In what is likely a first for Car and Driver (C/D historians and archivists are still fact-checking this), we have actually paid real money for a new car. We are leasing a Tesla Model 3.
Here’s a short version of the inside baseball behind this decision: We usually request vehicles from manufacturers, and without too much of a wait, these cars appear at our office for testing. Some of the test cars remain for a two-week loan, and some commit to a 40,000-mile stay. We have repeatedly asked Tesla for vehicles to test, but lately, company reps have been painfully slow to respond to our requests. And we're impatient.
Whether self-driving cars succeed or fail is one of the big questions for the 2020s.
So why not start the decade off right, with an electric car that may (or may not) end up being able to drive itself? Tesla CEO Elon Musk has made a lot of noise about autonomous technology, promising that the software updates and the cameras and the tech already onboard our Autopilot-equipped Model 3 will make the self-driving car possible. We want to have our Midnight Silver Metallic–flake streamline baby around whenever it becomes possible to nap while driving from San Francisco to Los Angeles.
Not that we'd do that. But we are going to drive the heck out of it for at least two years and report on its autonomous capabilities as they roll out. And we'll dutifully publish what goes wrong, what goes right, and what it's like to live with one.
We had a Tesla Model S for a 40,000-mile long-term test back in 2016 and 2017, so we have the Tesla HighPower Wall Connectors and are familiar with the brand's quirky oddities, like how you never really turn off the car.
You just stop, put it in park, and walk away.
As of this writing, our new car, a 2019 Dual Motor Long Range Model 3 with Autopilot and Full Self Driving, has 40 miles on it. We’re hoping that living the Tesla life will provide lots of fodder for stories. We’ve already tried to play Centipede on it and watched The Office reruns, and someone selected the option to make the turn signal play fart noises.
We're obviously taking this very, very seriously.