We recently spent the day with a Tesla Model S Plaid to give you all a comprehensive review of what it’s like being behind the wheel of this tri-motor electric muscle sedan. Many things about it were impressive: the acceleration, stellar tech and great range. There were a handful of negatives, too, but here we’re going to focus on how the Plaid’s interior has held up over its 19,000-plus miles.
The most obvious problem was staring us in the face right after opening the door. Tesla’s yoke steering device looked like it had been attacked by a wild animal. Its covering was worn and stripped away on both sides of the yoke’s vertical bars, leaving the somewhat uncomfortable bare yoke below it. Yeah, this looks bad, bad.
Now, some caveats. This Model S Plaid is a rental that’s been on Turo for an undetermined amount of time. According to the listing, it’s only been out on 7 total trips, including ours. The rental life is hard on any car. Even so, being used and likely abused as a rental, this kind of wear and tear is something we’ve never seen before on rentals with a similar number of miles. Maybe one with 100,000, but less than 20,000? Clorox wipes and hand sanitizer is going to be rough on any car interior, but still, this kind of damage is egregious.
For a moment, too, we thought there was a chance this yoke was an outlier. Or maybe somebody defaced it on purpose in a previous rental trip? But recent online revelations by other Plaid owners defeat this theory. In tweets, Model S owners detailed the degradation of their own yokes, showing that our experience is not abnormal.
We’re fast approaching the point where many Model S Plaid owners will be hitting similar mileage marks as our rental. Unless Tesla quietly improved the quality of its yoke covering over the past year, we suspect that this will be a common occurrence. In addition to it just looking bad, this fast-wearing cover speaks to the sort of durability testing Tesla does. Of all the things you touch in a car, more wear and tear is put on the steering wheel and seats than anywhere else. You’d think that Tesla would want to make sure its brand-new, fancy steering device was a bulletproof part, right? Since Tesla lacks a PR or communications department, we can’t actually ask Tesla what its testing and quality assurance scheme was for the yoke, but we can surmise from the results that whatever was done wasn’t enough.
Besides the yoke, this rented Model S Plaid’s seats were rather gross to look at — check out the difference in appearance between the unsullied tops of the seats versus the flat-out gross bottoms. White seats are always a gamble when it comes to car interiors, but again, we’ve never seen any that are this discolored after just a year of use. We’ve had long-term test cars with white or cream interiors for a year-plus, and they’ve never ended up looking like this. In fact, we just gave up our long-term Hyundai Palisade with the Calligraphy trim’s quilted white leather interior option, and you’d be hard-pressed to notice a difference in the leather’s hue between when it arrived and when it left. Once again, this speaks to the durability of materials used.
Outside of the yoke and seat issues, the only other big problem was black trim being chipped off one of the emergency door release latches. This could very easily be the fault of a ring or some other hard material being pushed into it with some force, which is less of a Tesla issue and more user error. The rest of the interior in this particular Plaid didn’t show any other signs of sped-up wear, making the steering wheel and seats the two big problem areas.
However, when driving, we noticed a number of continuous creaks and rattles that an approximately $150,000 car should not be exhibiting after just 19,000 miles. Unlike a vault-like Mercedes-Benz or Porsche that may cost a similar amount, this Tesla made noises that we’d expect out of a car with far more miles than it has. And yes, even rental cars. It’s one of the many reasons why the Plaid is much less of an American luxury car, and more of an American muscle car.
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