Welcome to Tesla Motors Club
Discuss Tesla's Model S, Model 3, Model X, Model Y, Cybertruck, Roadster and More.
Register

Refresh Model S Review First Impressions - Very Lengthy

Hey all, took delivery Friday morning one week ago (1/21), and wanted to offer a worthy "initial impressions" review. Before I do, let me offer a few acknowledgements/disclaimers: a) this will be lengthy; b) my perspective is that of a M3P owner for the last 2.5 years; c) my thoughts may in some ways be affected by the issues with my car, though I will attempt to call out the ways in which these problem specifically impact the experience.

IMG_0427(1).jpg


I've already posted about my delivery experience here, so I won't cover it again. Overall I've had better and I've had worse (not all with Tesla, of course). This review will focus on the car, not the delivery or purchase experience.

Review (what follows are only the areas that I feel qualified to review based on my very limited experience - I hope to update later):

A166F82A-9936-4E87-9AC3-4300168F90AB.png


Drivetrain: Coming from a M3P, the MS LR is decidedly faster, especially from 50+ MPH, but there's a hint of latency to the punch that you don't have with the M3P. This makes sense due to the weight, of course, and it's not that noticeable, but it's there. Still, even in the 0-60 range, the visceral power of this car at 70% SoC surpasses what I would see from my M3P at 90%. Personal thought: there's really no point to "sport" mode. I'm going to be keeping this thing in Insane mode 95% of the time to just have that torque on tap. Sport just doesn't deliver. If I'm looking for efficiency, I'll go for chill mode. The gut punch in insane mode from a dead stop (I have not tried a proper launch) in insane mode is truly nuts, and that was with a bit of wheel spin with the stock summer PS4S (yes, I'm replacing them with all seasons ASAP). I'm confident that it'll be even faster under the right conditions. Truly the fastest car I've ever driven. Being an electric, it's smooth and seamless no matter what your driving conditions. Only other thing I will note is that the regen braking is very aggressive, and I love this. Unlike the M3, you can truly get all the way to a dead stop with nothing more than regen. It's great.

8BF5C8F5-E993-47DB-9340-7631AFE25AAA.png


Suspension: (Disclaimer: this could very well be affected by my defective air suspension, so please take with a grain of salt. I will update when I get them resolved) I don't feel I'm confident to say much here with the suspension issues potentially affecting my judgment, but I'm really mixed. The car is absolutely more stiff than I expected, but it's a very planted kind of stiff. I've owned four BMW M3/M5s previously, and this car feels like a well-dialed-in-but-heavy German sports sedan. It's FAR more planted than my M3P, which I felt wallowed, was undersprung, and did not have adequately sized sway bars for its mass. However, given all that, the 3 was light, had a shorter wheelbase, and a low enough Cg that it felt somewhat nimble (comparatively). The S is the very essence of a GT car - low slung, long, wide, planted, heavy, and stable. That said, what it is NOT is compliant. This is not as comfortable a ride - even in comfort mode - as the M3P, which felt like a nimble-yet-comfortable-if-somewhat-floaty sedan with a shitload of power. I'll go so far as to say that road construction (which isn't awful here in MD), transitions for overpasses, expansions, etc, feel too harsh in the S, even in comfort mode. I'm not certain whether this is something attributable to the 21s or not, and overall it's not terrible, but I never minded the M3P "marshmellowiness", and I was looking for an even better highway cruiser. The fact that the softest adjustable setting is as harsh as it is - non-adjustable spring rates notwithstanding - is very surprising. I've heard people compare comfort mode to a Cadillac or similar highway cruiser. This is not at all my experience. Again, this could be due to suspension malfunction, so I'll reserve final judgment until it's all fixed.


Exterior: Most of this is subjective, so I'll leave this to the reader to determine. For my money, 99% of the improvements hit the mark, but I do feel they could have done more. Am I upset about the headlights/taillights? Not really, but I will say after trying the headlights at night that they could be improved. The majority of that, however, is the crappy auto high beam tech. With this disabled the lights are absolutely usable; with it enabled they will spend 95% of their time in low beam mode even in the middle of the woods at night. One thing of note here is the solid construction of the doors/trunk compared to the M3. The 3 sounded cheap when you shut the doors, and the S doesn't at all. My "give me Audi/Porsche build quality" neighbor didn't even scoff at the solid "thunk" of the doors on the S refresh, and you can take that as high praise (he was overly triggered by the build of the M3, IMO). One thing I am still getting used to is how much harder I need to shut the doors on the S than the 3 - the extra rubber seals really need a good, firm closing in order to latch properly. Just need to re-calibrate. The exterior of the car might feel a bit dated overall, but I still feel like I'm driving a Aston Martin when I step out of it and turn back. It's still a great look, and with a few tasteful mods, I think it'll look even better.

