My first few hundred miles

LucyferSam

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 13, 2017
Messages
203
Location
Ames, IA
Tesla Owner
Model 3
Country
Country
#1
Picked up Blue Liion Friday morning at 10am in Eden Prairie, MN, and have since driven home to Ames, IA (218 miles) and too and from Iowa City (141 miles each way) all interstate driving plus a little bit of fun driving outside of town. The short review is pretty much as every other person who has driven the Model 3 has said: this car is bloody amazing. I've waited for something like this car for nearly 15 years since the first information about the Roadster came out, and it does not disappoint.

The delivery was a great experience, being the first customer delivery at the Eden Prairie SC, they were also very excited and the delivery specialist was knowledgeable about the car (though due to hanging out on these forms I knew almost all of what he told me already). I got the Deep Blue Metallic with Aero wheels and it was beautiful in person. The blue is considerably brighter than the blue on the '13 S, which I liked (I had thought they'd be identical and while I never had the cars side by side to compare the delivery specialist said it was a new color they liked better than the S) While we were there we got my dad's S looked at as he'd never had the motor bearing issue the early S's had that lead to a high pitched whine dealt with, and they were quick about the analysis and came to verify that they'd need to keep the car for a few days to swap out the motor as we were finishing up the overview of the 3. So, delivery paperwork done and S settled in for service, we got into the 3 to head out.

We made a few quick stops in the area and using navigation for routing worked great as soon as we figured out that pressing the compass would recenter and orient on the car. Hitting the highway, I was slightly startled that cruise control was not available until the autopilot sensor finished their calibration and figured I'd have to make the whole drive home fully manually. However, even more surprising and in conflict with what the manual states TACC became available for use a few miles down the highway and lane keeping a few miles after that, with no stop and restart required. I used the full autopilot, including automatic lane change, the rest of the way home and never want to go back to driving without it. It makes driving require so much less energy even as it enables a greater ability to scan a longer range for potential issues down the road. As far as the controls go, when I was in full autopilot mode, I didn't mind the controls for it all being on the touch screen. That said, when just using TACC and not lanekeeping, the speed adjustment should absolutely be moved to the right wheel. I'd also prefer the following distance be on the main screen rather than in a deeper menu when in autopilot, maybe where the speed control is now or off to the right of that in a vertical position so to provide a more natural feel for increasing/decreasing distance.

I used the navigation system to estimate if I would have the charge to make it home, and the final state of charge estimate was much more stable than the estimated range estimate in the S (my dad's S does not have navigation functionality turned on, so I have no idea if that functions in the same way it does on the 3). The estimated state of charge at destination ranged from 7-10% remaining, which was tighter than I was willing to cut it, so I stopped briefly at a super charger outside of Dows, IA, having averaged 303 Wh/mile at ~75 mph into a growing south wind (ambient temperature was ~45F). Charged for ~15 minutes which started at 107kW with 20% charge remaining and dropped to 95kW by the time it was at 65%. Had just long enough for the three of us to use the restroom, grab a drink and stretch my back before getting back in the car, and a total cost of $2.40. The rest of the way home the wind was still getting stronger and I bumped the speed up to 78 mph, leading to an average of ~330 Wh/mile.

After the first day of driving, I had two relatively minor complaints: the sensor on the steering wheel required me to use a lot more force than I normally apply with my hands while driving and so kept bugging me to keep my hands on the wheel even though they were already there, and the music player for using tracks off the USB is extremely rudimentary. Astonishingly, the next day when I made another drive the steering wheel was fixed. I don't know for sure if it was the software update (50.10 to 50.11) or that it had learned about my driving style from the day before, but on the drive to Iowa City it didn't once tell me to put my hands on the wheel when they were already there (I did test to verify that it was still working at all by taking my hands off entirely and it triggered in less than a minute). For the music player, I expect that it will be quite awhile before the get around to making that decent (allowing shuffle, playlists, etc) as right now I can play either everything in alphabetical order (with it freezing if it hits a track it can't process) or individual albums. Given that it took over a year after dad took delivery of his S for it to even get shuffle, I don't expect rapid progress on this as music playback does not seem to be a huge priority for them.

