Tesla Model S regains top Consumer Reports rating after software update

Tesla’s Model S once again occupies the top rating spot in the Consumer Reports ultra-luxury sedan category, after the automaker put out a software update that brought automatic emergency braking (AEB) to highway speeds for Model S vehicles with the second-generation hardware package.

Tesla had rolled back some of its automated safety and driver assistance features for vehicles manufactured after October 2016, since it switched its sensor loadout and onboard computing capabilities at that time to prepare the way for the eventual introduction of fully automated driving down the road. Tesla also started using in-house hardware vs. that of a supplier at that time, and both changes necessitated rework on the software front vs. the first-generation Autopilot features.

Consumer Reports believes that AEB features offer significant safety benefits to vehicles, and so decided to dock the Model S some points in its rating system since not all vehicles on the road were equipped with the feature following the changeover. Tesla began rolling out OTA updates with the AEB feature re-introduced for cars made after October 2016 starting in late April, and another update changed the upwards limit of enabled AEB from 28 mph to 90 mph, which is why Consumer Reports returned the Model S to its top spot.