Tesla Model S: Almost a Luxury Car

This year’s birthday was spectacular. On the eve of I bought a new Tesla Model S, and the day of I was with family and friends watching the Dodgers treat opening day like it was the home run derby. Mom made us dinner, so I didn’t have to fuss in my own kitchen nor sit in a restaurant that I had no interest in visiting. Perfect.

I got rid of the BMW a few months ago, and nothing struck my fancy so I went back to Fair.com for a Mercedes SL. It was fast and fun, and it held me over until I could decide if I wanted to take my son’s car in the fall or buy something new.

Cars are tricky for me. I love to lease them but three years sometimes feels like a very long time. Of course, leasing is a fiscal disaster, but purchases mean maintenance and a bit of work when it’s time to get rid of the car.

I’d driven the Model S several times. Once about five years ago we tried to like it, but we couldn’t justify the price while the interior was lackluster. We leased a 6 Series sedan instead. Three years after that I tried even harder to like the Model S and the team in Glendale gave us one for four days, my husband found the seats to be uncomfortably narrow.

Last week I went to one of the showrooms that are closing to kick the tires once again. I figured I’d drive the Model 3 (I didn’t enjoy it at all) and explained that I was trying to like it. I told the sales lady that I enjoyed the Model S, but I didn’t love it. I felt like the price was wrong for a vehicle where you can’t even adjust the seatbelt and have to buy one of those ridiculous clip things to lower it off your neck as my mom did in 1974 for her Toyota Corolla Wagon.

Seatbelt lap adjuster

We talked a little more, and she seemed to understand what did and didn’t work for me in the Model S. I gave her my number and left. An hour later I got a phone call asking me how I felt about red cars.

I feel just fine about red cars.

 

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I made a decision today. #newcar

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You say “flashy,” I say “mine!”

The next thing I know she is guiding me to a demo. You see, Tesla is shuttering a whole host of their showrooms, and the demo cars are available. With a discount that was the equivalent of a small car, the Tesla Model S started to make a lot of sense. If I hated it, I could sell it pretty quickly and easily. I also knew that because it was a demo, I’d end up with all the software updates early.

I love to drive. I’d rather redline a Honda Civic than dawdle along in a Porsche. I’m all for hooning, drifting, and emergency braking on a wet track or a dusty flat.

So I shocked myself when I found out that what I really love in Los Angeles traffic is autopilot.

I don’t love it a little; I love it a lot.

I live in a car city where driving is unpleasant. I’m stuck going 16mph on the freeway when I should be enjoying the fact that the fastest (non-supercar) vehicle I’ve ever driven is the one I own. But I can’t. So I’ll enjoy the fact that I’m driving a computer with wheels.

I bought the Tesla because the updates are automatic.

Many of the reasons I wanted to get new cars are no longer relevant. Leasing won’t give me the same joy, a purchase made sense. The Atari on the dashboard is a fun addition, but the autopilot is magnificent.

Tesla delivery is an abomination.

The guy was an hour late, hostile, and not remotely apologetic. I clearly didn’t have a wall charger yet, and I was delivered a car with less than 50% charge. My referral code has not been entered, so I’m owed 1,000 miles of supercharging that I’m not hopeful I’ll receive (maybe $60-$100 worth depending on the location).

The car needs a few things done as it was a demo and the man I spoke to in the service department could only apologize and tell me that it’s not my imagination. Calling the Tesla phone number is not worth your time. No one answers and customers are guided to online support where emails are replied to days later with no actionable response.

But there’s a bright spot. The showrooms (please keep some of them open Tesla!) overflow with helpful to earnest sales reps. These are the people who will happily sit in the car they did not personally sell to you and walk you through every feature offered. This includes the Atari and auto parking, which is an awful lot like the Ford auto parking that’s been available for more than seven years.

If you love driving, Tesla will take some adjustment to your mindset. Tesla isn’t a car; it’s a computer with wheels.

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