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Tesla Cars on Sale for Half the Price

As for acceleration, it's quick. Zero to 60 mph comes up in 6.9 seconds, and I found that the limiting factor was the economy-oriented wheels. This is no Chevy Corvette or Volt, which has relatively fat low-profile sports wheels. I tore up the asphalt, leaving long tire marks, and embarrassed a variety of exotic European sports cars.

To say that this car is fun is an understatement: Comparing the drivetrain of any other SUV to this Tesla-based SUV is like comparing a 12-year-old Motorola Razr flip-phone to an iPhone 4S. Everything else in the market feels distinctly Neanderthal in comparison.

As with the other premium electric cars, the Tesla-based Toyota makes wild acceleration into an undramatic event. There is no downshift, no embarrassing noise, and no shakes or rattles. It's just a totally silent "Andre the Giant's hand" lunging your car forward with a feeling you simply cannot translate into words. You have to experience it in the driver's seat. The Jetsons Age has arrived.

Handling-wise, the Tesla-based Toyota is limited, again, by the cheap wheels. This is no Chevrolet Volt in that regard. That said, the center of gravity is low thanks to the battery built into the floorpan.

One interesting anecdote is that Toyota, in attempting to perform the government's mandatory roll-over crash test, was unable to get this SUV to roll using the government's prescribed method. Its center of gravity is so low, it just wouldn't tip. This means the caution you feel while sitting so high up, and taking turns while riding on relatively squeaky tires, is, in the end, fundamentally unwarranted.

Unlike Tesla's Model S, the Toyota version uses a standards-based charging interface, so that you can use almost all electric car chargers without an annoying adapter. Toyota uses Tesla's 10 kWh on-board charger, so you can fill up large giant battery from zero in six hours or less, depending on amperage and climate. That's 50% faster than a Ford Focus and three times faster than a Chevy Volt or Nissan LEAF, on a per-hour basis.

You, future Tesla owner, it's decision time.

So let's say you have a deposit on the Tesla Model S -- and you live in California -- should you move fast and try to switch your place in line for one of the 2,600 Toyota RAV4 Electric SUVs before they're gobbled up? The answer is not easy, but here are the factors:

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