By on May 5, 2014

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In my first entry, there was a bit of confusion and – I’d say justified – resentment over my self-identification as a “regular guy”. I did not intend to brand myself as an average Joe, in the way that only the most obnoxious retail politicians like to do. Instead, I meant it in the context of “regular guy who has an interest in cars, but doesn’t know a lot”.

As I explained earlier, I have lived in places where driving is more of a hinderance than a necessity. Now that I live in a different kind of place, I am diving headfirst into the world of cars, and I have chosen to spend my money on one that I think is cool. But I sill don’t know a lot. Bear with me.

 

Since I lack the vocabulary needed to eloquently write about cars, I can best describe the Tesla in these terms: It’s very sleek and smooth, and looks expensive. You will not have trouble picking out a Model S on the road, partly because of the incredibly large and bright headlights, and partly because it really is a distinctive beast. At least mine is, because looks like a large, red phallus.

It looks sort of like the Batmobile, if Bruce Wayne suddenly thought “well, a sedan is just so practical“. You can and will get people saying “damn, nice car.” Parking it between other cars is an exercise in anxiety for me – the wide track makes me think that I’ll bump into someone or something. The car’s behind is gigantic – simply ridiculous. As you back it into a spot, a ghostly Sir Mix-A-Lot appears. He witnesses the Model S reversing. He approves as I park poorly, on an angle. I should add that $500 for parking sensors is a necessary expense.

The powered trunk is also wonderful – you feel like a true badass as it swings open slowly, like an important chest in Zelda. People will look. It closes with a vast beep, which is a tad obnoxious.

The one part I don’t like? The front-butt. Yes I’m sure there’s a term for it, but as the Tesla’s battery is underneath the car, the front of the car is an extra trunk. The front-butt. I called it the front-butt to the delivery specialist and he corrected me three times before giving up and moving on. The front-butt is weird. It has space, and that’s cool, but closing it feels weird – I even got told “not to slam it as you could dent it.” It never feels truly closed, and it has a weird springiness to it. I don’t ever use it.

The interior of the Tesla feels weird compared to other cars. The windows are small, and the roofline is low, which makes things feel a bit small inside. The back window is a little small, and that, along with the car’s sizable rump, makes rearward vision a bit complex. The enormous, expansive windshield and low hood give a great view of the road.

There are only a few physical buttons – the levers on the wheel for cruise control, signaling, the window washers, lights, and one for opening the glovebox.  Much has been written about the 17″ touchscreen. It’s multi-touch in the same style as an iPhone 5S, but much larger. Whatever you’re controlling (power, navigation, music, etc.) is done via two main windows which you can move around by dragging. You can select and save different seat positions from the top. Bluetooth syncing is simple. You can use Slacker Radio for music if you really want to, and you get it free with the car for a few years. I won’t belabor every feature. It is simply better and easier to use – while still or while driving – than any other car. It makes sense in a way that interfaces should make sense. It has been designed to work, not to be a nominal improvement from whatever model they made last year.

Tesla provides software updates over the air using 3G. I’ve yet to receive one. They seem to be substantial – adding back ‘creep’ like a gas vehicle (IE: it rolls when you take your foot off the pedal), cleaning up the user interface, fixing bugs, etc. This is a rarity – my Volvo had a GPS update once. It required you leaving the car on and putting in several DVDs, and took hours.

The Navigation on the Model S is the best in class, approached by nobody. It is a giant touchscreen version of Google Maps, with multi-touch twisting of the map, up-to-date traffic information and turn-by-turn navigation. It even shows you turn-by-turn directions on the main gauge cluster (if you can call it that). It works. It doesn’t take you on stupid routes. It estimates things a little wonkily, seemingly not realising that traffic slows down your journey, but apparently an update is coming to fix that.

All in all, it’s the best. It is better than any Garmin, Nuvi, or whatever device. It’s even better than what’s on your phone. Comparing it to other in-car navigation would be like comparing a Peter Luger porterhouse to a day-old Chili’s take-home NY Strip.

I do recommend the sound package too. I don’t know what it sounds like without it, but I love how it sounds, and I’m not an audiophile either, so don’t count on any sort of intelligent description. On top of that, there’s a nice little touch – if you open the door, the music lowers itself to a pleasant background sound. So when I open the door to meet someone, they won’t hear how loudly I’m blasting Avril Lavigne’s “Losing Grip,” the only clue being my reddened eyes and dried tears.

The biggest adjustment I had to make with the Model S was getting used to the regenerative braking. Technically, this means if you take your foot off the pedal, the car will suck the momentum back into the battery. What this means in practice is that you do not ‘coast’ when you take your foot off the pedal – the car pulls you back a bit like jumping into hyperspace in Star Wars. It’s a change in how you drive, and it almost becomes a game to see how much range you can pull out of the car. You brake a great deal less, too – the car is always willing to slow itself down and take that energy back.

My car, fully charged, claims 268 miles of range. The car is frustratingly intelligent at giving accurate ratings. You won’t be able to give yourself back extra miles – it’ll simply recalculate and take miles off of the car at a slower rate. Even then, it seems accurate almost to the mile – a 40 mile journey will reduce the range by 39 to 41 miles.

