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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:

glide

Well-Known Member
Jun 6, 2018
5,019
6,979
USA
I won't call the energy app completely missing - it is true that it is nowhere to be found in the UI, but if I say "open energy app" using voice control, it does show up. Guess the app is there but Tesla is not ready to let it out?
The energy graph just showed up last week via voice command. OP’s review was from January.

As far as I can tell, that’s the only item Tesla has “fixed” since then.
 
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.

View attachment 763755

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):

View attachment 763799

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.

View attachment 763800

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.

View attachment 763801

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.

View attachment 763802

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.
Great review and as a new Tesla owner, I agree that the UI is really, really bad. Media UI is horrible and lack of Media/interface on drivers console is really bad. Tesla really needs to improve this asap or I will just sell my car. Sure they don’t care, but other new Tesla owners will feel the same.
My reaction exactly, I went from loving my Teslas to hating this car. I sold my 2021 after six months for $5k more than I paid for it and bought an EQS which is FABULOUS.
 

raygduncan

Member
Supporting Member
Jan 2, 2019
42
32
Los Angeles, CA
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.
Definitely not my experience with the suspension. i had a Model 3 dual motor long range for 3 years before trading it in on the refreshed Model S with 19" wheels, and the suspension seems much better to me. It still feels solid on the road, but more smoothing of bumps and bad pavement, generally less tiring than the Model 3 on long road trips. Noise control is also better.

I don't like the buttons on the yoke. Several times I've blown the horn by accident and startled people when I didn't mean to, i still have to glance down even for turn signals which was never an issue with the stalk, although the smarter turn signals that turn themselves off after a lane change are nice. Selecting the direction on the main screen is just crazy. I haven't been able to use valet parking since I got the new car (and there are some places in LA where it's almost unavoidable), it's too much to explain, even putting the car in valet mode so the buttons on the console light up just isn't obvious to them at all. I guess there aren't enough of these cars around yet for them to be familiar with them.
 
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