2023 Polestar 2 Long Range Dual Motor Review: Sleeper sedan
Despite being on the market for a couple of years now, the Polestar brand is not known to much of the general public. Even here in EV-friendly Los Angeles, we garnered several puzzled stares from fellow motorists who recognized neither the tall-liftback-sedan body shape nor the emblem.
We, on the other hand, are reasonably acquainted with the Volvo spin-off marque, having driven the slinky Polestar 1 hybrid coupe as well as the single-motor and Performance Pack versions of the Polestar 2. The Goldilocks variant, particularly for those in the Snowbelt, is this dual-motor all-wheel drive Polestar 2 on which we piled several hundred miles for this test.
The Long Range Dual Motor example that we drove boasts 408 hp and 487 lb-ft of torque of combined grunt to both axles, courtesy of a 78-kWh battery that offers up to 260 miles.* Cost of entry, including destination, is $53,300, but our tester came with a $1250 metallic paint option, funky contrasting 20-inch wheels with all-season tires ($1300), and ventilated Nappa leather seats ($4000). The $3400 Pilot package added upgraded pixel LED headlamps, Blind Spot Information with steering assist, 360-degree cameras, and adaptive cruise control with Pilot Assist lane centering. The $4200 Plus Package throws in a Harman Kardon premium audio system, panoramic moonroof, and perhaps most useful, a mechanical heat pump for the HVAC system. In cold weather, when batteries are less efficient, sparing the system from powering the climate control on start-up can mean retaining precious miles of range.
What sets the Polestar 2 apart is its design: uncluttered minimalist inside, uniquely blocky outside. Whether you like it or not, the vehicle stands out.
The interior, however, was the source of our only quibbles. It boils down to ergonomic issues which we suspect others will find similarly puzzling. The center console is tall and rather wide, placing the throttle pedal close to the console and fencing in the amount of room available for the driver’s right leg. We got used to it, but the seating position never felt perfect. The center console presents other challenges, too. There are two cup holders, but one is inside the center console’s modest storage bin; if two front-seat passengers each have a beverage, it puts the center armrest out of commission. (Or worse, an elbow ends up in a milkshake.) The placement of the hazard lights, just to the left of the volume knob, seems a bit too prominent in its place tucked between the shifter and the screen. We’d prefer the switch be somewhere that’s less likely to be bumped. Likewise, the shifter could also be placed somewhere that doesn’t intrude on the precious center console real estate. Mercedes places its electronic shifter on a stalk on the steering column, for example. Finally, our tiniest, most inconsequential nit-pick is that the blinker chime sounds like someone tapping on the windshield. It’s just odd.
Specs: 2023 Polestar 2 Long Range Dual Motor
- Price: $53,300 / $67,450 (base / as-tested)
- Powertrain: Dual permanent-magnetic synchronous AC motors with direct drive
- Horsepower: 408 hp
- Torque: 487 lb-ft
- Layout: All-wheel drive, four-door, five-passenger, liftback sedan
- Weight: 4658 lbs
- EPA-Rated Fuel Economy: 105/95/100 MPGe (city/hwy/combined)
- Range: 260 miles
- 0-60 mph: 4.5 seconds
- Competitors: Tesla Model 3, Audi Q4 E-Tron
Like many luxury EVs with all-wheel drive, the dual-motor Polestar 2 has powerful acceleration and feels very surefooted, thanks to the near-instant torque of the electric motors and the low position of the battery pack. Polestar claims 0-60 mph sprints in 4.5 seconds, which even in a car this heavy (4658 pounds) makes merging and passing a point-and-shoot affair. The Dual Motor is dramatically, noticeably quicker than the 231-hp Single Motor variant, which does the same 60 mph sprint in 7.0 seconds. For $3500, it is absolutely worth the premium—especially when the cheaper model benefits from only 10 more miles of estimated range.
When we took possession of our loaner it was set to one-pedal driving mode, with the steering feel set to maximum firmness. That turned out to be what we preferred as well. Lifting quickly off the pedal brings the car gently to a stop, and after just a few minutes behind the wheel, it was easy to adjust our driving style to the regenerative braking. We hardly needed to use the brakes in ordinary traffic, but the pedal is assertive and won’t disappoint those that prefer traditional two-pedal operation and the ability to more naturally coast.
Our loan period happened to fall over a period of intense rainfall in Southern California, so we had plenty of opportunity to experience the Polestar 2 on slick roads and put the wipers through a torture test. No complaints there; the car was rather quiet even in the rain and with a huge glass roof overhead. Polestar claims a 260-mile range with the Dual Motor, although to preserve the battery life it’s recommended to limit charging to 90 percent capacity except for when necessary, which puts the actual range around 230 miles in optimal conditions. That was plenty of range for us to drive from northern Los Angeles to San Diego for a day trip, recharge during dinner, and get back with more than 50 miles of range to spare. Owners will surely take advantage of charging at home, and our only issues with charging the Polestar were the fault of various charging station locations that returned less wattage than advertised. In the best case, we were able to go from 20 percent to 76 percent while stopping for lunch, adding 50.5 kWh in 37 minutes for the price of $21.50. That works out to $0.145 per mile of charge, and home charging is less than half that.
The 2 has a distinctly modern feel to it, and EV customers not quite ready to ditch an instrument panel will find the cabin a bit more familiar than the sparse Tesla Model 3. Polestar’s next volley is a larger, three-row SUV known as (wait for it) the Polestar 3, using a platform shared with the upcoming Volvo EX90. We’re looking forward to seeing whether the young brand can scale its success up in size.
*Announced today, the 2024 Polestar 2 comes with a host of equipment, battery, and electric motor upgrades. See details here.
2023 Polestar 2 Long Range Dual Motor
Price: $53,300 / $67,450 (base / as-tested)
Highs: Powerful, sure-footed acceleration. Responsive, customizable infotainment. Respectable and as-advertised EV range.
Lows: Mediocre rear visibility thanks to liftback shape. Interior ergonomics don’t always feel natural.
Takeaway: Luxurious without being flashy, this is a solid performer for premium buyers in search of EV subtlety.