The actual driving experience can be summed up as “smooth”. Smoother than my Volvo S60. There is little sound from the road, little sound from the outside world. It’s like you’re in a weird little electric bubble. The car is a pleasure to drive. It’s comfortable, cushy, it turns comfortably, on highways and in cities, for long drives or short commutes, it is *comfortable*. Nothing feels difficult or forced. Things are within comfortable reach, and even the wheel has nicely-placed shortcuts for everything you’ll need. It is a pleasure to drive. I am sure someone will read this and say “WELL ACTUALLY MY 2013 ENCORE IS QUIETER AND THE TRIFECTA TUNE DELIVERS CONSISTENT 40 MPG RUNS”. And to that, I say “cool”.

The Model S P85 goes from zero to sixty in 4.2 seconds. Even on the cheaper, 40KW model I once rented, the ‘punch’ of acceleration is wonderful. On the horrible nightmare of the Bay Area’s 101, you’ll find that people love to give you very little room, or simply decide to speed up when you want to get into ‘their’ lane. The Model S will give you the instant thrust you need to shoot through the gaps.

I am not a performance driver, nor am I particularly thrill-seeking. However, the knowledge that I own a car that can keep pace with a BMW M car or an Audi R8 is priceless. On the other hand, they seem to think that a Tesla is a waste of money, a dumb car that idiots drive. I’ve gotten a few drivers of these cars coming up behind me, flashing their high-beams and following to closely, despite the fact that I was maintaining an appropriate speed on the freeway. Nailing the gas and leaving them behind in an emissions-free blast of instant torque is always a great feeling.

There’s also the weird phenomena of driving a Tesla past another Tesla. Roadster or Model S, they will wave to you, salute, nod sagely, give you the thumbs up, and generally give you a look of either “hey, we both own the same car!” or “I’m paying this off for a decade!” Either way, it’s kind of funny and I enjoy it.

Other Tesla owners do like to talk. In my trips I’ve met various surprisingly high-powered Silicon Valley VP-level executives – from actual companies making real things with revenue versus vague startup chaps. Their median age appears to be late thirties to early forties, and they’re all about the advice and networking. Tesla is losing an opportunity here to create a real network of early adopters by building actual amenities around the Supercharger network. While I sound like a vapid valley turd-human saying this, there’s the potential here to create an actual community. Show your fob, go into the club. You’ve just made people want to stay Tesla owners, made them feel special for owning a Tesla, and created a relatively captive audience.

Instead you have a weird featureless series of plugs.

I love my Model S. I love the way it drives, the way it works, the way it feels when I sit in it. I love how people love it when they get in it. I love the fact I don’t have to get gas, and I love the fact that the navigation system works like it was built for a human being. I love how the wheel feels solid and leathery. I love that I can speed past men in exotic cars and I can make faces at them like the monsters from Where The Wild Things Are.

I wonder when the novelty will start to wear off. Right now, I am pretty thrilled. And I can’t imagine reviewing multiple cars – couldn’t you just copy-paste this each time and change a few words?

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109 Comments on “TTAC Long Term Tesla Part 4: The Honeymoon...”


  • avatar

    >>>Tesla is losing an opportunity here to create a real network of early adopters by building actual amenities around the Supercharger network. While I sound like a vapid valley turd-human saying this, there’s the potential here to create an actual community.

    That’s a superb idea, and I’m not saying that as a fan of these things. I’m not. But if I had one, and I had to hang out at the supercharger for an hour, an espresso bar to meet other Tesla owners, or to work on my laptop, would be nice.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      They seem to be locating them where there are amenities, probably where they can install them without paying much rent. Doing more than installing the chargers would involve additional capital (although, yes, there’d be the possibility of revenue).

      And these little Super Centres might actually be pretty lonely most of the time. I don’t see a lot of Teslas prowling I-94 in the wilds of Wisconsin.

  • avatar
    carguy67

    re: “… despite the fact that I was maintaining an appropriate speed on the freeway …”

    Note to all Bay Area transplants from a long-time resident: if you’re in the fast lane–left-most lane not carpool–you don’t get to decide what is an ‘appropriate speed’ (80MPH is default in light traffic). You are obliged to keep up with traffic; if there are no cars for a few car-lengths ahead of you and cars piling up behind you, move over or speed up. This ‘unwritten rule’–actually, the vehicle says something about it–is observed by most, except immigrants and Arrogant Pricks.

    We even have a term for the APs that won’t move over: ‘road boulders.’

    • 0 avatar
      PandaBear

      That, and never, ever dare to use cruise control on the freeway if you are in the fast lane, you either get an accident or are blocking traffic so bad that cops will pull you over.

      • 0 avatar
        dongledangle

        I’ve had time to contemplate this issue while cruising at 60 mph behind a Tesla that was straddling the two leftmost lanes of the freeway. The issue here is the target market. If you draw a Venn diagram where the box is all car owners, and the two circles contain Prius drivers and BMW drivers respectively, the center where they overlap is the target Tesla customer.

        Once you realize this, everything suddenly makes sense.

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          Until recently, I had a commute that involved a stretch of I15 frequented by Tesla drivers. They seem to be acutely aware of the connection between their speed and their range. 60 mph seems to be the top of their anxiety tolerance. Fortunately, most of them knew to stay in the slow lane. Oddly, the big violators of the left lane social contract were usually drivers of white or silver late-model pickups, often ones with trim levels employing silly place names.

    • 0 avatar
      285exp

      Yep, if you were capable of flooring it and leaving them behind then you were being an ass by parking it in the left lane, it’s not up to you to decide what the appropriate speed is. Move over.

    • 0 avatar

      I can’t believe I missed that. Agree completely. If you’re in the left lane and someone signals they want to pass, move over. Better yet, you should be watching the rear view mirror, and if someone gains on you at close range, move over. If you’re already passing someone but your speed is hardly more than theirs, speed up a bit until you can pull over.

