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Model S LR 2021 review from a long-time Model S owner

headcase

Member
Jan 23, 2015
564
1,044
Raleigh, NC
I initially posted this in one of the massively long ordering threads for the new LR, but figured I'd repost it here separately for those interested (with minor edits)...

@jlear was nice enough to let me look at his new Midnight Silver LR with 21" rims tonight. As an existing Model S 90D owner, below are the main questions I wanted answered for myself. I hope this helps anyone on the fence about LR vs Plaid, or whether to order the refresh at all.

Is there a continuous linear pull beyond 60MPH? Without a Dragy on hand for actual numbers (sorry boys & girls), I can happily say that the refreshed LR feels like it keeps pulling equally strong from the 0-60 band than it does the 60-100 band. On previous model S cars, you feel a substantial drop-off on the upper powerbands. Not with this puppy! Much like the Plaid reviews, This. Thing. Keeps. Pulling.

If I stomp on the accelerator at 60MPH, does it provide a strong enough pull from there? For me, yes, yes, yes. @jlear was devilish enough to stomp on it without forewarning me as we drove around, and for the first time in a long while, I felt like your typical newbie who's never rode in a performance Tesla before. I found myself chuckling out loud like a 10 year old school boy... it was that good of a surprise every time he punched it. Without raw benchmarks in hand, this LR feels like a P90D / P100D while in Insane Mode, without any of the drawbacks like SoC battery dependencies. And that is without even trying Launch Mode yet. So yeah, bet your bottom dollar you can still do the acceleration party trick in this bad boy with your friends and family. Tesla may call this the LR, but I consider it a "Performance Model S LR".

With a lower State of Charge, does performance fall off like on previous models? I didn't check that, but something tells me that similar to the Plaid mode, the answer is no. Someone else will need to confirm that.

Does the car handle and ride significantly better? Much like the 2019/2020 Ravens, the adaptive suspension is much more forgiving on the bumps, but the 2021 refresh feels even better on the turns and at high-speed straightaways than what I remember on the Ravens. Someone else here said they were able to get a 2021 up on a lift and said the suspension is all new, and I believe it. I was going to put on aftermarket 20" rims just like I did on my current Model S, both to smooth out the ride and quiet the ride a tad while still looking aggressive, but I might just go with 21" aftermarket rims after this little trip. Btw, road noise is much improved with the double-paned glass, but I wouldn't say it is as quiet as a Lexus. But it is certainly better, just like previous Model S builds have gotten noticeably quieter with each passing year. I'm sure someone will do some sound level tests to measure actual differences in decibels. As for motor whine, the only time I could really hear it was when he pounded on the accelerator. Otherwise, I didn't notice it.

Does the interior feel substantially better than previous generation Model S's? Much like what was posted here, hell yes. Little things like more premium feeling materials, including the vegan leather, carpet, and alcantara all feel more plush. Even the hard surfaces have a more luxurious feel to them. Little details we all expect on a car (let alone a luxury performance car) like the door pockets, dry-cleaning hooks in the rear, and vanity lights in the visors are there. All the major gripes I've had with previous Model S generations, they've finally addressed with this generation. The now-returned ventilated front seats feel great for the warm weather here in North Carolina, and the AC really feels much more adequate too. The comfort of the front seats feels similar to the last generation, so not cushy soft as Model Y seats if you're looking for that. But the rear seats are much much more comfortable from before, not to mention a proper flip-down center console in between. When dropping the rear seats, no more cavity bump across the middle! Although the overall cargo area is still slightly pitched from front to back with the seats down, I would say it looks level enough for me to slap down my air mattress without any extra padding under the rear area, and get some solid sleep on. I don't foresee a need for a crazy expensive custom fit Tesla mattress that sucks up all the cargo space when not in use (cough cough, for those who know what I'm referring to). But to each their own.

