score to Tesla Model S

A Tesla Model S electric sedan is driven near the company's factory in Fremont, California, June 22, 2012. REUTERS/Noah Berger
A Tesla Model S electric sedan is driven near the company's factory in Fremont, California, June 22, 2012. REUTERS/Noah Berger

By Deepa Seetharaman

DETROIT (Reuters) - Consumer Reports magazine awarded a near-perfect score to Tesla Motors Co's Model S, citing the electric car's power, "pinpoint" handling and quiet, well-crafted interior.

The score of 99 out of 100 puts the Model S far ahead of other electric and gas-powered rivals, including the Porsche Panamera sports car and the Fisker Karma plug-in hybrid.

"Slipping behind the wheel of the Tesla Model S is like crossing into a promising zero-emissions future," the highly influential magazine said in its review on Thursday. "It's what Marty McFly might have brought back in place of his DeLorean in 'Back to the Future'."

Consumer Reports last gave a near-perfect score six years ago to the Lexus LS 460L luxury sedan made by Toyota Motor Corp, according to the magazine, which has more than 8 million subscribers.

The positive review comes on the heels of Tesla reporting its first quarterly profit in its 10-year history. Chief Executive Elon Musk is attempting to reach a broader group of buyers with the Model S electric sedan.

Consumer Reports said a Model S equipped with an 85 kilowatt hour battery was able to get 200 miles between electric charges. Range varied between 180 miles on cold winter days to about 225 miles in more moderate temperatures.

The main drawbacks of the Model S include its limited range when compared to conventional gas-powered cars. The car also takes 12 hours to charge on a 240-volt electric-car charger.

"When it's left unplugged, we noted a parasitic loss of energy that amounts to 12 to 15 miles of range per day," the magazine said. "That could be a concern if, say, the car is parked at an airport for an extended period. Tesla has promised a fix for that."

The Model S starts at around $70,000 with a 60 kilowatt hour battery before a federal tax credit. A sedan equipped with a larger, 85 kilowatt hour battery starts around $80,000. Consumer Reports recommended buying the sedan with the larger battery.

(Reporting by Deepa Seetharaman; Editing by Chris Gallagher)

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