Lots of articles/thread posts on the history and evolution of Fender American series/standard guitars post CBS...
IMO the newest examples are the 'best of the breed' right now, out of the box. Custom shop pickups, good hardware, better finishing and setup than previous years (and I've always had a soft spot for American standard guitars) but if I was looking for one I'd stick try to stick to years 2012+. I happen to dig the belly cut.
Similar to how all the American car makers are putting out some of the best american v8 cars of all time ... who knows how long it will last..
the AM STD tele is remarkably unchanged over its entire history. i like the neck shape of the post '90s ones more, and the post '12 pickups are better, but there's really no "bad" years or "good" years for these.
that said i'd take a hot rod RI or even an american special or HWY 1 tele instead, i just much prefer the vintage bridge (which will not retro-fit).
I have a 2014 American Strat. Now, obviously not a tele, but the quality, playability and tone is really great. Little details that you might not realize all come together to make this a great playing guitar, and I imagine and hope/expect the American Teles since 2013 (or is it 12) would be similar, as I'm also shopping for a Tele now.
The current AmStan Teles are different from the '52s, and all the classic reissues. They are more modern for playability and better intonation, although most will claim (rightfully so) that a traditional tele with a proper setup can have just as good of intonation and playability. Won't argue this fact. But the tummy tuck, modern bridge, and top shelf pickups plus a great modern feeling neck, all combine to make the current Standards a pretty good value overall.
I foolishly sold a 2013 that might have had the best bridge pickup tone I have heard. The custom shop pickups they are putting in the new Teles are no joke. I also liked the tummy tuck although traditionalists prefer a slab. I actually had no issues with the modern bridge and while it may have affected the tone, as I said, the bridge pickup tone was killer. Mine was ash with maple neck/fretboard and it weighed 6.8 lbs. It was a monster! I should have kept it and I have been looking for another one for months...just haven't seen the right one yet.