D203904F-1DB9-4D59-9F8A-D1B663CF4C27.png


Interior: Quality of materials is superb, but still perhaps a hair lower than you'd expect for this price point. It's on par with, if not slightly better than, mainstream Euro makes like BMW (3-series or x5) and Audi (A/S4 or Q5), but still not as good as the upmarket models one-level higher (Audi S6 or BMW 5/7 series). Quality of materials is extremely high. Everyone has complimented the "denim" (yes, I heard this, and it's not entirely inapt once you feel it) or "linen" like material on the doors (it's probably closest in feel to burlap), the alcantara headliner, the wood trim and dash materials, the door card materials, and even the seating surfaces are all very high quality. Given that both are "vegan leather", I expected the S to be the same as the 3, but they feel more supple and higher quality. This could simply be age, though. Compared to the 3, the seats are less "marshmallow" and more contoured in the way you would expect an upsacle euro make to be. They're a touch firmer, but the contours are more comfortable than the 3. Overall a big improvement, and the perforation feels great.

The windows provide incredible sound deadening to the outside, and my unit had zero rattles or squeaks. It was so quiet on a bit of highway driving we did that I identified the very subtle rattling to be the plastic straw of my son's McD's Iced Tea rubbing against its plastic cup. The seating surfaces feel like high quality animal leathers, the wood is smooth but naturally textured, and everything has a solid feel to it. The extra large display is half-integrated, and I really wished they would have made it tilting as they said they were going to, but unless the UI changes pretty substantially, I don't really see the need. The rear seats leave much to be desired, especially when it comes to leg room. With the thickness of the front seatbacks, I was shocked at how little leg room there is in the back. Do NOT expect to fit four 6' adults in this thing comfortably. Frankly, this is not okay for a sedan of this length and size. Fortunately, I bought it mainly to transport my family (wife + 3 kids, aged 13, 11, 8), and for that it will do nicely. Another note is the incredibly uncomfortable bulge in the center back seat from the rotating armrest. It really needs some kind of support on the lower back portion. Other minor niggles include the frunk, which is decently large but does not have the handy bag hangers that the 3 had; and the somewhat limiting size of the main cupholders, which are considerably smaller than the 3 due to a flexible rubber liner that grips contents. It's enough for something barely larger than a 12oz can, but nothing bigger. I used to use my Tervis coffee cup for commutes to work in the mornings, and it won't fit in this. Note: it WILL fit in the side pocket, but that's not really intended to be a spot to hold drinks you're actively drinking.

Lighting in the MS is not great. The ambient lighting selector does very little, and frankly, even with it on it only makes the car look like what I would expect even a Honda Accord to look like at night. There's none of the user-adjustable fiber optic LED lighting that you'd see in even a basic Audi, or anything like that. It's really just a bit of lighting in the footwells. My unit had the issue with the console that plagues the majority of these as well, so it turns OFF when I open it.

1E857DAB-BB34-423E-8A83-80DFDC9C9E3A.png


Ergonomics: Some of this was covered in the interior section, but overall the ergos are very good. The seats are adequately adjustable and have an easy entrance profile that is automatically selected when you turn off the car to allow for easier egress, which I did find particularly handy with the wideness of the yoke. Visibility is great out of the front windshield due to the yoke unobstructing the binnacle and lower windshield. However, with this being a low-slung GT car, the A and C pillars are very oblique and result in massive blind spots. Thankfully, Tesla saw fit to add a small triangle of clear glass where the A pillar meets the beltline, and boy, is it needed. Visibility out of the back window is equally as poor as the 3, but not appreciably worse.

Looking back after about a week's worth of use, I felt as though I had acclimated to the yoke after about 2 minutes, but it wasn't true. For the majority of driving it's absolutely fine (preferable, in many situations), but I still feel a sense of trepidation that I shouldn't feel when I'm pulling into a parking lot that I know I'll need to back into a parking space in, especially if there's a car waiting for me. It's just one of those psychological things that makes your brain apprehensive about a task that you've (likely) been doing for decades with aplomb. For *some* things it's actually more comfortable than a wheel, particularly when you're on a highway or something and can rest your hand on one of the lower cross-members. I'm sure muscle memory and brain training will help with the parking lot situations, but it likely won't be quick.

The storage on the door pockets is great, and mirrors what I had on my M3P, and I like what they did with the center console, though I'll admit I think it's a bit...busy. There are no less than 4 different sliders, trays, hinged openings, etc to adjust and fiddle with in the everyday use of those compartments. It feels like they could have done a better job with it. Although I'll admit that it's nice having some of it divided up. The large center bin in my 2019 (pre-refresh) M3 just had a ton of stuff in it and it felt like a massive junk drawer that I needed to dig through if I was looking for something I didn't often need.

The rear seats improved a lot from pre-refresh but they still have some major issues. I hate that there are no provisions for cupholders or much storage at all for the passengers if you have someone in the center seat. With three kids, it's rare that I'll ever have the chance for them to use the armrest or charging pads for their phones. Worse, there are no magazine pockets on the seatbacks - they're just solid plastic, so the door pockets are it if you want storage. The kid in the center (cause no adult would ever put up with that seat as uncomfortable as it is) is just screwed. The ability of backseat passengers to adjust their own temp and seat heaters IS nice though, but it's nothing they couldn't do in my wife's 2017 Hyundai SUV...

