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Does the 2014 Tesla Model S Make a Good Family Car?

My husband loves cars, and he quickly gets bored with them, so we normally don’t end up keeping cars for very long. While he has found a recent love with his 2013 Mercedes E-class, it has not lived up to being the best full-size family sedan for our family of five. The GPS is difficult to use, the backseat televisions don’t fit well on the back of the head seats, and the gas mileage – the e-class gets pretty close to the same gas milage as my suburban.

With that being said – we have recently been in the market for a new family sedan for my husband (family). Driving two vehicles & paying almost $700 a month in gasoline, our eco-foot print on the environment has been disturbing. Having three young children, we feel that we have a social responsibility to try and cut-down our family emissions by looking into alternative fuel vehicles. Although, we want to cut-down on our pollution by considering an alternative fuel vehicle, we also have a major concern of the impact the radiation (EMF) from the battery will have on my family inside of alternative fuel vehicle.

We have gone into car purchasing with an open mind, and a lot of questions with our first stop being at the Tesla dealership. We first read about the car on their website, and then made a request for a test drive on the online form. Within less than 24 hours, we were contacted to help arrange for a test drive for our family over the weekend.


When we walked into the showroom, we were immediately whisked across the mall to a private underground parking lot where the Tesla test drive vehicles are located. We were shown how the cars are charged pretty much like our holiday lights by being plugged into an outlet.
The body style is sleek and somewhat reminds me of the body style of the Kia Optima. The Sales Consultant sat in the front seat with my husband, and I got into the backseat with two of our children (they will only allow a family of 4 on the test drive, so we had someone watch our youngest).


The first thing that I noticed – no backseat cup holders! The car only comes with two cup holders in the front seat. Not a deal breaker – but certainly a family car concern, because every mom knows that the without backseat cup holders, that means the kids drinks will end up often spilling in the backseat.

The second thing I noticed was that my head was rubbing against the roof of the car. If we are paying around $90,000 for a car, we should feel comfortable if having to sit in the backseat with the kids. Now, I am not tall, 5’8,” so I can’t imagine anyone taller could even fit in the backseat. The dealer suggested we purchase the panoramic sunroof to allow for more headroom – but we still have to come back to check that out.

Technology. My favorite feature of the car is a giant (iPad-like) navigation screen. On the screen, we could select our favorite music, navigate ourselves around town and monitor the cars eco-usage. We can even surf the web! The only downside is that this giant iPad can be used while driving, where even my suburban has a safety setting that I must pull the car over to type in the address of my next destination. The 3G tech system could serve as a distraction or as another digital toy for the kid in the front seat.

When it comes to trunk space, there is plenty of it. Since the battery/engine in built into the chassis of the car, there is a giant trunk in the front/back. There is the option of adding a jump rear facing seats in the back that fold down (for three kids under 5 feet). Remember the old Mercedes station wagons with the rear-facing third row – the 80’s are back with this cool feature.

The biggest concern is the radiation. Where most electric vehicles had the giant battery right behind the back seat in the trunk, the Tesla, has it built in under the entire car. The Consultant advised that there are at least two feet between us and the battery and that the radiation is about the same as our home dryer – but do we hang out next to our dryer for hours on end? Not really? So we still don’t know what the long term impacts of spending large amounts of time in an electric car will have on the health of our families – still our biggest concern about being in the market for on electric vehicle.

I don’t know any mom who isn’t concerned about safety when purchasing a vehicle – that was the whole purpose behind purchasing our large-size SUV when the kids were just babies. The dealer advised us that out of over 100 major accidents that nobody has ever died, let alone even broken an arm in a Tesla car accident (some without even wearing their seat belts). The airbags are not typical airbags and deploy based on the size, weight and position of the people in the vehicle (kinda like smart bags) helping to make it one of the safest sedans on the road.

The car they custom designed for our family came in at about $86,000, which will leave us at around $1,100 a month for a purchase, or $1,300 for lease. And, the car takes about 4 months to be made – there are no “drive off the lot” Tesla’s. Will we end up getting the Tesla Model S as our next family car? You’ll have to wait and see.

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