2017 Tesla Model 3: Monthly Update for September 2019
by Carlos Lago, Manager, Feature Content
Where Did We Drive It?
Software update V10 has landed. It downloaded rather quickly once our Model 3 was parked and connected to Wi-Fi, and the installation process took around a half-hour. Here’s a recap of what the updates include and our brief experience using each feature.
The video game Cuphead is now available. We were curious how this extraordinarily difficult (and beautifully animated) action platformer would work with the Tesla touchscreen interface. As it turns out, it doesn’t. The only way you can play the game is with a controller plugged into a USB port — a good thing, considering the precision that the game demands. Check back later for thoughts on how it works.
Smart Summon is a, um, “braver” and beta version of the existing Summon feature where, using the Tesla phone app, you can have your car drive to you, or more specifically to your phone’s location via GPS. It attempts to navigate tight surroundings, occasionally turning to avoid objects in its path. The changelog carries this disclaimer, “Smart Summon is only intended for use in private parking lots and driveways.” It also says that “it may not detect all obstacles.”
Our experience has been hit-and-miss, and we’ve watched the system’s successes and failures on a bunch of videos online already. Ultimately, it’s a neat gimmick when it works, but we have yet to find a practical use for it outside of showing off to friends, family and Instagram.
Ever wanted to watch YouTube, Netflix or Hulu on something bigger than your phone when parked? Now you can in the Model 3 — just enter your user credentials and binge. We suspect more platforms will follow in future updates, but we’re impressed by what’s available. From video games to TV shows and movies, the Model 3 has many answers for the question, “What do you do while it’s charging during your road trip?”
Finally, something better than internet radio! Well, kind of. Spotify is now available on the Model 3 but only for paying subscribers. There are no free rides here. While Spotify Premium members are surely celebrating, I’m not a subscriber, so it’s Bluetooth until future notice.
The dashcam can now use the rear-facing camera (why did this take so long?). In-car karaoke (called Caraoke) gives access to preset karaoke songs with lyrics that appear on the screen. Two new navigation prompts (“Lucky” and “Hungry”) route you to nearby attractions or local restaurants. Also, the display of your car’s surroundings moves a bit more smoothly now. Neat-o.
How Much Electricity Did It Use?
We drove the Tesla 561 miles and charged it six times in September. The indicated range after a charge continued to climb. We saw it register as high as 291 miles after one charge, though most hovered at 287 miles. Never mind that we don’t actually go that far between charges; we average about 100 miles between plug-ins.
Remember how our average lifetime energy improved by 0.1 kWh/100 miles in August? In September, it returned to the 30.7 kWh/100 miles average we’ve reported for a few months now, indicating the difference is mainly due to rounding.
Average lifetime consumption: 30.7 kWh/100 miles (109.7 mpge)
EPA consumption rating: 27 kWh/100 combined miles (126 mpge)
Best fill consumption: 21.7 kWh/100 miles (131.5 mpge)
Best range: 217.2 miles
Current odometer: 21,002 miles
Other fun facts:
Best onboard consumption meter reading (aka “The Featherfoot Award”): 177 Wh/mi
Worst reading (aka “The Leadfoot Award”): 570 Wh/mi
Average meter reading: 242.5 Wh/mi
Maintenance and Upkeep
“A strange thing happened when the notification for software update V10 appeared on the Tesla’s display: I drove to work faster to get the process started.
“More interesting than the specific features is the sense of interest that an update like this brings to vehicle ownership. It’s like when your phone or your favorite video game receives a major update. It brings anticipation and renewed interest to the experience. I’ve never thought a car could do the same thing, but the Model 3 does.
“After an update, you look forward to playing with the new doodads and goodies it brings, as simple as they may be. For example, I swear that the electronic whoopee cushion built into the entertainment screen has made more passengers laugh over and over again than the acceleration. These are gimmicks, surely, but they’re damn good ones.” — Carlos Lago, manager, feature content