Earlier this year I lamented the lack of a center console and the fact that the one I ordered would not work with my phone. Tesla took the time to show me a center console and determine the best connector for my phone. The best solution for the phone was to not install any docking connector.
Several thousands of miles since, I have been driving with the Tesla center console with coordinating Piano Black trim installed in my Model S. Instead of writing a review immediately after purchase, I thought I would live with it for a while and see how well it fits my needs. In summary, I think the center console should be standard equipment.
Phone Storage Section
The front part of the center console is an area for your phone. If you choose, you can get a phone dock that works for either for Apple’s Iphone 5/6, an Android Device, or USB. You need to specify the connector type when ordering. When I was looking into the center console, I spent considerable time looking at this connector.
My phone is both a phone and a wallet. I use a Speck case that has a slot in it where I can keep three cards and a $20 bill. 98% of the time, I do not need to carry anything else. Because this case is thicker than most cases, I cannot use the Iphone docking mechanism. The docking mechanism assumes that the depth of the case is smaller than mine. The connection length was not long enough with the Speck case on the phone, and removing it to charge the phone was not acceptable.
I will likely continue to have my car long after my Iphone 5, and did not particularly want to be locked into a connection format, so USB was another option. But this option would remove the usability of one of the two USB ports for the audio system.
In the end, I chose no connector. I have already been charging the phone from the 12V plug with a 3rd party cord. The phone still fits nicely in this area with or without this plug.
Closing the Phone Area
I also like that the phone area can be closed shut to hide the phone. I occasionally stop at a couple of places where I find it safer to leave my phone in the car instead of taking it with me and leaving it in an somewhat public area. I can simply flip up the cover and hide the phone from obvious view. I know this configuration is not the safest place for my phone and credit cards but these situations do not frequently occur.
The only area on the center console that matches the trim is when you close the phone area. Tesla also has been only shipping center consoles that are Piano Black and not any of the other trim options. So for owners who are tired of waiting for the matching trim console and never plan on closing this area, you will never see the Piano Black trim!
The Model S has two cupholders on the armrests. Some people complain that they can’t use the arm rest and the cupholders at the same time. I rarely use armrests in cars.
The new cupholders are large and configurable in size. Unlike some configurable ones in prior vehicles, these work well and do not seem to be too flimsy, but only time will tell. I can easily put the largest containers in these including BPA free Naglene water bottles, that I travel with on long trips.
I don’t like to drink coffee when I’m driving as I always find it awkward, but can also put my portable coffee mug in this area. A few owners have complained this area is not ideal for coffee. As a good environmentalist, I only rarely buy coffee to go in a paper cup, but that wasteful paper cup can fit nicely in the standard cup holders at arm level.
Space in Far Back
My favorite part of the Tesla center console is now I have a reasonable amount of storage space. I still put small items such as reading glasses and pens on the shelf, but I put larger items behind the cupholders. In this space I store sunglass cases, reusable shopping bags, and other small things such as hand sanitizer. These “junk drawer” items are not visible outside of the car and only the camera flash allows you to see some of them in the photo.
A few Tesla owners have complained about the esthetics of the storage console. I think it is fine with one exception. I do not like the white stitching on the leather. It stands out as no other stitching on the leather (or faux leather) is white. It simply needs to be black. The esthetics are much improved over my former junk drawer look – even when filled with lots of items on a longer trip.
I think for most drivers, a center console is a very desirable item. I think the Tesla version is a good one and I’m very happy to now finally have it.