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Trip Report - 3,100 Mile Roadtrip in Tesla Model S

JPQuick

New Member
Jul 13, 2021
1
1
Raleigh, NC
This week I completed a 3,100 mile family road trip in my 2020 Tesla Model S LR.

Driving at normal highway speeds +5 – 10 mph with 4 passengers and luggage, I logged an effective driving range of 300 – 320 miles vs. estimated vehicle range of 400 miles.
With free unlimited supercharging, I was able to complete the entire zero-emission trip at a total fuel cost of $0.

Based on my trip experience, I wholeheartedly recommend this vehicle for long road trips.

A more detailed trip report follows below.


RELIABILITY

I encountered no issues with the vehicle during the trip.

The only maintenance required is a tire rotation. I also had to refill the windshield washer fluid.


PAINT DAMAGE

Due to a tight schedule and rainy weather conditions, I was unable to wash the vehicle until the conclusion of the trip.

The vehicle is unwrapped with factory finish.

A thick layer of black road grime accumulated on the trunk lid, back bumper, and rear diffuser.

As expected, the front bumper was a bug magnet.

Some road grime accumulated around the wheel wells and along the bottom edge of each side of the car.

I manually washed the vehicle at the conclusion of the trip and found no paint damage.


PASSENGER COMFORT

The driver seat in a Model S is easily the most comfortable car seat I have ever encountered.

The only real downside is entry and exit from the vehicle. The vehicle sits low and requires passengers to exercise a fair amount of twisting, bending, and pushing to position themselves in each seat.

My 15 year old daughter reported that she was uncomfortable in the backseat, which apparently caused some level of back pain.

Climate control was right on the mark throughout the trip, despite outdoor temperatures that ranged into the high nineties.

Spotify, audio streaming, and Sirius XM worked well throughout the trip.

LTE connectivity was good in most cases, although there were a few dropouts in mountainous areas.

Road noise was minimal and ride quality was excellent.


CARGO CAPACITY

Cargo capacity was more than adequate for two large garment bags, a duffle bag, shoe bags, gifts, and various trip essentials.

The frunk was useful mainly for carrying umbrellas, baseball caps, hats, a large backpack, and souvenirs we accumulated along the way.


SUPERCHARGING

The entire road trip was completed using Tesla Super Chargers along my route.

Tesla’s NAV system automatically calculates Super Charger locations for vehicle stops based on your route and expected energy consumption. Navigation system recommendations were on-target, although some of the recommended stops would have left me with less than 15% charge remaining upon arrival.

I often manually selected Super Charger stops that would allow the vehicle retain at least 25% of battery capacity.

Typical driving time between Super Charger stops was between 2.5 – 3 hours, which roughly aligned with required stops for meals and bathroom breaks.

Most supercharging stops to reach 90% - 95% of battery capacity can be completed in 30 – 45 minutes.

All of the supercharger locations we visited had available bays for charging. We were able to park the vehicle and begin supercharging without any wait time.

During stops at lunchtime and dinnertime we lingered a bit longer to fully charge the vehicle. Fully charging the vehicle to 100% of battery capacity requires a supercharger visit of 60 – 75 minutes.

With a few exceptions, most of the Super Charger locations we visited were located near good restaurants, shopping, and public restrooms.

One nice feature that often escapes attention in vehicle reviews is the ability to automatically view restaurants and other facilities near each Super Charger stop in advance of arrival.


TESLA AUTOPILOT

I used Tesla Autopilot for 50% - 60% of the journey.

Autopilot performed well in clear conditions on straight roads with moderate curves. Automatic lane changes were generally performed correctly.

Autopilot struggled with tight curves, speeding drivers in the passing lane, construction zones, bad weather and unconventional highway lane markings.

I recommend against using Tesla's more advanced beta “Navigate on Autopilot” feature at this time. Auto-steer into exits was often abrupt and speed limit changes at each exit were not automatically detected. For some reason, vehicle centering in the driving lane was skewed to the left when using this feature. “Navigate on Autopilot” also produces excessive prompts and notifications while driving, which I found distracting.
 
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Richbot

Member
Oct 16, 2020
455
370
STL
Interesting about your autopilot experience. My '21 XLR+ was rock-solid in the atrocious fog/rain I had on my last roadtrip in autopilot. The only things that seemed to trip it up were rain PLUS multiple lane markers due to construction (ground-off paint lines and such confuse it in the rain and in the dry, but it handles it much better in the dry). I don't have FSD enabled, maybe FSD is a bit more conservative and/or the weather-related limitations show up more in auto lane change and such. Or maybe the X's higher ride height just gives it a better angle to pick up lane markers?

Your feedback on nav-on-autopilot doesn't surprise me, that's exactly my experience in other Teslas, it's not fully baked yet

Also, agree with your assessment of the paint quality/survivability in road rash following traffic etc. Mine has two rock chips in 9000+ miles. Glad I didn't pay $3k for a wrap or whatever

Supercharging beyond about 80% seemed pointless unless we just didn't mind hanging out at the stop - quicker to just leave and hit another SC for 5 minutes than wait 30 minutes to get from 80 to 95
 

2101Guy

Active Member
Jan 6, 2020
2,036
2,519
USA
Great writeup.
Some have found this to be better at route planning than Tesla's navigation.


However, you could have saved yourself some fairly significant charging time by not overriding TEsla's stops (even at 15%, thats a lot of cushion for miles) and not charging past 70-80%. It may have prompted you for 1 or 2 more supercharging stops, but overall time spent at the stops would be less

Agreed on PPF being a fairly expensive overhyped product right now. And actually, its going to be more than $3k to fully PPF any Tesla. I've driven many cars for lots of miles, and at sale time, never had any issues at all with excess chips. I also took about an hour last year learning how to use Dr. Colorchip paint touchup. If you take your time and do it correctly (including light sanding around the edges of a deep chip) you can effectively reduce the visibility of most of those tiny chips up front by almost 95%. For a fraction on of the price of PPF.
 

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