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2012 Tesla Model S: Beauty and the tablet (pictures)

The Model S is not only a beautifully designed car, it incorporates a massive tablet into its dashboard from which you control almost all car functions.

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Wayne_Cunningham.jpg

Wayne Cunningham

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1 of 25 Josh Miller/CNET
The first car designed and built from the ground up by fledgling automaker Tesla is the Model S, a sedan in the shape of a grand tourer. Its pricing varies based on the size of the battery residing in the chassis.
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The styling is smooth and modern, with front air intakes that are only needed to cool the battery pack.
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The Model S qualifies as a Large Car in governmental classifications due to its length.
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An electric motor sits between the rear wheels. The Model S uses an air suspension to enhance ride quality.
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The charging port is cleverly hidden behind a side reflector. It uses a proprietary Tesla design, although it is easy to hook up a J1772 adapter, making it compatible with standard charging stations.
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In Performance trim, the Model S gets this carbon fiber spoiler, along with enhanced power for a zero-to-60-mph time of 4.4 seconds.
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As there is no engine under the hood, Tesla made space for cargo.
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The hatchback area offers plenty of storage space, along with a concealed compartment under a panel.
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The panoramic glass roof is an option.
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Where other electric cars conserve electricity with manual seats, Tesla kept up a premium feel with power-adjustable seats.
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The rear bench offers easy space for three, but the headroom is somewhat compromised.
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There is no metal key, just this Model S-shaped fob. It opens and locks the car based on proximity.
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Following modern electronic aesthetics, Tesla keeps the dashboard very simple, relegating most controls to the center touch screen.
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The electric power-steering system can be set between Comfortable, Standard, and Sport.
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Steering-wheel buttons are kept to a minimum, and as there is no need for a multigear transmission, there are no shift paddles.
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The driver can configure the areas to either side of the center virtual gauge on this LCD instrument cluster.
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The large center touch screen can show different informational windows, from navigation to audio to an energy usage display.
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Turn-by-turn navigation comes in courtesy of the optional Tech package, and overlays a guidance panel on Google Maps.
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The Tech package adds this route guidance display to the instrument cluster.
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The hands-free phone system lacks any text-messaging capability, but handles calls and integrates a paired phone's contact list.
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The Model S includes two USB ports for flash drives, and can play Bluetooth-streaming audio from a phone.
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The current track interface shows album art when available.
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The Model S includes an HD Radio tuner.
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The car's 3G data connection can be used to surf the Web, even when the car is in motion.
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The rearview camera is the only driver assistance feature available on the Model S.

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