2016 Tesla Model X: My First Supercharger, and Autopilot Inconsistencies
by Cameron Rogers, Associate Editor on July 5, 2016
A couple of weeks ago, I attended the U.S. launch event for the 2017 Fiat 124 Spider in San Diego. From the Edmunds office in Santa Monica, my hotel was a straight shot south on Highways 405 and 5. I decided to make the trip in the 2016 Tesla Model X for a couple of reasons. I wanted to test the Tesla's Autopilot function on the highway as well as use a Supercharger station for the first time.
I unplugged with the Model X in its 250-mile extended range mode. The 104-mile trip from the office to my hotel took 2 hours and 40 minutes, with my average consumption at 371 Wh/mile. The estimated range remaining was 122 miles, so the Tesla's initial calculation was off by 24 miles. Even with afternoon traffic in Los Angeles, I rarely stood still in the HOV lane and even when traffic cleared up I stuck to the speed limit. I don't know how much more gingerly I could have driven the car to match its expectations, especially considering my consumption was one of the lowest recorded since we got the car.
I left the Model X at the hotel's valet stand, and picked it up a couple of days later with the estimated range now at 121 miles. The 39-mile trip north to the Supercharger station in San Juan Capistrano knocked off 42 miles of range.
I pulled into a small strip mall and parked next to several Model Ss also using the seven-charger station. I plugged in, walked to a Starbucks across the street and set up camp with my laptop. I got carried away with work and an hour passed before I took a quick look at the Tesla iPhone app and realized the Model X was fully charged and ready to go. I packed up and headed home.
I used the Autopilot functions extensively throughout the trip. For the most part, the automated driving system works well and doesn't jam on the brakes when a car merged into my lane from a reasonable distance away. The ping-pong effect that Reese described in his post still applies, as the Model X exhibits difficulty staying centered in its lane when the road curves. There were two or three times when the Model X began to drive over the lane markers and I had to guide it back into place.
I don't know if there's been an update to the Autosteer software since Reese's post, but it does seem to now require the driver's hands to be placed on the wheel intermittently. Apparently, if this is not done quickly enough, the automated steering and adaptive cruise control systems deactivate. I know this not because I was inattentive or distracted, but twice the system shut off despite my hands firmly gripping the wheel. Nothing wakes you up more than regenerative brakes kicking on and slowing the car down about 10 mph before you realize what's happening.
Technical glitches were not limited to Autosteer. The center screen locked up once while playing a podcast. The audio stopped and the screen froze. I had no intention of pulling off the freeway in an attempt to fix the screen, so I waited it out to see what would happen. After five minutes or so, the screen shut itself off and restarted. I reconnected my phone and everything went back to normal. It never happened again that weekend, but this bizarre incident will be communicated to our advisor next time we bring the Model X in for service.
Cameron Rogers, Associate Editor @ 4,511 miles