For the first time in the 64-year history of the Motor Trend Car of the Year Award, a vehicle without an internal combustion engine (ICE) has received top honors. The all-electric Tesla Model S sedan was named the 2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year, receiving unanimous approval from the judging panel.


This year’s Car of the Year field was the most competitive yet with judges assessing 25 contenders with 45 variants. Each of the 45 vehicles was put through a rigorous phase one test at the Hyundai/Kia California Proving Grounds. After the initial phase, 11 finalists were chosen to proceed to phase two. Phase two was a 28.5-mile real world loop that combined standard city and highway drives with tight canyon roads.


2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year finalists:


  • BMW 3 Series
  • Cadillac ATS
  • Ford C-Max Hybrid
  • Ford Fusion
  • Honda Accord
  • Lexus GS
  • Porsche 911
  • Porsche Boxster
  • Toyota Avalon
  • Subaru BRZ
  • Tesla Model S

Ultimately, the 12-member Car of the Year judging panel unanimously chose the Tesla Model S as the 2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year.


“The 2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year is one of the quickest American four-doors ever built. It drives like a sports car, eager and agile and instantly responsive. But it's also as smoothly effortless as a Rolls-Royce, can carry almost as much stuff as a Chevy Equinox, and is more efficient than a Toyota Prius. Oh, and it'll sashay up to the valet at a luxury hotel like a supermodel working a Paris catwalk.” Source: Motor Trend


Model S owner Alison Suttles agrees with Motor Trend’s decision, “I've had my Model S now for a couple of weeks, and I didn't need MotorTrend to tell me I was driving a ground-breaking piece of machinery. The car speaks for itself - well, whispers. It sure is nice to get validation, though, for being crazy enough to pay money nearly two years ago for a car that didn't exist.”


Despite Suttles’ faith in Tesla as a groundbreaking automaker, she was happy to see that Motor Trend agreed with her, “We're always looking for ways to make a change in our environment and drive forward innovation. Those of us who believed in Tesla's ability to make an incredible car put our money behind that belief. I love that the faith we had is being validated by such a well-renowned publication as Motor Trend. I love my Car of the Year!”


The Tesla Model S isn't a timid little eco-friendly vehicle, though, it is a beast.  The top of the line model can travel from 0 to 60 miles per hour in just 4.4 seconds. To put this into perspective, this is .2 seconds faster than the Porsche 911 Carrera, a speedy finalist for the 2013 car of the Year award. Unlike the Carrera, though, the Model S delivers this quick trip to 60 miles per hour with zero emissions.


Congratulations to Tesla for making Car of the Year history with the Model S; may it be the first of many all-electric vehicles to earn top honors from Motor Trend.