While Tesla continually improves their vehicles with up to 20 engineering design changes per week and many over-the-air software updates, major design changes are rare.

After 4 years in the market, Tesla has quietly released a design update to the Model S bringing it into line with their design language for the Model X and Model 3 prototype.

Exterior Design updates

The most noticeable exterior update is the new front end of the Model S which looks most like the front end of the Model X:

2016 New front End

I think this new front end design looks even better on the S than on the X as the S has a smaller front area and a lower profile. I definitely think it’s a great refinement to the exterior looks of the S while still staying faithful to the original design.

A hidden change in this area is moving the forward facing radar sensor up from a lower point on the car in the middle of the lower grill below the nose cone up into the hidden area near the Tesla logo. This helps with both functionality as well as aesthetics.

Also improved on the exterior are the headlights which are now LED headlights along the lines of the Model X and upcoming Model 3.

Interior Design updates

In this update the Model S gains a few of the interior updates from the Model X too. Included now is a standard center console which looks to be in line with the Model X center console and an improvement over the console Tesla previously offered.

Standard Interior Console

Tesla also now offers Figured Ash Wood trim as an option on the Model S which is great to see as its a great style and has been very popular on the Model X and is my current favorite interior trim style.

New features

Tesla also quietly refined some of the packaging options.

2016 Higher Amp ChargerThe onboard charger changed form a 40A standard charger to a 48A standard charger, with an option to upgrade it to a 72A “high amperage” charger. The older Model S configurations offered a 40A charger standard with an option to upgrade to 80A (dual chargers).

The automatic lift gate is now a standard option which makes sense for a premium vehicle in this price range.

Included in the premium upgrades package now is the bioweapon defense mode air filtration in addition to other nice features from before like ambient interior lighting and others that were separate back when I ordered my Model S.


While there were rumors of a Model S price increase these changes don’t reflect much in the way of a price increase for the Model S.

A short while ago when looking at the Model X I priced out a Model S as I would configure it and I just did the same on the current Model S offerings and here’s how they compare side by side:

Side by Side

The prior price was $98,450 and the new price is $104,450, but there are a couple of differences which make those numbers misleading.

Last time I configured I couldn’t find a high amperage/dual charger option so that wasn’t included. The new standard charger is actually a bit faster than the original so that is an upgrade included in the base price.

Also, Tesla no longer offers the S85D which I priced back then, so this new price is for the 90D. In the past the extra 5kWh was a $3,000 option.

If you back both of those out of the new price you get to a price difference of $99,950 or a price increase of $500 but with new features like a center console (previously a $650 extra charge) and the new air filtration system.

The new Model S configurations may actually be less expensive than before.

One could easily make the case that the new offering is an improvement over what Tesla offered before and is actually less expensive.


Its great to see Tesla keeping the Model S design fresh and current despite all the activity and challenges of launching the Model X and preparing for the Model 3.

In showing their ability to pull off these updates Tesla is really showing how they’re growing up as a company and how they envision their product line evolving and fitting together as their market continues to rapidly expand.