2013 Tesla Model S Long-Term Road Test

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2013 Tesla Model S: Durable Interior

June 12, 2014

2013 Tesla Model S

While there are mixed opinions about the style and practicality of some features on the interior of our long-term 2013 Tesla Model S, the materials are certainly durable. After 16 months in our fleet and nearly 23,000 miles on the odometer, our Tesla's interior surfaces are holding up well.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Clean Screen

June 2, 2014

2013 Tesla Model S

I'm kind of a neat freak about having clean glass. Since the touchscreen in our 2013 Tesla Model S is nearly as big as a home TV, it quickly gets decorated with nasty looking fingerprints and smears.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Premium Center Console

March 24, 2014

2013 Tesla Model S

One of the gripes we and other Tesla Model S owners have is the lack of interior storage. As it comes from the factory, you have two medium-sized cupholders, a glovebox and a short walled tray that is mounted to the floor where other cars would have a center console. For $650, you can have Tesla install something called a Yacht floor, which lines that floor tray with matching interior wood trim and strips of rubber that run lengthwise. For the same price, there's also something called the Premium Center Console.

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2013 Tesla Model S: No Distance Lines on Backup Screen

March 10, 2014

2013 Tesla Model S

Tesla says that its Model S is the only car with an HQ backup screen. That much is true, but something on that HQ screen is missing.

There are no distance lines to let you know how far you are from the car behind you. There is also no projected path for the Model S when it is in reverse.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Steering Wheel Controls

March 3, 2014

2013 Tesla Model S

It seems I have something against steering wheel controls lately. I last complained about the button layout in our Mazda 3. This time, it's our 2013 Tesla Model S.

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2013 Tesla Model S: It's Still Impressive

February 11, 2014

2013 Tesla Model S

With new supercharger stations opening daily, our long-term 2013 Tesla Model S has been clocking quite a few miles as of late. It has seen several road trips, and I don't see it in the office nearly as much. I hadn't driven our Tesla in ages, but when I got back into it recently, I remembered exactly how much I love this car.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Carpool Stickers Are Losing Their Usefulness

February 7, 2014

2013 Tesla Model S

When the carpool stickers for our 2013 Tesla Model S finally arrived last summer I was thrilled. With a 35-mile commute each way down one of the busiest freeways in L.A., I saw myself shaving a nice chunk off of it each night as I breezed by in the far left lane.

The reality has been completely different.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Missing Common Features

February 5, 2014

2013 Tesla Model S

I've previously written about the 2013 Tesla Model S's missing coat hooks and grab handles. I've also expressed my puzzlement about the bowling alley that runs between the front seats.

After driving the Tesla Model S this past weekend, I noticed a few more common equipment omissions. Just like the Mercedes CLA, the Tesla does not have a drop-down rear center armrest. Given the Tesla's higher price and vastly more usable rear seat space, it's an even more glaring omission here.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Will the Wife Fit?

February 3, 2014

2013 Tesla Model S

Jacquot and Monticello are forever pondering, "Will the Bike Fit?" Or rather, will a mountain bike fit in the trunk of the long-term car in question. That's not what I'm seeking to answer today.

Now normally, I wouldn't ponder whether my wife will fit in the trunk of a car. Generally speaking, doing so would indicate that I have either, A) Murdered her or B) Attempted to smuggle her out of East Germany. In this case, the 2013 Tesla Model S provides a third option.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Rear Visibility Is Poor

November 7, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

This has been mentioned before, but it jumped out at me again after not driving our Tesla Model S for a while. Compared to most other sedans in its class, the rearward visibility in our Model S is terrible.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Hurts To Sit Down

September 17, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

Last time I drove a Tesla Model S was in June 2012 at the production model roll-off. Then it was all giddy fun and giddy-up-and-go for the 15 minutes they let us have a car. This time I'm driving our long-term 2013 Model S. With a more critical eye. And a very sore thigh bone.