Day 2 driving to Iowa City was a breeze. As I said, the autopilot driver engagement sensor worked flawlessly this time and I did the entire trip only disengaging it when I had to take an exit (it wasn't quite up to the task of dealing with a an interchange in a lane that split between staying on the interstate and the exit ramp, though it could handle an exit fine if the lane was dedicated to exiting). I averaged somewhere in the 270's wh/mile with the TACC set to 79 mph with clear weather and a temp around 50F (tried to note the exact number, but have managed to forget it).

Day 3 driving home from Iowa City provided a few more chances for tests. It was cool, back down into the low 40's and a light misting rain. TACC and lane keeping worked great, dealing well with the rain and a truck accident that reduced us to one lane and stop and go for a half mile or so. Automatic lane changing, however, started to have trouble, sometimes aborting the lane change midway and returning to the original lane. After the third time it did this (about halfway through the trip) I dropped down to just using the TACC, which continued to work well the rest of the trip. Experiencing driving with the full autopilot function and just TACC during the same trip, for me the TACC accounts for ~80% of the improved driving experience of autopilot functions for at least the fairly short distances I was dealing with (about an hour in each setup). I suspect the lane keeping would be more important for very long drives and I look forward to doing some testing on that front. Traditionally I've set 10 hours of driving as the line between which I choose flying vs driving and after the first 2 days of using autopilot I suspect I'll increase that driving range (flying out of Des Moines is both expensive and slow as there is a minimum of one layover to go basically anywhere). At the very least it makes me a lot less likely to fly out of Des Moines for any flight as the drive to the Twin Cities is now so easy it's better than dealing with Des Moines airport.

On the whole, I'm thrilled with the car. After so long waiting and anticipating, it does not disappoint and while it was a bit more of a financial stretch than I'd normally make for a car I don't regret a single cent I spent on it.
 

TesLou

Well-Known Member
TOO Supporting Member
Joined
Aug 20, 2016
Messages
363
Location
Louisville, KY
Tesla Owner
Model 3
Country
Country
#6
Very nice review. Thanks for taking the time to share your first driving experiences. I’ll be curious to see if the lane keep functionality returns on its own. Could it be you had a dirty camera lens or sensor? You mentioned it was misting rain and I’m sure there was probably a lot of salt residue on the roads. Looking forward to seeing more posts about your car.
 

LucyferSam

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 13, 2017
Messages
203
Location
Ames, IA
Tesla Owner
Model 3
Country
Country
#7
Very nice review. Thanks for taking the time to share your first driving experiences. I’ll be curious to see if the lane keep functionality returns on its own. Could it be you had a dirty camera lens or sensor? You mentioned it was misting rain and I’m sure there was probably a lot of salt residue on the roads. Looking forward to seeing more posts about your car.
My guess based on reading about the system is that it couldn't reliably detect the far lane line through the rain, and it will terminate the operation if it doesn't detect that line by halfway through the lane change. Given that I expect it will still work just fine in clear conditions (which we haven't had again yet to test it...)
 

LucyferSam

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 13, 2017
Messages
203
Location
Ames, IA
Tesla Owner
Model 3
Country
Country
#8
Update 2 weeks in:
Still no regrets, still smiling and loving driving the car. While there have been a few OTA updates, they haven't made any major changes, I'm anxious to see what the first 2018 numbered update brings and hoping it addresses my only 2 minor issues with the car: USB playback control and preconditioning the battery while plugged in.

I've been getting used to Slacker for music largely because the USB playback won't even hold its place between drives, I have to manually start it every time I get in the car which is even more annoying than the lack of random play functionality (because really, for the most part alphabetical is a lot like random when you have >8000 songs loaded). Fortunately, Slacker is a pretty decent system to keep me in music until the USB playback functionality is up to par.

I did come up with a method to kind of cheat precondition the battery in the mornings - I set the charge target 10% lower than I want and when I get up I up the charge level to let it charge for the ~1h I spend getting ready. This didn't quite fully get the battery up to temp this morning when it was only 2F outside, but it got me about 50% usage of regen and eliminated the blue section of the battery bar. Mostly I like it because it is seriously weird going back and forth between having regen and not having regen. Scheduled charging could also probably be used to accomplish the same thing with a quick back calculation of how long it will take to charge from whatever state its in when I get home at night, but this works pretty well for now.