How is the tech (displays, software, graphical interface) over previous generations? As a techie who is also big on AV, this is always a priority for me in any car. Similar to what others here have said, the displays in this model are very crisp and the brightness is much improved over previous generations. Certainly worthy of playing 4K video or current gen games in the daylight, IMHO. I'd even be curious how many Nits the front screen puts out, as it is that bright. The touchscreen has responsiveness similar to a current smartphone (perhaps just a little slower, but hey, it is a massive screen), including multitouch use. The sound system is so much more powerful than anything before in terms of loudness (for the first time in my life, I actually had to cover my ears when he cranked it... and I like it LOUD). But I won't comment on the quality of the sound until I can play my own tracks on it and tweak the equalizer to my liking. I could imagine doing a swap out of the subwoofer while still using the stock enclosure, similar to what I've done on my existing Model S. But that is still to be determined.

All that said, as most know, the software is raw. Feels more like an alpha build to me than a beta release, given stability seems lacking (e.g MCU reboots, phone as key not working, etc.). Let alone the features stated in the owner's manual that are currently absent. But for those who've never owned a Tesla before, my only advice is to not obsess over that now. The car is bleeding edge when it comes to tech. Just enjoy the car. When the software updates roll out from Tesla, these things will be incrementally addressed, and even new unannounced features will probably come about like usual.

Does the exterior look substantially better than previous generation Model S's? I was able to look at two refresh Model S cars today, one in black and the other Midnight Silver. Photos don't do it justice. You need to see it in person to really appreciate the changes. Little things like the fog lights and the more aggressive body styling around the wheels make a world of difference. The massively wide 295 tires in the rear (and usually only seen OEM on ultra-performance cars) make the car look sick too. Yes, the LR means business just like the Plaid. Lastly, as someone who has chrome-deleted my last two cars, I certainly think the black trim on this refresh is the biggest improvement over the previous generations. We're not driving your grandfather's 1955 Caddy anymore, folks! That said, as to whether I will chrome-delete the Tesla emblems on my forthcoming white LR or leave them as is, I'm actually still on the fence.

Will I miss anything in particular with the previous generations of Model S's? Absolutely. The ability to open that massive sunroof on those pleasant weather days. Unlimited free charging on long road trips, just so I don't have to think about it. And I'm still on the fence about no more steering wheel and stalks. I love the look of the yoke and it feels great in the hand, but like others here, I will probably dread what that means in daily use until I've driven it a week or two. I've seen the complaints about taking turns, but even more complaints about trying to use the buttons in absence of stalks. Or even accidentally pressing the buttons. So that yoke is still a big question mark for me. At least I can "hit the horn" without looking for the little button (tip: place your hand over the right set of buttons). Just hope I can do that successfully while the yoke is turning!

Hope this helps folks. On a related note, my Dragy arrives tomorrow. So if anyone in the Raleigh area wants to benchmark their Plaid or LR with a few runs, let me know!
 
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etigro

Member
Aug 22, 2019
41
11
FRANCE
Thanks for the feedback.
On the back seats and the folding armchair (at last, this was a major miss for comfort in the back), is there a ski tunnel to get skis through the back seat without scarifying 1/3 of it ? Most car have it in Europe and not having it currently is a major hassle when going on winter trips.
I am not a fan of using roof racks and usually do not need additional cargo space in a roof box either.
 

headcase

Member
Jan 23, 2015
564
1,044
Raleigh, NC
No ski tunnel. Just the usual 60/40 split as before. There is a rumor that the refresh has the ability to add a trailer hitch, as there appears to be an area in the rear bumper for a cut out where you'd normally install the hitch. But I didn't look myself yet to confirm what's there, and Tesla hasn't mentioned anything either about a trailer hitch.
 
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gbailey

2020 Model S LR. Refresh Model S LR ordered RN1152
Oct 9, 2019
159
87
Arkansas
No ski tunnel. Just the usual 60/40 split as before. There is a rumor that the refresh has the ability to add a trailer hitch, as there appears to be an area in the rear bumper for a cut out where you'd normally install the hitch. But I didn't look myself yet to confirm what's there, and Tesla hasn't mentioned anything either about a trailer hitch.
I was going to ask bout the trailer hitch. I have an Ecohitch on my 2020 LR S and a hitch is essential for carrying my bikes. Would love to see more pics underneath the back or more information that might point to a hitch being an option from the factory.
 

