Tesla beams more goodness to the Model S

Over-the-air update adds new functionality

Published: October 08, 2014 03:30 PM

Owning our 2012 Tesla Model S sometimes feels like possessing an Apple iPad that just happens to also be an electric car, thanks to fairly frequent software updates. The best part is: We don’t have to bring the car to a dealership. The updates are conveniently beamed over the air, like magic. The latest round, dubbed Version 6.0, includes several handy features. Here’s a rundown.

Traffic-based navigation

The navigation system can now alter your designated route on the fly by responding to changing traffic conditions. We tried the Tesla nav alongside Waze, the popular crowd-sourced navigation app. In general, Waze usually rerouted us faster, but in some cases the Tesla system got with the program at the last minute and rerouted us the Waze way. You can program the Tesla system to alter your route based on time saved in minutes.

Even if you don’t use the navigation system on your regular commute, a Commute Advice feature still monitors traffic conditions between locations you’ve marked as home and work. The system will let you know if there is a faster route.

Location-based air suspension

Teslas equipped with the air suspension now get a memory function to go with it. Using its GPS system, the car will remember if you have raised the suspension, for example, in front of a particularly nasty speed bump or steep driveway. Henceforward, the body will rise to the occasion on its own when you approach the spot again. We’ve found that it works like a charm. This could be useful for people who live in neighborhoods where the low-slung Tesla tends to bottom out on such obstacles.

Learn more at our Hybrid/EV Buying Guide.

Calendar sync

The Model S can now sync with a smart phone to show your calendar appointments on the car’s 17-inch central display screen. No need to program destinations into the navigation system: The car’s nav system will pick up the location from the calendar and be able to guide you there.

Sleep mode

A new power management feature is said to put the car into power-saving mode when it’s parked and not plugged in. That’s an attempt to reduce the vampire draw that we’ve found can suck out some 10 miles of range during an overnight stopover away from a charger. We haven’t put it to the test yet, but we applaud any measures to preserve driving range.

Based on prior experience, we think these free upgrades are all worthwhile enhancements, making living with the Model S even easier. They are further evidence of Tesla’s impressive after-sale care. Rare is the car that gets better over time, but the Tesla Model S does.

—Gabe Shenhar

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