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    • yaypie

      I've just returned from a 5,000+ mile road trip in my Tesla Model 3. It was eight solid days of driving, roughly ten hours each day, during which I crossed a total of nine different states from Oregon to Texas and back again, and I absolutely loved it.

      I drove through a lightning storm in New Mexico. I narrowly escaped being rammed off the road by countless lane-drifting truckers. I ran over a road gator at full speed and lived to tell the tale (apparently with zero damage thanks to the Model 3's beefy battery shield). But most of all I had a ton of fun driving, and being driven by, this incredible car.

      I've only owned the car for a short time so I had a long list of worries before I set out. Would the car break down in the middle of nowhere, hundreds of miles from a Tesla service center? Would supercharger stops get tedious and make the trip no fun? Would I have trouble keeping the car charged in rural Texas? Would the glass roof make the car uncomfortably hot in the bright sun? Would Autopilot drive me into a concrete barrier?

      The answer to all of these fears, it turned out, was "no".

    • yaypie

      Autopilot was a godsend. I came to trust it a great deal and ended up using it for the majority of the drive. I still kept eyes on the road and a hand on the wheel, but I was surprised by how much more relaxed I felt with Autopilot controlling the steering, throttle, and changing lanes for me when I used the turn signal.

      I was also surprised by how much I came to enjoy supercharger stops. I had expected to hate having to stop every two or three hours to charge, but I found myself looking forward to the chance to stretch and take a short break from all the driving.

      The Model 3 has enough range that I could have stopped a little less often than I did, but I found that I vastly preferred stopping at a supercharger, hitting a bathroom, and getting a bite to eat at a nearby restaurant over stopping at rest areas and gas stations. And while I was doing that, the car was charging up for the next leg of the trip.

      Most superchargers are just some parking spaces near a restaurant, hotel, or strip mall. Some are definitely better than others. By far the best supercharger stop of the whole trip was in Twin Falls, Idaho, just a few steps away from this incredible, otherworldly view of the Snake River Canyon. It was so lovely I made sure to stop there again on my way home.

    • yaypie
      Ryan Grove

      The car was rock solid. I had read varying reports of the Model 3’s reliability so I was half expecting to end up stranded in the middle of nowhere hundreds of miles from a Tesla service center, but I didn’t have a single problem with it.

      It was also a joy to drive. Quiet, smooth, and glued to the road around corners. And when you need to go, this baby goes. I had no fear pulling out to pass slow trucks on small two-lane highways thanks to the car’s instant torque and linear acceleration. And when I found myself stuck in the slow lane in a multi-lane traffic jam and needed to zip into another lane to get to my exit, it was no problem to jump from a dead stop into the narrowest of openings in moving traffic.

      I also found myself really loving the massive display, and in particular the huge, always-visible map, which made navigating unfamiliar cities a breeze. Being able to see my route and all the streets in a huge area around me was a huge step up from the narrow slice you see when using maps on a phone or a GPS device.

      I let Tesla’s navigation system do all the routing for the trip and compared it to Waze on my phone. The car’s routes and ETAs mostly matched Waze except when it diverged a bit to route me through superchargers. Traffic data was surprisingly fresh, though perhaps not quite as fresh as Waze. I was surprised to find that in a number of places the car’s navigation system knew about construction detours that Waze had no idea existed.

      My only big complaint is that, inexplicably, Tesla’s routing system doesn’t actually do a very good job of getting you all the way to a supercharger. It would often get me within a few hundred meters and then announce I had arrived, even when the actual supercharger was still hidden out of view somewhere behind a building or something. But I found that switching to satellite view often enabled me to spot the supercharger and figure out how to navigate parking lots to reach it.

      I also found that Tesla’s routing tended to be a little optimistic and would often want me to skip superchargers and do long stretches where I’d arrive with as little as 5% charge remaining. After a scary stretch from Colorado across New Mexico to Texas in stormy weather where for a while it looked like I might not make it, I stopped trusting the car’s optimism and manually chose my own supercharger stops when necessary to ensure that I’d always have a reasonable buffer of charge remaining (I felt most comfortable arriving with at least 10% to 15% charge left).

      To be fair, the car was right and I did finish that scary stretch with about as much charge as it had initially predicted, but I wasn’t eager to take any more risks like that. I’d like it if Tesla added an option to let me specify how much charge I want to have on arrival, since the default value doesn’t seem to leave much room for error.

    • yaypie

      I’ll remember this trip fondly. Even after eight solid days of driving (plus more in between when I wasn’t driving quite as much), I’m still not tired of the car and I still find myself wanting to hop in and hit the road. I had a blast, learned a lot about the car, and can’t wait for the next road trip!

