Can the Tesla Model S unkill the electric car? CNET On Cars, Episode 3

Cooley drives Tesla's make-or-break Model S, counts down the Top 5 cheap high-tech cars, and takes you for a drive in the first truly self-driving technology to hit showrooms.

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A Tesla Model S is a very hard car for reviewers to get significant time with. The company has exactly two press cars for the globe, prioritizing all other production to deliver to patient buyers. So it was with no small pleasure when Tesla's Shanna Hendriks let me know she had an S ready for me to play with for a full day (which turned out to be more like a day and a half). I hope you'll find my take a little refreshing as this car has been talked about and bloviated over like nothing this side of the Chevy Volt -- though much more positively than that unfairly maligned death watch beetle of alternate power trains.

We shot this episode amidst the staggering collection of a good friend of the show here in Northern California. Almost as interesting as the cars is his collection of vintage Americana from along the highways and boulevards of our past. If you're from the San Francisco Bay Area, see if you can spot the Doggie Diner head in the background of one shot.

The research team at State Farm brought us up to speed on auto theft: down, but still a remarkably common crime given how many technologies now purport to secure your car. We run you down on the latest. And if you're interested in the stats for your county, FBI figures are here.

I love this week's Top 5. It answers one of the most frequent questions I get: what's a good high-tech car I can afford? We cover a lot of high-dollar, high-tech cars at CNET, but I always get the biggest kick out of the cheap ones that have solid tech and engineering. I've always been more impressed by cars that do more for less than vice versa.

Next episode we'll wrap up the Paris Motor Show, which was surprisingly good this year, and sort out the sometimes murky differences between plug-in hybrids and range extenders. As always, shoot me your thoughts on the show. I'm listening.

About the author

Brian Cooley joined CNET in 1995 and always comes at technology from the real consumer's point of view. He brings his high energy, often skeptical style to all avenues of CNET coverage, with an emphasis on car tech. You'll also find him frequently on television, radio and the TV screens at Costco!

 

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