Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Model S has no CD player, no wheel locks and hidden cruise-control stalk from hell

At the gym, I complete for spaces with a large number of other members who drive smelly, gas-guzzling SUVs, below.




By VICTOR E. SASSON
EDITOR

Tesla's Model S is an all-electric car worthy of superlatives.

Acceleration is effortless, even in the base model I've owned since mid-April, leaving most other cars, whether gasoline-powered or hybrid, fading in my rear-view mirror.

When I approach the car in my garage, with the Model S-shaped key in my pocket, the lighted chrome door handles extend, locks are released and the radio goes on.

A Tesla app on my smart phone allows me to turn on the climate-control system a few minutes before I'm ready to go.

Stop to start

You don't have to push a button or turn a key to start the Model S. 

Just press on the brake pedal, a move drivers are accustomed to since the unintended-acceleration controversy involving Audis. 

California-based Tesla Motors says the Model S has the highest safety rating in America. Take that, Volvo.



The smart key for my Model S atop its leather holder. Even when in the holder, pressing the key's "roof" opens and closes the four doors, pressing the "hood" opens the front storage compartment and pressing the "trunk" opens the hatchback.



No CD player

The luxurious Model S, a four-door hatchback, has a 17-inch touchscreen in the middle of the dashboard, and lots of controls on the steering wheel -- fan speed, radio volume and so forth.

You don't need a CD player, because you have a subscription to Slacker Radio, and you can simply ask for whatever you want to hear, such as Miles Davis or other favorites.


No wheel locks

Nor did my Model S 60 have wheel locks. So, I ordered them through the parts department in Paramus, N.J.. They cost $60.

There's no spare tire, either, but I'm told Tesla's 24-hour road service trucks carry replacement wheels and tires to swap with yours.


Starbucks Coffee

I stopped at the Paramus Showroom and Service Center on Tuesday afternoon for help with the touch-screen controls and to see if my wheel locks had come in.

An employee called in from a nearby Starbucks to take an order from other workers, and the invitation was extended to me, so I ordered a tall latte with skim milk.

Later, as I was waiting for my car to charge at one of the free Superchargers, a Tesla owner came in asked where he could find a car wash.

He said he had left Minnesota on Sunday and was headed to his final destination, Kingston, N.Y. His car was a Model S Signature edition, one of the first thousand made in 2012.

Roger, one of the employees, said they would wash his car for free. 



The cruise-control stalk in the 2010 Toyota Prius my wife now drives is visible through the steering wheel spokes. Japan's No. 1 automaker has used the same easy to see and use cruise-control  system for decades, and it can be found across the entire Toyota and Lexus lines, as well as in some Subarus.


Cruise control

I became a big fan of cruise control during a July 4, 2004, trip to Lorain, Ohio, in my first Toyota Prius, a 2004 in burgundy.

I used it the entire way, averaging 57.1 miles per gallon in the gas-electric hybrid. I made the 497-miles trip from Englewood, N.J., on less than a tank of gas. 

You can still find the same easy to see and use cruise control across the entire Toyota line, as well as in Lexus luxury models.

Despite all of the great foward-looking features in the Model S, Tesla Motors dropped the ball on the cruise-control stalk, which is hidden behind one of the steering wheel spokes.

I suppose once I memorize how it works, it won't be a problem, but for now it's a rare design flaw.

Still, from the way the Model S looks and drives, and from my independence from the oil companies, responsible for so much of the misery in the world, I can argue that I bought the best car in the world.



Sign on the wall at Tesla Showroom on Route 17 in Paramus, N.J. Or you could pay well over twice as much for a Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG Sedan with a twin-turbo V-12, but still get left in the dust by the fastest production sedan ever made. The Mercedes, with an MSRP of $222,000, is a full second slower to 60 mph than the Model S P85D. LOL.