2013 Tesla Model S Long-Term Road Test

Edmunds.comEdmunds.com Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 10,135
edited September 2014 in Tesla

image2013 Tesla Model S Long-Term Road Test

My family ventures north to Oregon twice per year but this trip in the 2013 Tesla Model S was our first in an electric vehicle.

Read the full story here



  • desmoliciousdesmolicious Member Posts: 671
    Nice journal entry.

    That first photo makes it look like the car has a flat.
  • subytrojan_2subytrojan_2 Member Posts: 79
    Agreed. Nice update, Dan!
  • fordson1fordson1 Unconfirmed Posts: 1,512
    Did you like all of the restaurants you were pretty much forced to eat at? Not trying to be smart or anything, but...there IS that aspect. In an ICE, you can stop when you want and eat where you want. When I travel, I spend a lot of time choosing where I'm going to stay and searching out good restaurants along the way, and taking impromptu detours when I feel like it, or when a side trip is recommended by a local. Much of the time, these great B&Bs and independent-owned restaurants and diners are not located along the superslab right where you would have to recharge in an EV. Doing a trip in a Tesla S sounds a lot like taking the packaged tour rather than striking out on your own - having all the stops laid out in advance has its benefits, but you're going to miss a lot of the local flavor.
  • jim_in_nj_jim_in_nj_ Member Posts: 15
    Fordson1, "Not trying to be smart or anything"

    Aren't you usually complaining that you like to take your road trips with bladder-busting 4+ hour runs? Now that a real-world 650 mile road trip report with a Tesla states, "We arrived at my folks' place in the early afternoon, about an hour or sooner than we usually make our appearance", suddenly you want to drive 650 miles in a day while "searching out good restaraunts along the way and taking impromptu detours"? Seriously? I think you meant to say "I AM trying to be smart".

    Also, I note with the Supercharger build-out it looks like the Model S has blown your (and my) earlier estimates of only getting 15,000 miles in the year. With over a month to go, it's already over 16,000 miles. If you look at the last two months:

    November 15, 2013: 11,713 miles
    January 13, 2014: 16,067 miles

    That's 2177 miles per month, or a pace of 26,000 miles per year. If Edmunds does another road trip before the 1st Anniversary, they'll have over 18,000 miles in their first year, and that's with
    most of the year hobbled by an incomplete Supercharger network.

    And of course Dan ended the day with an extra $100 in his pocket by not having to buy gas (OK, I'm sure gas is paid for by Edmunds on these trips, but you get my point). Even if I spent $90,000 on a car, it's nice to have an extra couple of hundred dollars on a vacation.
  • vvkvvk Member Posts: 196
    Taking two days to go 650 miles would not be acceptable to me. Especially in the West, where everyone drives at least 90 mph and you can make that trip in 7 hours.

    I love traveling by car and cannot imagine having to stop like this every two-three hours. With our kids, we tend to leave right before bed time and they sleep for 10 hours straight. I find that covering as much distance as possible in these 10 hours is the key to a successful trip. We have made several 1500 mile trips in this mode and it is absolutely imperative that we cover 800-1000 miles in the first 10 hours. First time I have to stop to refuel my Passat is 600 miles from home.

    It is entirely possible that I would not have to refuel at all on a 650 mile trip like this.
  • jim_in_nj_jim_in_nj_ Member Posts: 15
    vvk "Taking two days to go 650 miles would not be acceptable to me" Uh, perhaps you read a different article? He drove 890 miles in two days, and actually did it faster than a regular car. He drove 650 miles in one day, then 240 miles in 5 1/2 hours the next day.
  • opfreakopfreak Member Posts: 106
    this trip would drive me nuts.

    your day one trip averaged 46mph. anytime I cover any distance. I aim for averages over 70 in my gas burner. that's with stops for gas. If its a road trip I'm prepared ahead of time with snacks, and maybe sandwich's for lunch.

    your 13.5 hour trip would have roughly taken me 9.5, with a single stop for fuel.

    all this stopping being justifiable is just rationalizing a car not really suited for long distance travel.
  • duck87duck87 Member Posts: 649
    Longer trips are possible in this car, but surely aren't convenient when you start relying on needing more than 2 short supercharger stops to get there as this post shows.

