Consumer Reports Tesla Model S P85D ‘Undriveable’

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Consumer Reports isn’t thrilled with its new Tesla Model S P85D.

The non-profit publication praised the Tesla Model S in the past, once calling it the best vehicle it ever tested. That’s not the case with the new Model S P85D. According to a new blog post, the publication ran into problems with the sedan’s automatic door handles, an issue that owners are also complaining about with the Model S. “A new car shouldn’t have problems when you’ve owned it for less than a month,” Consumer Reports said. “Yet Consumer Reports’ brand-new $127,000 Tesla Model S P85 D, with the fancy retractable door handles refused to let us in, effectively rendering the car undriveable.”

After fighting with the door handles and not able to get the driver door to open properly, a tester managed to open the passenger door using a smartphone app. Unfortunately, the Model S P85D sensed a problem after the car started up and it only remained on for two minutes.

SEE ALSO: Tesla P85D Sets New Coast-to-Coast EV Record

Ultimately, Consumer Reports had to contact Tesla to have the vehicle picked up on a flatbed trailer so that it could be taken to a dealership for repairs. Although reviewers were pleased with how the service problem was handled, it’s unfortunate that a new car is already having issues, one that wouldn’t even allow its owner to get into the cabin.

“We’re far from the first Tesla owners to experience this problem,” the publication reported on its blog. “Our car reliability survey shows that doors, locks, and latches are the biggest trouble areas with Teslas and that the Model S has far higher than average rates of such problems.”

Discuss this story at our Tesla forum

  • expert

    I’d still take one!

  • Disqus11111

    “Undriveable” is an inflammatory term as used by CR. That particular car had problems, but the direct inference is the model is undriveable. Over the years, I have learned CR evaluation of cars other than the most plain, minivan, family type cars must be disregarded. They review other types of autos with really understanding the auto type or the driver type. They need to stick to plain vanilla.

  • smartacus

    CONSUMER RIPOFFS magazine has called the Model S the best car they ever tested.
    Doublespeak much? Thank God they are bankrolled and don’t need a single reader to survive 🙂

  • Rick

    “Unfortunately, the Model S P85D sensed a problem after the car started up and it only remained on for two minutes.” If that’s not “undriveable”, I don’t know what is. I’m a big supporter of this great car and see them in my neighborhood all the time. But if you can’t drive it due to something as little as a malfunctioning door handle, it’s unacceptable. If nothing else, there should be a manual over ride.

  • Mark S

    Undriveable makes you think there are handling issues? This more a bad glitch to do with accessing the vehicle.

  • RI-Jim

    Hmmm, “bankrolled” by? Tesla Model S P85D seems to be a different model from Model S.

  • Chris Muir

    Consumers Union is funded entirely by their readers, they do not accept any advertising revenue to avoid any bias. The first Model S they received didn’t have any problems to speak of, which is why they praised it so highly. This glitch showed up on a later model, and may represent a problem with the supplier of the door handles, as that is one of the components Tesla doesn’t manufacture. If Consumers Union had a bias, they either would have failed to praise their first Tesla, or failed to report this problem with a later model. Their reporting isn’t “doublespeak”, it’s stating it like they find it – a mark of honest journalism.

  • smartacus

    Nope. It seems the Model S and the Model S are not different cars. The P85D is a different powertrain trim level 😉

  • RI-Jim

    Apparently you haven’t been reading CR for some years. Would you call the new Corvette Stingray “plain vanilla”? CR recommends it and says: “Chevrolet’s seventh-generation Corvette brings sharp-edged styling, more power, a nicer interior, and the return of the famed ‘Stingray’ name.” Also among their “recommended” cars: Mazda Miata, Chevy Camaro, Porsche Boxster.

  • Chris Muir

    The problem might actually be with the key fob, if the car doesn’t sense its presence, then the door handles won’t extend, and the car won’t go more than a short distance.

  • Chris Muir

    Heck, I’d even take one with balky door handles – that can be fixed.

