2013 Tesla Model S Long-Term Road Test

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2013 Tesla Model S Performance: My First Time

July 11, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

I don't know why it has taken me this long to drive our long-term 2013 Tesla Model S. But somehow it worked out that way. I had Dan give me a run-down so I wouldn't screw anything up.

Despite reading all of the posts in our long-term section, driving this car is new to me. So bear with me if I repeat observations that other editors have made.

Let's start at the beginning. I didn't have to use the key fob to open the door. As my hand got close to the recessed door handle, it popped out for my use. As I slid into the driver seat, the car started. Dan told me the car starts when your body hits the seat. You turn the car off the same way. Get out and it shuts off.

I like to control things myself so I went through a few scenarios in my head of when I wouldn't want this to happen. What if I drove a friend somewhere and was waiting outside for them? I just want to sit in the car, not necessarily have it running and using up power. Minimal power is used when idle. If I was really worried about conserving energy, I could turn off the climate system. A little bird told me that deep in the controls, there is a way to override this and shut the car off. But I haven't pursued it yet.

Dan took me through the functions of the center display. Everything runs from this hub: climate, navi, entertainment, analytics, etc. Then he showed me how to reboot it in case it weirds out on me. You can even put on the rear camera and leave it on while you are driving for extra blind-spot visibility.

When I drove into the office in the early morning, the rear window was fogged over and while I waited for the defogger to clear it, I left the rear camera on so I could see behind me. It has a clear, sharp picture and really helps with visibility. It gets distracting though, so as soon as the rear window cleared up, I switched the camera off.

Next up, entertainment. Dan warned me that the two USB ports are for charging only. They will not play an iPod. Very few of the modern cars in our fleet play my ancient iPod anyway, so that's OK. I'm used to it. I could pair my Bluetooth phone to the car and play music through it. But I don't keep any music on my phone. Then Travis reminded me that I can play almost any song I want by using the voice command. When you have all the songs in the world at your disposal, it's very difficult to narrow down. There was already an '80s rock station on and I was enjoying listening to my youth, so I will wait until this weekend to try and stump it.

And then I drove it home. I've been very fond of almost all of the electric cars that have passed through our garage. I was particularly smitten with our Mini E tester and the Nissan Leaf. I thought of those cars as little robot pals, like R2-D2 and goldenrod. (Nerd alert: Danger, Will Robinson, there is a nerd in this car.) Driving the Tesla Model S was a whole different experience. This is a super luxury car. It's not trimmed down to eke out every bit of range it can get, but full of plush materials. It's chock-full of battery, running along both sides of the vehicle. And nothing is spared. There is plenty of space in the trunk and frunk. And there are the extra little jump seats in the back if you need them.

Like all electric vehicles, the Model S is quiet. But quietly powerful. It has tremendous passing power. I got a kick out making silent sling shot moves on the freeway. It's futuristic. I will always enjoy the exhilarating rumble of a V8 engine but being able to access that feeling of silent limitless power is pretty special. It's like driving in the void of outerspace.

More observations later. These are my initial impressions. Next up, Dan will tell you about fixing the sunroof.

Let me know if there is anything specific you want me to test.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor @ 6,220 miles

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