It must be the way I get into the car as no one else on the team seams to have been bothered. But each time I drop into the Tesla's driver seat I graze my left thigh, just below the hip, on a protruding bit of upholstered metal on the rear edge of the driver's door cutout.

That little bump-out is part of the Tesla's interior design, but it also is, literally, a pain in my butt.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Beauty is in the Details

September 3, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

When we first acquired our 2013 Tesla Model S, Ed Hellwig pointed out A Few Flaws in the Craftsmanship. While I agree that the Tesla has some fit-and-finish issues, I think the Model S is appealing not just because it's electric, but because of design details that are subtle, timeless and beautiful.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Ample Charge Port Door Warnings

August 22, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

This morning while driving into work in our 2013 Tesla Model S, I must've passed a dozen other Teslas. That's not really a surprise. They're everywhere on the west side of L.A.

Of these dozen or so $100K EVs I saw, two had a noticeable issue: The charge port / EV plug door was hanging open. I know that the Model S won't let you put the car into drive if the plug is plugged in, but was it possible that they forgot some type of warning — there's no "check engine" light that I've seen — for when the door has been left hanging in the breeze?

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2013 Tesla Model S: Regenerative Braking

August 20, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

Last week's two-night adventure in our long-term 2013 Tesla Model S proved fruitful in demonstrating one of the car's better features: adjustable regenerative braking and one way it could be improved.

I began experimenting with the two modes (Standard and Low) on my way home from work and it was immediately clear that the "Standard" setting is far more aggressive. Enough so, in fact, that I began to wonder if the brakes lights were triggered simply by lifting off the throttle. So, I did an experiment to find out.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Interior Storage

August 19, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

If for no other reason, I love the Model S for this single piece of packaging brilliance. That, I submit, is a real center storage bin.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Testing the Jump Seats

August 16, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

Yesterday I put my five-year-old in the Tesla's rear jump seat. It was met with a mixed review.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Too Few Cupholders

July 25, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

A few nights ago the Oldham's pushed aside our daily intake of skinless grilled chicken breasts and kale smoothies and hit the drive-thru at the local Jack in the Box where breakfast is served 24/7 and the new slogan is Go Big or Go Hungry.

We went big.

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2013 Tesla Model S Performance: Back Seat Review

July 18, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S Performance

Two of my friend's birthdays are one day apart in July. So, I piled the gang into our long-term 2013 Tesla Model S and drove them to a local restaurant for a celebratory dinner.

I asked for a review of the back seat after having three adults sitting across. The tallest of the group is 6'1" and he was sitting behind the front passenger seat. He said there was plenty of hip and elbow room but the way the ceiling is shaped, he had to tilt his head to the side to avoid it touching the top. He added that if he was sitting in the middle, under the glass sunroof, he would've been fine.

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2013 Tesla Model S Performance: Have App, Will Play

July 17, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

I'm fairly obsessed with the iPhone app for our 2013 Tesla Model S. Every once in a while I just check in to see how the car is doing. It's like having a baby monitor for your car.

I noticed that it loses some estimated range just being parked overnight. Not sure if it is consuming a small amount of energy while it rests or if it adjusting itself based on my driving style from my latest trip. Either way, I check the app occasionally to see where I stand.

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2013 Tesla Model S Performance: Broken Sunroof Fixed Quickly

July 16, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

Late last week our 2013 Tesla Model S suffered a jammed sunroof because the pop-up wind deflector had inexplicably broken in two. The piece that was left behind fell into such a position that it jammed up the works.

Someone at Tesla got wind of this after I posted a tweet on my personal Twitter account, and they sent me a message on Saturday. I promptly emailed them the same pictures I'd taken for the "Broken Sunroof" post that went up a few days ago.

On Monday I got word back that the local service center probably had the part in hand, they wouldn't know for sure until they eyeballed it themselves. So, we set up a Tuesday appointment for 12:30 pm. The local service center is only a couple of miles away, and they have a concierge service, so they sent someone over to pick it up so I could keep on working.