The capacitive buttons on the yoke are the next contentious area, and I'll admit that I truly loathed them at first. After only a week's worth of use I've found myself completely adjusted to the use of the turn signals, which was 90% of my problem initially. I can find them easily without looking now, and I don't confuse one for the other as I did at first. My issues are with the other buttons, which don't feel intuitive at all, and given how infrequently they're used, I'm not sure if I'll ever feel fluent in their use. The horn is particularly galling. Tesla did add a function where you can mash the entire right side of the yoke with your palm to activate the wheel, but it doesn't emit a solid tone like the normal button. Further, I'd say the worst part about the capacitive buttons is how awkward they make using the dedicated scroll wheels/buttons. I feel like I need to be very careful activating them or I'm going to accidentally trigger a high beam flash or turn signal (in the case of the one on the left). They also feel unnaturally far inboard from the exterior of the yoke, but this could be perception. The last thing I'll mention (and this is common to ALL Teslas) is my complete hatred of the use of wheels as buttons. This is just REALLY poor ergo design, and I don't care how efficient it is.

Software: Unfortunately, this is where the S falls right on its face. I mean this without reservation: the refresh S has the worst UI and driver interface of ANY Tesla I've ever driven, including pre-refresh S and Model 3/Y. I could write a novel on how badly they screwed up with this UI, but I'll just list a few of the worst ways in the interest of brevity (too late, I know...):

1. With the new interface there is ZERO consumption reporting in real time. The energy app is completely missing, and the only way you have to even check consumption at all is the trip computer, which needs to be pulled up via the controls menu (more on this in #2), and even that is extremely limited in information content.

2. The controls menu is now essential to many functions of car monitoring since they did away with cards or other forms of monitoring like in the driver binnacle like the pre-refresh used to do. The main issue with this is when the controls menu is open, NOTHING else can be used on the entire 17" screen. They've actually gone so far as to BLUR the tiny bit remaining out so you can't use the map, audio controls, or anything while the controls menu is open. Tapping anywhere outside the controls menu card immediately closes it. So if you want to monitor your automatic suspension damping settings in real time, or check your tire pressures, or have your consumption monitor up, these few small bits of information are all you can see with your glorious 17" display.

3. The driver binnacle is 90% useless. I mean this. 70% of it is dedicated to a completely worthless FSD car driving environment display that you can glean nothing from if you don't have FSD (and who does?) This is nothing new to me as I had a M3P with FSD that never actually GOT FSD and it took up 40% of my 15" main display, so I'm not shocked by this stupid, stupid decision, but it's particularly galling in this case because of just how much it wastes the driver display. The only useful information on it is the time, the SoC, and the speedo. That's it. I simply cannot believe how badly this area of the car is overlooked. No song track info, no map (if you're not navigating somewhere), no side camera displays, no (real time) consumption meter like in the pre-refresh. Hell, from what I can tell, there isn't even a way to see how much my regen ability is degraded like I have on the 3 (solid line transitions to dotted line).

4. The rest of the UI is an absolute mess of ineffective placement, klugey design, and complete lack of forethought. The ONLY thing I like is the dockable audio "favorites" and "now playing" card. This IS handy, and they should embrace more stuff like it. Still, it's not enough. If I want to go into spotify to actually select a track, the card that opens up takes 70% of the screen, and there's no way to adjust this so that it shares more space with the map while its still fully usable. It's kinda all or nothing.

There are other areas where the car also fails, but I'm very hopeful they will be rectified through software updates. Most of these revolve around implementation of the rear seat display, which was a major selling feature for me as a father of three who often takes family trips in the Tesla. Main issues presently are: games can't be played in the back at all and there's no bluetooth headset connectivity for the rear audio channels. This is absurd, and should have been fixed within weeks of launch. These were advertised features and I have no clue when they'll roll out, but this is also typical Tesla.

Overall: The car is fantastic, and I'm sure I'll soon get the issues I'm having with it resolved. It wouldn't be a Tesla (in my experience) if there weren't those one or two things that bug you initially. My M3P was 95% trouble free, and I'm really hoping the S will be the same once I get these things dealt with. The way the S drives makes me feel like I've stepped from my M3 back into a BMW M5 with a bit less road feel: it's extremely planted and confident in turns, it's got GOBS of power, and it's a comfortable, smooth ride (unless you hit road imperfections). The tactile experience is second to none with the materials represented in the cabin. I particularly love the black alcantara headliner and wireless phone charger bays. The seats are firmer than the 3 but even more comfortable IMO and more closely match those of expensive euro makes. My issues with the UI and software notwithstanding, it's still a fantastic car that offers much more than 95% of other cars in the market, all things considered.