FunSecured

Member
Sep 7, 2019
109
235
Laguna Beach
I agree with all your comments, as the new LR S is…actually…MORE than what I had expected and the ride and looks and handling and responsiveness/acceleration were all just…surprisingly Great. I didn’t hear any of the old body creaks that you used to hear on the old S versions and in that…I’m so pleased and thankful. I too REALLY miss my sunroof (wish they would bring that back), but it’s a trade off worth taking as the car isn’t even in the same league as the old version S. It’s just..better in pretty much every way. One area (and there’s really only one thus far) I initially thought was perfect but…sadly, on mine, isn’t…is that incredibly annoying headliner crack/creaking sound you get intermittently. It’s subtle and it’s not all the time and if there’s sufficient ambient noise from whatever the source, you don’t hear it…But.:.if it’s quiet and you’re alone…Ugh. I’m hoping service can remedy. That said…in every other aspect I do have to say this is hands down best car I’ve ever owned and thrilled at what Tesla has done. Has SO much more of a luxury/finished look and materials are much better and center console design worlds better and had tons of function outside and in. Like you… Love it.
 

gbailey

2020 Model S LR. Refresh Model S LR ordered RN1152
Oct 9, 2019
159
87
Arkansas
I was going to ask bout the trailer hitch. I have an Ecohitch on my 2020 LR S and a hitch is essential for carrying my bikes. Would love to see more pics underneath the back or more information that might point to a hitch being an option from the factory.
Looks like a hitch will be an option. Just found this on the EPC.
 

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etigro

Member
Aug 22, 2019
41
11
FRANCE
No ski tunnel. Just the usual 60/40 split as before. There is a rumor that the refresh has the ability to add a trailer hitch, as there appears to be an area in the rear bumper for a cut out where you'd normally install the hitch. But I didn't look myself yet to confirm what's there, and Tesla hasn't mentioned anything either about a trailer hitch.
Thanks for the info. I guess roof rack will be the way to go.
 

SilverGS

Active Member
Nov 3, 2016
1,636
947
Ontario
@headcase Very informative and fair post!!! Extremely useful for anyone who has had an S in the past and also useful for even someone new to the Tesla world.

What year is your Model S (and if you had more than one over the years, which ones did you have)? I'm trying to determine which part of your feedback applies to which year as some of it my not be as dramatic to someone with say a 2018 S compared to someone who has a 2014 S as an example.

Also what suspension did your car have - springs or air? This would also have bearing on your feedback about the suspension depending on what you're comparing the refreshed S's suspension to a previous gen S.
 
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headcase

Member
Jan 23, 2015
564
1,044
Raleigh, NC
@headcase Very informative and fair post!!! Extremely useful for anyone who has had an S in the past and also useful for even someone new to the Tesla world.

What year is your Model S (and if you had more than one over the years, which ones did you have)? I'm trying to determine which part of your feedback applies to which year as some of it my not be as dramatic to someone with say a 2018 S compared to someone who has a 2014 S as an example.

Also what suspension did your car have - springs or air? This would also have bearing on your feedback about the suspension depending on what you're comparing the refreshed S's suspension to a previous gen S.
Thanks. I have a 90D built late in 2016 with air suspension and the updated face. I’ve also driven most of the other year Model S variants as loaners and test drives, including the Ravens with adaptive suspension. As I have a lousy back, I am very particular about smoothness of rides.

Btw, I am in communication with Unplugged Performance about some custom one-off rims for my upcoming LR, and they confirmed that the refreshed S has an entirely new adaptive suspension. Not the same as the Ravens. 👍 They would certainly know, given they had to completely tear down a Plaid for racing at Pike's Peak. So I wasn't imagining things when I said that the refresh feels more improved from the Raven suspension.

On a related note, someone at the Raleigh SC who just picked up their LR was commenting how they think calling the new Plaid and LR simply a "refresh" is a bit misleading. I agree.
 
