Tesla Autopilot Review

6 days after I’d purchased my 2014 P85+, Tesla introduced Autopilot. I would have returned it, but a) I was having too much fun and b) I figured I’d keep it until something better came along, for at the moment, all the new models did was vibrate the steering wheel when you got out of your lane.

Well, something did happen. An over-the-air software update added Autosteer in November 2015. I couldn’t take it anymore, and had to trade mine in – a 2014 white P85+ for a 2015 white Inventory P85+. Yes, that’s a 2015 P85+, with VIN 69xxx. They told me at the Raleigh service center it’s the last P85+ ever made. I also liked the 85D, but at this price point, I could only get bare-bones models. The year of depreciation factored in for the P85+ made it the better deal –  I got one completely loaded, except for the rear-facing seats.

Our first test was a 60-mile road trip to an open house in Greensboro, NC, 75 miles away. Once underway, we merged onto I-40, and I double-pulled the cruise control stalk to set the Traction Aware Cruise Control and Autosteer. I then took my feet off the pedals, and hands of the steering wheel, and sat back. I didn’t touch the controls again until over an hour later. My Tesla drove herself to Greensboro, over 75 miles!

She maintained a speed of 79 mph, while staying in the center of its lane, following all curves as if there were a cushy forcefield between the rims and the lane markers. The electronic buffer extended to the front of the car as well: she kept a pre-set distance behind the car in front of us, slowing down even before I noticed it was necessary, all while backing off when someone merged in front of us. The following distance is adjustable between 1 and 7 by twisting the stalk, with 1 and 2 being feeling uncomfortably close, and 7 being a little too far, inviting people to merge in front.

I found myself transfixed by the display. It shows in real-time the relation of the car to it’s lane markers – she’ll humbly admit when she’s too close to one side, and you can see and feel it correct. Changing lanes was as easy as operating the turn signal, although the initial swing into the next lane is a little abrupt for me.

The best part was arriving. Usually, when I arrive at a destination after a 1-hr. drive on the Interstate, it takes me 5 or 10 minutes to “de-tense” or unwind, for driving a vehicle 80mph for an hour or two involves a mental investment which can be tiring. However, when we arrived, I practically sprung out of the car, feeling refreshed.

It’s the difference in stress levels between driving, and letting someone else drive. The road passes by, and yet there’s a feeling of detachment, for you know someone else is handling it.

There’s several other bonus that came with the Autopilot upgrade:

– automatic low/high beam headline adjusting
– Hill hold brakes
– Automatic parallel parking – I’ve used it twice, and it’s worked flawlessly.

So far, I’ve had my Inventory Autopilot P85+ for almost 2 weeks, and Tesla hasn’t announced anything major, so I think I’m good!


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