    • Chris

      Fascinating! How did autopilot do in the rain when the visibility was poor? What about on winding roads? Were there times when you decided to disengage it? What does it do when a rabbit runs across the road in front of you?

    • zachleat

      Amazing post! Do you know roughly how many times you stopped to charge in total? My family and I have talked about getting a Tesla 3 but wanted to wait for a bit (I don’t really like being an early adopter—especially so for cars).

    • bstrong

       I stopped trusting the car’s optimism and manually chose my own supercharger stops when necessary to ensure that I’d always have a reasonable buffer of charge remaining (I felt most comfortable arriving with at least 10% to 15% charge left).

      Would be cool if you could enter this as a preference so that your car can still automatically map the route.

      Range anxiety is real (from what I've heard)!

    • yaypie

      Great questions!

      How did autopilot do in the rain when the visibility was poor?

      I ran into a heavy downpour while driving to Austin one day to pick up family at the airport. Massive globs of rain, falling so fast and hard that I could barely see through the windshield even with the wipers going full speed, and the road was so covered with water that I couldn't see the lane lines. But somehow Autopilot still saw the lane markings and the cars around me! So I let it drive until the rain let up.

      I have no idea how the other drivers around me managed to stay on the road. 🤔

      What about on winding roads? Were there times when you decided to disengage it?

      Autopilot does a pretty good job of following gently winding roads, and even slows down for curves when necessary. But sometimes on tighter curves it drifts a little too close to the edge of the lane or slows down a little too much for my liking, so I tended to take over when it got really curvy.

      I also took over when going through construction, since the unusual lane markings, shifting lanes, and cones tend to confuse Autopilot. And I took over when driving on surface streets with stoplights and whatnot.

      Other than those situations, I mostly let Autopilot do all the work on the highway and it did a great job.

      What does it do when a rabbit runs across the road in front of you?

      Luckily I didn't find that out! There were a few occasions when I had to dodge deer, but they all happened when I had already taken over (in one case because I was driving on a rough county road with no lane markings, and in other cases when I had taken over because there were signs warning of game crossings).

      My guess is that Autopilot probably wouldn't deal with this very well though, and would have hit the animal. It's good at slowing down for things like other cars that are moving, but it's reportedly not good at identifying immobile or very slow-moving obstructions. That's why I always kept my eyes on the road.

    • yaypie

      Ooh. I didn't keep track, but it turns out Tesla did! It looks like I made 31 supercharger stops overall, including a quick top-up in Austin before picking up family at the airport (not really part of the main road trip).

      So 30 stops divided by the 8 days of the main road trip comes to 3 or 4 stops per day. I did about 10 hours of driving covering roughly 550 to 600 miles each day, so that should give you a pretty good idea of how things worked out.

    • yaypie

      Range anxiety is real (from what I've heard)!

      I actually didn't have much range anxiety at all, except that one time I mentioned when the car started out being really optimistic and then decided mid-drive that I might not make it (before later becoming more optimistic again). 😬

      Worst case scenario, I could have pulled off and used an RV outlet or even (shudder) a standard 120 outlet to slowly recharge me enough to reach the next supercharger. I came prepared for that, but I was glad I never had to do it because it probably would've meant spending a night in the car!

    • yaypie

      The glass roof turned out to be way less of a problem than I expected it to be in the hot sun. It maybe let the car get a little warmer than it might have with a metal roof, but it wasn't really an issue. And the AC had no trouble at all cooling the car down quickly and keeping it cool even when it was over 100 degrees outside.

      I'm actually not sure how much the AC affected range. But I left it on the whole time (on auto, so the car was maintaining my set temperature, usually 69 or 70 degrees) and always got where I was going, so I guess it wasn't a problem!

      I'd guess that the energy used by the AC is pretty minuscule compared to the energy needed to keep the big heavy car moving, which is probably why I didn't notice any significant effect on range.

      I do wish the car had ventilated seats. Even though the AC kept me comfortable, my back did get a bit sweaty after sitting so long in those leather seats.

    • petebocken

      The glass roof has some sort of tint to it for sun glares, right? I'd think a cool option would be that glass that you can make opaque!

    • yaypie

      Yep, it's heavily tinted. You can see the cool effect of the glass treatment on water droplets in this photo (that reddish hue is refraction on the glass itself, not a reflected sunset!).

    • vegasphotog

      Great thread! I love roadtripping but range anxiety has always curtailed my interest in going 100% battery. 10 hours a day is impressive!

