I test drove a Tesla Model X and it was awesome!

Aibohphobia

Jessica. Wayward SFF.n Founder
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As mentioned in the "What did you do today" thread I was able to test drive a Tesla earlier today.

Backstory

This started yesterday morning when on a whim I checked to see if there was a Tesla store near where we're staying while I visit my sister and if they offered test drives. Turned out there was and they did. The website showed all day today being available so I held off on reserving a time until I was sure when I would be able to get there. It wasn't until that afternoon when I was sure on a time so I went back to the website to reserve it and found that now the next available time listed now wasn't until Monday at 9am, after I would have already boarded the flight back home :(

So I called up the store to see if by chance someone had canceled their appointment and there was a slot available that wasn't on the website. However, the lady I talked to said they didn't really have anything going on and I could just walk in whenever o_O I went ahead and made an appointment just to be sure though :p

Sooo, if any of you want to test drive a Tesla and there isn't any time slots that work for you listed on the website, just give the store a call. It seems the website isn't very accurate in this regard.



Anyway, so we get there a bit late due to stopping by Samy's Camera (great store by the way, prices are competitive and they'll take whatever lenses you're interested in and throw it on a demo camera body for you to test out) to pick up a wide angle lens for her camera so she could record some video from inside the car. But it turns out Tesla's policy is to not allow passengers to take video during test drives, reason being the video camera could become a projectile inside the cabin in the event of a crash. You win some, you lose some. I was just glad I was able to get a test drive at all so I wasn't going to complain XD

/Backstory

I originally intended to test drive the Model S since it would be somewhat comparable in driving experience to the Model 3 but they had an X available so I figured I'd do that instead since they're still somewhat rare. Plus I currently drive an older Toyota 4Runner so I'm used to a SUV.


After signing some paperwork (or rather, an iPad) you get a overview of the car's features. So in this case the Falcon Wing doors, Ultra White interior option, adjustable seats, etc. I didn't pay that much attention since I was already familiar with most of this stuff from reading about it but those Falcon Wing doors are really impressive to see in person :)

After the overview it's time to take the car on the road. The Tesla owner advisor has to ride with you during the test drive and he/she will decide the route. From what I was reading it's typically a mix of city and highway to show off the car's handling.

Being an electric car, of course there is no ignition switch. Instead, you just need the car's keyfob on you in order to be able to drive the car. As a handy backup, you can use a smartphone app to start the car also, this requires cell reception to work though so if you forget your fob and the Tesla is parked at the bottom of a parking garage you may be SOL.

Since the Tesla guy had the car's fob on him so all I had to do was depress the brake pedal and press down on the "shifter" to switch to Drive. It may seem obvious, but you really don't realize what it means to drive an electric vehicle until you press on the "gas" pedal and the car moves forward without a sound. It's a really strange sensation since your brain expects to hear engine noise and it just isn't there.

One we pulled out of the parking lot we went up the street a bit to a stop sign, and then made a hairpin turn onto a highway entrance ramp. I didn't notice what the speedometer was reading but I purposely took the turn a bit faster than I would normally and the Model X corners like a champ due to the battery pack giving the frame rigidity and a lower center of gravity than you would expect for a car of this size.

After getting on the onramp I pressed the gas pedal down to get up to speed to merge and wow. Just wow. I didn't floor it like you see in some Youtube videos but even so, that feeling of immediate response from the car is just amazing. There is no hesitation at all, you press the accelerator and the car does just that, it accelerates. The owner advisor used the term "effortless" and it really is.

With electric cars like the Tesla's, accelerating is loads of fun (I was all too sad when the drive ended) but decelerating is interesting too. They have a feature called regenerative braking where when the accelerator pedal is let go, the electric motors will be used as electric generators instead. This converts the kinetic energy of the moving vehicle to electricity to recharge the batteries slightly. The amount of electricity gained isn't huge, but it has the useful side effect of acting like a brake and slowing the car down, saving wear and tear on the actual brakes. It's a win-win.

The test drive cars are typically setup with the regen braking set to "low". This makes the car behave more like a conventional vehicle where it will coast somewhat if you let your foot off the accelerator. I had the setting changed to "standard" regen braking before starting out to get a feel for how the car is meant to be driven. After driving on the highway for a bit the owner advisor had me take an exit and at this point I made a conscious effort to let the regen braking do most of the work (at the previous stops I had accidentally used just the brakes out of habit). The standard regen braking definitely takes some getting used to but by the end of the drive I was getting the hang of it and it's really neat. With it on the standard setting it is fairly aggressive and will easily slow the vehicle down from 60mph (100km/h) to 20mph (30km/h) by itself. BTW, with either setting, letting off the accelerator will cause the brake lights to turn on since the regen braking system kicks in right away.

Anyway, it's getting late so I'll just end here. If you have any questions let me know and I'll try to respond tomorrow.

Big shoutout to Dan for answering all my questions and letting me take the Model X for a spin!

TL;DR Test drove a Model X, it was awesome.
 
Last edited:

Phuncz

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BTW, with either setting, letting off the accelerator will cause the brake lights to turn on since the regen braking system kicks in right away.
This isn't standard for (most) automatics, correct ? Because I use this ability in manual cars all the time, which works if you anticipate well in front of you to slow down slightly without needing to brake abruptly, but when the car does this at a higher rate, I can understand why they'd do this.
 

iFreilicht

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This isn't standard for (most) automatics, correct ? Because I use this ability in manual cars all the time, which works if you anticipate well in front of you to slow down slightly without needing to brake abruptly, but when the car does this at a higher rate, I can understand why they'd do this.

If you're talking about the engine brake (shifiting down and letting go of the accelerator to slow the vehicle), you can enforce that with automatics by manually setting the gear to something low, but normally when you accelerate and let go, the automatic will clutch and just let the car roll on, like you would normally do with a hand shifter.

But from what I know, neither automatic nor manual shifts will turn the break lights on when you're using the engine brake, which is somewhat of a problem as you can slow down quite fast using that technique.
 

Aibohphobia

Jessica. Wayward SFF.n Founder
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Feb 22, 2015
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This isn't standard for (most) automatics, correct ? Because I use this ability in manual cars all the time, which works if you anticipate well in front of you to slow down slightly without needing to brake abruptly, but when the car does this at a higher rate, I can understand why they'd do this.

Right, normal cars do not turn on the brake lights just from letting go of the gas pedal. Even the "low" regen setting on the Tesla is a more aggressive slow-down than coasting with normal cars hence why it turns on the brake light.

I do the same thing with coasting in anticipation of having to stop so I'm not sure how it would work in the Tesla since I only got to drive it for like 15 minutes. My suspicion is with practice you could just barely press the accelerator and get some of the same effect but I'm not sure.
 

Phuncz

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Ah that seems reasonable. My dad's Toyota hybrid doesn't decelerate that much differently when you come off the throttle, in EV mode and in hybrid mode. It does have a specific gearbox setting for hill descent which applies more regenerative braking, but it does not activate the brake light.
 

EdZ

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May 11, 2015
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So the Tesla's pedal work more like a set-target-speed pedal than the normal set-engine-power control of an ICE vehicle?
 

BirdofPrey

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Sep 3, 2015
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One of the big things to note about electric cars is just how much torque electric motors can provide, and it's not very dependent on motor speed, plus there is minimal, if any, gearing, so even when you get a car that's heavier than standard due to a battery pack, if enough power is being provided they have pretty good acceleration.

Having it brake when you let off the accelerator sounds odd, though. I'm certainly used to coasting with the accelerator pedal not depressed, and hadn't heard of a car that uses regenerative braking when you weren't actually braking.