- Tesla’s vehicles are generally impressive.
- But they aren’t perfect. The Model 3, Model S, Model X, the original Roadster, Model Y, and Cybertruck all have disappointing flaws.
- Here’s a rundown of everything I don’t much like about the vehicles, from charging times to cramped seats to weak design.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
I’m a big fan of Tesla’s vehicles. For the most part. As impressive as they are, not just as electric cars but as stunning automobiles, they aren’t devoid of disappointing flaws.
No vehicle is. Porsche 911 owners have been complaining for decades about the tiny back seats of the greatest sports car ever made. Lexus owners might still grouse that the ride on their million-mile sedan is sort of floaty.
Nothing is perfect, in other words.
In Tesla’s case, I went back over all the vehicles I’ve driven or assessed in some way and rounded up their flaws.
Here’s the rundown:
I’m a big fan of Tesla’s vehicles. I’ve driven almost all of them, and I actually think the Model 3 might be the most idea-packed automobile ever produced. But I still have some issues.
The ultra-minimalist Model 3 interior sets a tone. If you like an uncluttered life, it’s for you. If you enjoy some buttons and knobs because they’re easier to use than touchscreen technology, then you’re going to have a fraught relationship with the Model 3.
The Model 3 has a glorious glass roof, but to make it work, the fastback hatch is sacrificed. Thus, the Model 3 has a truck lid with a large cutout.
And that’s in exchange for a pretty stock 15 cubic feet of cargo capacity.
The front trunk, or frunk, makes up for it. But that does mean you have two hatches to deal with.
Most of the Model 3’s vehicle functions are consolidated in a central, landscape touchscreen that sits in the middle of the vehicle’s dashboard.
In a week of testing, I grew tired of always having to interact with screen. It didn’t damage my overall impression of the Model 3, but to this day I long for more buttons whenever I test a vehicle that’s following the Model 3’s lead.
The Model 3 has an aftermarket wireless charging option that owners can purchase, but the stock 3 lacks the feature, which has become fairly standard on luxury vehicles.
The Model 3’s steering wheel eliminated numerous multifunction buttons that are now common. Instead, you get two thumb-wheels, which have to perform several duties apiece. Some folks love the iPhone-ish simplicity of this arrangement. I’m not one of them.
The Model S, in some ways, is Tesla’s masterpiece: it’s the first clean-sheet design, introduced in 2012. Not much to complain about, but …
… the Model S gave us both Insane acceleration mode and later Ludicrous Mode. These features are amazing. Ludicrous Mode yields a 0-60 mph time that’s faster than some supercars. But this is a SEDAN! Unless you want to tie everything down, your Ludicrous runs might become more few and far between.
The Model S is a slow, slow charger when you’re using a basic wall outlet. It’s true “trickle” charging, about one mile per minute. In practice, unless you have a lot of time to kill, it’s barely worth it.
The Model X is Tesla’s most dramatic, high-tech vehicle. It’s defined by its upswinging, falcon-wing rear doors.
They are cool. But they have to deploy every single time you want to get in and out. After a few days of testing the Model X, I found myself wishing there was a more straightforward, old-school door option.
The Model X has a third-row option. But because the SUV isn’t a proper full-size ute, there’s almost no space back there for normal-sized adult humans.
Charging for Teslas is both a virtue and a curse. The company’s global Supercharger network is widespread and enables fast-charged road trips that exceed its vehicles’ already considerable range.
But the fastest charge can still consume an hour, depending on how depleted the battery is. And while Teslas can calculate how long to charge, based on how a trip has been plotted, it’s always longer than a five-minute fill-up in a gas-powered car.
Like the Model 3, much of the Model X’s functions are managed via a huge touchscreen, with a portrait layout just like the Model S. And like the Model 3, one develops a love-hate relationship with the setup.
The original Roadster was Tesla’s first car, and it was groundbreaking: sexy and fast, miles beyond the glorified golf carts that electric vehicles had been.
But it also had perhaps the worst infotainment system in all of cardom, even by the standards of the early 2000s.
The Roadster was also a fairly pure sports car: heavy steering, a stiff ride, and zero versatility.
The Model Y is Tesla’s newest vehicle — and the crossover SUV is the company’s first unattractive effort.
Compact crossovers tend to be unimpressive visually, anyway. But compared with Tesla’s current lineup, the Model Y is the ugly duckling.
I’m of two minds about Tesla’s semi-self-driving system, Autopilot. On the one hand, it has incredible potential, even though I don’t think it’s now much more than advanced cruise control.
The problem is that it’s rather tiring to use. It demands a high level of driving attention. And besides, I like to DRIVE Teslas myself, because they’re so much fun.
The system is also lagging some of the better highway-only hands-free offerings, namely Cadillac’s Super Cruise tech.
The radical new Cybertruck has a controversial design, but I welcomed it. With the Model Y, the company has fallen into a rut.
Still, the Cybertruck echoes the Model X in having complicated, retractable bed cover for its “vault.”
Bed covers — or “tonneau” covers — are a familiar pickup-truck option. But I don’t tend to like ’em much. They get in the way and add complexity to vehicles that don’t need it.
The Cybertruck also has a stainless-steel construction. That might sound impressive. But there’s a reason we don’t have any stainless-steel cars — and haven’t since the ill-fated DMC DeLorean. Hmmm … also gull-wing doors.
Finally, while Tesla’s battery design allowed it to conquer the EV world early, it’s something of a long-term disadvantage. It consists of thousands of lithium-ion cells, all wired together in packs. The layout is inefficient — and highly lithium-dependent.
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