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My Two Consumer Reports 99 Rated Cars - A Comparison

Discussion in 'Model S' started by astrotoy, May 29, 2013.

  1. astrotoy

    astrotoy Member

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    Although I have been a subscriber to Consumer Reports for over 40 years, I bought my two current cars, before they received their 99 rating from CR. My older car is a 2007 Lexus LS460L Executive Class. I bought it new (in its first year of production, in September, 2007) and it has about 46,000 miles. The Tesla is a standard Model S85, with 19” tires and pretty much all the trimmings. I’ve had it 3 months since February, 2013 with about 3000 miles. Here are some similarities and advantages and disadvantages. For many buyers of the Tesla, they will be comparing it with cars of similar price and size.

    Similarities:

    Power – with the standard engines which I have, the Tesla and Lexus spec for 0-60 in 5.6 and 5.7 seconds respectively. Subjectively, the Tesla feels a more powerful at the low end. The Lexus is an 8 speed transmission, so shifts quite smoothly, not quite as smoothly as the 1 speed of the Tesla.


    Price - Using the 2007 numbers for the Lexus compared to 2013 numbers for the Tesla, the cars cost almost exactly the same without the Tesla’s Federal and California rebates. I got the Lexus a bit cheaper with a discount, but the retail prices were essentially identical – between $90K and $100K. Note that the Lexus LS460L normally comes quite a bit cheaper, but I got the Executive Class which added about $15K to the cost – more on that later. I haven’t checked what the price of a similar Lexus 460L Exec would cost today.


    Ride and Noise – Both cars have air suspension and ride very well. Both can raise the car to avoid curb rash. Both have leather seats and similar woodgrain interior, with the Lexus leather a bit thicker and softer feeling. Both cars are very quiet from the inside– the Lexus really well insulated from exterior sound and the Tesla not producing very much exterior sound. Overall, the Lexus is quieter.


    Size – the Tesla is 5 inches wider, but the Lexus is 7 inches longer. Both are big cars. Visibility is good in both cars, a bit better in the rear window of the Lexus, but there is no problem with their sizes on the roads.


    Navigation and Back Up – Both have On Screen Navigation with Voice Directions and a good back up camera. I like the Google Maps of the Tesla more than the Lexus navigation. Also it costs $300 every time you want to upgrade the Lexus maps. Traffic is available for a monthly fee. So far the Tesla is free – but probably not forever. I really like using the back up camera in the Tesla in both reverse and forward. It really eliminates the blind spots on the car and I feel much safer while driving forward.


    Recalls – so far, the Lexus has had one major recall, something to do with the engine – some mechanism in the valves. I am not a car person. They had it for a week and it was pretty complicated to do. Under warranty, of course, and Lexus extended the warranty by 3 years and a bunch of miles if IIRC. I have had one issue with the Tesla, which had the car for 2 days – something related to the computer. Also both cars have post pillar wear – my Lexus had both sides replaced under warranty. So far I have been able to keep the wear to a minimum on the Tesla.


    Compliments – Both cars have had their share of compliments. Both are pretty rare and distinctive, and I think nice, looking.


    Advantages and Disadvantages

    Power Consumption and Convenience – I find the Tesla, which I fill up at home every night, gives me more convenience and less anxiety that the Lexus, which seems to always want to be filled up, particularly when I am tired coming home and I end up going home instead of to the gas station. So the next morning I have to stop to get gas, making me worried about being late. For a big car, the Lexus actually gets pretty good long distance freeway mileage, between 25 and 30 miles per gallon. However, city driving is closer to 15-18 mpg. I probably drive the Tesla more aggressively than the Lexus, but have averaged about 340 w/mi in the first 3000 miles of mostly city and busy freeway driving. Also paying $80 + for a tank full of gas is a pain. Note: We have 36 solar panels on our house roof and generate over 1000 kwh per year, saving a lot on electricity costs.


    Handling – the Tesla has a better combination of road feel and smoothness. It is really responsive and the weight of the batteries keeps the car hugging the road. I do like the comfort setting of the Lexus suspension – perhaps a reflection of my senior citizen status.


