When we owned a boat, we used a 2008 Toyota Sequoia to pull it. The Sequoia is a great truck—it pulled the boat, had tons of room for stuff and people, and rode quite nicely. But it was also incredibly efficient at converting money into gasoline fumes—even when not towing, it only got around 12mpg in town. It’s also huge.
With the boat gone, we wanted something smaller, with better mileage, yet with room for seven people and capable of some towing. After a lot of research and a few test drives, we chose to lease a 2019 Subaru Ascent.
Reviews for the Ascent have been positive, with Consumer Reports scoring it at 96. In general, we’ve been happy with the car…until we took it on its first car camping trip last weekend.
It was there that we learned that Subaru made an incredibly stupid design decision with a vehicle targeted at those who use their vehicles for camping and exploring:
If you weren’t reading along this week, I spent the last four days—parts one, two, three, and four—talking about my Tesla Model S and how much I love it.
Today’s surprise ending is this: I sold the car. What I’d replace it with? This…
Obviously that’s another Tesla Model S—a used Model S. It is, in fact, a 2016 Models S 90D—yes, basically the exact car I had, but not really—more on that in a bit. My wife and I call it the unicorn car; read on to understand why, and why I made this trade. (As I was writing this, I learned that others had already used that phrase for this particular vintage of the Model S.)
This is Part Four of a four-part series on our 2016 Tesla Model S. In Part One, I covered why we chose the Model S, the cost of the car, and a bit about Tesla the company. In Part Two, I listed some of the things I love about the car. In Part Three, I listed more of the things I love, plus those things I hate. In today’s Part Four, I’ll discuss what it’s like living with an electric car, cover a somewhat long road trip I took last fall, and offer a few thoughts on the future of auto electrification. Finally, tomorrow’s Part Five will provide an unexpected ending (of sorts) to the series.
Living with an electric car
My two-plus years with an electric car have been basically a non-event. There are many reasons for this, including the fact that I work at home, and that we have non-electric vehicles, so the Tesla doesn’t have to do everything. (But even if I commuted, with the car’s range of 280 miles, I think it’d still be a non-event.)
This is Part Three of a five-part series on our Tesla Model S. In Part One, I covered why we chose the Model S, the cost of the car, and a bit about Tesla the company. In Part Two, I listed some of the things I love about the car; today’s Part Three has more of the loves, as well as the not-so-loves. Part Four will discuss what it’s like living with an electric car, and my thoughts on the future of auto electrification. Finally, Part Five will provide an unexpected ending (of sorts) to the series.
Continuing with the things I love about the car and its infrastructure, and then getting to the not-so-loved things…
This is Part Two of a five-part series on our Tesla Model S. In Part One, I covered why we chose the Model S, the cost of the car, and a bit about Tesla the company. In today’s Part Two, I’ll discuss some of the things I love about the car; Part Three will have more of the loves, as well as the not-so-loves. Part Four will discuss what it’s like living with an electric car, and my thoughts on the future of auto electrification. Finally, Part Five will provide an unexpected ending (of sorts) to the series.
What I love about the car
Everything. OK, that’s not true. But there is a huge list of stuff that—even after nearly three years—helps make any drive in the Tesla an enjoyable experience. The list is generally ranked by order of importance to me, though a lot of these would be ties if I had to absolutely rank them. Most of these things are particular to Tesla’s cars (and some to the Model S in particular), though a couple are generally true of any electric vehicle.
Coming up on three years ago, in June of 2016, I replaced my Subaru Legacy with an electric car. Not just any electric car, but a Tesla. Our Tesla is a 2016 “original nose” Model S 90D, which roughly translates to “a very expensive, quite large four-door sedan with about 290 miles of range, all-wheel drive, propelled by a couple of powerful electric motors.” This is not only the most expensive car—by far—we’ve ever owned, but (spoiler alert) it’s the best car we’ve ever owned.
I’ve been writing this post—off and on—almost since the day we bought the car. So why has it taken so long to publish?
I’ve been away from home for nearly a month—first a couple weeks in DC to visit family, then off to Las Vegas with our APA 8-ball pool team for the World Championships. We did reasonably well, winning four matches and finishing in the 65th to 128th place bucket. (It’s a huge tournament, with 713 teams this year, so not every place is played out.)