Overall, I'd give the MS LR in its current form a B+, but it clearly has the ability to get to an A or even A+ with some software changes.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Maybe look into the suspension? Experience with my Y with 20" wheels VS 19" wheels is rather revealing. The 19" ride much smoother however I did not expect that much difference. Then again it may have a bit to do with winter tires being softer.

That being said, ordered my S with 19" wheels specifically for a better ride. Honestly rides like a luxury sedan however must admit this is once again on winter tires. Both both the Y and the S have the same 19" wheels and the same tires from brand to size all around. The S has a much better ride, really very noticeable difference compared to the Y.

I have acceleration boost on the Y which I thought made it fast however the S in LR form is really a sleeper, rocket ship in disguise making the Y almost feel slow. Apart from a Plaid, not much can compete with the power this car has not to mention comfort and nice range.
 
  • Like
Reactions: maxibenson

Neon001

Member
May 12, 2019
306
695
Md
Appreciate the detailed impressions.

My refreshed Model S will be the first car I’ve purchased WITHOUT a test drive, which is sort of a big deal to me.

Very surprised to read your comments about the ride quality. What suspension “malfunction“ are you referring to?
Ah, sorry, I posted about it in my delivery thread but should have at least mentioned it here. My air compressor or something relating to the adjustable suspension isn't working. It throws a couple of codes and disables the ride height adjustment feature sometimes when I drive it. What I don't know is where exactly is disabling it (at what ride height). Obviously if it's just riding in the bump stops when it's disabled, then yeah, that would have a big impact on comfort. That's why I put the big disclaimer on my opinion of the ride. Still, it doesn't feel too bad, it's just a little harsher than I thought it would be coming from the 3.
 
Just adding additional brief comments (beyond my thanks for the great review, as stated above :)).

It seems like a very nice car, and something I would consider for our next car (except for the yoke, which unfortunately would be a deal-breaker for me). But one thing I find disappointing about it is your account of the lack of room in the back seats. That would be the prime thing that I would be looking to improve on compared with our current Model 3. Now the Model 3 is not terrible for back seating room - I have been back there myself with two other adults for a two hour trip - but it is not great either. I would have thought that the Model S would be great, and I am surprised that it is not.

But perhaps Tesla is reading the market for the vehicle and the market is 'luxury car' for well-off people who are probably beyond the 'young family years' and who realistically will usually have one our two people and their luggage in the vehicle. It is not really intended as a 'family hauler'. If you look at most of the higher end, large Mercedes and BMWs on the road, they are being driven by guys 50+ with maybe their wife in the passenger seat. So maybe Tesla is targeting that market, and for that reason back seat room is not a priority.

To tell the truth, I am in the above-described market segment. Nevertheless, if I were to buy the Model S (if Tesla someday offers a steering wheel as an option), I still would want the room in the back seat for occasions - admittedly which don't happen all that often - where we would be giving friends/guests a ride. While it would not be often, I would still like to think I could offer them comfort when it does happen. For the price of the vehicle, I should be able to do that.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Neon001

glide

Well-Known Member
Jun 6, 2018
5,020
6,980
USA
Hey all, took delivery Friday morning one week ago (1/21), and wanted to offer a worthy "initial impressions" review. Before I do, let me offer a few acknowledgements/disclaimers: a) this will be lengthy; b) my perspective is that of a M3P owner for the last 2.5 years; c) my thoughts may in some ways be affected by the issues with my car, though I will attempt to call out the ways in which these problem specifically impact the experience.

I've already posted about my delivery experience here, so I won't cover it again. Overall I've had better and I've had worse (not all with Tesla, of course). This review will focus on the car, not the delivery or purchase experience.

Review (what follows are only the areas that I feel qualified to review based on my very limited experience - I hope to update later):

Drivetrain: Coming from a M3P, the MS LR is decidedly faster, especially from 50+ MPH, but there's a hint of latency to the punch that you don't have with the M3P. This makes sense due to the weight, of course, and it's not that noticeable, but it's there. Still, even in the 0-60 range, the visceral power of this car at 70% SoC surpasses what I would see from my M3P at 90%. Personal thought: there's really no point to "sport" mode. I'm going to be keeping this thing in Insane mode 95% of the time to just have that torque on tap. Sport just doesn't deliver. If I'm looking for efficiency, I'll go for chill mode. The gut punch in insane mode from a dead stop (I have not tried a proper launch) in insane mode is truly nuts, and that was with a bit of wheel spin with the stock summer PS4S (yes, I'm replacing them with all seasons ASAP). I'm confident that it'll be even faster under the right conditions. Truly the fastest car I've ever driven. Being an electric, it's smooth and seamless no matter what your driving conditions. Only other thing I will note is that the regen braking is very aggressive, and I love this. Unlike the M3, you can truly get all the way to a dead stop with nothing more than regen. It's great.