I've spent a bit more time with autopilot, and it continues to impress. The only time I've had it feel jerky is when I let it go around a tight cloverleaf ramp at 74mph (recommended speed 45 I think). I stayed ready to take over at a moments notice the whole time as I really didn't expect it to handle it, but other than some less than smooth adjustments around the bend it handled it without issue. The only other minor issue I've noticed is that it doesn't always update the speed limit changes very accurately, so mostly I set the speed manually which at this point is just another good reminder to be paying attention to the road. Overall I think this will greatly extend the range I'm willing to drive and am looking forward to testing that out, though it may be awhile before I find the time to do a road trip.

I've given a few more test rides, and everyone I've taken in it has been blown away by it, and have consistently thought the quality and capabilities lined up very well with the price. A number of more performance car oriented friends have commented on how smooth the ride is, which it really is despite a fairly stiff suspension. The seats are comfortable enough to moderate impact of the stiffness of the suspension on comfort and the smooth accel and turning just make it a joy to drive or ride in (at least in the front seat, the back seat is a bit more bumpy). By far the most startling reaction to me of the people I've shown it to and given rides is the number of compliments the wheels have gotten. I have aero wheels on a blue car and many people have commented how much they like them. I'd originally intended to plasti-dip or paint them to make the grey a brighter silver, and I may still but they are way better dark than I thought they would be.
 

Tom Hudson

Active Member
TOO Supporting Member
Joined
Dec 20, 2017
Messages
100
Location
Port Washington, Wisconsin
Country
Country
#10
Thanks for the reports. Not being previous Tesla owners, my wife and I are patiently waiting for our chance to configure. We reserved on April 3, 2016. The fun part is seeing how EVs have "arrived" at long last. Our EV is a 1997 Solectria Force, which with the lithium-ion batteries I upgraded to a few years back, gets around 80 miles per charge. Hard to believe it'll be 21 years old this year -- it has a lot of unibody rust on it now but we're figuring it'll hold together until we get the 3. I did some road trip experiments with the Force back when it had lead-acids in it, stopping to charge at RV parks etc (story here: http://portev.org/solectria/ho/amherst.htm). Reading about using Superchargers is so awesome when we had to just wing it.

We're actually down in Kansas City right now (in our "only" 17-year-old 2000 Honda Insight hybrid) and will be driving back to Wisconsin on Sunday -- coming through Des Moines on I-80 so won't be too far from you. Any chance we could stop by and see the 3? :)
 

LucyferSam

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 13, 2017
Messages
203
Location
Ames, IA
Tesla Owner
Model 3
Country
Country
#11
Thanks for the reports. Not being previous Tesla owners, my wife and I are patiently waiting for our chance to configure. We reserved on April 3, 2016. The fun part is seeing how EVs have "arrived" at long last. Our EV is a 1997 Solectria Force, which with the lithium-ion batteries I upgraded to a few years back, gets around 80 miles per charge. Hard to believe it'll be 21 years old this year -- it has a lot of unibody rust on it now but we're figuring it'll hold together until we get the 3. I did some road trip experiments with the Force back when it had lead-acids in it, stopping to charge at RV parks etc (story here: http://portev.org/solectria/ho/amherst.htm). Reading about using Superchargers is so awesome when we had to just wing it.

We're actually down in Kansas City right now (in our "only" 17-year-old 2000 Honda Insight hybrid) and will be driving back to Wisconsin on Sunday -- coming through Des Moines on I-80 so won't be too far from you. Any chance we could stop by and see the 3? :)
If you are up for taking the slight diversion up to Ames I'd be glad to show you the car.
 

LucyferSam

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 13, 2017
Messages
203
Location
Ames, IA
Tesla Owner
Model 3
Country
Country
#13
If you are up for taking the slight diversion up to Ames I'd be glad to show you the car.
I should add that this goes for anyone interested who happens to be in or passing through Iowa. Shoot me a PM anytime and if possible I'll make some time to show you the car. I don't have the time to travel a lot but I'm glad to do what I can to get people some time with the car before they order!