      Left lane hogs create knots in the traffic that can lead to delays, and fuel tempers. (Sure, people should practice calming themselves while they drive so they don’t get upset, but it’s pretty hard to micromanage the entire population. Move over, and tension will be released, and everyone will be safer and happier.)

      It’s called “lane courtesy”.

      • 0 avatar
        Steve65

        Toldja he’d be that kind of driver…

      • 0 avatar
        Wheeljack

        Michigan is the worst. People here seem to feel like they have a God-given right to trundle along in the left lane at the speed limit or even below it.

        Many years ago I drove through some rural 2-lane roads in Texas and people got out of your way onto the paved shoulder if you were clearly going faster than them. Now that’s courtesy!

        • 0 avatar
          VenomV12

          I have driven all over the country and Texas by far has the best drivers on the road. I have virtually no issues with any of them. California drivers on the other hand are downright terrible as are New York and New Jersey drivers and Chicago.

          • 0 avatar
            Chicago Dude

            I see what you did there. You can’t fool me.

            California, New York and New Jersey are nice places that just happen to be cursed with downright terrible drivers. But Chicago? Oh, that place is so downright terrible that we don’t even need to talk about the drivers (because they are all either frozen or stuck in potholes, right?).

          • 0 avatar
            burgersandbeer

            California drivers are terrible; NJ and NY drivers are psychotic.

          • 0 avatar
            SMIA1948

            I live and drive in Texas.

            Yes, of course. Anyone (even a New Yorker) will be polite to you if they know that you might be carrying a gun.

            Texas: lots of guns, no urban riots, no flash mobs of thugs, and very little road rage.

    • 0 avatar
      masouds

      “..except immigrants and arrogant pricks…”
      Except *some* immigrants. As an arrogant and prickly immigrant(double whammy!), I always go with the flow or am in the rightmost lane.

    • 0 avatar
      Splorg McGillicuddy

      Amen, but if you’re on 101 in the morning, it doesn’t matter — you’re going to average 28 MPH no matter what car you drive.

  • avatar
    RogerB34

    I prefer driving routes by Google to Garmin and Garmin is better than Magellan. Best would be personal route planning in the GPS without program interference.
    Most newer ICE cars have DFCO, deceleration fuel cutoff. If given enough time, 10 sec or so, the injectors are shut down and will reactivate for CAT temp long down hill or acceleration or idle at stop. My 05 Honda has it and will also downshift rolling to a stop, traffic permitting. 05 Sable does not. Most drivers haven’t a clue.
    Bloody Bayshore by car rather than Caltrain?

  • avatar
    jmo

    I must say that I really enjoy your writing style. TTAC can tend toward the angry and bitter so this series is a refreshing change.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    If I’m remembering the little spiel I had to listen to when my friend went to test drive the Model S, the front-butt as you called it is a frunk. Equally strange, but it kind of makes sense.

    I’m interested to see how this car works out for you long term.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Liking the review…keep up the good work!

  • avatar
    iNeon

    That car couldn’t look more like a late-model Grand Prix.

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      I don’t see it, aside from maybe the shape of the side windows.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      A neighbor of mine “Joe” just got a new Model S, yesterday I was out front talking to another neighbor “Sam” when “Joe” drove by in his S, we all waived as “Joe” passed, “Sam” says to me, “Did Joe get a new car? “Yes”, I said and Sam continues, “Those new Kia Optimas sure are getting nice”,

      “They sure are, Sam”

      Priceless

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    “comparing a Peter Luger porterhouse to a day-old Chili’s take-home NY Strip.”

    You lost me there, I have no idea what or who Peter Luger is, and I suspect I’m not alone.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      For 30 years its been rated the best steakhouse in NYC.

      • 0 avatar
        brenschluss

        Arguably the rest of the country, too.

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          The thing about people that don’t live in NYC is that they have barbecue grills. Chances are they have fully formed opinions about steak preparation and quality that didn’t come from zagats. I’m not saying Peter Luger steaks are cafeteria quality, but they may be the most over-rated steaks extant. Want a good steak in NY? Get an Old Homestead porterhouse. Last time I went to Peter Luger, our ‘steak for two’ was a completely indifferent NY strip. It will be the last time too, since nothing is going to get me to carry a few hundred bucks around Williamsburg to give that place another chance.

          • 0 avatar
            brenschluss

            Congrats on owning a grill, we’re all proud of you. Good steaks can come from almost anywhere, it’s true. I haven’t had to pay for a Luger steak myself, which helps. It’s a good steakhouse though.

            And if you’re afraid of being robbed in Williamsburg, you haven’t been there in 20 years.

          • 0 avatar
            pragmatist

            Grilling in NY is pretty rare. Restaurants are strongly limited by environmental laws.

            In many parts of the country you can smell a good grill or BBQ place a block away. Cooked over a smokey wood or charcoal fire. That’s the steak you can’t get in NYC whether in a restaurant or a backyard.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheeljack

      Mmmmm…Peter Luger. Best steak I’ve ever had. I’ve had the good fortune of eating there twice and would like to go there again sometime.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    Agreed, I have really enjoyed your review. My hope would be for Tesla to figure out how to make a car that is reasonable for the rest of us. 90k, even with no gas, is just too much for the average folks with a couple of kids blah blah blah.

