P85D Loaner Report

A P85D in My Driveway (only Temporarily)

A P85D in My Driveway (only Temporarily)

I recently had the great pleasure to take a P85D loaner while having my car serviced.  Actually I was just getting the center consoled installed!  While they installed the console, I drove the P85D for 125 miles.  One trip over the mountains to the coast and back, and the second morning finding some errands to run around town.  During the extended test drive, I found a number of small things about the D that I was not expecting.


As has been reported many times, the acceleration is insane and very reminiscent of my four year Roadster experience.  Super fun and smooth from a dead stop.  In 2013, I had driven a P85+ loaner and was not overly impressed with it.  I did not like the car’s reaction to full acceleration from a dead stop as the front lurched up and the wheels squealed a bit.  The D was very fun; I kept it in insane mode for the day and never tried the sport mode.   I definitely used a higher rate of kWh/mile than normal while enjoying this faster acceleration.

Motor Noise

Interestingly enough the motor noise was substantially different.  At first I felt like a small jet was flying by.  The volume was definitely louder than my S85.  But after the first 30 minutes of driving I no longer noticed the noise difference.


The P85D loaner seemed to handle exactly like my S85; both cars are equipped with air suspension.  I couldn’t really tell a difference.  I did take a good drive over and back to the coast on some really fun twisty mountain roads.

Radio Reception

During my Roadster driving days, I had horrible radio reception.  I still listen to some AM and FM radio on a somewhat regular basis.  The FM signal was not as crisp as in my car, but the AM station was completely inaudible.  I suspect with two motors, the electromagnetic interference is worse.  I easily showed this to the valet that picked up my car as we listened to an AM and an FM station side by side in the loaner and in my car and the difference was very noticeable.

Parking Sensors

False Edge Warning with Sensors

False Edge Warning with Sensors

While driving, the car indicated several times that I was quite close to some mysterious objects in the road. I have driven several loaners in the past with parking sensors and do not recall ever getting these warnings.   The camera screen warned me more than once that I was close to a physical object.  Also twice the dash flashed a warning in red graphics that I was about to hit a car or person in front of me.  I like to drive away from all traffic and am by no means a tailgater. I did not have enough hours with the loaner to determine the true cause of these warnings.

Car “Smell”

When I first got into the car, I noticed an astringent strong smell.  This smell was so distracting, I rolled down the windows for a long period.  I spent most of the 125 miles with the sunroof and windows down in one configuration or another.  The weather varied between 60 and 75 degrees, so driving in this top down fashion was appropriate, but that smell took about 24 hours to not be noticeable.

I don’t know if this car smell is because of some new surfaces in the manufacturing process, unusual behavior by another driver, or a chemical in the mysterious spray bottle I saw being used on the car before I picked it up.  I can’t quite identify the nature of the smell other than unpleasant; my nose and sense of taste can’t determine the list of spices in restaurant food either.   I know whoever that I am quite sensitive to the smell of cleaning agents.

Higher Rear Headrests

The newer rear headrests are so high, I almost wonder why there is even a rear window!  At this point I largely depend upon the cameras, side windows and rear view mirrors.  Only when changing lanes in dicey situations do I use the rear window, But with the new seat backs, the rear window almost useless.

Why Even Have a Rear Window?

Why Even Have a Rear Window?


I think Tesla now has a wonderful option for folks who feel the need for speed.  I was not fond of the P85+ but the P85D characteristics are really nice.  My area is in a big economic boom with more and more people and traffic.  It is getting harder and hard to find places where I could really enjoy the insane acceleration.  To trade in my 39,000 mile S85 to a P85D at this point would be a large outlay in dollars that I could not justify.

However if I were buying my first Model S right now, the P85D would be in serious contention.  The dual motors would work both for having a lot of fun and the occasional trips to the snow.  I could potentially no longer keep the Toyota Highlander Hybrid that spends most of the time in the garage.  Unfortunately with climate change, the California Sierra Nevada mountains have had so little snow in recent years, I almost don’t even need a 4WD vehicle anymore.


