Tesla Test Drive Highlights Speed, Quirks of Unique Vehicle

Sixty grand for the Tesla 3. Yep. Well, actually it was about $57,000, close enough. Was it worth it?

After writing articles about autonomous vehicles for the past 3 years, it was nice to finally ride in one. My friend Joel offered to take down the highway in his three-week-old Tesla Model 3. The first thing I noticed was there wasn’t that new car smell inside. The second thing I noticed was it was very spartan and unappointed in the cabin.

No buttons, no switches, no engine/water/oil lights flashing when the engine kicked over. Just one 17-inch computer screen situated just to the right of the driver on the dash.

Joel’s Tesla has twin electric motors that make it go from a full stop to 60 mph in 4 seconds or past two-and-a-half houses on the neighborhood street we were starting on. When he floored it, it pushed me back in the seat just like a 1969 Dodge Roadrunner with a 440 Hemi engine in it. I hadn’t felt that much power since the aforementioned Roadrunner my friend in high school got from his father as a graduation present. This car is fast and quiet. Unnervingly quiet.

The Tesla 3 moves faster than the average car.

The sunroof is more like the glass ceiling mentioned in women’s rights discussions, but this is for real. The sun/moon roof runs from the top of the front window all the way back to the top of the trunk. It’s all-sky-above-you to gaze upon.

The fully charged battery on this car gives Joel 310 miles of driving range. He had to have his electrician rewire his garage from 110 to 220 volts of power to charge it, however. He found it takes about 4 to 5 hours to charge up for 200 miles of driving. The computer tells him where the nearest public charging stations are. One interesting note is when he charges at a public station, he needs to stay vigilant. If the battery fully charges and he doesn’t move the vehicle within 5 minutes, Tesla begins charging HIM money for the delay in moving out of the way so someone else can charge up. “Time is money” is definitely a thing with Tesla.

One very cool feature was the private valet. By using his smartphone, Joel started the vehicle and had it back out of the parking spot by itself for us to get inside more easily. Even when parking, the outside door mirrors fold in by themselves. So there are cool tricks the car can perform.

He used the driverless feature for a short distance. Very cool, but it made me nervous, even though he kept his hands on the wheel. That’s another feature: the computer screen notifies you when you have taken your hands off of the wheel.

The quiet in the car was different from any gas-powered ride I’d ever taken. I didn’t hear or even feel the rhythm of the engine like I do in gas guzzlers. Even if it’s not hugely perceptible there is a rhythm that a person develops with the vehicle they drive. The sound or the chugging of the engine is missing in a Tesla.

The only real issue I had with the Tesla was with the driver. Joel was still learning how to operate this vehicle and having controls and information updates on that computer screen meant that Joel had to stop paying attention to the road we were on and start to pay too much attention to the screen. Everything is dependent on the screen. Radio, phone, information on the operation of the car, even the climate control all depend on the driver interacting with the screen. Not the best idea Musk ever had, in my honest opinion. Of course, Joel could have read the instruction manual in advance, but where’s the fun in that?

However, traveling in a Tesla was definitely a futuristic experience, and I heard the theme song going off in my head as I entered the car. “Meet George Jetson…”

I really appreciated Joel giving me the opportunity to experience such a beautiful transportation creation. It’s completely different from any ride I’ve ever taken, with the possible exception of going to a Disney theme park. Once Joel masters the operations, I am sure I’ll be reading about him racking up speeding tickets because that baby is fun to put the pedal to the metal and cruise. So let her rip, Joel, but keep your hands on the wheel.

For a story that explains some of the misgivings people still have about the Tesla automobile, click here.

I still have some reservations about the car, but I’m 75% won over. Now if I can just find the 60 grand to spare.