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I've been living with my 2021 S LR for about a month now. I absolutely love this car, and wanted to start writing about my experiences good and bad, including several issues I've observed for which there may hopefully be a resolution, as well as adding another data point to many of the ongoing conversations relating to the characteristics of the Model S.

So, in no particular order:

  • Efficiency
    I've found the refresh S to be very efficient. With all the comforts on, I'm coming in around 250 ±10 Wh/mi on most trips including highway driving. However, with careful driving around town and climate off, I can achieve 200 ±10 Wh/mi (i.e. 4 kWh / 20 mi), which is superb, and apparently better than my previous car, the dinky legacy Nissan LEAF. For context, I enjoy minimal (Florida) terrain, no tints, Medium ride height, the 19" wheels and tires at 42 PSI. The one-pedal driving is probably a good solution for most situations, as the regenerative braking is strong enough to bring you to a complete stop, but key to achieving good efficiency is taking advantage of this car's low drag and high weight -> long distance coasting. It is very difficult to do properly with the current interface, since the energy output bar is so tiny on the screen, and you have no mechanical feedback at the zero point in the accelerator.

  • Cabin noise
    Cabin noise is decent, and it's among the quieter cars I've owned. I believe most of the noise is due to the high pressure tires, compared to any other potential source. I don't observe any pathological wind whistling, for instance. Be wary of comparisons with other owners who give you SPL figures because in my experience the greatest effect on the cabin noise from moment to moment is the quality of the road surface. If you're not driving on the same road as that forum poster, you can't compare your measured dB to hers. On the highway, I would say the cabin noise ranges from tolerable to good, again, depending largely on the quality of the surface.
    The Active Road Noise Reduction feature does work, but the effect is subtle, and mostly limited to the very low frequencies. However, since physical noise defeating solutions tend to reduce the mid and higher frequencies, maybe there is good synergy. Other users have reported the most effective reduction comes with adding material to the wheel well, but I don't have direct experience with it. Yet.
    My front doors rattle and I'm going to pop off the panels and add felt behind them. Apparently Tesla can't figure this out...?

  • "Cooing dove" noise
    The forward facing camera assembly in the windshield emits an intermittent whine every 8 to 13 seconds under certain conditions. Climate control ON appears to be related. The sound is like a fan or pump is going from zero to maximum very briefly. It seems pathological to me, like something is put together wrong or programmed wrong in there, but apparently this issue is present in all the refresh S cars. With any hope Tesla can fix the issue with a firmware update. It's not too big of a deal, but it doesn't give a good impression to guests, and degrades the experience of listening to music while stopped.

  • Yoke/Stalks
    I thought I was going to hate the yoke setup, and I kinda don't hate it. The yoke itself feels solid and adequate in my hands, and I don't experience difficulty with it 99% of the time. It's quite comfortable to rest my hands on the bottom bar. I would prefer having a nice chrome logo there, but alas. What really detracts from the experience is the lack of stalks for authoritative control inputs. The yoke face button solutions are a mixed bag:
    • Automatic high-beams
      What is there to say about it? It sucks, it's completely unfit for purpose. The high beams fail to toggle off when there are cars, and then won't toggle on if there's light posts or a reflective sign. Thats a big yikes. Just let me switch it manually, for god's sake, if the feature is gonna be this bad. This is a legit safety issue.

    • Wipers
      Wipers are just OK. The automatic sensors work OK in most situations, but not great. I do like the washer fluid delivery system, which gets an ample amount of fluid to the windscreen without spraying it all over the roof and the car behind you.

    • Turn signals
      The turn signals work the best out of the relocated functionality that would have been on the stalks. The car knows about your orientation and the lanes on the road, and it's very good at determining when to turn the signal off for you. I honestly don't mind this at all. However, it is too easy to press the wrong button when you are trying to activate the right-turn signal, because if the capacitive (?) sensor detects enough of your thumb resting on the left signal button, it may register as a left signal activation, even though you "pressed" on the right signal button.

