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CNET On Cars: 2015 Tesla Model S P85D: Electric to excess! (CNET On Cars, Episode 61)
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CNET On Cars: 2015 Tesla Model S P85D: Electric to excess! (CNET On Cars, Episode 61)

20:52 /

The latest Model S is as fast as you imagined, the hacked car is no longer a theory and Cooley's top 5 technological reasons to buy a new car.

Tesla has got two motors and a bit of a mind of its own. Packing cars, is it really that easy? And the top five reasons you might want to buy a new one. It is time to check the test. We see cars differently Nice We love. On the road and under the hood, but also check the text and are known for telling it like it is. Ugly is included at no extra cost. The good, the bad, the bottom line. This is CNET On Cars. Welcome to CNET On Cars, the show about high tech. cars and modern driving. I am Brian Cooley. Well the last time we had a Tesla Model S in for a deep review, I had a few things on my wish list, more performance is not one of them, but that is what we ended up getting with the new P85D, a performance model with dual motors. It's also got an early taste of Tesla's vision of autonomy. Let's drive it, and check the tech. [MUSIC] For all its advancements, the Tesla Model S was missing some pretty basic things. All-wheel drive, and any kind of driver assist. They just got caught up. Let's drive. The 2015 Tesla P85 D. [INAUDIBLE] rather quickly. Now on the outside as you can see, these new D model Tesla model Ses are very familiar. It is what is happening underneath in two broad areas, first of all the D tells you you have got dual motors. Which also rolls in all wheel drive. Secondly, a whole new wave of autonomy. Driver's assist to the degree of self-driving even, is coming in phases. Let's start with the drive train though. Now a model as traditionally had a single motor at the rear, driving those wheels. These new D cars, add a second motor at the front to drive those wheels to the tune of 188 horsepower,. [UNKNOWN]. If you get a, P, or performance model like we have, the rear motor gets bumped way up to 470 horse power and the front a bit higher to 221, for a massive 691 total. That gets this nearly 5,000 pound car to 60 in just 3.2 seconds. Range is down, but only slightly from a standard rear wheel model [UNKNOWN]. Overall charge time doesn't change much in the new car, with a single charger that comes built in about eight and a half hours. Option the dual charger, you get that down to about four. Tesla's supercharger gets you 170 miles of range in. 30 minutes, and if their battery swap stations come to fruition, you'll swap the whole pack in just three minutes. The all wheel drive comes in many flavors, of course, There's that which is aimed very much at dealing with very tough conditions and that which is aimed at performance. This one is clearly looking more like a performance setup, though it's certainly going to help you when you've got lesser traction. Then there's the new auto pilot. Which is what Tesla calls their driver assist. That means adaptive cruise that maintains, speed and distance to other cars. Along with the ability to come all the way to a full stop and resume. To be honest, nothing other cars didn't have a couple of years ago. Ditto this car's new ability to read speed limit signs and alert you to the correct speed. Now highway lane changing is interesting. You can do it by just signaling. Our car currently just does the acceleration part for you, but automatic lane change steering is coming as well. Self-parking in a Tesla means the car not only parks in a spot that you pull alongside of, but eventually will bring itself out of that spot and to you. At least on private property. Now inside the Model S nothing is changed on the P85D. Just to give you a quick refresher. These cars are laid differently than yours. Here is the giant center LCD that can be used in one or two modes. You see Google maps in one you'll commonly have up. Here's one that may be an eye opener, a live web browser. That even works while you drive. Over there in front of the driver's an all LCD instrument panel with your main sort of speed range gauge in front of you. On the left you'll get navigation when you're under navigation and then on the right, you've got about a handful of very quick shortcut menus that largely replace things that are buttons on other cars. And the media choices on these cars are similarly modern. You have AM-FM HD radio, of course. Then standard, they include streaming radio like Slacker and TuneIn through a built-in 3G radio. Interestingly, optional is satellite radio, only with a pricy audio upgrade. And of course, you've also got Bluetooth streaming and a couple of USB ports for mobile devices. Now screens that show the new features of this car are under the controls menu. First of all, if you go to Driving, here's one that's very telling, acceleration can be Sport, or Insane. That takes full advantage of both motors at full tilt. And under Settings, you've got what Tesla calls