  • smartacus

    oh absolutely. What a difference a supplier issue makes. That explains the night and day difference between the Model S being best car they ever tested to uh… the same Model S but with the P85D trim level being Undriveable .

  • Jon Paul

    Many new cars, expensive and cheap, can have a problem. My 2015 Dodge Charger Pursuit with just a couple hundred miles on it wouldn’t start every time. I felt it unreliable, as I never knew where I might be when it decided not to start. Turned out to be a dead cell in the battery, which was fixed under warranty. Problem found and fixed. Slight inconvenience on my part yes, but I’m not bad mouthing the car or manufacturer because of it, and I’m sure Consumer Reports is not trashing the car or it’s manufacturer either. They are just making it known that it happened. That’s what they do, and also because they can.

  • timothyhood

    Actually, “undriveable” was the term Auto Guide used to get us to read the article. Click bait. CR didn’t use that term as a headline grabber. It was in the text of their article explaining how it was impossible to drive the car. I think the fact that the car had to be towed to the dealer qualifies that statement as fair, accurate and in no way inflammatory.

  • Mark S

    Highly recommend CR Car Talk shows on You Tube, very good content, lively and a great overview of what they testing. Usually just about the latest cars they have, but sometimes they look at the survey results, the odd car show they attend and specials e.g. on tires.

  • Mark S

    Gotta get folks to click, to earn the $.

  • jay mark

    To all the people who’d ‘take one’, if you love the Tesla so much, BUY one. Once you’ve spent, on average $140,000, can only drive for short distances and finally realize you will never recover your investment, maybe what you should have done is buy a fuel efficient vehicle (or hybrid vehicle) that carries five passengers and with the money you saved, you are still ‘helping the planet’. I have seen one Tesla in my neighborhood, which is, BTW, a very affluent area (so what am I doing here ‘cept I own a horse farm) and while the driver whipped my old car from the stop light (his choice to race off, not mine), I have seen his vehicle twice on the side of the road waiting for a tow.
    Gee, I buy American (and I mean built buy American corporations, Ford or GM, not foreign doing assembly here) and put over 250,000 miles with ease on each vehicle, car or truck, have few service related problems, have NEVER needed a tow (so why do I pay for AAA ‘cept to please and ease the mind of my wife.. I also carry life insurance but will have to die for her to get the benefits), prefer vehicles that are efficient and practical as I care less whether the yuppies think me old fashioned or hip.
    Point is, I buy American because my brothers and sisters, Americans, need jobs and I don’t give a ratzazz about jobs in Korea, Germany or Japan. The profit stays here, helping to better manufacturing here, helping to keep and create jobs here, not overseas.

  • Mark S

    I drive a 2006 Ford Fusion……built in Mexico.

    Even if you bought a “built in the USA” car, chances are it has more “assembled in the USA”, since it will most likely have outsourced foreign components (as well as domestic outsourced components). Yes, even the components were made in the USA, they may have come from a foreign owned company (who invest in the US I should add).

    Car makers are global, you cannot easily buy a car that ensures US jobs, but you can buy a car that helps keep a US brand going, like Ford, GM….and Tesla.

  • deacon lunchbox

    Teslas are JOKES. i paid $14K 7 years ago for a smart, get 50mpgs in the summer, 40mpgs in the winter. i can drive 400 miles on a tank, refuel it in 3 minutes and drive another 400 miles. i’ve got over 60K miles on it, had an oil analysis done on it, it’s still NEW inside, will easily hit 300K miles. I was thinking about getting an Elio, but the savings in fuel at $2.75 a gallon is $95 a year over the smart.

  • Mark S

    If you can do 7 years in a Smart car and enjoy that time…..well part of me says you deserve a medal, part of me blames you for making Mercedes think there is a market for this car but most of all part of me hopes you are doing okay, cos that some weird karma you are floating in.

    Please remember though, life is not a practice session, I want to drive the most fun handling cars I can afford in that short mortal coil. I rebel against my company Ford Fusion by driving less practical more involving cars outside of work.

  • Mark S

    Look on it as an AWD Model S, or a Model plus another motor and two more drive wheels with Insane Mode (so you can race Hellcats).