Suspension: (Disclaimer: this could very well be affected by my defective air suspension, so please take with a grain of salt. I will update when I get them resolved) I don't feel I'm confident to say much here with the suspension issues potentially affecting my judgment, but I'm really mixed. The car is absolutely more stiff than I expected, but it's a very planted kind of stiff. I've owned four BMW M3/M5s previously, and this car feels like a well-dialed-in-but-heavy German sports sedan. It's FAR more planted than my M3P, which I felt wallowed, was undersprung, and did not have adequately sized sway bars for its mass. However, given all that, the 3 was light, had a shorter wheelbase, and a low enough Cg that it felt somewhat nimble (comparatively). The S is the very essence of a GT car - low slung, long, wide, planted, heavy, and stable. That said, what it is NOT is compliant. This is not as comfortable a ride - even in comfort mode - as the M3P, which felt like a nimble-yet-comfortable-if-somewhat-floaty sedan with a shitload of power. I'll go so far as to say that road construction (which isn't awful here in MD), transitions for overpasses, expansions, etc, feel too harsh in the S, even in comfort mode. I'm not certain whether this is something attributable to the 21s or not, and overall it's not terrible, but I never minded the M3P "marshmellowiness", and I was looking for an even better highway cruiser. The fact that the softest adjustable setting is as harsh as it is - non-adjustable spring rates notwithstanding - is very surprising. I've heard people compare comfort mode to a Cadillac or similar highway cruiser. This is not at all my experience. Again, this could be due to suspension malfunction, so I'll reserve final judgment until it's all fixed.

Exterior: Most of this is subjective, so I'll leave this to the reader to determine. For my money, 99% of the improvements hit the mark, but I do feel they could have done more. Am I upset about the headlights/taillights? Not really, but I will say after trying the headlights at night that they could be improved. The majority of that, however, is the crappy auto high beam tech. With this disabled the lights are absolutely usable; with it enabled they will spend 95% of their time in low beam mode even in the middle of the woods at night. One thing of note here is the solid construction of the doors/trunk compared to the M3. The 3 sounded cheap when you shut the doors, and the S doesn't at all. My "give me Audi/Porsche build quality" neighbor didn't even scoff at the solid "thunk" of the doors on the S refresh, and you can take that as high praise (he was overly triggered by the build of the M3, IMO). One thing I am still getting used to is how much harder I need to shut the doors on the S than the 3 - the extra rubber seals really need a good, firm closing in order to latch properly. Just need to re-calibrate. The exterior of the car might feel a bit dated overall, but I still feel like I'm driving a Aston Martin when I step out of it and turn back. It's still a great look, and with a few tasteful mods, I think it'll look even better.

Interior: Quality of materials is superb, but still perhaps a hair lower than you'd expect for this price point. It's on par with, if not slightly better than, mainstream Euro makes like BMW (3-series or x5) and Audi (A/S4 or Q5), but still not as good as the upmarket models one-level higher (Audi S6 or BMW 5/7 series). Quality of materials is extremely high. Everyone has complimented the "denim" (yes, I heard this, and it's not entirely inapt once you feel it) or "linen" like material on the doors (it's probably closest in feel to burlap), the alcantara headliner, the wood trim and dash materials, the door card materials, and even the seating surfaces are all very high quality. Given that both are "vegan leather", I expected the S to be the same as the 3, but they feel more supple and higher quality. This could simply be age, though. Compared to the 3, the seats are less "marshmallow" and more contoured in the way you would expect an upsacle euro make to be. They're a touch firmer, but the contours are more comfortable than the 3. Overall a big improvement, and the perforation feels great.

The windows provide incredible sound deadening to the outside, and my unit had zero rattles or squeaks. It was so quiet on a bit of highway driving we did that I identified the very subtle rattling to be the plastic straw of my son's McD's Iced Tea rubbing against its plastic cup. The seating surfaces feel like high quality animal leathers, the wood is smooth but naturally textured, and everything has a solid feel to it. The extra large display is half-integrated, and I really wished they would have made it tilting as they said they were going to, but unless the UI changes pretty substantially, I don't really see the need. The rear seats leave much to be desired, especially when it comes to leg room. With the thickness of the front seatbacks, I was shocked at how little leg room there is in the back. Do NOT expect to fit four 6' adults in this thing comfortably. Frankly, this is not okay for a sedan of this length and size. Fortunately, I bought it mainly to transport my family (wife + 3 kids, aged 13, 11, 8), and for that it will do nicely. Another note is the incredibly uncomfortable bulge in the center back seat from the rotating armrest. It really needs some kind of support on the lower back portion. Other minor niggles include the frunk, which is decently large but does not have the handy bag hangers that the 3 had; and the somewhat limiting size of the main cupholders, which are considerably smaller than the 3 due to a flexible rubber liner that grips contents. It's enough for something barely larger than a 12oz can, but nothing bigger. I used to use my Tervis coffee cup for commutes to work in the mornings, and it won't fit in this. Note: it WILL fit in the side pocket, but that's not really intended to be a spot to hold drinks you're actively drinking.

