How To Test Drive a Tesla, Rivian, or Other EV

tesla to cut 10 percent of workforce as ev sales decline
How To Test Drive a Tesla, Rivian, or Other EVBrandon Bell - Getty Images

EV-only brands want to distance themselves from the traditional dealership experience, and one of the ways they're doing this is by revamping the test drive. Rather than make small talk with a salesperson to get behind the wheel of the vehicle you're interested in, Fisker, Lucid, Polestar, Rivian, Tesla, and VinFast let you schedule a time to stop by a nearby store and take a car out for a short stint, sans the pressure of a salesperson breathing down your neck. In theory, that is.

In practice, these brands don't all approach this concept the same way: Some still require that a representative come along for the ride, while others use this experience as an opportunity to gather personal contact information and spam a consumer with messages to try and close a sale. Here's what to expect when test driving a vehicle from these six brands.


  • Time Limit: None stated

  • Showroom Locations by State*: California, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Missouri, New York, South Carolina

  • Requirements: Driver’s license
    *Online booking limited to California


With Fisker's finances up in the air, the automaker's future is currently uncertain. This may explain why we never received a confirmation email after booking a test drive on the company's website. Showroom locations are few and far between, and they consist of private dealer networks and a pair of Fisker-operated spaces in Southern California. Only the latter locations offer an online booking option through the company's website.


2024 fisker ocean


  • Time Limit: Approximately 30 minutes

  • Showroom Locations by State: Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Texas, Virginia, Washington

  • Requirements: Driver’s license

Lucid offers its Air sedan in a variety of trims: from the 10Best-winning Pure to the outrageous 1234-hp Sapphire. The bad news is the company isn't giving consumers a chance to book a time slot behind the wheel of the latter Air variant, which stickers for north of a quarter mil (for now, at least). However, Lucid does offer interested parties the opportunity to get a stint in the driver's seat of the next-level-down $111,400 Grand Touring with its less bonkers but still formidable 819-hp powertrain. The aforementioned 430-hp Pure and the ritzier 620-hp Touring each start at $71,400 and $79,400, respectively, and both are on the test-drive menu. We say go big or go home and snag the fob of a Grand Touring for your approximately 30-minute drive.


2022 lucid air grand touring
Lucid Motors


  • Time Limit: Approximately 30 minutes

  • Showroom Locations by State: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, Washington

  • Requirements: Driver’s license and proof of insurance

Polestar's impressive user experience starts with the website's test-drive sign-up page. The Sweden-based brand helps potential buyers customize their test drive by giving users a checklist of specific features they want to focus on during their drive and a slider that lets the user dial in the approximate percentage of their drive that takes place in urban, rural, and highway environments. That said, the Polestar showroom (or Space in Polestar parlance) where we tested a 2 hatchback seemed unaware of our drive preferences, handing us the fob to the car and some general route guidance that basically amounted to, “Head to the highway, hop on for a few exits, and loop back.” On the plus side, Polestar is game to let customers take a spin in just about any variant that a given Space has on its lot.

average price of electric vehicles rises, as supply costs continue to increase
Justin Sullivan - Getty Images


  • Time Limit: Approximately 30–60 minutes

  • Showroom Locations by State*: California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, New York, Washington

  • Requirements: Driver’s license
    *Online booking and test drives are also available in a number of locations without showrooms.

Not near one of Rivian's showrooms? No worries, because the automaker also offers test drives at many of its service facilities throughout the country. Our drive started and ended at one of the company's showrooms (or Spaces in Rivian speak) and included about 30 minutes of driving. A representative accompanied us on the journey and made sure to give us a rundown of the R1 models' various tech. This included a portion of highway driving to test out the company's Level 2 driver-assist system. Like swag? The Rivian Space we visited had free stickers.


2022 rivian r1s launch edition
Andrew Trahan - Car and Driver


  • Time Limit: Approximately 30–60 minutes

  • Showroom Locations by State: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin

  • Requirements: Driver’s license

Getting behind the wheel of a Tesla requires booking an appointment on the company's website. The automaker offers two such choices to consumers: a more traditional option that involves going to a Tesla showroom and speaking with a company representative or a novel "self-serve" one, which is what we tried out. Doing this required downloading the Tesla app to our smartphone, which we then used to upload photos of our driver's license. From there, we used the app to locate and unlock the Tesla Model Y SUV we opted to take out for a spin. Don't bother showing up early, either, because as we discovered, the app won't let you into the vehicle even a second before your booked time. Booking a self-serve test drive also opens up the opportunity to avoid having to go to a Tesla store, as the automaker often uses its Supercharger stations or service centers as pick-up and drop-off points.

Tesla encourages drivers to familiarize themselves with the vehicle and its Supercharger network by first suggesting a 10-minute stop for a quick zap of electricity. Need assistance with anything? Then there's always the option to get on the line with a company rep.

Despite rejecting the typical dealership model (Tesla strictly sells its vehicles directly to consumers) and rejiggering the test drive, the EV automaker seems unwilling to shake the aggressive follow-up tactics often associated with car dealers. If your experience ends up anything like ours, then prepare for Tesla to inundate you with follow-up calls, emails, and text messages aimed at securing a sale.


the tesla motors showroom in san francisco
San Francisco Chronicle/Hearst Newspapers via Getty Images - Getty Images


  • Time Limit: Approximately 30 minutes

  • Showroom Locations by State*: California, Connecticut, Florida, Kansas, New York, North Carolina, Texas

  • Requirements: Driver’s license
    *Online booking limited to California

Like Fisker, VinFast vehicles are available at both company-operated showrooms and privately run dealerships. This combination allowed the Vietnamese automaker to expand its American presence beyond the Golden State, the locale where VinFast first set up shop on our shores. Even so, California remains the only state where consumers interested in a VinFast EV can book an appointment online for a test drive. Doing so secures an approximately 30-minute stint in the driver's seat, albeit with a company rep in tow.


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