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Why Consumer Reports reviewers can’t get in their new Tesla

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Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, announced Thursday, March 19, 2015 a number of improvements that aim to make the electric car Tesla Model S more appealing to potential buyers worried about getting stuck when their battery pack runs dry.

Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, announced Thursday, March 19, 2015 a number of improvements that aim to make the electric car Tesla Model S more appealing to potential buyers worried about getting stuck when their battery pack runs dry.

NEW YORK — Consumer Reports never spent more on a car than on the all wheel drive version of the Tesla Model that it bought to review.

But its reviewers soon ran into a unique problem – they couldn’t get in the car.

The $127,000 Tesla Model S has door handles that retract flush into the door when not in use, and which are supposed to pop out when a owner approaches the car with the key fob.

Consumer Reports, which has a policy to purchase all of the products it reviews, said its brand new Model S’s handles weren’t working as designed, “effectively rendering the car undriveable.”

Tesla dispatched a technician to make a house call the next morning to fix the door handle. Consumer Reports says the service call wasn’t the result of the magazine’s reviewing the car and would have been available to any owner. But it also said that the door handle problem wasn’t unique to the car it bought.

“Our car reliability survey shows that doors, locks, and latches are the biggest trouble areas with Teslas and that the Model S has far higher than average rates of such problems,” it said in a May 13 blog post.

In fact the latest customer survey gave the Tesla a less than average reliability rating, even if the overall rating for a Model S was still a 99 out of 100, the best score Consumer Reports has ever given a car. And despite the reliability problems, Consumer Reports readers also rate Tesla as one of their most liked car brands.

The new version of the Model S that Consumer Reports is in the process of reviewing – the P85D – has all wheel drive, 691 horsepower that gives it 0 to 60 acceleration in just over 3 seconds. And it and will soon have a software update that allow for a number of self-driving features, including having the car leave a parking spot and come to pick up the driver by itself.

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