    • 0 avatar
      imag

      The brilliance of Tesla was to *not* start by making a cheap EV. I am not a huge Tesla fan, but that much is obvious.

      Batteries are expensive. It makes sense to package early adopter technology with an expensive vehicle. The Model S is a low cost, high prestige version of the S Class. In fact, it is outselling the combined total of the S Class, the 7 series, and the A8 in markets where it is available.

      Just as the first computers and the first smartphones were expensive, it makes sense to start at the top. The mistake of the other automakers was in trying to compete with low cost, high volume econoboxes. That limits their range and makes them less desirable.

  • avatar
    dolorean

    Ed, your “self-identification as a “regular guy” (not) inteing to brand yourself as an average Joe, in the way that only the most obnoxious retail politicians like to do. Instead, meant it in the context of ‘regular guy who has an interest in cars, but doesn’t know a lot\'”.

    I’m fairly certain that Joe Walsh has settled the Ordinary Average Guy argument. His friend has a Chrysler, he owns a Dodge. Hope this helps :)

  • avatar
    Fordson

    Having a hard time accepting that every feature of the Tesla S is just the best, from a person who has not had much exposure to many cars, and admittedly does not know much about them. Any time I hear this kind of bald-faced assertion by a newbie, I kind of snicker.

    And you are not going to “blast away” from an M3 or M5 or Audi R8 in a Tesla S – the differences between it and these other cars in acceleration times are within tenths of seconds. Don’t get cocky and don’t clog up the fast lane.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      Top gear 30-50 Tesla 1.8 seconds.

      Top gear 30-50 M3 3.1 seconds.

      Obviously the Tesla is single speed vs. the 6 speed manual or DCT in the M3… but, I could see where it would seem faster and more effortless.

      • 0 avatar
        Fordson

        I don’t think there is much 30-50 acceleration taking place on a “freeway,” as the author terms it.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          More than you think. When using an on-ramp you’re usually accelerating pretty sharply to get to highway speed–which in a metropolitan area can run anywhere from 30 in the height of rush hour to 60 at other times. That doesn’t even consider how there will be the occasional surge as you pass some bottleneck.

    • 0 avatar
      Truckducken

      Right you are, Fordson. It’s the fast lane, not the half-fast lane.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      This, exactly. The Tesla is more of a gadget than a car, and the writer is self-admittedly a gadget freak, so of course this car appeals to him more than anything else. There is no real competitor to it, so no real cross-shopping to do. Its $90k, which puts it out of the realm of affordability for most buyers, its a very expensive bespoke gadget for wealthy people. In fairly narrowly focused targets, it is the “best” car. Like 30-50mph where is excels, vs 50-80mph or 70-100mph which would be more realistic for highway “blasts”. I mean really, he bought an electric car without having any place to charge it. How many other cars did he test? Did he even look at the Leaf or the Volt, which would have been much less expensive and/or practical? For $90k you can have a Volt and another car or two.

      No doubt its a cool car, but really it better be for $80-120k. But how can I be impressed by that when it costs so much?? When they can sell it for $25-35k then I will be impressed.

      • 0 avatar
        jmo

        “For $90k you can have a Volt and another car or two. ”

        I don’t understand the theory that you should buy a Miata and a Camry XLE rather than an M3. Maybe some people want one thing they they like vs. two things they kinda like.

        • 0 avatar
          burgersandbeer

          I agree about the Camry and M3, but I think it is a different discussion with a pure electric car involved, thanks to how much planning a road trip would take, if it is even possible.

          That said, if you can afford the Tesla, just buy the Tesla and rent a car for the road trip if you can’t find a supercharger every 250 miles.

          • 0 avatar
            mnm4ever

            Well I just like multiple cars, I would rather have 2 (or 3 or 4) less expensive cars than one expensive vehicle that requires compromises. But I can understand why many people would want a single car, maybe he has only one parking spot, doesn’t have a lot of vehicle requirements, isn’t a car guy, etc.

            But even taking the writer’s post at face value, he claims the Tesla is the “best car ever”. But it isn’t. It isn’t the best track car, it cannot be used for long road trips, it isn’t really very luxurious inside, its large yet not “roomy”, it cannot tow anything, its a good looking car but can easily be mistaken for a Kia Optima or Jaguar, it isn’t really unique looking. And to top it off, its $90k. So why get it? Because its electric, and because it has really cool gadgets and a really big touchscreen, and of course the most important feature of the car ever: the ability to impress your techie friends. Oh and I bet you can score some hot chicks at the Bay Area bars with one too.

  • avatar
    dude500

    “I’ve gotten a few drivers of these cars coming up behind me, flashing their high-beams and following to closely, despite the fact that I was maintaining an appropriate speed on the freeway.”
    .
    .
    .
    Why don’t you move over?

  • avatar
    BMWnut

    Good article. Almost makes me want one.

    Question: by how much is the range reduced after blowing off a supercar?

  • avatar
    SDMatt

    “I’ve gotten a few drivers of these cars coming up behind me, flashing their high-beams and following to closely, despite the fact that I was maintaining an appropriate speed on the freeway.”

    This statement right here completely encompasses what is wrong with 90% of the people on the road. Its what makes my head, and the heads of those who have functioning basic logic, utterly explode.

    Let me translate your thinking into the reality of driving on large freeways.

    You essentially just said: “I am driving 80 mph on the freeway. I have deemed this speed “appropriate”. In this case, 15mph over the speed limit is appropriate. Those wishing to pick a higher illegal speed have select an inappropriate speed. Therefor, I will not yield to you. Also, if I come up on someone who has decided that 10mph in excess of the speed limit is the appropriate speed, I will get angry, as they have selected an inappropriate speed.”

