Consumer Reports' $127K Tesla becomes 'undriveable'

Chris Woodyard
Consumer Reports reviews new Tesla Model S

When you pay $127,000 for a new Tesla — or for that matter, any expensive car — you pretty much expect it to be trouble-free.

But Consumer Reports magazine found its testers locked out of its 27-day-old top-of-the-line Tesla Model S because the car's fancy retractable door handles wouldn't work.

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The P85D, the new all-wheel-drive Tesla that is one of the fastest accelerating sedans on the planet, was effectively rendered undriveable, Consumer Reports says in a blog post.

Tesla Model S decal.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC

These aren't ordinary door handles. They are a space-age model that remain flush to the car door — usually only seen in concept prototypes at car shows — and automatically extend when a driver approaches with their key in their hand, purse or pocket.

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At least a tester was able to get inside. The passenger door could be unlocked with a smartphone app and the car was designed to travel for two minutes before shutting down again.

The good news? It was pleased with the service. Tesla picked the car up and took it to service center where the door-handle glitch was repaired efficiently.

The magazine says its ownership surveys doors and latches continue to be a big problem on the Tesla Model S. Last year, it reported "more than its share of problems" on its first Model S. But it put aside criticism of the glitches to name the Tesla Model S as one of the best cars that it ever has tested.

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