  • jay mark

    I fully understand what you posted, but hear me out: Why have so many manufacturing jobs previously US jobs gone across the border to Mexico or overseas? Begin with much of the restrictive legislation that managed to get passed in the late 80s and early 90s that throttled American manufacturing. Next, review the actual content of NAFTA which Clinton initiated. I did not agree with much of Ross Perot, but he was spot on with the “that great sucking sound you hear will be American jobs going south of the border because of NAFTA.”
    What economic segment comprised our ‘middle class in the 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s and early 70s?
    Manufacturing. I have done research papers now being accepted by many economics professors in which I can prove the loss of American manufacturing jobs meant the loss of the middle class. It’s too lengthy and deep for this right now, but in summation, there are only three avenues for any nation/society to achieve wealth: 1) Agriculture, being able to produce the vast majority of foodstuffs for the population; 2) Raw materials, having an abundance of natural resources that will provide the finished materials for your society; 3) Manufacturing, the ability to convert those natural resources into the finished durable goods needed by your society.
    Once you begin importing over 6% of any of these three legs of economic strength, you begin closing in on the slippery slope from which NO nation/society can reverse.
    The US currently imports almost 50% of all consumer goods, 25% of the resources needed and over 25% of the foods.
    See now the magnitude of our recovery problem?
    If you buy from ‘legitimate’ US corporations, you can help to recreate, to the extent possible, the middle class here, but also only if some of those restrictive liberal laws are rescinded.
    Enough for now, but I think you understand our problems. Buying foreign goods indebts our children/grandchildren and puts the most important part of that sale, the manufacturers’ profit, into another countries economy.

  • Mike

    How dare you make such judgements about a person and his/her car choices. My local bank offered me a $500 loan with no questions asked, and I’d much rather live a minimalistic life, and buy a $20k or less car that fits me just nicely. Not everybody wants to waste money on an appliance that simply gets you from point A to point B.

  • Mike

    How about you get on the azz of GM and Ford for making so many vehicles in Mexico and abroad and then bringing them back to the US for American sale? How about we discuss the MANY BILLIONS the US Government lost bailing out GM….aka Government Motors. How about we discuss that GM took that money and gave their executives big pay raises and invested that money in China. And why shouldn’t we give kudos to Toyota who make most of their products here in America with American made parts and give THOUSANDS of jobs to Americans that GM and Ford show over to Mexico.

  • Mike

    You’re gonna have many more problems with that vehicle. Fiat/Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep products are at the bottom of the barrel in reliability year after year. Sell it while while you can.

  • Mike

    Finally, a man with some brains. I’m so tired of the hate in Consumer Reports. Why shoot the messenger?!?!

  • Mark S

    And I applaud the ability for folks to choose what they want in life. That said, I do preach that driving cars should not be a chore, but fun and that these cars should make you consider driving A to A (as well as A to B) they are that good. If I was an A to B driver, I would not be hanging around sites like this, where the journalists are feeding my drug of choice, dreams of Caymans, Camaro’s, Merc GT, Jag F Types etc. That said, A to B drivers do get my thanks, since they help fund the car makers to create some of the less than practical cars that can provide a great sense of fun, participation and ultimately driving pleasure. These fun cars do not have to impractical or expensive, the Mazda 3 at less that 20k is great fun driving car, frugal, great steering and looks good to boot.

  • Mike

    And since you drive none of those cars might I suggest you leave the person who enjoys his/her Smart car to their own enjoyment. My dad drove a Ford Fusion. And it was a yawn from what I remember. And I see that you drive a Fusion. You’re no better than anybody. Plenty of people in trailer parks drive Fusion’s.

  • Mike

    I’ve looked at a Lexus GS, the new Tacoma, a new Highlander, and I am waiting on the Toyota Aygo to come to the US as a Scion. When I see it, it makes me smile. Maybe that’s not for everybody. But it works for me and that’s all that matters. The Smart is quirky, and to some very cute. The upcoming new Smart is pretty sharp. And you can get a full manual in one.