their Auto Pilot Technology. And that adaptive cruise control by the way, should be take us all the way to zero, then back up to full freeway speed as traffic conditions warrant. Okay, I'll be honest with ya, if I'd done a top 5 improvements I wanted in the existing Model S. Greater performance would have been number 6, just [UNKNOWN] on my list. These are all good performing cars, however, this is now one that has notable performance, as you saw on those zero to 60 numbers. These [UNKNOWN] by the way, they're P models. They also have an improved support suspension, which is also highly variable in height. So combine all of that with the fact that you've got that big ol' belly full of battery. This thing planted and low-centered. And it's just an amazingly grippy stuck to the earth performance sedan. It always takes me a little time to get used to the fact that I have [INAUDIBLE] drive control in this car. You just have the pedal on the right and that's it. No sport mode, so sport plus, no nah nah nah, to get this and that dialed in. You just step on it harder. It's. Amazingly elegant, but, we're so used to having gadgetry between us and that. It's a little jarring. And when you drop this thing into insane mode, like I showed you, [LAUGH] it's insane. How can a car that weighs nearly 5,000 pounds do what that thing just did? However, it's also a bit of a head-fake. I will trade all of that in [MUSIC] The same mode nonsense. And all of the seconds they've shaved on its 0 to 60 time, for a vastly shorter battery charge. Let's not lose the real facts on electric cars. These P85Ds, which are top of the stack performance dual motor models, are coming in at around 106,000, base. And then we would add about another $800 in options, but due to the almost $10,000 in tax credits available, at least here in California, we end up actually below the MSRP, but still not a cheap car. This technology will also be very interesting as we see the all wheel drive get much more accessible in the coming Model S. Find our full review of that 15 Model S P85D, top of the stack for Tesla, at cars.cnet.com. You've probably noticed the other guy's headlights a lot more in recent years. That's because technology has made them brighter and made them move. In a moment, we'll find out if they really are blinding you, or if you're just imagining that, when CNET On Cars continues. [MUSIC] Adaptive front lighting systems or these swiveling headlights that some cars have, have been clearly links to lower insurance claims on cars that have them. And also been proven to give drivers earlier detection of objects ahead on the road. Yet a lot of folks think that these. Swiveling lights create more glare when the other guy has them, and they still remain pretty rare on a lot of cars. Let's find out what's going on. In October 2014, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety had 20 sample participants view cars with on coming headlights of different types and rate the visual pain, if you will, on what's called the De Boer Visual. Discomfort index. Now high intensity discharge headlights are really bright white ones like we have, here rated higher than standard headlights as you might imagine on that discomfort scale.but not in the realm of being unacceptable. What's interesting is the swiveling or adaptive front lighting system headlights. Did not rate meaningfully higher then ones that are fixed dead ahead. Another finding by the IHHS is that these swiveling adaptive headlights can allow a driver to spot something as soon as a third of a second sooner on a curve. Curved road. That can translate to let's say 15 feet sooner detection of a pedestrian, let's say, when you're driving at 30 miles an hour. BMW and Lexus were among the first brands I encountered with these adaptive front lighting systems, oh almost ten years ago in the 2004 model year. Now, ten plus years later. They're still kinda rare. As of 2014, 14% of models of cars that were offered in the market had them standard. 22% had them optional, still in the minority of the market. So, adaptive front lighting, despite it's documented benefits and apparent livability,. Still remains in the luxury tech category, not the, you must offer it, safety tech category. Next time you buy a car, it pays to double-check if it offers these headlights that give you a bit of an edge. Welcome back to CNET on cars. Cars coming to you from our home at the [UNKNOWN] Motor Club just north of the Golden Gate Bridge. [MUSIC] Well, think about all the ways your car is connected these days. Yes, start with that wireless key fob. That's one form. And now look at the apps in your dash. Maybe your car is connected through your phone or its got its own built in data radio with 3G or 4G. And soon cars will be self-driving and then they have to talk to the infrastructure, and the internet and to each other. What about the hacking potential? A number of you have written in and asked about the landscape and here's a car tech 101 that has some thoughts on that. [MUSIC] [MUSIC] As recently as five years ago, reports of cars being