Upgrading my Model S

When the Model 3 launched, I stood in line and put down my deposit with hundreds of thousands of others. I already had a 2014 Model S85 that I loved, but I was looking to upgrade my car to get all-wheel drive and autopilot. The Model 3 offered the promise of most of what I loved about my S, but with a lower cost and that led me to put down the deposit before everything about the Model 3 was known.

As time passed waiting for the Model 3, I asked if there was enough differentiation between the Model 3 and Model S. Would people still buy the Model S after the 3 was released? Turns out the answer is a resounding Yes, but it wasn’t obvious to me at the time.

I then spent some time comparing the features of the yet-to-be-released Model 3 with that of my existing S85 to see what the change would be like and as I tried to talk myself into the Model 3 from my Model S.

After 4.5 years, 102,000 miles on my S85, I finally got the invite to configure the Model 3. The particular flavor of the Model 3 I would have wanted was not yet available. Only the RWD long range was avaialble to start, and then later the performance model was offered. I definitely wanted AWD, but the performance option wasn’t interesting to me.

As we finally found out what the Model 3 was, what the options were, and what it cost, it led to me thinking a lot more about what I really wanted in my next car.

I loved my Model S, and wouldn’t have considered parting with it except for missing AWD and Autopilot (AP). While my car did great in the snow with great winter tires, I still wanted the extra security of AWD. I also drive a lot, and much of that in heavy Boston area traffic and on highways. Autopilot is ideal for those conditions. 

The Model 3 offered the option to get AWD and AP while not having to spend another $100K on a Tesla, but as I saw in my comparisons before, it came with some disadvantages for me.

My wife and I spent a lot of time talking about the choice and it came down to a few things for me:

  1. Interior color – I won’t buy a car with a black interior and am not a fan of white. People seem to love the white, but it’s not my taste. Those are the only 2 options on the Model 3.
  2. I don’t like glossy black surfaces inside the car, they collect dust and fingerprints and Tesla, yet again, chose to go with a lot of gloss in the 3.
  3. Giving up 50% of my cargo space to go to a 3 was a major deal breaker. My wife solidified that when she pointed out that we wouldn’t be able to visit my parents in my any more if I had a 3 as the family and luggage wouldn’t fit for that trip. (ironically my new S has been in the service center for 2 weeks so we ended up taking an ICE to my parents anyway…)
  4. While I’d get used to the center screen on the 3 and the overall looks and feel, the style is quite polarizing and I prefer the looks/aesthetics of the S. 

The parts that had me stuck on the 3 came down to just a couple major items:

  1. Range – Range is king and the 3 has more range than the most affordable S (which is still a lot more money than the 3)
  2. Price – the Model 3 would have been almost $30K cheaper

I also compared the prices (pricing for Tesla is a bit of a moving target but these were directionally correct at the time):

The incentives for the 3 were hopeful, as the actual Model I wanted (AWD non-performance) wasn’t yet available so that could have forced me into the performance 3 which would have changed the numbers more.

And then I looked at the features:

While the 3 is an amazing car with a lot of great features and benefits, going through the process reinforced what I had really wanted — I really just wanted my S with AWD and AP. There were other benefits of getting a newer S which were nice, but I also didn’t want to give up on any of the things I already had on my S.

Had I been coming from another car and hadn’t experienced the S, then it may have been a different decision. Also, the 4.5 years of driving the S had me very comfortable with the range of the S75D which is just slightly (6 miles) less than my S85 when it was new and the extra range of the 3 wouldn’t make a difference to any of the driving that I do.

After much deliberation, we decided to transfer the deposit on the 3 to a new S and ordered a new S75D. More on that configuration and how I sold my S in a future post.