Touchscreen Hater’s Guide To The Tesla Model 3


The Drive tries to navigate the Model 3’s information screen

Automotive journalists are an odd breed. Most are set in their ways, rarely open to sudden change. In turn, sometimes, objectivity (unfortunately) gives way to brand preference, personal opinion or simply to the heat of the moment. However, for some publications – like The Drive – objective news reporting, albeit, with a bit of a personal touch, is the key to their overall success.

So, when the duo consisting of  Mike Spinelli and Alex Roy, the executive producer and editor-at-large of the publication, respectively, ventured into a detailed rundown of the Model 3’s infotainment screen, we were sure to expect a well-educated and entertaining video. To say the least.

The Tesla Model 3 doesn’t come with any sort of gauges or infotainment screens right in front of the driver. The vehicle does away with any dashboard switchgear. In turn, that means that all mission-critical information, data or switches, need to be controlled through a center-console touchscreen. And that might prove to be difficult for some rather set-in-their-ways automotive journalists. Furthermore, the Model 3’s was reportedly among the most distracting of 30 new vehicles tested.

Without a doubt, for someone that never spent any real time behind the wheel of a Tesla, that might prove to be a problem. However, the Model 3 is quite easy to drive and in most cases, the busy and rather cluttered switches, levers and buttons found on most cars of today, might become a thing of the past. Just as it happened with smartphones. Just as it happened with pretty much every modern appliance we have these days. The idea is to declutter and stop taking away the concentration from the driver. But, does it actually work? Can die-hard touchscreen haters come to like it?

No doubt, giving up my beloved, janky analog switches would be difficult to fathom, and those wacky Tesla “easter eggs” seem frivolous (is that Mac Paint in there?). At least Alex is sympathetic to my plight, and can explain the functions in a way even I, a cretin, can understand.

For Mike Spinelli, that might be hard to achieve. After all, his daily driver is switch and button happy 15-year-old Jaguar. And that car is more known more for the 2002-era Motorola StarTac mounted in its console than it is for cutting-edge telematics. For Alex Roy, the experience inside a Tesla Model 3 by a coast-to-coast road trip, makes him a well-versed individual in the Model 3’s horizontally oriented, 15-inch touchscreen. Can a touchscreen hater finally welcome the Model 3’s touchscreen? Find out in the video below.

Source: The Drive

Categories: Tesla, Videos

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25 Comments on "Touchscreen Hater’s Guide To The Tesla Model 3"

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Before ordering my model 3 I rented one on Turo and was pleasantly surprised with how quickly I adapted to the touch screen. I found the UI easier to use than that of my wife’s Leaf which we just bought. I set the mirror and steering wheel position with the car stationary and then was able to quickly build muscle memory to the location on the screen to increase/decrease the cabin temperature which is about the only touch screen based control I would need to adjust while driving. And I am old enough to start counting my birthdays in hex .

It’s very easy to use and get used to. Anytime you get into any car you are unfamiliar with there is a learning curve to figure out where everything is. Until you figure this out any unfamiliar car’s interface will be distracting. I am completely used to the UI in the Model 3 now and it isn’t distracting in the least.

Since this is a Tesla with OTA updates, I think they will add more voice activated functions. This should be a big help in reducing any distractions the touch screen presents.

In addition to more voice activated functions, auto-pilot should improve with time, which will help overcome any mistakes caused by distractions and make driving the Tesla safer.

You mean that you’re over 20 years old (in hex)?

I always find it funny when someone says how quickly they adapted to keep moving their attention away from the road to manipulate a screen. The same way some are convinced they can text & drive, you can recognized them, looking in your back mirror, you see them looking down to their phone in the traffic.

The muscle memory you talk about doesn’t exist in a touch screen, you have to glance and then make the action.

my truck is 22 years old and I still have to look to change the volume on my cassette deck radio. Also my truck is so wide that I have to fully extend my arm to change it.

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

“I always find it funny when someone says how quickly they adapted to keep moving their attention away from the road to manipulate a screen.”

I know right? +100

On my old cars I can find the buttons by “braille” without taking my eyes off the road. You can’t do that on the touch screen.

Going out on a limb here but I bet most minor TM3 accidents are because the driver was trying to navigate/control the touch screen but they’re too ashamed to say that was the cause of their accident and will never say it.

Now how often does the firmware change to where the controls have been moved or some are added?