    • Chris

      A few days ago a woman was involved in a Tesla 3 rollover at 70 mph on the freeway and her husband posted pics of the car. Incredibly, she and the inside of the car made out pretty well, considering. She has a small compression fracture in her spine and a few bruises but is recovering well.

      Her husband said they will definitely be buying a Tesla 3 as a replacement.

    • yaypie

      I'm really impressed by how well the glass held up. I admit I've wondered how safe it would be in a rollover. I wonder if the driver's compression fracture was caused by a hard landing or by bonking her head on the glass. Either way, I'm glad she came out okay!

    • flei

      No doubt, Tesla has the technology! Now, if Elon would just stop tweeting......

      I recently test drove a Model S, and WOW! I like fast cars and have driven quite a few, but nothing accelerates like one of these babies (0-60 in 2.5 sec.). Stomp accelerator pedal to the floor, instant full torque, no noise, no wheel spin, massive smooth acceleration. Well, maybe a rocket accelerates like that. I also tried the Autopilot and it drove so well it creeped me out! I absolutely love to drive so doubt I would ever use Autopilot, but it is impressive. I think I have seen the future...

    • yaypie

      Now, if Elon would just stop tweeting...

      Seriously. 🤦‍♂️

      Stomp accelerator pedal to the floor, instant full torque, no noise, no wheel spin, massive smooth acceleration. Well, maybe a rocket accelerates like that.

      Yeah! The Model 3 isn't quite as fast as a high-end Model S, but it's still a rocket compared to most gas-powered cars.

      There are also all kinds of other little differences that add up to make living with this car unlike living with any other. Things like not having to turn it on or off — you just sit down, put it in gear, and drive. And when you park, you just get out and walk away.

      After getting used to the Model 3, driving a combustion engine car feels weird and noisy and clunky, which wasn't something I expected.

    • cabbey

      Comparing to Waze is a pretty low bar. :) But then you’d think Tesla of all companies would get a little more exact on directions to their own super chargers!

      How many times did you have to reboot the car (technically the infotainment stack)? I’ve read recently that it’s disgustingly common on the 3... almost as much as the original S.

      How well did it handle trading drivers? Everything reset back to your profile sans the rear view mirror? Was the passengers side as comfortable as the drivers side? Did your SO have any comments about road tripping in the car?

      Does the central screen do any of that stupidity about “you must be parked to do this.” When someone from the passenger side started using it?

      I’m heading into the showroom tomorrow afternoon to see the 3 and an X side by side.

    • marchyman

      I start getting a touch of range anxiety when the estimate to the destination supercharger is less than 15% in my model S (late 2014 version). I have found that Tesla's estimates to be pretty good, but I don't do enough long trips to be fully comfortable with the 10%-15% that doesn't bother you. A 5% estimate might just freek me out!

    • yaypie

      How many times did you have to reboot the car (technically the infotainment stack)? I’ve read recently that it’s disgustingly common on the 3... almost as much as the original S.

      I didn't have to reboot ever. But I did try it a couple of times while driving in the interest of science. 👨‍🔬

      One time while I was driving the screen rebooted itself spontaneously. Presumably something had crashed. But it came right back up and wasn't a problem. After a reboot the car picks up right where it left off with navigation and everything else.

      How well did it handle trading drivers? Everything reset back to your profile sans the rear view mirror? Was the passengers side as comfortable as the drivers side? Did your SO have any comments about road tripping in the car?

      This was a solo trip, but I did use different driver profiles depending on whether I was driving or using Autopilot. With Autopilot engaged I would often switch to a profile that moved my seat back a bit and allowed me to stretch out more.

      I haven't had anyone else drive me around in the car yet so I can't give you my opinion of the passenger seat while in motion, but I can tell you that my grandma absolutely loved it and raved about how comfortable the lumbar support was for her back. 😄

      Does the central screen do any of that stupidity about “you must be parked to do this.” When someone from the passenger side started using it?

      No, none of that. All functionality is always available whether you're stopped or moving.

    • yaypie

      Charging time depends entirely on how much charge the battery has when you start charging and how much charge you want to leave with.

      The battery charges much faster when it's less full, and charging gets much slower as you approach 100%, so if you want to optimize charging time the best strategy is to arrive at a supercharger with as low a charge as possible and only charge enough to make it to the next supercharger.

      I preferred to always have a bit of extra charge, and I didn't always stop at every supercharger I could have, so my charges would typically take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour depending on how far I wanted to go. It works out well if you can time the longer charges for when you're hungry or when there's something interesting to do near the supercharger.

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