The guy's credentials checked out, and he knew the story without prompting, but I was still a bit nervous when I handed over the key. This sort of dealer valet service isn't new, but I'd never personally used anything like it before.

So I spied on him as he drove away. I followed his progress back to the service center on the Tesla iPhone app.

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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.

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2013 Tesla Model S: It's Got a Big Trunk

June 25, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

The task of transporting a set of wheels for my personal car recently fell to our 2013 Tesla Model S. Even with the rear jump seats installed there was plenty of space for four large boxes.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Plenty of Room in Back

June 17, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

After knocking our Tesla Model S for its average seats up front, I figured it was only fair to take a closer look at the rear seats. Turns out, they're pretty solid, and not in an overly firm kind of way.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Poor Door Lock Controls

June 14, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

There are many things I like about the main control screen in our Model S. The door lock control screen is not one of them.

It's not the screen itself that's the problem, it's the fact that it's the only means of locking and unlocking the doors other than using the key fob itself.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Average Seats for the Price

June 7, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

As impressive as our 2013 Tesla Model S is for a pure electric car, it's still a very expensive car in general. And with a price tag of well over $100,000, there are certain expectations that come along with it.

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2013 Tesla Model S: The Center Console (Or Lack Thereof)

May 20, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

I don't understand the Tesla Model S's center console, or rather its lack of one. There's just a carpeted strip on the floor with little walls on the side. It's basically a gutter. Is this appealing?

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2013 Tesla Model S: Software Update

May 9, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

I sat in the car. It awoke and alerted me that it wanted a new software update. Neato. Even neater, you don't need to visit the dealer/service technician and it does it wirelessly. Because it requires the car be parked for up to two hours, the car allows the update to be scheduled during the wee hours of the night. I assume it all worked at 1:00 a.m. as it was programmed to do.

Click through to see what the software update entailed.

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2013 Tesla Model S: What's Missing?

May 3, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

The 2013 Tesla Model S has so much going for it that it seems nitpicky to talk about what it doesn't have in the way of small amenities. But when you, or Edmunds.com, have paid more than $100,000 for a car, shouldn't it have what many luxury cars have?

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2013 Tesla Model S: Cat Transport

May 1, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

It wasn't glamorous or high tech, but one of the first tasks I had for the 2013 Tesla Model S was toting an unhappy cat, in his carrier, to the veterinarian. The Model S's wide doors and ample interior space for front passengers made it easy to get the carrier, and the 19-pound cat inside, into place.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Vegas Road Trip Wrap-Up

April 24, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

I drove to Las Vegas in our Tesla Model S, in and out of various hotels and restaurants, and back home across the desert. All told, I covered 820 miles and, of course, it was all under electric power. Sure, there was a little anxiety at first. But that feeling is quickly offset by other advantages. Namely, the car drives like a dream: fast, quiet and ultra-responsive.

But there were a few features that I really didn't like. And some lingering insecurities.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Free Gas

April 23, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

What if you went to a mall and there was a gas pump with a sign saying, "Go ahead and fill up! It's free!" That's what it was like to drive the Tesla to Las Vegas. Free fuel in Barstow. Free fuel in Las Vegas.

And how much is that worth? Gas for a 2013 BMW 7 Series getting 22 mpg combined and requiring premium at $4.17 a gallon would be $123 for the 650-mile trip. For the Tesla, fuel costs would be $0. But there is the time and hassle of charging.

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2013 Tesla Model S: 2-Speed Cruise

April 22, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

I'm a big fan of cruise control for two reasons: it reduces fatigue on long drives and it helps keep you at a legal speed. On my trip to Las Vegas I discovered that our Tesla Model S has a super cruise control system. The graphics are great and the system actually offers two speeds. One bump gives you the customary 1 mph increase/decrease. But if you push it through a detent, you get an approximately 5 mph plus or minus jump.

There was one other feature of the cruise control that I liked.