“Now how often does the firmware change to where the controls have been moved or some are added?”

They don’t – they determined what things are essential and where they need to stay on the screen no matter what – before filling orders. Those do not change in the S and X, and they won’t on the 3.

There is absolutely muscle memory with large screens. You can’t compare this to the tiny nav screens most are used to these days. That being said, personally I’ve always had to take my eyes off the road briefly to adjust controls for any car I’ve owned, but that’s just me.

Ok then, if you have a TM3, take a conscious decision to keep your attention forward and then try to modify temp and fan/air orientation, a basic operation we often do while driving.

I don’t phone and drive let alone text and drive so your stereotype failed. On the model 3, the temperature adjustment is on the bottom of the screen so it is pretty easy to learn the X Y coordinates. Certainly with modern car “infotainment” screens there is the opportunity for distraction but I just wait until the car is stationary before changing those settings.

He doesn’t say that he manipulated the screen while driving. You don’t needto

The touch screen UI is very well designed. It makes sense, the controls are grouped together by function and it doesn’t take long at all to learn what’s where and how to access it.
I like the minimalist approach of the TM3, the touch screen allows for the elegant, clean design of the car’s front space.

The only way to know that a button press on a touch screen was successful is to look at it.

Actually, a number of cell phones use haptic feedback, which will give a physical sensation when you “press a button”. That kind of system could be incorporated into the car as well.

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

isn’t there audio feedback?

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

Have they resolved the issue posted from owners from below link?
Phantom touches and Max volume. Those would piss me the hell off.

Never experienced anything like that myself. I must agree that that would be very annoying indeed.

They refer to the TACC (adaptive cruise control) to ‘car length’ but that is incorrect. It is a unit and is relative to your speed. Distance of 3 at 40 mph is way different than 70 mph. In either case it is not 3 ‘car’ lengths.

Just so people know, the video is not really about whether using a touch screen vs. buttons is preferrable. The video just goes over the functionality of the touch screen. It’s a very good video for that.

The video screen in the Model 3 seems really well done. 90% of what is done on it is not something that you would change while driving. I still believe though, that a driver should never be using a touch screen to adjust ANYTHING while driving. Screens require your eyes to be off the road, and that is bad.

I like a combination of touch screens, and a few tactile controls. When your cruising at high speed on the highway, or negotiating heavy city traffic, you should have a few of the simple controls that you use regularly in buttons or dials so you don’t have to see them to operate them. Everything else can be put into one or two screens to simplify the interior. I think if Tesla’s interiors weren’t so bland, and had a certain sophistication to the design especially given how much Teslas cost, you’d hear less complaining. Some people testing the Model 3 should also remember that Tesla’s central screen is a design choice, and other companies have done similar things. Some of my favorite cars from the past have had central gauge clusters, the BMW Z8, and every car Jaguar made in the 1950’s. Realizing that, I’ve come to have a better appreciation of the Model 3’s interior.

It doesn’t seem to me to matter so much whether all controls are on a touchscreen or not. The more you have, the more confusing it is and the more you have to look to ensure you are using the one you want. So for me, less complexity is what you want, to distract you less from driving. Though, improved autonomous driving and voice control would have a similar effect to making things simpler as some said.

After about 5 months in my Model 3, I notice I rarely touch the touchscreen. My worries about navigating menus while driving were unfounded. And all the talk of fingerprints covering the screen was nonsense. When I do push a button on the screen, 95% of the time it’s the temp up/down buttons which are center bottom, and I can do this by using peripheral vision if need be. Most the time, I set the temp before I start driving or at a stop light. I never set the fan speed, and just leave the controls on auto.

Looks to be around 2.3% market share again. Good to see we are finally over 2% somewhat consistently. Next milestone is 5%

If the reviewers had spent sufficient time with the Model 3 they might not have made so many mistakes. I have had my Model 3 for two months now and it is without a doubt the easiest car to drive that I have ever had. I was apprehensive about having the speed on the center panel and also about having to make adjustments while driving using the panel. The speed it turns out is within your peripheral vision and in very large numbers so that it is far easier to see than refocusing through the steering wheel. All the other adjustments are set up before I start or can be adjusted via the scroll wheels or voice command. Incidentally music can be chosen via voice command although Spotify would be a much better choice than Slacker. By the way the Premium package DOES include the top of the line audio system, which is superior to the S and X systems (because the system was designed at the same time as the car)