Snippets below. Full article here:
http://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/201 ... st-wrap-up
EPA est range: 254
After 13 months, observed range: 180
In the big picture, our Model S proved dependable, with none of the showstopping battery or motor failures that troubled some early cars. Several build-quality issues did remind us, however, that Tesla is the youngest automaker by a large margin. Adding to the irritation, the service center was often slow to schedule minor warranty work. Note the three-month lag between ordering and installing the third driver’s seat in our Service Timeline. That driver’s seat (along with the first replacement) developed enough play in the frame to noisily rub against the center console. Halfway through the test, the sunroof began to leak during rainstorms and required two service visits to correct. The chrome trim on the rear hatch had to be replaced after the original allowed moisture into the taillamps. The 5010-pound P85D also consumed a control arm and an anti-roll-bar end link, and it wore through its Michelin Pilot Sport PS2s in 15,000 miles. We sacrificed one windshield, one tire, and one wheel to Michigan roads.
Our long-distance road trip highlighted that Tesla’s range estimate is consistently optimistic. This discrepancy demanded that the driver perform constant mental math, evaluating how quickly the predicted range was falling compared with the climbing odometer. Over 40,000 miles, the predicted range dropped 1.4 miles for every mile driven.
We averaged 69 MPGe, well below the EPA’s 93 combined MPGe. With electricity at a national average of 13 cents per kWh, running our Tesla cost the same as driving a 38-mpg car with gas at $2.40 per gallon.
Efficiency, though, seems like one of the less compelling arguments for buying a Tesla. The Model S’s appeal lies in the thrill of instant torque, the comfort of seamless acceleration, the tranquility of near-silent idling, and the convenience of at-home refueling. Tesla alone made EVs cool, with its focus on the primal desire for style and performance. We just hope that the company can embrace the kind of continuous improvement we witnessed in the Model S. If Musk can advance its build quality and send a SpaceX rocket to retrieve its pricing from the upper stratosphere, as he intends to with the $35,000 Model 3, Tesla’s transformation from startup to automotive institution will be complete.
How to Travel Fast and Eat Well in a Tesla
The Model S’s embedded trip planner keeps a conservative store of electricity in reserve and favors frequent but short charging. As we crossed middle America, the nav system recommended stopping at almost every Supercharger along our route. But because the charging rate slows as the battery fills, we found it quicker to ignore Tesla's recommendations, drive the car to near empty, and plug it in for only slightly longer charges. Our routine: Drive between 120 and 200 miles at roughly 5 mph over the speed limit, charge for 20 to 45 minutes to a predicted range 50 miles greater than what was needed for the next stint, then get back on the road. We typically arrived at the subsequent stop with 20 to 30 miles of remaining range, although uphill stints caused us to slash our speed or tuck in behind semis on a couple occasions. Starting with 247 miles of range and climbing a little more than 1000 feet over 190 miles into Weatherford, Oklahoma, we rolled to the plug with just two miles of indicated range.
Traveling in this manner requires some advanced planning to know which chargers to visit and which to bypass. We used Google Maps and plugged in our chosen charging stops knowing that we wouldn’t risk a run longer than 200 miles.
In hindsight, we would have added one preplanning task: Noting the nearby amenities that are listed on Tesla’s Supercharger web page. You can’t escape mediocre megachain dining along the Supercharger network, but you can prevent the disappointment of pulling up to a charger at dinner time only to discover that it’s located at a secluded hotel. And even the best-planned trip requires a good pair of walking shoes. It often takes a decent hike—sometimes across lawns, through landscaping berms, or along busy roads—to refuel the passengers.
Rants & Raves
“The heavy regenerative braking works well in this car. I wish all EVs and hybrids had it.” —Mike Sutton
“Autopilot is the first system that convinces me that maybe the autonomous future isn’t that far away after all.” —Dave VanderWerp
“Charging turns a five-and-a-half-hour drive into seven hours.” —Jennifer Harrington
“The cabin heats up faster in this car than in many internal-combustion [powered] cars.” —Kirk Seaman
“The touchscreen responds to pokes and swipes like a five-year-old iPhone that’s received three too many operating-system updates.” —Eric Tingwall
“When I began writing this, the odo read 16,061. Now it reads 16,063. Wait, who was driving?” —Alexander Stoklosa
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