Tesla Model S – Driving Performance and Features

In my last post I spoke about my experience driving my Model S on a long trip.  In this post I wanted to talk about the general driving experience and the features I really enjoy.

I took delivery of my Tesla on August 12th of 2015 so at this point I haven’t had the opportunity to drive it in the snow.  However, I have driven it almost 8,000 miles in 2.5 months so I can share my experiences during that period of time.  Perhaps in a few months I can discuss performance in the cold and snow.  🙂


If you are familiar with the Model S then you know there are a few different configurations.  I own the 85D which is rated to go 0-60 in 4.2 seconds.  There is a 70D that is rated at 0-60 in 5.2 seconds, a P85D which is rated 0-60 in 3.1 seconds and a P90D rated at 0-60 in 2.8 seconds.  I can safely say that 4.2 seconds is impressive and fast enough for me, especially when I considered the cost of upgrading to the P85D and the reduction of range.  The P85D costs approximately $20,000 more than the 85D and is rated at 253 miles instead of the 85D’s 270 range.  Considering that, I’m content with my decision.  The performance of the 85D is still very impressive.

Because the Tesla is electric, it doesn’t require a transmission, so when you accelerate you don’t have the shifting you feel in a standard vehicle.  This makes the acceleration feel constant, or linear.  This is a very different feeling than what you get when you drive a normal vehicle with an internal combustion engine (ICE).  So, in addition to the car being fast, the way it accelerates makes it feel even faster.

Recently there’s been discussion about the horsepower and whether Tesla is overstating the P85D’s HP by adding the rear motor HP and the front motor HP together and stating that the car’s HP is that total.  They’ve recently restated the HP but the fact is the car still accelerates at the same pace, no matter what the HP number truly is.  No one cares what the number is when you are beating them in a quarter-mile race.

The car is a lot of fun to drive.  Seriously, it’s fun.  Not only does it respond immediately to the slightest press of the accelerator, but it’s super easy to get up to speed.  It’s also great on on-ramps when there’s a vehicle on the highway that you’d like to get in front of instead of hoping they move over for you.  🙂

The proof it’s fun to drive is the fact that I have offered to drive my wife to the mall and I volunteer to pick up the kids from their numerous activities.  It’s responsive, it’s comfortable, it gets lots of looks, and it has lots of great features you can take advantage of while you’re in the car.


The Tesla has lots of features that I love.  However, one that doesn’t get talked about enough, in my opinion, is the regenerative braking.  Basically what that means is that once you remove your foot from the accelerator, the car slows down on it’s own because the motors are basically now slowing the car instead of pushing it.  The electricity generated while this is occurring is pushed back into the batteries.  It also means that you rarely have to use the brake pedal to slow down or stop.  In fact, I find it fun to see if I can avoid using the brake for an entire trip.  I’d say I’m well over 90% successful with that.  However, the vehicle is generally only slowed down to 3 or 4 MPH through regenerative braking so you need to tap the brake pedal to make a full stop.  Which of course I do because I would NEVER roll through stop signs….. 🙂

Another feature I love is the fact that your car’s software can get updates over the air (OTA).  That means that Tesla is able to add tweaks to how the car works or add new functionality.  They in fact do this fairly often and have added features like Creep (when toggled on your car moves forward when in Drive and your foot is removed from the brake), Hill Assist (when on a hill and you remove your foot from the brake, the car holds the brake up to one additional second to prevent you from rolling backwards), and some Autopilot features which include lane keeping along with parking and automatic lane changing.  This is an excellent feature that every manufacturer should adopt.  This is a great way to avoid forcing customers to bring their cars in to a Service Center – instead simply send them updated software.

Those are probably two of my favorite features.

Next up: The cost of driving/charging the Tesla

2 thoughts on “Tesla Model S – Driving Performance and Features

  1. Thanks Shane. Interested to hear how it compares to cost of commuting as well as time recharging compared to time refueling for you between M and DP if you are still doing that commute.

    1. Thanks for the feedback Allen. That’s exactly what I’m going to discuss in my upcoming post. Hopefully it’ll be helpful to those interested. It’s certainly less expensive based on my costs related to electricity. Long term it’ll depend on the overall price of the vehicle and how long you own it. As the Model III comes out, it’ll become much faster to see a payback.
      Nice hearing from you!

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