  • Mark S

    I will take your word about trailer parks and Fusions, not really an issue though. Fusions are good sturdy, practical cars but they do not drive as well as the current Mazda 6. The Fusion is the company car, it has served well and the v6 has some punch, but lacks the Mazda steering.
    My own car (at the moment) an old Miata, cost less than half of the Smart Car, same number of seats, weighs less than 2500lbs, less than 150hp, manual shifter and on some days you can even drive top down…..its not Porsche Boxster by any means but still great fun all the same, especially on a sunny Sunday. Yes, I have driven a Boxster and a Cayman, but at the moment the year and spec of these I would like is beyond my budget, but one day I hope to own one.

  • jay mark

    Mike: Please, if you do not know what you are talking about, best to remain silent. GM has REPAID its loan and the feds made millions in interest. Second, READ the post and try to grasp what I said. The MOST important dollar of any sale is the manufacturer’s PROFIT dollar which goes towards research, development and TAXES. Toyota, Honda, BMW, Hyundai, etc pay NO federal corporate taxes in this nation and yet they enjoy our infrastructure and military protections.
    Did you miss the part in how NAFTA has drained jobs from the US to Mexico? Did you not comprehend the role that restrictive US legislation has played in killing the ability of AMERICAN companies to compete worldwide? Were you asleep when I explained HOW wealth for any nation/society is created?
    Toyota, et al, do NOT make most of their products here, they bring in the parts for ASSEMBLY here. Might as well assemble hamburgers.
    The loan agreements with the US to GM did NOT allow the loan to be used for ‘executive salaries’ but tied performance for that, you moron shill for stupidity.
    People like you, who post on emotion are lost to people who post on fact and logic. People like you would rather crucify American corporations that pay corporate taxes here and buy from foreign companies whose ONLY goal is the destruction of American manufacturing and the American economy.
    Why are you not upset that COMMUNIST CHINA, JAPAN and RUSSIA combined OWN more that 45% of American debt?
    Damn, man, you have a long way to go to get some education. Begin now, don’t wait until your kids/grandkids are economic slaves to COMMUNIST CHINA,.

  • Mike

    A bunch of malarkey. The US Government….aka taxpayers….lost BILLIONS on helping Government Motors. GM repaid what they were supposed to pay, but the US taxpayers still list billions. So get your head out of your azz. And GM is at 104 deaths and counting with their faulty ignition switches. And they lied for years about it. Hardly the stand up company you’re trying to make them out to be. I’ll never buy another Government Motors vehicle due to the lack of quality. This proud US Veteran is happy as a claim to give my hard earned money to Toyota for a much higher quality vehicle. And don’t even get me started about the resale. Again, Government Motors loses. They’ve improved yes, but they had however to go but up. It will take them a decade to catch Toyota and buy that time Toyota will be on the next level. Consumer Reports and statistics don’t lie. How about you drive what you want and I’ll drive what I want. That work for you? If not, tough shiite.

  • jay mark

    THIS MARINE CALLS YOU A CHICKENSHIITE MORON THE US TAXPAYERS GOT THEIR MONEY BACK YOU CHEST SHAVING TRANSVESTITE

  • td99

    I know, right!?!?! I say we boycott all smartphones and flat screen TVs!!! Let’s go back to public phone booths (since they are just phone calls) and CRT TV’s (since it’s just entertainment)! Booo! Down with innovation, progress, creature comforts, and technology!!!!

  • Mark S

    Retro is fashionable.

  • td99

    Exactly. Now where did I put my powdered wig!?!?!?

  • Mike

    Haha Marine??? That explains A LOT.

  • ajone

    You have no idea what you are talking about concerning Tesla. The average price spent on a Model S is less then 100k. After the tax credit its close to 90k. Gee you buy American but Tesla sources MORE of its parts from Michigan then other “American” manufacturers (but they are close). All of there workers at their Fremont plant are American. I bought a CPO P85 and its the best car I’ve ever owned, and I’ve leased and bought Mercs and BMWs. (my old merc/bmw were good cars too though). You need to use “Google” and educate yourself on Tesla.