No Further Improvements

Tesla from time to time sends owner’s emails about general Tesla news.  Typically by the time the emails arrive in the inbox, the news is already a bit old.  Today’s email was no exception and included the following information:

  1. Auto-pilot launched
  2. 0-60 in 3.2 seconds
  3. Consumer leasing
  4. Software 6.0
  5. Link to a shareholder letter

But what was most interesting was at the very last section of the email where Tesla wrote a “What’s Next” section:

“With the introduction of Dual Motor and Autopilot, there will be no further significant platform changes to Model S for about a year. We continue to see rapid growth elsewhere with the construction of the Gigafactory, the spread of Superchargers, and increased vehicle production.”

Clearly Tesla has received significant flack from recent Model S customers that were unaware of the upcoming D announcement and perhaps chose to purchase a P85 or P85+.

Also some customers may have felt a bit wronged when their car built only a few weeks earlier did not have the auto-pilot features included.

Tesla is not operating like a traditional car company in many ways.  For the most part, the customers greatly appreciate that fact as features have been added when they are available such as parking sensors.

Consumer electronic companies also use this type of announcement model but there is often enough unofficial information and general anticipation of upcoming features, that buyers can often choose to wait for a potential “expected” announcement of a new model. Perhaps Tesla is realizing that with an expensive automobile, customers perhaps need a little bit of warning of upcoming significant changes in options.

The D and Auto

Tonight at 8:18pm, Tesla announced the D version of the Model S.  The D as many owners guessed stands for Dual motor or an all wheel drive version of the Model S.

An AWD version can really help sales in cold weather climates but also provides significant benefits over 2WD versions

1. Faster acceleration

Elon stated that the 0 to 60 will be 3.2 seconds with the P version of the AWD.  This number is really fast and even faster than my Roadster.  I have not been excited about the P85 because the acceleration was not nearly as smooth as the Roadster.  I hope to get a service loaner P85D in the future to check out the characteristics of this acceleration with two motors not just one.

2.  Top speed is higher.

This feature will probably be hard to take advantage of in most places outside of perhaps the German autobahn or very remote locations.

3.  Efficiency increases.

ICE cars become less efficient when you add AWD.  With the sophisticated electronics, the Tesla D is more efficient than a standard Tesla even with the increased weight of the second motor on the front axel!

The Dual Motor option for the S85 is $4,000 with no listed 0-60 performance increase.  The P85D is another $14,600 over the P85.  The P85D requires 21″ wheels, the tech package and smart air suspension.  The difference between a similarly configured S85 to a P85D is $26,600.  In a way I am glad this option was not available when I bought my car as that speed is very tempting.

Auto-pilot Announcement

Along with announcing the D, Elon announced some auto-pilot features that are in the cars that are currently produced.  He made it clear that these cars are not autonomous self driving cars.  The technology includes

  1. Forward looking radar that can see through fog, snow and sand.
  2. Cameras that with image recognition that can distinguish pedestrians and can read signs.
  3. 360 degree ultrasonic sonar that creates a protect cocoon around the car and is sensitive enough to see a small child or a dog.

With these features, the car can self park and automatically brake.  On private property, you can summon the car to you.

Although I am more excited about the speed of the D for roller coaster thrills, the auto pilot features are potentially more interesting for many buyers.


60 Loaner Report

During my cross country road trip, I had a few items worked on my car at the Minneapolis service center.  A subsequent blog post will discuss the items in for service and the service experience. This blog post will discuss my half day driving and review of the Model S with the 60kW battery.

The Model S I am reviewing had the following options different than my own car:

60 Loaner in Minneapolis

60 Loaner in Minneapolis

  • 60kW battery (60)
  • 19” Wheels
  • Parking Sensors
  • Folding Side Mirrors
  • No Panoramic Roof

Acceleration / Range

I was pleasantly surprised by the acceleration of the 60.  The Tesla web page now states that the 60 has a 0-60 acceleration of 5.9 seconds, and the 85 has a 0-60 acceleration of 5.4 seconds.  I would not chose a battery based upon acceleration.  I had written earlier an extensive review of the P85+.  With the high performance drive inverter, the P85+ or P85 can accelerate in 4.2 seconds in 0-60.  I definitely felt a difference with the P inverter, but I did not care for the way the P85+ front lifted off the line.