Because of the uncertainty of when we’d be finished in the tournament—it’s a modified double-elimination, so you’re guaranteed two matches, but nothing more—I chose to drive, so I could leave as soon as we were finished. (Also playing into my decision was the fact that I was leaving from south of Bend, Oregon, which isn’t really convenient to flying to Las Vegas—I’d either have a one-hour drive to an airport followed by a flight to Seattle and a layover, or a four-hour drive to Portland for a direct flight.)
I’ll have more to say on the road trip in a future write up, but thought I’d take a minute to share some photos I snapped during the journey. None of these are edited at all; I haven’t had the time; they’re all direct from the camera, my Nikon D5500 (though there is one iPhone panorama).
First, in Reno, I stumbled across this fantastic exhibition of classic cars. Although it was really warm out, it was well worth walking through this collection of gorgeous cars. There was a bit of everything there—true classics, kit cars, semi-modern cars, and even a few race cars.
Once in Vegas, on our one day off, we drove out to Hoover Dam, drove across (which I didn’t think was allowed any more, after the opening of the Hoover Dam Bypass, but it was), then parked and explored for a bit. I snapped a bunch of pictures, none of which reveal just how mind-numbingly hot it was outside. They also, as always, fail to capture the sheer size of the dam and the vertigo you experience when peering over the edge. It really is worth the visit if you’re in the area. (The tour is highly recommended, too; we just didn’t have enough time.)
In all, it was a great trip, and hopefully we do well in league this year and get to go back again next year!
I try to keep our vehicles looking as good as possible for as long as possible. My kids know that this means long walks from the out-there-no-way-to-get-dinged parking spot to our destination. It means I spend a lot of my free time hand washing our cars, because I don’t trust the automated variety. It means lots of vacuuming and leather cleaning and Windexing and who knows what else.
But the one thing that has—until recently—stumped me is repairing small chips in the paint. For years, I’d buy a bottle of the factory paint and a bottle of clear sealant, and do my best to dab, smooth, and seal. But the results were never very good—sure, the chip was covered, but you could still see exactly where it was—many of my cars have had repaired areas that looked something like this (though not quite this bad)…
While effective at preventing any further expansion of the chipped area, the results were far from pretty.
A friend emailed me a link to a Craigslist posting of a Tesla for sale, asking what I thought…on first glance, I thought “Whoa, what a bargain!” Here’s how the ad looked, in case it vanishes:
Of course, on second glance, I realized it had to be a scam—the value of a 2014 Tesla Performance (85KWh battery with the Performance option) should be at least double the $36K asking price in that advert.
I thought I’d do just a bit of research and show my friend that it was a scam; I searched for “2014 Tesla Model S Signature Performance,” and the very first (non-advert) hit was this AutoTrader ad, selling the same type of car for $79K. The description in AutoTrader seems familiar somehow…
A/C ice cold, All scheduled maintenance, All records, Always garaged, Custom wheels, Excellent condition, Factory GPS system, Fully loaded with all the goodies, Looks & drives great, Mostly highway miles, Must see, Never seen snow, New paint, New tires, No accidents, Non-smoker, One owner, Perfect first car, Satellite radio, Seats like new, Still under factory warranty, Upgraded sound system, Very clean interior, Well maintained, Custom paint/graphics.
The Craigslist ad’s description (as well as the picture) was clearly copied from this legitimate ad. That was perhaps the quickest scam-find I’ve ever pulled off. (Yes, I’ve reported the ad to Craigslist.)
I’ve bought a lot of stuff off Craigslist, but never a car. I wouldn’t hesitate to do so, though, as long as I could meet the seller in person to see and drive the car.
However, if you were to try to buy this bargain-priced Telsa, you’d probably hear something like “The car is actually in Seattle, but I can have it trucked down for you to inspect before buying. I just need $2,000 sent to Western Union for the transportation, and then you can decide to buy or not once you see it in person.”
Back in January, I spent a morning at the Portland International Auto Show, walking around looking at a huge assortment of new cars and trucks, and even a couple of campers.
As the title says, for me, short of actually buying a new car, that was peak fun. I love everything about cars, and walking around a car show is about as good as it gets: All the new cars, none of the sales pressure of a dealer visit! Here are some of the better shots from the morning’s virtual shopping trip. [View on Flickr]
Of the vehicles we saw, the Acura NSX and the BMW i8 were both very striking looking—much more so in person than in photographs. And I think the Audi RS7, especially in all-black, is one of the meanest-looking cars to come along in a long time. Now I just need to come up with the $7.5 million or so it’d take to buy all the cars on my wish list!
The above album is hosted on Flickr and displayed here via a plug-in; read on if you’re interested in how I did that…