Lighting in the MS is not great. The ambient lighting selector does very little, and frankly, even with it on it only makes the car look like what I would expect even a Honda Accord to look like at night. There's none of the user-adjustable fiber optic LED lighting that you'd see in even a basic Audi, or anything like that. It's really just a bit of lighting in the footwells. My unit had the issue with the console that plagues the majority of these as well, so it turns OFF when I open it.

Ergonomics: Some of this was covered in the interior section, but overall the ergos are very good. The seats are adequately adjustable and have an easy entrance profile that is automatically selected when you turn off the car to allow for easier egress, which I did find particularly handy with the wideness of the yoke. Visibility is great out of the front windshield due to the yoke unobstructing the binnacle and lower windshield. However, with this being a low-slung GT car, the A and C pillars are very oblique and result in massive blind spots. Thankfully, Tesla saw fit to add a small triangle of clear glass where the A pillar meets the beltline, and boy, is it needed. Visibility out of the back window is equally as poor as the 3, but not appreciably worse.

Looking back after about a week's worth of use, I felt as though I had acclimated to the yoke after about 2 minutes, but it wasn't true. For the majority of driving it's absolutely fine (preferable, in many situations), but I still feel a sense of trepidation that I shouldn't feel when I'm pulling into a parking lot that I know I'll need to back into a parking space in, especially if there's a car waiting for me. It's just one of those psychological things that makes your brain apprehensive about a task that you've (likely) been doing for decades with aplomb. For *some* things it's actually more comfortable than a wheel, particularly when you're on a highway or something and can rest your hand on one of the lower cross-members. I'm sure muscle memory and brain training will help with the parking lot situations, but it likely won't be quick.

The storage on the door pockets is great, and mirrors what I had on my M3P, and I like what they did with the center console, though I'll admit I think it's a bit...busy. There are no less than 4 different sliders, trays, hinged openings, etc to adjust and fiddle with in the everyday use of those compartments. It feels like they could have done a better job with it. Although I'll admit that it's nice having some of it divided up. The large center bin in my 2019 (pre-refresh) M3 just had a ton of stuff in it and it felt like a massive junk drawer that I needed to dig through if I was looking for something I didn't often need.

The rear seats improved a lot from pre-refresh but they still have some major issues. I hate that there are no provisions for cupholders or much storage at all for the passengers if you have someone in the center seat. With three kids, it's rare that I'll ever have the chance for them to use the armrest or charging pads for their phones. Worse, there are no magazine pockets on the seatbacks - they're just solid plastic, so the door pockets are it if you want storage. The kid in the center (cause no adult would ever put up with that seat as uncomfortable as it is) is just screwed. The ability of backseat passengers to adjust their own temp and seat heaters IS nice though, but it's nothing they couldn't do in my wife's 2017 Hyundai SUV...

The capacitive buttons on the yoke are the next contentious area, and I'll admit that I truly loathed them at first. After only a week's worth of use I've found myself completely adjusted to the use of the turn signals, which was 90% of my problem initially. I can find them easily without looking now, and I don't confuse one for the other as I did at first. My issues are with the other buttons, which don't feel intuitive at all, and given how infrequently they're used, I'm not sure if I'll ever feel fluent in their use. The horn is particularly galling. Tesla did add a function where you can mash the entire right side of the yoke with your palm to activate the wheel, but it doesn't emit a solid tone like the normal button. Further, I'd say the worst part about the capacitive buttons is how awkward they make using the dedicated scroll wheels/buttons. I feel like I need to be very careful activating them or I'm going to accidentally trigger a high beam flash or turn signal (in the case of the one on the left). They also feel unnaturally far inboard from the exterior of the yoke, but this could be perception. The last thing I'll mention (and this is common to ALL Teslas) is my complete hatred of the use of wheels as buttons. This is just REALLY poor ergo design, and I don't care how efficient it is.

Software: Unfortunately, this is where the S falls right on its face. I mean this without reservation: the refresh S has the worst UI and driver interface of ANY Tesla I've ever driven, including pre-refresh S and Model 3/Y. I could write a novel on how badly they screwed up with this UI, but I'll just list a few of the worst ways in the interest of brevity (too late, I know...):

1. With the new interface there is ZERO consumption reporting in real time. The energy app is completely missing, and the only way you have to even check consumption at all is the trip computer, which needs to be pulled up via the controls menu (more on this in #2), and even that is extremely limited in information content.

2. The controls menu is now essential to many functions of car monitoring since they did away with cards or other forms of monitoring like in the driver binnacle like the pre-refresh used to do. The main issue with this is when the controls menu is open, NOTHING else can be used on the entire 17" screen. They've actually gone so far as to BLUR the tiny bit remaining out so you can't use the map, audio controls, or anything while the controls menu is open. Tapping anywhere outside the controls menu card immediately closes it. So if you want to monitor your automatic suspension damping settings in real time, or check your tire pressures, or have your consumption monitor up, these few small bits of information are all you can see with your glorious 17" display.