The primary determining factor between the different batteries is the range of the car.  The 60 has an EPA range of 208 miles, and the 85 has an EPA range of 265 miles.  I constantly get asked how far my car can drive without recharging.  The simple answer is in California probably around 200 miles with mostly freeway driving.  But in near freezing weather with extensive gusts like my recent experience in the Black Hills, that range is closer to 150 miles.

I personally would not want to purchase a 60 for the shorter range.  I have wanderlust and like to travel.  Within the San Francisco Bay Area, I regularly visit friends in other corners of the region.  I also like to take road trips and the 85 makes them much more pleasant.  But the 60 word work very well for someone who routinely travels shorter distances and does not take many road trips.

19” Wheels

The biggest difference between the loaner car and mine was the 19” wheels.  I have been driving Tesla’s for five years now with sticky tires.  I almost immediately missed the 21” wheels even on the Minneapolis freeways.  They simply do not hug the road the same way.  The loaner also had air suspension so it was a true 1:1 test.

Minneapolis in early May 2014 was littered with potholes, so I completely understand the practicality of the 19” wheels in a cold weather climate.  I live in an area with some fun curvy roads and enjoy the 21” wheels, but I do have a neighbor down the street with 19” wheels.


Mirror Retracted

Folding Side Mirrors

I realized the loaner had folding side mirrors when I parked the car and returned to find the mirrors folded in.  There is a configuration setting if you want this to occur automatically or not.

I would only get this feature if I needed to regularly park my car in tight spaces or lived in a very urban setting.

Panoramic Roof

The weather on this journey has been quite difficult.  Lots of cold and windy days.  When the sun popped out for a few minutes, I really wanted to enjoy a few moments of sun and missed the Panoramic Roof.  The car also felt smaller with the standard roof.

Parking Sensor Warning

Parking Sensor Warning

Parking Sensors

I was pleasantly surprised that the loaner also had the parking sensors.  When approaching an object, they indicate in green that you are close.  As you get closer, the color moves to yellow with the distance in inches in the US.

Parking Sensor Worked For Front Curb

Parking Sensor Worked For Front Curb

For parking a car, I found these unnecessary.  With the Model S you have a rear view camera to aid in backing up.  The front distance is easy enough to judge.  I could imagine again if I lived in a very urban area doing a lot of parallel parking this feature could be useful.

I had hoped the parking sensors would help with curb rash.  Even my newly spruced up 21” wheels have small amounts of fresh curb rash.  The parking sensors will unfortunately not help with curb rash as the curbs are too low from the side.  When I pulled back into the Minneapolis service center, I was surprised that the parking sensor did indicate the front curb ahead as shown in the photo on the left.


In the end, I quickly concluded that my current configuration was the right purchase for me.  Although the 60’s acceleration is still great, the battery range would be a hinderance.  I also really enjoy driving with the 21” wheels despite pangs of guilt using so many tires.  I am also glad I have the panoramic roof on my car.

The parking sensors and folding side mirrors are nice features but I can only really recommend them for people who live in urban situations with challenging parking.

Windshield Wiper P85+

I had forgotten to add this information to my earlier post about my review of the P85+ loaner.  Partially as the problem was so minor, but also the problem was so strange.

Twice when driving the loaner, the windshield wipers turned on ever so slightly, and quickly turned off.  The blades rose about 5″ up and then retired back to its resting position.  In both cases, I did not turn on the wipers and in one case I had a witness.  Since it is summer here in California and we had a very dry winter, I actually think I have only used the windshield wipers on my Model S only twice.  I actually could not tell you where the controls are before I wrote this post.

In both these mysterious cases, I know I did not accidentally hit the lever as my hands and arms were in front of the steering wheel.  These odd occurrences only happened in the loaner in the four days I drove it, never in my own Model S.