    For example, I can actually use this for my ~60 mile daily commute; and assuming that eventually the Windsor-Montreal corridor finally gets some love, I would need only 1 supercharger stop to get to Toronto- I can accept that as it would add about 1/2 hour to my trip (and the new Onroute stations actually makes stopovers bearable). But when you need to make 3 stops or more and require over 3 hours of rest time to make 650 miles (stretching your drive time to nearly 14 hours), there are some practicality issues- typically I would expect to make three 20 minute stops on such a drive (accounting for potty emergencies).
  • bankerdannybankerdanny Member Posts: 1,021
    "it is absolutely imperative that we cover 800-1000 miles in the first 10 hours." I'm sorry, but I call [non-permissible content removed]. There is no place in the US where you can average 100 mph for 10 hours straight.
  • darthbimmerdarthbimmer Member Posts: 606
    I appreciate these logs of actual driving trips with details about location and timing of stops. They match my predictions-- 1) Yes, a Tesla can do long trips, 2) provided you're within the supercharger network, though 3) you've got to stop every 2-3 hours and 4) at their oases. But it's good to read narratives of real-world driving experience, including the frustration or lack thereof about the preselected stopping points. Thanks, Edmunds.
  • trnsl8rtrnsl8r Member Posts: 1
    Nice article, but occupying a suprercharger stall overnight is poor form. Please don't do that. You even say that it was done charging before you went to bed.
  • fordson1fordson1 Unconfirmed Posts: 1,512
    @jim_in_nj: I think you are making my points for me... Yes, I like 850-miles-per-day, bladder-busting, minimal-stops road trips, AND I like road trips where I take the blue highways, take my time, don't plan everything, take detours, etc. That's the po
  • mfennellmfennell Member Posts: 91
    Sorry, the CX-5 has so many miles *precisely* because of long road trips. Between mid-July and mid-Aug, Josh alone put 5000 miles on it. He took it to the Sierras in October, NorCal & the Sierras in Aug, Wyoming in July.
  • actualsizeactualsize Santa Ana, CaliforniaMember Posts: 451
    @trnsl8r: agree. Read another way, "It was full before my head hit the pillow" means I was awake to move it.

    Twitter: @Edmunds_Test

  • dunning15dunning15 Member Posts: 0
    Ah, Old Fordster still stirring the pot. Without you the comments section is as boring as watching an EV charge and for that I appreciate you. Remind me to never fly with you. I often take the LAX to Logan flight and always fly direct. With you I'd need to make six connections to avoid strict travel corridors like the SuperChargers force the Teslas to take. You can go LAX-SFO-LAS-SLC-ATL-BOS and see so many wonderful things. Anybody else would be stuck eating at either LAX or BOS. Not you, however, because you are in complete control of your side missions. A nice steak in Salt Lake City would sure be nice.
  • actualsizeactualsize Santa Ana, CaliforniaMember Posts: 451
    Yes, superchargers do impose limits on where you can eat, but there are typically several choices. Tesla's supercharger homepage has links to each station that include maps and description of places to eat nearby.

    Twitter: @Edmunds_Test

  • stovt001_stovt001_ Member Posts: 799
    It is funny to read phrases like "We had x number of miles in the tank." Old idioms and slang will stick around long after they stopped being literally true. We still say we "rewind" a video if we play it in reverse, even though there is no tape being wound. I'm sure people will still call the peddle on the right the gas peddle even when they're driving an electric car. Their kids will ask them why its called that, and they'll get to go into old fogey mode and say "Well back in my day...". I think it will be fascinating to see how the way we talk about cars does or doesn't change.
  • dunning15dunning15 Member Posts: 0
    If they call it a peddle they have more issues than just using old idioms.
  • actualsizeactualsize Santa Ana, CaliforniaMember Posts: 451
    One thing to remember: Most families have more than one car. Some have three. One would assume that is especially true here in the 100k price strata. That the Tesla Model S (or any short-range EV, for that matter) can't go everyplace in any circumstance isn't as huge an issue as people tend to make. You'd choose the Tahoe or F-150 over your Camry if you were towing a boat, right? You'd choose your Minivan over your Mini Cooper for a long road trip. Point is, the average family has more than one vehicle and they move among them as specific trip needs dictate. The Mini Cooper you commute to work in isn't a horrible vehicle because it can't take the wife and kids to the Grand Canyon. The F-150 wasn't a bad move because you'd rather take something more fuel efficient on a long trip where your boat isn't coming along. It's OK that the BMW M3 with the trick summer tires sits in the garage for three months while you drive your winter beater in the snow. The Tesla doesn't suck because it can't go everyplace at any pace. It may not be right for you, but that doesn't make it bad.