    Seriously, your statement is what is wrong with traffic flow 101.

    There is NO appropriate speed. You pick the speed you wish. I will pick mine. If you want to go 5 under the limit, great. 10 over? Have a blast. I wont tell you your appropriate speed, you wont tell me mine.

    Here are the ONLY two important rules:

    1) Maintain your speed. Period. Dont be the jerk speeding up and slowing down for no reason. Pick a speed, and drive it.

    2) If you are in the left lane, or at least the left side of a multi lane highway, you have two choices if there is space in front of you: Speed up to traffic, or, merge. Period. That is it. If you are not passing, you have lost your reason for being in a lane to the left of traffic.

    A bit of a rant about one statement, but driving an hour a day in California, I see this ALL THE TIME.

    /rant /soapbox

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      “Maintain your speed. Period. Dont be the jerk speeding up and slowing down for no reason. Pick a speed, and drive it.”

      This also drives me crazy in the Bay Area. I’m tired of moving over for cars on the downhill only for them to lose 15 mph on the uphill. Drivers maintaining speed seem to be the exception, rather than the norm.

    • 0 avatar
      dude500

      +1. Especially: “I wont tell you your appropriate speed, you wont tell me mine.”

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      I get tired of self-righteous ‘fast laners.’ I personally think more problems would be solved by taking every ‘fast laner,’ seizing their licenses, and crushing their cars. It isn’t that important to drive fast. Honestly, it isn’t.

      That being said, yes, stick to a steady speed, and that speed should be the same as everyone else on the road. No, you don’t get to go faster regardless of your lane. No, you don’t get to go slower, regardless of your lane. Yes, you should be courteous, and it’s a true shame more people don’t do this. Let people merge, don’t cut them off, don’t tailgate, use your signals. Good driving is a team effort.

      (And, no, I don’t squat in the left lane, even though the law in my state–like the majority of states, actually–does not have a ‘fast lane’ and does not generally limit the left lane for passing only.)

  • avatar

    It seems to me that while some kind of “Tesla Owners Club” would be appreciated at Tesla supercharger stations, I think it would also make sense to use the opportunity to generate revenue through the sale of Tesla accessories and also to promote the brand in general. It’s like Buickman’s idea to generate sales by giving away $50 worth of free service if you take a test drive. You have warm bodies there you might as well try to sell them something. Since Tesla’s factory-store business model necessarily means that they won’t exactly be blanketing the country with dealerships, the charging stations can also operate as satellite retail locations, with product information etc.

  • avatar
    fishiftstick

    The only thing more assholic than blocking the left lane because you deem yourself to be driving at an “appropriate speed” is speeding up when another driver signals intention to pass.
    That look you observe on other drivers’ faces when you do so isn’t awe at your vehicle’s acceleration. Nobody cares. It’s disgust with your self-righteous driving tactics.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      They weren’t intending to pass. If they did, they’d just pass. Their intention was to get him to move to a different lane.

      I’m irritated by his behavior, but I’m disgusted by people who justify driving like you suggest is proper.

  • avatar
    z9

    The supercharger in LA (Hawthorne) has a gift shop. But it no longer has those pavers filled with grass. They replaced the grass with gravel.

    As someone who installed grass pavers and has been tortured by them ever since, I can sympathize. I give it another year before Tesla rips them out completely and just paves the whole area.

    This part of the review was my favorite. Thank you.

  • avatar

    I don’t like folks who hog the left lane, but what about those drivers who come up behind you in the left lane when you’re already going faster than traffic in the middle or right lanes, and they’re oblivious to the flow of traffic? They expect you to just get out of their way even if there’s no smooth way to do it.

    I’m a fairly considerate driver. I let people merge early and I try not to tailgate. However, if you’re a jerk about overtaking and you clearly can’t read traffic, when you try to pass on the right, you may find yourself boxed in by a slight increase in my speed.

    • 0 avatar
      gogogodzilla

      The left lane is called the ‘passing lane’ for a reason.

      You use it to pass and then get over.

      If you’ve passed, then what are you now doing in the passing lane?

      Answer? The same thing you are criticizing that ‘other driver’ for doing.

      • 0 avatar
        marc

        Hell is getting a couple degrees cooler, as I agree wholeheartedly with Ronnie.
        gogogodzilla, on a busy, multi-lane freeway, the left lane is assuredly not just a passing lane. It should be reserved for the fastest cars, but still at a speed that is appropriate for the traffic. To expect that driver to immediately, at his peril, exit the left lane while you roar up behind him at 85 is ridiculous at best, dangerous at worst.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          “but still at a speed that is appropriate for the traffic”

          Unless you’re a on duty cop that’s not your call, move over

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            But it is his call as to *when* it’s safe to move over and someone roaring up behind him insisting that he do it RIGHT NOW, REGARDLESS is a POS.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Well, if you’re going to qualify the statement. This, “but still at a speed that is appropriate for the traffic” tells me that the driver has determined what an appropriate speed is for me. He can go any speed he wants, but he’s not going to force me to go the same speed, not his call. You’re assuming I and the three guys behind me are 6 inches off his bumper with the lights flashing and the horn blowing. No, that would make me a dick. He, on the other hand should make every effort to complete his pass and move right safely. 1/10 of 1mph faster then the guy he’s passing is rude and selfish

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            How’s it in your office this morning, pretty slow?