In order to write this post, I decided to take a photo of the windshield wiper system.  To my surprise there are two asymetrical windshield wipers, one large windshield wiper, and a smaller one on the passenger side shown in the photo below.  It sure has been dry here as I did not even know I had two windshield wipers.   I also experimented with the mechanism for turning on the windshield wiper and found it to be quite difficult to turn on accidentally as it requires a turn of a knob at the end of the windshield wiper control, not an accidental brush of the entire stick.

Smaller Windshield Wiper Blade

Smaller Windshield Wiper Blade

Tesla Service Visit

I had the opportunity to review the P85+ because my car went in for service. One of the reasons for the service was that the dash had issued the warning: “Service Tire Pressure System…Contact Tesla Service.”   This warning came up repeatedly on my long road trip down the coast during long stretches of freeway driving.

Tire Pressure Warning

Tire Pressure Warning

Since I was far away from home I called the 800 number to speak with a Tesla person.  He said it could be the tires or the warning system itself.  I looked at all the tires and they looked fine.  I have to confess, I do not carry a tire pressure gauge and did not venture to a gas station, my check was solely visual.  The light came on and off about six times.  When the warning showed up it was on for 30 miles or so.  From the forums, it looks like several people have had problems with the tire pressure systems.  During the service, they replaced the TPMS module and repositioned it.

The Roadster also had physical sensors.  The car also told you the actual tire pressure in a screen readout.  The Model S does not have a numerical readout, simply a warning if the pressure is incorrect.  I hope that the software will eventually have a numerical readout, as I am not particularly prone to noticing low tire pressure.

I also hopefully had my last door handle replaced as my doors like to open by themselves.  This time, my driver side rear door handle has been replaced.  I hope this problem is fixed for good.

The service also included installing some new rear window regulator clips.  It appears that some people have had issues with the rear windows remaining open and these small parts will solve that issue.  More detailed reports of this problem can be found here.   In the past I had problems with my Toyota windows after putting a small strap through the rear window while driving but I have not had any problems myself with my rear windows.

The service department also tried to reproduce my intermittent noise and bluetooth issues.  Occasionally, often but not always near power lines, my car makes noise similar to tv or radio static.  The noise can be quite loud, and seems to be more frequent with passengers in the rear seats.  I have tried many times to drive over the same route to reproduce it consistently but have been unable to.  During my test drive of the P85+ I also experienced this same noise but it was quieter than my own car but not less frequent.

I have also had intermittent problems with the bluetooth connection to my Iphone while listening to music or audiobooks.  The connection fails and is difficult to reconnect.  Rebooting the Iphone does not solve the problem.  I had to reboot both the car and the Iphone to get the connection back again.

Unfortunately, since both these problems are intermittent, Tesla could not reproduce them and neither can I in a consistent manner.

P85+ Loaner Report

My car unfortunately or fortunately had to go in for service.  Fortunately, the valet brought me a new P85+ loaner as the service was likely going to take more than one day.  In the end, I had the loaner car for four days.  This car has two significant differences between my own car.  The “P” part or faster motor and the “+” part for the improved handling.  This post will discuss the overall differences between my S85, the P85+, and the Roadster.  The second half will discuss other observations driving a different and newer car.

I decided to give my loaner a true test drive and headed over on some very winding roads over to the beach on a truly gorgeous day.   I ended up driving on a lot of twisty roads, a fair amount of freeways on subsequent day, and did run some errands in town on another day.  The paperwork with the loaner that you sign does say you can’t go over 80mph.  With the roads around here being relatively busy at all times during the day,  I find it difficult to go that fast but just following traffic at one point I did go 79mph.

Loaner at the Beach

Loaner at the Beach

My first impression driving the car is that for some reason this car is noisier than mine.  The noise could be from the tires or the suspension.  I would by no means call it “noisy” but my particular car is almost bubble silent.

On several occasions, I started from a dead stop to test out the low end acceleration.  Yes, definitely faster than my 85 but not nearly as elegant or fast as the Roadster.  The front end tips up a bit and the back wheels can slip a bit from a dead start particularly if you are turning.   I had a hard time finding places to accelerate on the four drives I took in the loaner car. I am not as crazy with the acceleration on the Performance as I was with the Roadster.  The Roadster had no awkward movements out of the gate, just pure complete straight shot.  I can’t replicate that exact same feeling with the Performance.