hacked were out there but they were viewed as either apocryphal or just unlikely to scale. Then this drum beat of headlines began. March 2011, UC San Diego and University of Washington. Teams there able to hack. Back into a mainstream production car via its cellular data connection getting access to drive systems. May 2013, NHTSA establishes its first team to monitor car hacks and develop standards against them that are still pending. [MUSIC] August 2013, Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek get into the backbone of a 2010 Prius and a 2010 Ford Escape in a demonstration that they do through the. OBD-II port, which is in every car made since '96. They get access to steering, breaking, displays, and more. Summer 2014, a teenager spends 15 bucks at Radio Shack. And was reported able to remotely unlock and start a car at the Battelle Cyberauto Challenge. Apparently not much of a challenge for him. August 2014, prowl LinkedIn and you'll find job listings like this one from Ford that reads almost like one from a defense contract. And February of 2015 in Sausalito California, a thief prepares to walk by a locked car holding some kind of device that isn't the key. But it still unlocks it, and he steals a $15,000 racing bike from the back. [MUSIC] A typical new car today has maybe a hundred microprocessors in it, networked together by a lan, teeming with a lot of shared information that passes by most of those chips. All of this given shape by up to a hundred million lines of software code. These are cyber physical system, so effectively when you're in your car you're in a computer with wheels. But what is the robustness and the resiliency of that entity. Probably far less than the laptop that you have sitting on the table at home. Mary Aiken is a cyber psychologist and real life inspiration for the new show CSI: Cyber. That CBS just launched on Wednesday night. [MUSIC] I'm a cyber cop. Her concerns underline four things going on in the connected car. The processors and networks increasingly control important stuff. How car systems are increasingly interconnected, get into one part of the car's electronics. Then you may be on your way to getting into the rest. Third, these systems are increasingly exposed to wireless interfaces. From a wireless key that can remote start your car to bluetooth and WiFi for streaming in hotspots and built-in cellular radios that power the car's telematics or concierge service. And finally, the internet. As with everything else connected via it, it's a non-proprietary shared infrastructure. Intoxicatingly powerful, efficient and scalable but shared is shared. That means good guys and bad. And unlike our personal computers where just about no two are alike with different software, settings, security software, configurations and so many parameters, vehicles tend to be pretty homogenous. [MUSIC] Add to that, waves of cars heading to showrooms this year, with Apple Car Play, or Android Auto, installed. Potentially setting the table for yet another layer of common hack efficiency. Hack one, the fear goes, and hack them all. And with cars on US roads, currently at a historic high of 11.4 years old, average. Race. Whatever vulnerabilities are going out there will likely remain there for a long time. [NOISE] [MUSIC] In a moment, pouring your car cocktail which could also end up being one of my top five reasons to buy a new one when c/net on cars continues. [MUSIC] The iconic British vehicle. Some people want to modify it and put lots of blingy bits on and others say we just like the off roading. Some people never take them off-road. And so they're so adaptable. Everything bolts and everything just is so easily changed, I mean, to what you want it to be. Find more from the XCAR team of CNet UK at cnet.com/xcar. Welcome back to CNET on cars, I'm Brian Cooley. Here's the part of the show we take one of your emails. And this one comes in from Gear Head Drew. He writes, I just saw your excellent episode on the 2014 Mercedes-Benz S550. which had a great diesel engine and gave excellent insights on modern diesel advantages and improvements. His question is, could we do a little spot on octane and gasoline that would educate the average consumer, on the myths of confusion of what octane is and what it does. And he also adds, by the way can my car run on gin? Hm. Okay first of all Drew, I'm pleased to say we have covered octane. It was a while ago though so you may have missed. It's back in our episode 44, June of last year, 2014. Don't worry about digging for it. I'm gonna put a link in the show notes for this episode. At cnetoncars.com. We did quite a deep dive on it, but in a nutshell, if you've got a car that is designed and says required high octane gas, you should put it in there or you are muting both its performance and its efficiency. Not good. It's generally worth the extra money to buy the better fuel. On the other hand, if you're putting high octane gas into a car that couldn't care less. You're wasting money. It doesn't make that engine more powerful or more efficient. So don't do that