Life with Tesla Model S: assessing my new 100D vs old 2013 electric car

About two years ago, under the influence of an eager Tesla representative, I briefly considered trading in my trusty 2013 Tesla Model S 85 for a new Model S 90D.

But after a 24-hour test drive, the advantages of the 90D—40 miles more range, all-wheel drive, and Autopilot 1.0—didn’t seem to justify the $40,000 cost of stepping up to Tesla’s latest and greatest.

“Not a chance,” I wrote at the time. “I’m good with the old car.”

That was then. This is now.

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Some things changed in the meantime.

  • My financial outlook improved: I had a very good year for one of my investments, and I have only one more year of college tuition for my daughter left.
  • I turned 70 years old. For decades I’ve been saving and investing so I’d have money to spend in my old age. And suddenly, officially, here it is.
  • I recently suffered a retinal detachment, an abrupt reminder that stuff happens. Tomorrow I could be blind—or dead.
  • Tesla introduced the Model S 100D, with all the benefits of the 90D, plus an EPA range of 335 miles—a full 90 miles more than my old 85.
  • Tesla introduced Autopilot 2.0, with the expectation of fully autonomous driving capability within a couple of years.

The 100D now looked pretty enticing. 

2017 Tesla Model S 100D [photo: David Noland, owner]

2017 Tesla Model S 100D [photo: David Noland, owner]

Beyond the strictly visceral lures—better acceleration, the cool new thing—there were some compelling practical advantages as well. 

All-wheel drive would clearly help during my winters in New York's Hudson Valley. An extra 90 miles of range would ease my annual cross-country drive to California.

And the potential for full autonomy in a couple of years would come just when my own driving skills and confidence might begin to fade.

READ THIS: Fatal Tesla Autopilot crash: 'system safeguards lacking,' says NTSB

And so, last April, I pulled the trigger on a new 100D.

With metallic paint, Silver Cyclone 19-inch wheels, premium seats, and air suspension—but no Autopilot—the MSRP came to $101,800. With my current-owner discount and federal and state tax credits, the effective post-incentive total came to $91,300.

Tesla gave me $33,250 trade-in on my old car, so my net cost was $58,050. (I know, I know. What can I say? Life is short, and you can’t take it with you.)

2017 Tesla Model S 100D [photo: David Noland, owner]

2017 Tesla Model S 100D [photo: David Noland, owner]

The car arrived in late June. After 3,000 miles, I’m pleased with my new baby so far—even though I’ve yet to enjoy any of the 100D’s major advantages over my old car: the all-wheel drive, 335-mile range, or autonomous driving.

Here are some of the smaller advantages I’ve noticed:

Better seats: From the moment I first got into the car to drive it home from the Tesla delivery center, I felt the extra support along the thighs and lower back.

Better acceleration: On paper, the 100D’s 0-60 time of  4.1 seconds is markedly faster than my old 85’s 5.2 seconds. I can definitely feel the difference.

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Faster Supercharging: Despite the larger battery capacity, the 100D takes less time to supercharge.

Although peak charge rate is about the same as the 85—115 kW—the 100-kWh battery maintains a much higher charge rate as the battery fills up. At 50-percent state of charge, the 100D will still charge at 100kW—a huge improvement over the 85.

However, I’ve noticed the 100-kWh battery seems very sensitive to temperature. On very hot days, or on cool days if the battery isn’t fully warmed up, charge rate falls off more rapidly than I recall it doing with the 85.

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