3. The driver binnacle is 90% useless. I mean this. 70% of it is dedicated to a completely worthless FSD car driving environment display that you can glean nothing from if you don't have FSD (and who does?) This is nothing new to me as I had a M3P with FSD that never actually GOT FSD and it took up 40% of my 15" main display, so I'm not shocked by this stupid, stupid decision, but it's particularly galling in this case because of just how much it wastes the driver display. The only useful information on it is the time, the SoC, and the speedo. That's it. I simply cannot believe how badly this area of the car is overlooked. No song track info, no map (if you're not navigating somewhere), no side camera displays, no (real time) consumption meter like in the pre-refresh. Hell, from what I can tell, there isn't even a way to see how much my regen ability is degraded like I have on the 3 (solid line transitions to dotted line).

4. The rest of the UI is an absolute mess of ineffective placement, klugey design, and complete lack of forethought. The ONLY thing I like is the dockable audio "favorites" and "now playing" card. This IS handy, and they should embrace more stuff like it. Still, it's not enough. If I want to go into spotify to actually select a track, the card that opens up takes 70% of the screen, and there's no way to adjust this so that it shares more space with the map while its still fully usable. It's kinda all or nothing.

There are other areas where the car also fails, but I'm very hopeful they will be rectified through software updates. Most of these revolve around implementation of the rear seat display, which was a major selling feature for me as a father of three who often takes family trips in the Tesla. Main issues presently are: games can't be played in the back at all and there's no bluetooth headset connectivity for the rear audio channels. This is absurd, and should have been fixed within weeks of launch. These were advertised features and I have no clue when they'll roll out, but this is also typical Tesla.

Overall: The car is fantastic, and I'm sure I'll soon get the issues I'm having with it resolved. It wouldn't be a Tesla (in my experience) if there weren't those one or two things that bug you initially. My M3P was 95% trouble free, and I'm really hoping the S will be the same once I get these things dealt with. The way the S drives makes me feel like I've stepped from my M3 back into a BMW M5 with a bit less road feel: it's extremely planted and confident in turns, it's got GOBS of power, and it's a comfortable, smooth ride (unless you hit road imperfections). The tactile experience is second to none with the materials represented in the cabin. I particularly love the black alcantara headliner and wireless phone charger bays. The seats are firmer than the 3 but even more comfortable IMO and more closely match those of expensive euro makes. My issues with the UI and software notwithstanding, it's still a fantastic car that offers much more than 95% of other cars in the market, all things considered.

Overall, I'd give the MS LR in its current form a B+, but it clearly has the ability to get to an A or even A+ with some software changes.
I see you are located in MD. If your vehicle was delivered with summer tires Tesla owes you a set of all seasons free of charge.

Make a service appointment and have their mistake corrected.

Edit: never mind. I see you ordered the 21’s.
 

SilverGS

Active Member
Nov 3, 2016
1,892
1,122
Ontario
@Neon001 Thanks for the detailed review!! Very informative and non-biased!!👍👍👍

The main con that you've highlighted (IMO at least) is the UI - I sure hope this gets fixed over time. Even on my 2016 MS, the UI for the instrument cluster in front of the driver got a bunch of great tweaks in the last year, so hopefully this is just an "unfinished" UI that the refresh S has in order to get the car out.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Neon001

Neon001

Member
May 12, 2019
306
695
Md
It’s actually there… all the way at the bottom, below the FSD visualization, and hidden away behind the curvature of the binnacle. #v11fail
Haha, right! I did see that, but it's the regen limiter that I don't see. On the 3, the portion at the edge of the little line that's dashed indicates how much regen you can get. I.e. if 50% of the bar is dashed, you're limited to 50% regen, max.

I don't see that on the bar in the S, though it does give me the "it's cold out and your regen is limited" message. Maybe I just missed it because, as you say, it is difficult to see.
 

Neon001

Member
May 12, 2019
306
695
Md
Just adding additional brief comments (beyond my thanks for the great review, as stated above :)).

It seems like a very nice car, and something I would consider for our next car (except for the yoke, which unfortunately would be a deal-breaker for me). But one thing I find disappointing about it is your account of the lack of room in the back seats. That would be the prime thing that I would be looking to improve on compared with our current Model 3. Now the Model 3 is not terrible for back seating room - I have been back there myself with two other adults for a two hour trip - but it is not great either. I would have thought that the Model S would be great, and I am surprised that it is not.

But perhaps Tesla is reading the market for the vehicle and the market is 'luxury car' for well-off people who are probably beyond the 'young family years' and who realistically will usually have one our two people and their luggage in the vehicle. It is not really intended as a 'family hauler'. If you look at most of the higher end, large Mercedes and BMWs on the road, they are being driven by guys 50+ with maybe their wife in the passenger seat. So maybe Tesla is targeting that market, and for that reason back seat room is not a priority.