  • Sound system
    The sound system is very good, and unlike every other car I've driven, I'm not strongly tempted to try improving it. The frequency response is excellent after adjusting the factory EQ (all bands within 3 dB), with response extending even into sub-bass range below 20 Hz. I listen to a lot of organ music and I was surprised and pleased with the sound once I got it dialed in. I can't turn it up past 8 without distortion getting out of hand, which I speculate may be a limitation of the amplifier rather than the loudspeakers, but that is just a hunch. I tend to prefer flat, uncolored reproduction (like Sennheiser and electrostatics). With default EQ, I think the mids are noticeably recessed, but it comes pretty clean after EQ. Here are the settings I found most pleasing:

    SUB: -0.0
    Band 1: -3.5
    Band 2: -2.0
    Band 3: -0.0
    Band 4: -1.5
    Band 5: -2.0
    Immersive sound: standard (the middle setting)

  • UI issues
    The Refresh main touchscreen UI is my first experience with Tesla UI and while I don't hate it, there are many areas that can be improved on, many of which have probably been discussed at length already.
    • Spotify
      The Spotify UI is just very mediocre even when it's working. It's a chore to locate the album I want to listen to and there doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to how things are ordered. If I'm listening to a song I like on radio, I can't figure out how to get to the Album or Artist from the Song. But worst of all, many times it's just completely broken: the track list will show blank until I fumble around in and out of various albums a few times. I don't have time to mess around with this *sugar* in my car while I'm driving. Please improve it, guys!

    • Toasts and Cameras
      The HomeLink and seatbelt warning toasts covering up the side view cameras is an everyday annoyance. I have kids in the backseat and reverse into a cramped garage. I would like to rely on the side view cameras to tell if anything is going to bump up against my car, but the toasts cover up exactly this critical area of both cameras. It's like the Tesla devs don't have an actual car to test these features with or something.

    • Climate control
      The climate control panel is decent when you get used to it. I wish setting a fan speed were easier somehow, or that you could do it with less presses. Also, as others have mentioned, you can't use the seat heater without turning CC on, which is awful for efficiency and results in real dollars out of your pocket.

    • Dashcam
      The Dashcam review interface itself is OK, but there are a couple easily fixable flaws. One, I don't know of a way to trigger a manual recording without having to honk my horn. Mostly you won't want to honk the horn in situations you want to save a dashcam recording. Also, playback will often stop and reset to the beginning when you reach around the 10:00 mark, which I find is usually where a critical event has occurred.

    • Navigation
      There's so much to love about the navigation, the beautiful map and the trip planner (mostly). Waypoints are useful but what I really want to see here is the ability to select between routes that get me to my destination, like Google and Apple maps have. Tesla always wants me to go on I-4 to get anywhere in Florida, even when it extends my trip's distance and time taking me past perfectly good state roads, and in reality you almost never want to go on I-4 if at all possible. So that makes Tesla's navigation really only a solution for the second half of the drive, once I'm on the road or highway I want, and need to locate the destination.

    • Presenting door handles
      I could not find a good way to present the door handles when I'm inside the car, and someone else is coming to get in, such as when I pick my kid up from the school bus. The best way I have found to force them to present is to click the lock button in the controls screen twice, locking the car and then unlocking it again. Not the end of the world, but janky. Is there a better way?

  • CPU usage / heat
    The touchscreen unit usually runs cool, even in the sun, which is very good. However, I have noticed several times that the screen can get very hot, particularly around the bottom center of the screen. I'm guessing that is where the CPU/GPU is located under the screen. I suspect what's going on is that a bad process or processes is pegging one or more CPU cores to 100% as a result of programming errors. If I understood correctly it's Linux running on more or less commodity hardware, and as a professional programmer myself, I wish there was more visibility "under the hood" here to confirm what's going on and file a proper report. Presumably Tesla has the telemetry needed to see... right?