    Parking – Here the parking sensors on the Lexus really help in close parking spots. That is the main reason that I had aftermarket parking sensors put on the Tesla. The Lexus also has automatic parallel and perpendicular parking – you may have seen the ads a few years ago when it first came out – but I don’t use those controls – too slow.


    Seating - The back seat of the Lexus is very special – the passenger side rear seat reclines quite far and has an ottoman which rises up and displaces the front passenger seat. My wife loves to put up her feet during a long drive. There are even two massage settings and, of course, a DVD screen and player. On the other hand, I got the jump seats, so my Model S holds 5 adults and 2 kids quite comfortably. The Lexus only holds 4 people, though very, very comfortably. This is the main distinction of the “Executive Class” working very much like a chauffeured driven car. I think the major competition for the ottoman and allowing the rear right passenger put up their feet is a Maybach.


    Trunk Space – here there is no comparison – with the Tesla having so much more space. The Exec Class Lexus gives up a lot of trunk space to the reclining mechanism in the rear seat.


    Car Pool Lane - I can also cross the bridges and use the car pool lanes in the Tesla – since the EV qualifies for a California car pool sticker. It’s “shadenfreude” crossing the Bay Bridge carpool land during rush hour.


    Stereo System – I have the fancy stereo with both cars. The Lexus is superior with better sound from the Mark Levinson sound system (which costs over $3K extra, compared with the $1K extra on the Lexus. The Lexus has sophisticated CD digitalization system (at 256K sampling rate, decent sound). It holds over 100 CD’s of content and also can hold 6 CD’s or DVD-A. You can also watch different DVD’s on the front screen or rear screen, with built in wireless headphones for the rear passengers if they want. I do like the USB port on the Tesla which allows me to play a large number of CD’s in full CD (44/16) format using my high capacity jump drive.


    Display and Touch Screen – Here the big Tesla screen and the driver panel are both superior to the Lexus, which is quite good. Lexus disables most functions with the car moving, for safety purposes, but that means the front passenger can’t do navigation or other simple tasks. I got an aftermarket kit that overrides the Lexus disable – but it still is a pain.


    Phone – with my iphone 5 I can call and answer hands free with both cars. However, the contacts list transfers with the Tesla and doesn’t with the Lexus.


    Auto Folding Mirrors – Lexus has them, Tesla doesn’t.


    Cruise Control with Distance Monitoring – Lexus has it, haven’t tried the CC with the Tesla yet.

    Speedometer Accuracy – As far as I can determine, the speed of the speedometer of the Tesla is right on accurate, while the Lexus reads about 3 miles fast (at about all speeds above 15 mph or so).


    My wife and I are very happy with both cars. It was more of a leap of faith for the Tesla than the Lexus, since we previously had a Lexus LS400, bought in 1990, which lasted 16 years and 340,000 miles. We may not last that long, at least not still driving. For the younger readers who are moving up the car ladder, when we first got married in 1970, our first cars were a pair of used 1965 Dodge Darts with the famous Slant-Six engine. I think we paid $600 and $900 for the two cars.
     
  2. gg_got_a_tesla

    gg_got_a_tesla Model S: VIN P65513, Model 3 Res Holder

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    Nice writeup, astrotoy. Thanks!

    The CEO at a startup that I joined back in 2006 got one of the first LS460Ls around at that time (must have been some time in '07). Great car with all the creature comforts and tech for the time but, sorry, I wouldn't ever call it a great-looking car. For me, the Lexus LS has always looked and felt like a big boat; bland and unappetizing. Model S is in an entirely different league (a league of one?!) on that front.
     
  3. ImperialG

    ImperialG Member

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    I'm in the same boat. I had a '91 LS400, then a '98 LS400, then a '07 LS460L and now the Tesla.

    After getting rid of the LS460L and driving the Tesla for 3 months now, I can say that the only thing I really miss from the Lexus is The Mark Levinson Stereo system. I got used to the tremendous audio quality of the Lexus' 19 speaker system and I was quite disappointed when I heard my Tesla's Sound Studio system. I'm finally starting to get used to it, but it's definitely not in the same class as the Lexus' system.

    During the first month, I also missed the automatic self-latching doors from the LS.