To tell the truth, I am in the above-described market segment. Nevertheless, if I were to buy the Model S (if Tesla someday offers a steering wheel as an option), I still would want the room in the back seat for occasions - admittedly which don't happen all that often - where we would be giving friends/guests a ride. While it would not be often, I would still like to think I could offer them comfort when it does happen. For the price of the vehicle, I should be able to do that.
To be clear, it is more leg room than the 3, but the reason I went with the S wasn't really the leg room as much as the seat width. Fitting three kids back there was just getting too tight for the 2.5 hr drive we often take to our vacation property. I haven't had the pleasure of taking the S on that drive yet, but we've definitely had all three back there driving around town and it certainly seems more spacious for them.

My wife and I took another couple out for dinner the other day in the S and it worked just fine with room to spare, but that's largely because my wife is 5' 1", and our lady friend is also in the shorter side. I think it'd really only be an issue if I were trying to take my guy friends somewhere (I'm 5'11" and three of them are 6'3" or taller).
 
  • Informative
Reactions: David29 and chinney
Haha, right! I did see that, but it's the regen limiter that I don't see. On the 3, the portion at the edge of the little line that's dashed indicates how much regen you can get. I.e. if 50% of the bar is dashed, you're limited to 50% regen, max.

I don't see that on the bar in the S, though it does give me the "it's cold out and your regen is limited" message. Maybe I just missed it because, as you say, it is difficult to see.
Ah I see what you mean. Since I'm not actually able to see that line from my seating possible, it hadn't occurred to me that the max regen dots no longer show. #lame
 
  • Like
Reactions: Neon001
To be clear, it is more leg room than the 3, but the reason I went with the S wasn't really the leg room as much as the seat width. Fitting three kids back there was just getting too tight for the 2.5 hr drive we often take to our vacation property. I haven't had the pleasure of taking the S on that drive yet, but we've definitely had all three back there driving around town and it certainly seems more spacious for them.

My wife and I took another couple out for dinner the other day in the S and it worked just fine with room to spare, but that's largely because my wife is 5' 1", and our lady friend is also in the shorter side. I think it'd really only be an issue if I were trying to take my guy friends somewhere (I'm 5'11" and three of them are 6'3" or taller).
Thanks for the additional clarification. I'll keep that in mind when considering our next vehicle choice.
 
I have 1200 miles on my Model S and agree with you on the stiff suspension. On anything other than smooth roads the ride can get uncomfortable, but the trade off is for surprisingly good handling for a car of this size and weight.

If Tesla could offer a real comfort mode and fix some dash/door/steering wheel rattles, this would be the best car I've ever purchased. I will definitely trade it in for any new updates or refreshes as I feel like they'll be able to eventually sort these issues out in future iterations.
 
Just adding additional brief comments (beyond my thanks for the great review, as stated above :)).

It seems like a very nice car, and something I would consider for our next car (except for the yoke, which unfortunately would be a deal-breaker for me). But one thing I find disappointing about it is your account of the lack of room in the back seats. That would be the prime thing that I would be looking to improve on compared with our current Model 3. Now the Model 3 is not terrible for back seating room - I have been back there myself with two other adults for a two hour trip - but it is not great either. I would have thought that the Model S would be great, and I am surprised that it is not.

But perhaps Tesla is reading the market for the vehicle and the market is 'luxury car' for well-off people who are probably beyond the 'young family years' and who realistically will usually have one our two people and their luggage in the vehicle. It is not really intended as a 'family hauler'. If you look at most of the higher end, large Mercedes and BMWs on the road, they are being driven by guys 50+ with maybe their wife in the passenger seat. So maybe Tesla is targeting that market, and for that reason back seat room is not a priority.

To tell the truth, I am in the above-described market segment. Nevertheless, if I were to buy the Model S (if Tesla someday offers a steering wheel as an option), I still would want the room in the back seat for occasions - admittedly which don't happen all that often - where we would be giving friends/guests a ride. While it would not be often, I would still like to think I could offer them comfort when it does happen. For the price of the vehicle, I should be able to do that.
I actually think the back seat has a lot of room. Much more room than my 2021 5 Series.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Proppilot
I have 1200 miles on my Model S and agree with you on the stiff suspension. On anything other than smooth roads the ride can get uncomfortable, but the trade off is for surprisingly good handling for a car of this size and weight.

If Tesla could offer a real comfort mode and fix some dash/door/steering wheel rattles, this would be the best car I've ever purchased. I will definitely trade it in for any new updates or refreshes as I feel like they'll be able to eventually sort these issues out in future iterations.
Agree with you. They really need a real comfort mode and my suspension can be bouncy and that is with 19’s.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Jabbahop and Sather

Products we're discussing on TMC...

About Us

Formed in 2006, Tesla Motors Club (TMC) was the first independent online Tesla community. Today it remains the largest and most dynamic community of Tesla enthusiasts. Learn more.

Do you value your experience at TMC? Consider becoming a Supporting Member of Tesla Motors Club. As a thank you for your contribution, you'll get nearly no ads in the Community and Groups sections. Additional perks are available depending on the level of contribution. Please visit the Account Upgrades page for more details.


SUPPORT TMC
Top