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Tesla is right: Model 3’s single display feels like the future

by Danny Zepeda | April 18, 2018April 18, 2018 6:00 am PDT

Just over a month ago, I wrote about my first experience driving Tesla’s Model 3. The so-called affordable EV is attempting to break the mold by offering the full benefits of electric driving with an affordable price tag. You can read more about that here. Needless to say, it’s a fun car to drive.

However, I wanted to revisit the experience and focus on what I believe is the Model 3’s single most distinguishing feature: the single center display. Tesla went in a different direction with the Model 3. Instead of having the gigantic 17-inch vertical display accompanied by the digital instrument cluster that had been incorporated into its first two cars, Tesla did away with the latter and just went with a single horizontal 15-inch display placed right in the middle of the dashboard.

When I first glanced at the interior, the first question to formulate in my head was, “How can you drive with all the information set off the side?”

After speeding through empty highways across the suburbs of Irvine, I got my answer: It’s awkward, but completely natural after a few miles.

If you are unfamiliar with the new set up, Tesla eliminated the instrument cluster and migrated all of the driving information (speed, range, gear, etc.) onto the center infotainment system. The end result is a cramped space with odd nuances.

Occupying the left third of the display is the new instrument cluster. While not as detailed as the previous version, it delivers the proper amount of information needed when driving. Looking at the speed meter while driving is not as inconvenient as it sounds. Instead of looking directly in front of you, you just look a few inches to the right.

Beyond the speed, you don’t truly use any of the other information found on the instrument cluster on a consistent basis. I wasn’t checking my range or the gear I was in every five seconds. The speed, however, is something you will want to keep an eye on unless you want to get pulled over for speeding. That’s not a joke; it’s way too easy to cruise along at 80 miles per hour in the Model 3.

I do have a bone to pick with Tesla about its new set up. However brazen Elon Musk wants to be about not needing it, a heads up display would have been greatly appreciated. Not to display the speed or needless information like that; to deliver integrated turn by turn directions.

This is the biggest casualty of the elimination of the instrument cluster. The reason being that not only do you not get the turn by turn directions right in front of you; instead, they have been moved to the furthest corner on the right side of the display. However minor a grievance it might be, it is still endlessly annoying and something Tesla needs to fix with future updates.

Minor grievance aside, I found driving the with Model 3’s single display rather pleasant. Yes, it’s something new that needs time to get adjusted to. However, once acclimated, the experience feels otherworldly—like you’re in the future. That feeling alone is worth the growing pains of Tesla’s experimental setup.


Danny Zepeda

Born and raised in Southern California, Danny grew up on a steady diet Pixar, Star Wars and Steven Spielberg movies. Unbeknownst to him, this was...

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