            I’ve got empty desks all around me. Woo hoo. The fridgelet is mine!

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            What office? I work out of my car, heading out in a few minutes

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @Lie2Me: The argument to your statement is that if he’s already doing 10 over the posted speed limit, he’s still LEGALLY passing, the fact that you want to go 15-25 over the posted speed limit means that you are IL-legally passing and subject to traffic fines. Maybe, just maybe, you’re the one being rude.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            How do you know he’s going 10 over the limit? What if it’s 11 over and I’m going 15 over, is he less illegal then me?

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Then it’s a matter of which one of you the Trooper sees first, him, or you. And if you’re being more obviously aggressive, even if you’re behind the other car, you’re the one getting ticketed.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        I am actively passing this semi truck. I promise I will move over once the pass is complete. I even have my signal on letting you know that I will get right after I get by it. Please do not draft me like it is the Daytona 500 during this time.

    • 0 avatar
      dude500

      “when you try to pass on the right, you may find yourself boxed in by a slight increase in my speed”

      That quote above indicates where you are in error, Ronnie. If someone was able to pass on the right, then that means there was available space for you to return to the right lane.

      Move over to the right lane, and when you approach traffic slower than you, move to the passing lane.

      By default, I always return to the right lane after passing, even if I can see that in 5 seconds, I’ll need to be back in the left lane to pass another vehicle. This gives any driver behind me 5 seconds to pass if they wish. If that driver doesn’t execute a pass on me in those 5 seconds, then I firmly get back into the left lane to execute my pass, then return again to the right lane.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        While I agree with you in general, Dude, it doesn’t work so well in reality. When traffic is heavy but still running at highway speed, AND you are going at roughly the average speed for your lane, that too-impatient weaver trying to pass on the right is the idiot because he’s more likely to cause an accident with his violent, abrupt maneuvering. You suggest moving over if someone wants to pass–or rather as soon as you’ve passed, but then you discover that as soon as you change lanes, you simply don’t get the opportunity to move back to the left until a dozen cars have passed because they’re all tailgating each other and the car you were originally following yourself. Now you’ve been slowed down for no logical reason other than you were too nice a guy. Yet, if you’d stayed out in the fast lane for one or two more passes, you could well be past that slower-moving wolf pack and maybe even two or three lanes farther to the right letting them all run by at whatever speed they want.

        The point is that you have to drive IN FRONT of yourself, not behind yourself. Students in driving school are actively taught not to let the car behind them determine their actions. Driving is akin to a combat skill today; you have to watch the road ahead and plan your maneuvers based on conditions maybe a mile ahead, when visibility permits, or as close as 2 to 5 cars ahead when conditions warrant. The people who drive through their mirrors are more hindrance than help and those who look only at the car in front of them are downright dangerous!.

        I laugh every time I see some idiot weaving and flashing their lights and doing all sorts of idiotic things just to get one or two car lengths ahead, because I KNOW I’ll see them farther down the road, either wrecked or with a set of red-and-blue flashing lights on their tail. I’m right far more often than not.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          You nailed it, well said, or as I like to say,

          Lead, Follow, or get out of the Way

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Who said anything about them “… all flying past you in a cluster”? I said “they’re following the car you were following”. In other words, they’re effectively creeping past you no faster than you were creeping past the car you passed.

            You see, this is the problem. Everybody is so self-centered that they think the world–and the road–is only for them. They feel insulted that anybody else might want to use THEIR road–especially when they’re in a hurry. They don’t bother to look a few cars ahead to see what’s slowing you down, they only know you’re going slower than they want to go and YOU are the one who needs to get out of the way–no matter what!
            These are the kinds of people who cause traffic tie-ups and never know they’ve done it–they’ve already rocketed away from the near crash they just caused.

          • 0 avatar
            brenschluss

            “You see, this is the problem. Everybody is so self-centered that they think the world–and the road–is only for them. They feel insulted that anybody else might want to use THEIR road–especially when they’re in a hurry. They don’t bother to look a few cars ahead to see what’s slowing you down, they only know you’re going slower than they want to go and YOU are the one who needs to get out of the way–no matter what!
            These are the kinds of people who cause traffic tie-ups and never know they’ve done it–they’ve already rocketed away from the near crash they just caused.”

            I hope this is hyperbole. “Everybody” is not like that. You’ll get a few folks who may have had a bad day and are ready and willing to potentially sacrifice some things for gains that might not be real. Just get out of their way. If “everybody” seems to be doing this to you, though, you might be doing something.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            It is hyperbole, yes, but as an observer typically driving at or below the speed limit on the open interstate (less than 70 mph) who rides the right two lanes most of the time, I watch the idiocy going on in the middle and left lanes all the time. While I-95 between New York and DC is not the most heavily travelled stretch of US freeway, it is never empty and rarely do you see any gap of over 1/4 mile in any lane even at night on that 200-mile stretch. I ride the right side because I’m working for economy and safety–with a vehicle that struggles to get over 21mpg but has achieved a 25mpg average over a 500-mile stretch.