  • jay mark

    SHOW WHERE I SAID “DO NOT BUY TESLA”? SHOW ME WHERE I SAID TESLA IS NOT AMERICAN? MY BONE OF CONTENTION IS WITH THE COSTS OF TESLA AND NOT ANYTHING ELSE

  • ajone

    I just said you don’t know much about Tesla. Things you got factually incorrect- average price which isn’t even close to 140k and driving range being 270miles with “fillup” every day is not a short range. I don’t think you know much about Tesla.

  • You have a powdered wig?

  • Ok, let’s dial it down a bit.

  • +++ for MT

  • …easy, cheetah…

  • jay mark

    The only Tesla in my area of wealthy people (I am not sure how I managed to live here, but I was here with my horse farm first before the yuppies moved in) belongs to a guy who must have stock in the local AAA as I often see it on the rollback heading for wherever they repair Teslas.
    When I get the idea I can spend about $140,000 on a vehicle, I think I’ll find a local charity and give them that money. I don’t need ‘stature’ in the eyes of the toney people.

  • ajone

    I see your point now. I bought my Tesla from their CPO program, used with 7k miles on it and paid ~72k and it was like brand new inside and out. I would have spent the same on a Merc SUV. I don’t spend much on clothes, watches and other stature stuff, I just wanted to support a fledgling American company with a great product which sources all of its workers and many of its parts from America. I find it sad when many of my European friends are amazed that Tesla gets so much criticism from Americans. They repeatedly say that if their country ever had a company like Tesla, producing an award winning EV car, the public would be near 100% in enthusiastic support. (ie ever talk to a German about Audis/Mercs/BMW/Porsche?—SO much pride) Please look at dozens of car and industry forums and see how many people truly and sincerely hope Tesla will fail miserably and go bankrupt. And amazingly, see how many Republican “conservative, pro-American industry” politicians want Tesla to fail. Its really sad. So, my post wasn’t aimed at you per se, it was more of a reaction b/c so many other people hate Tesla without knowing anything about the company. (I don’t know if you do or don’t)

  • jay mark

    Thank you. I am a ‘converted liberal Democrat’ who worked hard for JFK and a few others. I would now describe myself as a ‘conservative American’ who hopes every business will succeed (save for the porno industry). Tesla is a decent idea and Elon Musk is putting his money where his ‘mouth’ is, something dozens of billionaires won’t do. He has a dream and is pursuing that dream. I have nothing against Tesla vehicles. They will drive other manufacturers to improve and innovate. Soon as we sell our little horse farm, I would like to buy a Chevy Volt. I think there will be a future for alternative fuel vehicles.
    To that end, I have written countless letters to members of the senate and house urging that they grant a fuel relief tax to every company that converts its vehicles to natural gas, which burns so clean it virtually leaves no carbon. Think if every diesel truck on our roads today ran on CNG (compressed natural gas). Lower emmissions, lower oil imports, better balance of trades, a win-win.
    I’m not touting, but for all my adult life, I have kind of thought out of the box, both in philosophies and business. I’ve been retired now since 2002, but am considering buying a GM dealership where there iare fairly decent roads and traffic. I have an idea of how to rebuild the dealership along with ancillary businesses, all in one location, that would feed into one another and receive from the dealership.
    I envision a rural area, slightly depressed, where I can then offer to local people the ownership of the ancillary businesses. They in turn, would have to show some skill set for that business (think restaurant, maybe beauty/barber shop, a type of ‘general store’, maybe a gym, a place like Starbucks-without being a Starbucks, you get the gist), have desire to succeed and willing to learn what other management skills would help. I will mentor as best I can and to that end, would keep the rents low for the first couple of years, helping them get a toehold. I have no desire to ‘own’ their businesses, but I do have my dream of helping to revitalize a rural area and offer meaningful jobs to the young people, hoping to attract the bright ones to remain instead of heading for the bright lights of the crowded cities.
    Got to go and get some work done on the farm here. Wife demands horses, I prefer grandkids and great-grandkids.