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SilverGS

Active Member
Nov 3, 2016
1,636
947
Ontario
Thanks. I have a 90D built late in 2016 with air suspension and the updated face. I’ve also driven most of the other years, including the Ravens with adaptive suspension as loaners and test drives.

Btw, I am in communication with Unplugged Performance about some custom one-off rims for my upcoming LR refresh, and they confirmed that the refresh S has an entirely new suspension. Not the same as the Ravens. 👍
Oh awesome!!! That makes your feedback even more valid as your 90D is not that old.

Please keep us posted on your custom rims. I would love to see what you end up with - considering that from the factory they already seem pretty decent 265/295. I guess you will probably end up with something like 275/305 or something even better. :)
 

headcase

Member
Jan 23, 2015
564
1,044
Raleigh, NC
Oh awesome!!! That makes your feedback even more valid as your 90D is not that old.

Please keep us posted on your custom rims. I would love to see what you end up with - considering that from the factory they already seem pretty decent 265/295. I guess you will probably end up with something like 275/305 or something even better. :)
They will be unique and not cheap, that is for sure. Will share what I end up with once my white LR arrives later this year.
 
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SDRick

Active Member
Jun 25, 2015
1,458
1,009
SD CA United States
Any soft close doors?

How is the sound proofing?

Is the phone charger wireless and the phone visible/usable while charging?

Is the new LR a downgrade in any respect from a Raven performance?
 

FunSecured

Member
Sep 7, 2019
109
235
Laguna Beach
@headcase Very informative and fair post!!! Extremely useful for anyone who has had an S in the past and also useful for even someone new to the Tesla world.

What year is your Model S (and if you had more than one over the years, which ones did you have)? I'm trying to determine which part of your feedback applies to which year as some of it my not be as dramatic to someone with say a 2018 S compared to someone who has a 2014 S as an example.

Also what suspension did your car have - springs or air? This would also have bearing on your feedback about the suspension depending on what you're comparing the refreshed S's suspension to a previous gen S.
Any soft close doors?

sadly..no. That IS one thing I would have liked to have seen but they simply function/close as a normal door. The doors DO feel substantial, but the instance where you say…close a door with too little force and then the “soft close” door fixes that by sucking in the door and securing it, isn’t a feature in the S.

The sound proofing though is bar none…Fantastic! Quietest Tesla I’ve been in, by a good measure. Each of our family members have independently noticed and talked about this.

the phone chargers are visible (sit directly above the center console) and there are two, side by side, that work flawlessly. You don’t need to worry about finding the right spot so that it’s actually charging (like some others I’ve used)z set it down on it and it charges, and you can see your phones face while it is, easily.

if there’s one negative, I’d say the UI does feel a little Beta’ish…just a little wonky compared to some of the other versions of the UI Tesla has had over the years. It’s not horrible by any means but I think we can expect refinement in that, with regular software updates, in the way we’ve seen over the years generally with Tesla.
I DO have to say that the main screen…when your watching videos or playing games or using navigation is just…Huge and great. Because it’s oriented horizontal now (as opposed to the old vertical in the S) ir is just giant feeling when your using maps. Pretty great.

How is the sound proofing?
Is the phone charger wireless and the phone visible/usable while charging?

Is the new LR a downgrade in any respect from a Raven performance?
 
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TessP100D

Member
Jan 15, 2018
419
295
La Quinta, Ca
Does it have side mirror safety systems like most cars today?

Does the summons feature actually work?

Does it have heads up display?

Does it have the new battery design?
 

FunSecured

Member
Sep 7, 2019
109
235
Laguna Beach
It doesn’t have a heads up display but honestly, there is zero need of that. In addition to the center screen (which is massive), directly in front of the yoke is another display that shows your turn by turn navigation, speed, your car, other cars, signals, lanes, pedestrians, motorcycle, bikes, stop signs, cones, etc. it’s exactly at eye level where you’d want it to be and you’ve need of nothing more in my opinion, nor would I want it.
 

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