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2013 Tesla Model S: On-Trend Sunroof

April 15, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

The trend these days is toward huge, panoramic sunroofs with sprawling dimensions that approximate an open-air driving experience.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Rearward Visibility

April 12, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

It seems churlish to complain about something as mundane as rearward visibility when faced with all the splendor and glory of our Tesla Model S.

But the fact is, visibility could be better. That C-pillar is pretty wide, and the rising beltline doesn't help matters.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Missing Coat Hooks and Grab Handles

March 28, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

While I agree with my many colleagues that the Tesla Model S is a thoroughly magnificent car, there are some little functionality issues that may start to bug you after its emotional allure begins to fade.

Are they reasons to not buy it? Of course not, but it shows that its means of thrust and giant touchscreen aren't the only things that separate the Tesla from established luxury brands.

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2013 Tesla Model S: It Even Has Unique Seatbelts

March 26, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

As you can see, the seat belt buckle in our Tesla Model S is a little bit different. Having a black release button might not seem like much, but it's a small sign that Tesla went the extra mile to make the Model S unique.

I've noticed over the years that no matter how expensive the car is, the seatbelts are always the same. Whether it's a $15K Kia or a $150K Mercedes, they always have black nylon seatbelts with an ugly, plastic connector at the end.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Trip Planning

March 25, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

I knew that when I signed out our Tesla Model S, I had a lot of weekend traveling in front of me. I left the office with 240 miles showing on the projected range, but I was confident the Tesla wouldn't hinder my plans.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Jump Seats

March 22, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

It's pretty obvious the Model S jump seats aren't intended for adults. I tried them once while the car was parked and I have to admit, I've been trapped in trunks that were roomier (ahhh, Vegas). Because I don't have kids, I figured I'd have to leave jump seat evaluation to one of our editors that do. But my sister's desperation to have someone watch her three children while she was off skiing in Utah left her no other choice but to have the infamous uncle "Marky" in charge.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Wood Interior Trim

March 6, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

I really like the look of the wood trim in our long-term Tesla. It's got a rough texture with a matte finish, which cuts down on the amount of glare that might sear your retina. In a neat coincidence, I found out a little more about this unique wood trim.

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2013 Tesla Model S: New Touchscreen is Working Fine

February 27, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

Not sure why, but Tesla wanted to replace the touchscreen in our Model S even though it was working fine after some time with the technicians. Seemed a little over cautious but we weren't about to argue. I dropped our Model S off at the Tesla service center around 9:30 in the morning with a promise to have it back sometime midday.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Touchscreen Getting Replaced

February 26, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

After yesterday's meltdown of the touchscreen in our new Tesla Model S, we ended the day at the local service center. This was after talking to a tech on the phone who asked us to try a hard reset of the screen by pressing the two roller buttons on the steering wheel. It didn't work, so a dealer visit was the next option.

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2013 Tesla Model S: No Touchscreen, No Heat

February 25, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

I was looking forward to driving our new Tesla Model S into the office this morning. Figured I would sip some coffee in my kitchen for a few minutes while warming up the interior of the Tesla sitting outside via the phone app. No such luck. It wouldn't connect to the car even though it had been working great all weekend. No big deal I figured, there was plenty of time to try it later.

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2013 Tesla Model S: The Key

February 25, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

Like virtually everything else having to do with the 2013 Tesla Model S, the folks at Tesla have decided that a normal key wasn't good enough and have given us this.

Look at it. It's slick, it's shiny and it has no visible buttons. It does, however, just like a fresh baby, have a bunch of soft spots on its dome that are made for pressing.

Pressing the front squishy spot opens the frunk. Double tapping the rear "button" opens the powered trunk (it stops with a single tap) and the top one locks/unlocks the door. Holding the middle button down for a few seconds will open all the windows. Of course, with the Tech Package, the Tesla Model S automatically locks/unlocks the doors, so the key may not ever be necessary.

But, with the exception of the faux buttonlessness of it all, it's kind of old hat. What makes this one unique is that there's no spare key hidden inside.

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