The Tesla Model S debuted nearly a decade ago and instantly portended the future of electric vehicles. Here was a sleek-looking EV with intriguing new technology features and unmatched performance and range. Tesla’s continual updates along the way have kept the rest of the automotive industry in catch-up mode. Only recently has a model come out to rival the Model S: the Porsche Taycan.
The Taycan isn’t as revolutionary, but it offers similar capabilities plus the aura of Porsche’s sports car-building ethos. Is it good enough to unseat the Model S? Edmunds’ experts tested both to find out.
The Model S Long Range — the least expensive trim — offers an EPA-estimated 412 miles of range. While Edmunds has found in its own range testing that Tesla’s EPA numbers are typically a little too optimistic, this is still among the longest distances you’ll get from an EV. Access to Tesla’s proprietary network of nationwide Supercharger fast-charging stations is another boon.
On paper, things aren’t so sunny for the Porsche Taycan. As of publication time, the longest EPA-estimated range is 227 miles for a midlevel Taycan 4S with the Performance Battery Plus. While that’s below the Model S, a Taycan 4S overachieved in Edmunds’ testing, driving 323 miles before running out of juice. The upshot? In real-world driving you won’t notice as much of a range difference between these two cars as the specs suggest.
Porsche doesn’t have its own charging network, but it’s working with third-party companies to greatly increase the number of charging stations nationwide.
Winner: Model S
PRICING AND VALUE
A base 2021 Tesla Model S Long Range starts at around $80,000; the new Plaid variant, which has yet to come out, will be around $120,000. The Model S comes well equipped with standard features such as an adaptive air suspension, heated front and second-row seats, and a 22-speaker audio system. Tesla also includes driver aids such as adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring and forward collision mitigation as standard.
The Taycan is more expensive. A base 2021 Taycan starts at around $81,000, but features such as heated seats and adaptive cruise control are optional extras. The top-level Turbo S starts at more than $185,000 and still doesn’t match a base Tesla’s features. Build quality in the Taycan is of a higher standard, and you can do a lot more to customize a Taycan with special colors and interior materials. But it’s not enough to sway this category in Porsche’s favor.
Winner: Model S
INTERIOR AND UTILITY
The Model S’ interior is clean and simple, with a nearly buttonless design that puts most major controls — including those for the climate control and audio system — in the massive center-mounted touchscreen. Further back there’s a hatchback liftgate that reveals a sizable cargo area. There’s a decent amount of room for rear passengers too.
Like the Model S, many of the Taycan’s features are controlled through a touchscreen. But Porsche fortifies them with traditional stalks, knobs and buttons for features such as the cruise control, windshield wipers and lighting. It’s a more familiar and easier-to-use experience. Rear passenger and cargo space are more limited compared to the Model S, but overall the Taycan is a nicer vehicle to spend time in.