            That said, I watch as cars flash past me doing 80+, then brake hard to avoid the State Trooper sitting on the median just over a hilltop. Their sudden braking immediately causes a chain reaction of braking and even swerving to avoid slowing cars. It becomes insanity in seconds that causes a logjam lasting for long minutes. This is what I watch every time I get on I-95, no matter whether I’m headed north or south, whether it’s between NYPhiladelphiaBaltimoreDC and even part of the run down to Richmond. Most of that road is three lanes once away from metropolitan areas and four or more through the cities. The highway is wide enough to let sensible drivers drive sensibly, but the idiots–the ones who just HAVE to go faster than the average traffic flow no matter what–that cause all the uproar. When I do have to get out there myself to pass–and I do on occasion–I speed up enough to get by as quickly as I can, safely, then work my way back as far right as necessary to get where I’m going without creating a bottleneck. But I DON’T push 80 unless I flat have to; my gas mileage falls fast starting at 70.

        • 0 avatar
          brenschluss

          Just remember, all you ever need to do is push one person over the edge, and your life is changed forever.

          You may be legally in the right by not moving over, but I will never chance that, because the person behind you might be that guy. Regardless of speed, if someone behind wants to go faster, I’m moving over if I possibly can, even if it’s not convenient, as long as it can be done without impeding anyone.

          If there’s a line of cars all tailgating each other behind you, and you can’t get back into the left lane because they’re all flying past you in a cluster, and if the lane was clear ahead of you before you moved, you’re clogging the flow of traffic. You’re also doing what you can to flip that person’s switch.

          I wish you good luck, road rage is a real thing.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            I’m offended, insulted and outraged, so get out of my way

          • 0 avatar
            brenschluss

            Offended, insulted, outraged, psychotic, and unscrupulous.

            There’s at least one person on every interstate right now who could become all of these things.

            youtu.be/ZvCI-gNK_y4

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            Brenschluss, you are admirably sane about this.

            Lives are falling apart all over for people on the younger side of 50. Bodies and minds are falling apart for those older. The pace will only continue to accelerate.

            That’s why I try to live in the right lane and let it all blow past.

  • avatar
    VenomV12

    The left lane is for passing only, they even politely remind you of that down here in Texas. This is like basic stuff dads teach you when you start driving. How not be a d!ck on the road.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Chili’s doesn’t even serve a New York strip anymore.

  • avatar
    gogogodzilla

    I’m still waiting for an article on the typical vacation road trip that is a quintessential part of Americana.

    A road trip in a Tesla would make for an awesome article.

    And really give the writer, and the reader, a chance to see how great a Tesla is in all sorts of situations.

  • avatar
    marmot

    I agree with jmo, the writing style is Very High Quality. More please, about other topics. We can all learn something.

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    This is refreshing. Someone who’s less of a boy racer than even I am.

    When meanies crowd me at night in the left lane I manipulate my side mirror to reflect their headlights right back at them. I’ve gotten pretty good at it.

  • avatar
    ajla

    “I’ve gotten a few drivers of these cars coming up behind me, flashing their high-beams and following to closely, despite the fact that I was maintaining an appropriate speed on the freeway.”

    Heck, I had an Audi A7 tailgate and honk at me on the drive home today even though I was in the FAR RIGHT lane and going 3 over the speed limit.

    Maybe he was just a fan of 1990s Bonnevilles?

  • avatar
    Forty2

    tl;dr

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    ” I won’t belabor every feature. It is simply better and easier to use – while still or while driving – than any other car. ”

    Could you go into detail on at least one feature then? I am not seeing the miracle of this touch screen. Believe it or not, other cars have bluetooth syncing and internet radio. Even seat memory! Pick even one feature and make a case for why the touchscreen is so superior to the same feature in the S60 that it should be self-evident to everyone here.

    I do appreciate the non “car-guy” perspective, but you take it a bit too far at times. You’ve said you know zero about how cars work and your S60 seems to represent the entirety of your automotive experience prior to the model S. In that context, best avoid phrases like “better than any other car.” I’m glad you love the model S and I like hearing opinions from people with a different background than most commenters, but I would like to read more specifics and fewer generalizations that you’ve admitted you can’t back up with experience.

    • 0 avatar
      VenomV12

      I don’t know, coming from someone like myself who I consider reasonably tech savvy and own all sorts of manner of tech, I found the Tesla iPadlike interface to be sort of terrible and distracting when I test drove it. I would even go so far as to say it might be a little dangerous. I think making everything part of a touchscreen interface is a little unnecessary and adds added complexity to things that could be done with a wheel or button. I personally think the iDrivelike interfaces are the best kinds of systems to use. I might also be one of the 5 people in the world that actually liked Cadillac’s CUE system, I have had great success with it whenever I used it, their voice system is fantastic. They just need to add back in some knobs for basic functions and it would be great. I have not had much experience with Chrysler’s U-Connect so I can’t speak on it, but from all accounts it seems to be a fantastic system.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      I’ll offer one, and I don’t own a Tesla: Integration. With that big screen, everything is integrated and under a common interface rather than having to learn a dozen different ways to perform each task. As for “bluetooth synching and internet radio”, you’re right–and wrong. Can you update your car’s firmware by just letting it sit at home, plugged in? Can you play your entire audio/video library through the same interface? Do you answer your Bluetooth phone calls with a simple touch on that SAME interface? What about those seats, windows, sunroof, etc? How many different interfaces do you end up using to do the myriad of different tasks while you’re driving? Wouldn’t it be nice if they all worked the same way?

      In many ways, the Tesla is nothing new. I’ll even agree there have been other BEV cars before it. BUT, the Tesla brings many of the different automotive technologies together in one package and makes them work as a whole, not as a collection of discrete parts. The Tesla makes driving more relaxing because you don’t get frustrated trying to find the right control for what you want to do. Everything you need is readily accessible under one interface that’s as easy to use as an iPad (but before you go all zealot on me, it is NOT iOS or Android). As a result, you can drive, navigate and monitor your car’s performance without the level of distraction most other cars offer.