But I think I am in some ways comparing roller coasters and everyone has their favorites.  Flooring the vanilla 85 is still pretty darn fun and has no awkwardness and saved me money.  At least in the area where I live, I find it hard to take full advantage of this kind of acceleration and did not feel compelled to buy a Performance version.  I also like having a vehicle that I can floor without any likely jolts, noises or significant tire wear.

On the other hand, I love the “+” part of the equation and found it a reasonable price performance improvement for $6,500.  I went on some very windy roads that fortunately had very little traffic.  The “+” just really grips the road in a way my 85 with 21” wheels does not.  I think an interesting option would be to get the “+” without the “P”.  On my first long drive on very windy roads, I really enjoyed the “+”.  The third drive I was just doing a simple errand.  I started to really notice the uneven pavement on the roads I was driving on.  I actually missed the smoother ride of my vanilla 85 as the “+” felt rough in a reminiscent way of my Roadster.  Four years in driving my Roadster, I never took it on an overnight road trip.   Partially because the likely need to think about charging it, but more so because of the non-luxurious ride.

Since most of my driving is somewhat ordinary with a fair amount of traffic even during non-commute hours, I would find it quite challenging to find moments to utilize the capabilities of the “+”.  Perhaps up to once a month I travel on some twisty roads.  In these situations, I would prefer a “+” as it really handles these roads with a nice tight grip.  But my vanilla 85 also handles the roads very well.

Probably even more important for me is I do enjoy long road trips.  I think the overall profile of the vanilla suspension is much smoother and more appropriate for these kinds of trips.  So for me personally, I would still purchase the same car configuration if the plus had been available.  I am still interested in test driving a vanilla 85 with the new 19” wheels though.

One of 8 parking sensors

One of 8 parking sensors

A few other small notes on this newer Model S.  The valet service left the car in my driveway and I drove it about an hour later.  The temperature outside was about 70 degrees.  I was surprised how warm the car was already, definitely warmer than my grey car with a black interior.  So at least from this small data point, the exterior color seems to influence the warmth of the car more than the interior color.  I am still not particularly fond of the high contrast between the tan leather and the black interior elements.  I like light interiors but the Model S has far too much black on the doors, on the dash and on the floors to truly be a tan or grey interior option.  Whether or not the headliner is Alacantra or not, I really did not notice or care.

This car had several new features:  the parking sensors and the yacht floor.  Four little holes are in the cars bumpers for the parking sensors but I don’t think the software is yet available as I did not hear any audible clues nor could I see any dash indicators when pulling out of my driveway.  The physical parking sensors are visible but are not obvious.  The front bumper also is my least favorite part of the Model S from an aesthetic point of view with or without parking sensors.

The yacht floor has some trim in the floor between the seats where the standard configuration is black carpet which honestly I never notice as it is so dark or has a few items lying in it like a sunglass case and a phone.  I would not pay $500 for this feature.  I am more interested in a console where I can store these things

Yacht Floor Option

Yacht Floor Optionaway from sight.

The more obscure change I noticed was the change in cup holder design.  I love my cup holders.  They work perfectly for reusable containers and reusable coffee cups.  They have some nice cinchers that grip the containers.  The newer cup holders are the same size but don’t have cinchers!  My reusable water bottle was flying all around the loaner car.  I had to take it out of the cup holder and leave it on the seat as the noise was quite irritating.

Just for fun, I also took detail notes after charging it to a full non-range charge and this car with less than 1,000 miles charged to 237 miles.  The previous drivers also had kWh / mile usage of over 370.  My number was lower than that as I ended up behind some slow cars on the drive back from the beach and with freeway driving the car is reasonably efficient.

A handful of other folks with low VINs have stated that the build quality seemed better on their loaner.  I did not notice any difference in my 04xxx car and the 16xxx loaner.

I hope this review is helpful for new buyers in choosing between the different 85 versions.  I had also wrote this post when the new options were first announced.  The earlier post provides a general overview of the different 85 models.

Cup Holders With Cinchers

Cup Holders With Cinchers