    However, I am enjoying my 60kwh Tesla significantly more than the Lexus. Although both cars should do 0-60 in about 5.8 seconds, the Tesla consistently exceeds expectations and does 0-60 in 5.2. Also, the I used to think that the Lexus' sunroof was huge, but the Tesla's is gigantic! The panoramic roof is wonderful. Storage space seems to be triple the amount of the Lexus. The air suspension reacts faster to raise and lower the vehicle. It performs much, much better in the snow. Lexus' infotainment system was way too restrictive and Tesla takes the opposite approach. And as someone who has loved the styling of the Lexus LS product line since the first generation, I can honestly say that the Tesla is leaps and bounds more beautiful!

    Both great cars, but I think that we made a great choice to transition over to the wonderful world of Tesla! :)
     
  4. eMileage

    eMileage Member

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    Great write-up astrotoy. Thanks.
    And thanks also ImperialG for your insights on the comparison.
     
  5. GSP

    GSP Member

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    Thanks for your insights astrotoy.

    Note that as of May 2013, the Lexus LS 460L rates a 92 from Consumer Reports. Probably due to a tougher grading curve than in 2007.

    GSP
     
  6. William13

    William13 Member

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    Great write up. I think that the audio can be upgraded aftermarket if desired. The Tesla is likely quieter at 0-25 mph. Parking sensors will be available soon or retrofit aftermarket.
     
  7. Andrew Wolfe

    Andrew Wolfe Roadster 472 - S 440

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    Do you have a typo or are your solar panels broken? I also have 36 panels in the bay area and I get well over 10,000 KWh/year.
     
  8. Cosmacelf

    Cosmacelf Active Member

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    I gotta say though, with the Tesla's single pedal driving and aggressive regen braking, it really is more of a driver's car than any automatic transmission ICE. Being able to slow down a little or a lot just be easing the accelerator is really nice.
     
  9. astrotoy

    astrotoy Member

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    Thanks for the correction. Factor of 10 - over 10,000 kwH. Bought my system from Solar City in 2009 - never heard of Tesla at that time.
     
  10. Mayhemm

    Mayhemm Model S P85+ "Lola"

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    So CR retroactively adjusts their ratings? That must be a real PITA.
     
  11. astrotoy

    astrotoy Member

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    Don't think they retroactively adjust their ratings. They rated the 2007 Lexus LS460L at 99, the rating for the current version is 92. The ratings do change with different car model years, so a Tesla Model S 2014 may have a different rating than the 2013 Model S.
     
  12. DrComputer

    DrComputer Member

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    I too replaced my Lexus with the Tesla. But it was the more luxurious Lexus LS600hL version. I agree with everything that astrotoy said except that the LS600hL (the hybrid version of the LS) was FAR quieter than the Model S at freeway speeds. With its double paned laminated glass and insulated sunroof shade, the Lexus makes the Model S sound like a Mac truck on the freeway. I also thought the heater and cooled seats were far more comfortable in the Lexus with better adjustability. Don't get me wrong, I love my Model S (and Roadster), but I don't think it is quite up to the luxury level of the Lexus LS (or GS for that matter). Hopefully the Model S 2.0 will raise the bar a bit and add some sorely missing luxury features and improve interior materials and comfort.
     
  13. ken830

    ken830 Model S (Res#P12,447)

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    I think all of us bought a Model S knowing that it is not a "luxury" vehicle. It's obviously missing many features/options that are expected even in entry-level luxury vehicles. But it also brings many features that aren't available (or even possible) in any other car. I think that's why Tesla has been careful to never use the word "luxury" and instead has always stuck with the word "premium" in all of its communications about the Model S.
     
  14. GSP

    GSP Member

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    I don't think so. The 2007 LS460L was rated 99. The 2013 LS460L was rated 92, that did not change the rating for the 2007 car, but the 2013 car had stiffer competition.

    GSP
     
  15. Mayhemm

    Mayhemm Model S P85+ "Lola"

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    Oh, I see. That makes more sense.

    I misunderstood your original post.
     
  16. brianman

    brianman Burrito Founder

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    In electronic/paper form, they've been careful to say "premium". A number of reps have been caught (by folks like Cinergi) saying "luxury".
     

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