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        How am I wrong about bluetooth and internet radio? I guess internet radio depends on having a smartphone; is that also true of the Model S, or is the onboard 3G for more than just firmware updates? Does this 3G require a data plan?

        Updating the firmware over 3G does sound like a point in the Tesla column, though I’m curious what happens if the connection is lost with the update in process. I don’t know if this is apples to apples, but updating the DME software on my E46 was scary. A lost connection during the update supposedly causes mayhem, up to and including bricking the DME. Dealer did mine and had to ship it to BMW NA in NJ to get it sorted. Hopefully modern ICE cars do a better job with this.

        As for playing my entire media library through the same interface, yes, it all goes through bluetooth. And yes, calls are answered through the same interface. Seats, windows, and sunroof are certainly on different interfaces, and I prefer it that way. Different tools for different jobs.

        How does the touchscreen eliminate the frustration of looking for a given control? Even with 17″, you can only have so much on the screen at once. I imagine you have to at least change screens similar to swiping on a smartphone? That certainly sounds like more of a pain than using buttons and switches that are always available in the same spot, and can be operated without looking at them.

        Speaking of operating these controls without looking, that isn’t happening on a touch screen. How again does the touchscreen reduce distraction?

        Maybe I need to drive a Model S for a day or two to appreciate this interface, because I’m not convinced by what I read in this story or comments. Maybe it’s just a matter of personal preference.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          It’s not whether the Model S has it or not; as I pointed out that other brands had most of this stuff first. Rather, it’s in how the Tesla accesses and uses them. It’s a matter of integration between sometimes widely disparate discrete functions.

          Speaking of updates, a proper computer system doesn’t actually update ‘live\'; it downloads the update, verifies, then installs the update. What you describe for your E46 is absolutely the worst possible method for exactly the reason you describe. You have to assume that connectivity WILL be lost, not hope that it isn’t–especially when you’re working with a mobile device. If you download the update in its entirety, it doesn’t matter if you lose connection as the system will merely pause the download until it regains signal, regains the handshake and resume until the download is completed. If the check-bits verify the download and the device isn’t in actual use, then it will initiate the update process itself. It should be seamless and for most non-automotive devices it is.

          As for the screen controls, it seems you’ve ignored or simply missed where there is a ‘scroll wheel’ on the steering wheel that lets you speed through the windows on the display. Now, while I didn’t lay hands on the scroll wheel itself in the Tesla I studied, if it’s like the typical mouse scroll wheel, it has detents allowing you to ‘click’ up or down between screens without needing do do more than glance over to verify the screen of choice. As you get used to the system, you’ll probably be able to count ‘clicks’ to arrive at your desired menu without even looking.

          And finally, if you go back to your Driver’s Ed classes, all your interior environmental settings are supposed to be completed before you ever start rolling–not that anybody actually does that any more.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Accurate range is a foreign concept to me as a Leaf driver. Nissan should use Tesla’s ‘gas gauge’, as it’s affectionately called in the battery industry.

    I’m not so upset with its range variation with season, but more because it almost always lies.

  • avatar
    Chicago Dude

    “Tesla provides software updates over the air using 3G. I’ve yet to receive one. They seem to be substantial – adding back ‘creep’ like a gas vehicle (IE: it rolls when you take your foot off the pedal), cleaning up the user interface, fixing bugs, etc. This is a rarity – my Volvo had a GPS update once. It required you leaving the car on and putting in several DVDs, and took hours.”

    My Volvo dealer plugs the car into the computer system any time I bring it in for an oil change. When I pick it up, at the bottom of the printout is a result of the diagnostics run and a list of all the software updates that were installed. There are almost always two or three of them. It’s not a fancy over the air update system, but it works great. They also charge less than for an oil change than an independent shop so there’s no reason not to use them. They must think like Buickman.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      What I’ve found with software updates at the dealership is that they take a minimum of an hour to do so, even if it’s a tiny update. My home computer, with its multiple terabytes of capacity but only a few gigabytes of operating system typically only takes about 2 to 5 minutes–even for a large update. A software upGRADE–to a new named version–may take an hour, but that’s due to the entire OS getting replaced, not just tweaked. As such, Tesla’s updating system is far more efficient and doesn’t require the physical presence of the vehicle at the shop.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      Do people like ‘creep’? I find this one of the most annoying attributes of automatic transmissions, and can’t imagine deliberately making a car do this if it isn’t necessary. Maybe it is an ergonomic trick to force you to keep your foot on the brake and the brake lights lit?

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        I’ll agree with you whole-heartedly here; forward creep is more annoyance than help in my opinion. Since I drive with a manual transmission, I don’t creep unless I want to.

        On the other hand, if you watch other drivers as they arrive at a traffic light, they tend to stop safely short of the vehicle in front of them, then intentionally roll forward at a creep to just short of contact. Some of these people may roll forward as much as a full car length–making the whole pack look like a spring getting compressed. I’m sure we’ve all heard of the ‘accordion effect’ when it comes to traffic and it’s quite evident when you’re rolling between traffic lights a block or so apart. With these people, forward creep is a desirable side effect of an automatic transmission and becomes a manual process for stick shifts and electric cars–unless programmed in. However, the ‘creep’ programmed into the Tesla is a fractional speed probably slower than most automatics.

  • avatar
    william442

    Carry a Thompson.


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