  • 12V Port
    The lack of a built in 12V port in the rear is disappointing since I believe there's one in the Y and X models. I'll very likely end up trying to add one myself, as some others have done here on this forum. The possibilities of powering appliances to extend the car's functionality is just too appealing to resist. I've already bought a portable 12V compressor for the car's tires and bike tires, etc., but there are refrigerators that fit in the sub trunk, inflatable beds...

  • Ventilated seats
    Just want to say I absolutely love the ventilated seats and they work very nicely to keep your backside cool, or warm for that matter, which really matters down here in Florida when you're dressed for business and trying to stay fresh.
So that's it for now. I'll add more as I experience it and/or it occurs to me. Hope someone finds this useful.
 
Last edited:
  • Sound system
    The sound system is very good, and unlike every other car I've driven, I'm not strongly tempted to try improving it. The frequency response is excellent after adjusting the factory EQ (all bands within 3 dB), with response extending even into sub-bass range below 20 Hz. I listen to a lot of organ music and I was surprised and pleased with the sound once I got it dialed in. I can't turn it up past 8 without distortion getting out of hand, which I speculate may be a limitation of the amplifier rather than the loudspeakers, but that is just a hunch. I tend to prefer flat, uncolored reproduction (like Sennheiser and electrostatics). With default EQ, I think the mids are noticeably recessed, but it comes pretty clean after EQ. Here are the settings I found most pleasing:

    SUB: -0.0
    Band 1: -3.5
    Band 2: -2.0
    Band 3: -0.0
    Band 4: -1.5
    Band 5: -2.0
    Immersive sound: standard (the middle setting)

  • 12V Port
    The lack of a built in 12V port in the rear is disappointing since I believe there's one in the Y and X models. I'll very likely end up trying to add one myself, as some others have done here on this forum. The possibilities of powering appliances to extend the car's functionality is just too appealing to resist. I've already bought a portable 12V compressor for the car's tires and bike tires, etc., but there are refrigerators that fit in the sub trunk, inflatable beds...
Always love to hear feedbacks from 1st-time Tesla owners.

Agreed with the lack of additional 12V port(s) in the back-seat and trunk area.

I initially found the sound system to be inferior to my previous Model 3. It wasn't an EQ issue (because it's adjustable), but rather the sound stage or the lack of (compare to the 3). After fiddling with the fwd/aft fade control by moving it rear-ward ~15%, it now sounds AMAZING!!! I know you seemed happy with the sound, but try shifting the center back a bit to see if it gets even better for you too

Enjoy your awesome ride.
 

droopaloop

2021 MS LR White/Black 21'
Apr 1, 2021
77
195
Austin, TX
Nice review!

With all the comforts on, I'm coming in around 250 ±10 Wh/mi on most trips including highway driving. However, with careful driving around town and climate off, I can achieve 200 ±10 Wh/mi (i.e. 4 kWh / 20 mi),

This seems incredibly good. I've had MSLR for about 6 months and average 320 wh/mi lifetime. If I baby the heck out of it, turn AC off, don't drive above 35 , etc... Then maybe I can get 280ish... I drive a lot of highway though, and depending on a how fast, will usually average between 320 to 340 in decent weather.
 

David29

Active Member
Supporting Member
Aug 1, 2015
2,382
2,032
DEDHAM, MA
....
  • Toasts and Cameras
    The HomeLink and seatbelt warning toasts covering up the side view cameras is an everyday annoyance. I have kids in the backseat and reverse into a cramped garage. I would like to rely on the side view cameras to tell if anything is going to bump up against my car, but the toasts cover up exactly this critical area of both cameras. It's like the Tesla devs don't have an actual car to test these features with or something.
At the risk of sounding ignorant, but what the heck do you mean by "toasts"? Since you say you are a programmer, maybe you are using industry jargon that some of us might not know.... ;-)
 

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