Times Test Garage: Details on the Tesla Model S

It’s Day 2 of our five-day stint with the Tesla Model S and already we’re noticing several details about this car that are worth sharing.

Here they are in no particular order, or click through our gallery to see what we’re talking about.

The most dramatic aspect of the inside of the Model S is the 17-inch touch screen. You can use the entire display for the navigation system, which uses Google Maps. Or you can split the screen between any combination of navigation, stereo, backup camera, phone and efficiency meter.

Photos: Details of the Tesla Model S

The bottom inch of the screen is dedicated to the climate control, regardless of what’s displayed above it. It has a pop-up menu for selecting the air vents and controlling the air conditioning.

Another menu on this screen will display all the car’s functions. Drivers can select one of three steering modes and four ride heights (though the car will automatically lower itself at speed for greater efficiency), and control the regenerative braking, creep (whether the car moves forward when you take your foot off the brake) and traction control.

The window switches, cruise control stalk, gear-shift lever (mounted on the steering column) and turn-signal stalk are all sourced from Mercedes-Benz. This is likely a cost-saving measure: Designing and manufacturing these is an immense cost a large automaker can spread across many, if not all of its vehicles. Tesla is too small to do so, so it looks elsewhere.

There is plenty of space everywhere in this car. The trunk is spacious, the rear seats fit tall passengers (with a flat floor) and fold flat for extra space, and since there’s no engine up front, the front trunk (frunk, as Tesla calls it) is also plenty useful.

Turning outward, the car has a very clean profile and aesthetic. This is aided by door handles that automatically retract when not in use. To get them to pop out, simply touch them. You then need to give the door a good tug to open it. Also, the charge port is cleverly hidden in the corner of the rear taillight so as to avoid any unseemly fuel-door confusion.

But not everything about this car is perfect. Check back in tomorrow as we detail a few electronic gremlins that have already reared their head.


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