In the driver's seat of the Tesla Model S Sedan


Model S P85D with 691hp motor power: $98,170 (after $7,500 federal tax credit; other incentives from Tesla Motors may be available)
Model S 70D with 329hp motor power:$68,170

A car should be more than just a mode of transportation.

It should make a statement about the type of person you are. It should make you smile when you're behind the wheel.

Thank you, Tesla Motors, for having done that.

Recently, I attended The Palm Event in West Palm Beach, Fla., a first-ever car rally on steroids for the more-rich-and-famous than me. While there, I got the opportunity to drive a Tesla Model S Sedan for the weekend. My insurance company was kind enough to agree.

The first thing you notice about the Tesla is that it accelerates like a roller coaster. I've driven a Lamborghini and owned autos with Turbo engines, but the feel of a Tesla is something special. The car speeds from 0-60 in 3.2 seconds (compare that to a Porsche 911 Carrera that takes a more glacial 4.6 seconds). And all that speed comes in an almost silent fashion which only heightens the exhilaration.

The second thing you notice is the car begins to significantly decelerate (thanks to strong regenerative braking) as soon as your foot comes off the accelerator pedal. Friction brakes are needed only to bring the car to a complete stop at red lights or when you're ready to put it into park.

As you might imagine, my love of autos extends to the gadgets and gee-whiz technology the auto affords. On this front, the Tesla is a died-and-gone-to-heaven dream. The key fob, shaped like a handheld toy Tesla car, identifies you to the vehicle. Approach it and the door handles glide out of the auto's sleek, beautiful body to greet you.

Given entry, you deposit yourself in the 12-way power adjustable driver's seat. As the driver, you have three choices-drive, neutral or reverse. Then it's off you go.

Most evident, not to mention enjoyable, is the user-friendly, 17-inch iPad-like touch screen that dominates the dashboard and puts you in control of everything else. The Tesla is a rolling 3G connection to the Internet. The touch screen is your key to controlling the backup camera, sunroof, choosing (on the P85D model only) between what Tesla labels the auto's "Sport" (0-60 in 3.2 seconds) and "Insane" (0-100 in 8 seconds) acceleration modes, GPS mapping/directions, climate controls, Internet browser (yes, you read that right), the entertainment system that connects to satellite radio or terrestrial radio or your smartphone or Pandora or (well you get the limitless number of possibilities) and so much, much more.

And with no need for a conventional engine, this vehicle has a trunk in the front and another in the back.

Most tantalizing of all is the fact that all new Teslas come standard with a suite of sonar, optical and radar sensors. The car's software provides the intelligence for an uber cruise control mode that will follow roads and sense the movement of traffic all around you to control speed and braking in order to avoid accidents of all types.

With calendar synching, the vehicle can calculate traffic conditions to let you know travel time to your next meeting. On private property, the auto is smart enough to open your garage door, drive itself to your curb and wait for you to approach your Tesla that will be playing your favorite music and will be set to your preferred cabin temperature.

The Tesla isn't without downsides. As an electric car it has a range of about 260 miles before it will need a charge. For city travel, no problem. For longer range travel, plan ahead to find supercharging stations (a 50-percent charge takes 20 minutes). The profile of the Tesla is low to the ground, such that concrete barriers that mark parking spots, speed bumps, potholes and simple curbs can easily cause havoc to the undercarriage and car. Also, driver visibility out the windows is not the best.

However, none of these downsides diminish the marvel. The Tesla is an American-made auto that sets a very high bar for other luxury sedans, regardless of origin.

Phil Pikelny is vice president of Dispatch Digital and chief marketing officer of The Dispatch Printing Company.