    Twitter: @Edmunds_Test

  • handbrakehandbrake Member Posts: 99
    As a Tesla owner who just got back from a trip from San Francisco to a rental house in Mendocino and back, I will absolutely agree with anyone who says that a Tesla is not a good choice for long road trips.

    But you know what? 99.9% of the time I don't go on long road trips. I have a Ford F150 with a 36 gallon gas tank. That truck will get about 19 mpg on a mostly freeway trip. So 600 miles between fuel stops is very easy with the truck and it's a lot more comfortable than a Passat. And it goes off road a LOT better than a Passat would.

    For the 99.9% of the time that I'm not on long road trips, the Tesla is a great car. A long road trip is something that I just don't do more than once every few years, at most. 600 mile a day trips? That's why airplanes exist. The only time I drive on trips to distant places is to go hunting, and that's because I need my truck to get to the remote places in Wyoming or Idaho and it's a lot cheaper than flying and then renting a truck.

    I don't get why people try to argue against the Tesla because of the range issues. It'd be like arguing against a car with long range because it doesn't go off road very well.

    A Tesla is a car that works best in short to medium range trips. Those trips are the great majority of what most people drive.

    If you're one of the few people who drive long distances, don't get a Tesla. Yep, I said it...I won't mince words about that one.

    Likewise, if you're someone who likes to drive the Rubicon, don't by a Passat diesel.
  • fordson1fordson1 Unconfirmed Posts: 1,512
    Guys, never said the Tesla is a bad car. It's potentially a great car when they get some of the early bugs out of the way. I'm commenting on the Tesla's merits as a long-distance cruiser for the same reason everyone else here is (there's 20 comments now...) - because that's what this post is ABOUT, OK? Um, OK - ? Or is it only OK if I agree that the car's limitations are a GOOD thing? ;-)
  • stovt001_stovt001_ Member Posts: 799
    @dunning - yeah, I had a long hard day yesterday, and apparently the spelling part of my brain was the first bit to call it quits. Rereading that post was embarrassing.
  • sharpendsharpend Member Posts: 177
    Geez, it's an electric car, people! Of course it's going to be more inconvenient than a gas car on a long trip. It's remarkable that it can be done at all. An electric car trip like this would have been pretty much impossible just a few years ago. Compare the gas car network to the electric car network, what is it like 99.9% vs .1%? Amazing that you can actually take a trip like this at all and not take that much extra time versus gas. Plus, you don't even have to pay for the electricity along the way. People take way too much for granted nowadays.
  • kt_bostonkt_boston Member Posts: 1
    I've been reading these updates with great interest as i consider my next car purchase. In general I found them to be a valuable part of my research / decision making process.

    While I fully trust the times/distances and comparison to the author's 'Normal' for this Oregon trip. I can't help but compare the experience to my 'Normal'.

    For each of the last 16 or so years, we have driven from Greater Boston to Charleston, SC to visit family. this is generally a 2-day trip, but in the last 5 or 6 years we've been making it in a single day (Yes, that means starting at very early hour and passing South out of NYC by about 7:30-7:45 am). The route is a bit over 950 miles and takes us about 15 hours (Total elapsed Time).... That averages a bit over 60 miles per hour.

    When I look at Tesla's map of SuperCharger stations, I have no doubt that I could perform this trip in the Tesla. However, using the data provided in this article - I don't think we could do it in a single day. I calculate that the author managed a bit over 46 mph over their trip (elapsed time - same as I used). Using that value adds about 5.5 hours to the trip - Very reasonable if using a 2-day plan, I'm afraid not possible in our 1-day plan.
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