either. Basically, give the car what it's designed for. You can't goose it either way by going up or down the gasoline quality ladder. Now as to your more interesting question. Can you run your car on gin? No. Not the car you have now. However, there was one car that did. If you go back in the 1960s, the Chrysler Turbine car, a low production, but production car that had literally a turbine engine running at incredible RPM to drive the wheels and this was a vehicle that was able to run. Run on gas, kerosene, perfume, just about anything you could dump in there, it would find a way to burn. Because it was an extremely high compression engine, you could run it on gin because the apocryphal story is. The President of Mexico had one and ran it on tequila from time to time. But unless you find one of those no, it's just not a combustible enough fuel. So add an olive and use it yourself. Now not only are we at a time of particularly low gas prices here in the U.S., we're also at a time of very old cars on the road because we haven't been buying them in such great numbers in recent years. Partly because of the recession, partly because cars are made so well they don't beg to replaced as often, and partly because millennials seem to show a little less appetite for rushing out and buying a new car when they get their new license. However, if all those are off the plate and you're in the market, or are wondering if you should be, here are my top five reasons. Why you should buy a new car. [MUSIC] Now I'm looking at technology and engineering seat changes here. I'm leaving out the financial piece and the simple factor of new car lust. Those are up to you. Let's go. Number five is upgradability. Now I do put this one low because it isn't real common [MUSIC] Done yet. But car makers are beginning to make the most recent cars with software that can be upgraded after you purchase them, particularly for the head unit. Tesla is famous for doing these updates over the air. Ford has sent out millions of diy upgrade usb drives that you plug in and do yourself. And many other car makers will upgrade your software when your car's in for regular service. You could end up with some nice new features on the main screen. The results can be great, or sometimes not. But without a late model car, you can't even find out. Number four is lighting. From high intensity to automatic high beams, to headlights that steer themselves, front lighting has really changed. Test drive a new car at night and then get back in yours? It's like driving by candlelight. And for the oncoming car, it's like being interrogated. Number three is LCD touchscreens. Now, I put this in the middle of my list, because having an LCD screen with touch or a controller isn't necessarily better than traditional knobs and a dot-matrix display. See my [UNKNOWN] touch, but in general you'll get more choices, more control, and more information available on an LCD than any number of old fashioned knobs and buttons, though Honda and Accura try pretty hard to overload you with both. Today all but the least expensive cars are shipping with at least a color LCD in the center stack [MUSIC] Number two is connectedness but you say current car already has an iPod connector, and satellite radio, aren't you adorable? Today it's all about usb ports, built in Pandora, tune in, and bonified screening app. Wireless Bluetooth streaming from your phone and maybe even connected NAV and destination search. These are things you'll use every time you drive, but only in the most recent years of cars. Now I still don't make these number one. Because your smart phone can graph most of this onto an older car with at least an aux jack and a windshield mount. Before I get to the number one, two recent car tech trends that I wouldn't even make number ten. Voice command, and rear seat DVD systems. Why? Because they suck. Come on, car makers, get voice to work at least half as well as my phone. And dvds still, really? The number one tech change that is going to affect you every day, in a new car, is turbo charging. and direction injection. This is the dynamic duo that has changed automotive power. Usually found in combination DI and turbos have meant a wholesale move to cars with smaller engines with fewer cylinders that still deliver more power, better MPG and lower emissions. And this is the innovation on my list that you will literally appreciate every second your car is running. Thanks for watching. Hope you enjoyed this episode. You know where to find us just about anywhere you look for streaming video online and of course keep those emails coming. It's OnCars@CNET.com. Read everyone, respond to as many as I can and. Quite a few make it into the show, as you've seen. I'll see you next time we check the tech. [MUSIC]

Brian Cooley joined CNET in 1995 and always comes at technology from the real consumer's point of view. He brings his high energy, often skeptical style to all avenues of CNET coverage, with an emphasis on car tech. You'll also find him frequently on television, radio and the TV screens at Costco!

From CNET On Cars