Cruise control positioning in the Model S

Cruise control positioning in the Model S

The other cars that I drive are BMWs and Toyotas, and have driven a Honda for 7 or so years in the past.

I'll probably get used to this in due course, but these are my thoughts after the first 1000 miles.

I find the position of the cruise control on the Model S a bit dangerous and am a bit concerned that I could get into a dangerous situation because of it.

In general, my experience with the other cars that I have driven is that the turn indicator is the most prominent lever and is the easiest to access. However, in the Model S, the cruise control seems to be very prominent on the left hand control area.

Often I find myself twiddling the cruise accidentally rather than the turn indicator.

Also given the fact that cruise stays on forever (i.e. even after parking and getting into the car later), I'm just concerned that I might activate it by accident and set the car to a high speed in a low speed road in traffic.

Anybody find the position of the cruise control awkward?

Thanks for your thoughts!

nickjhowe | June 9, 2013

Sure do.

It is the same as Mercedes cars - do all Merc drivers have the same problem?

Xerogas | June 9, 2013

Agreed: for me, it seems to be in a weird location, too. I'm getting used to it, but I assume Mercedes owners have always been used to it (everyone says it's a Mercedes steering column, so I guess that's where it normally is on a Mercedes).

I really liked the location on the Honda steering wheel, easily reached with your right-hand thumb. I tend to increase/decrease my speed on the freeway using the cruise adjustment, rather than with my foot on the accelerator. Adaptive cruise control would solve that, though.

Kleist | June 9, 2013

Perfect location for me.

2-Star | June 10, 2013

I've had two Mercedes for many years. My wife says that I drive "the horses" (SL500) and she drives "the chuck wagon" (E500 Wagon) when we're migrating from Maine together. I am very happy with the location of the cruise control lever in both cars, which will be identical in the new MS P85. It's very easy to turn on and off and especially nice to tap up or down to modulate speed to match traffic. Try it, you'll like it!

dborn | June 10, 2013

I drive a Merc. Previously Lexus. Wife drives a Honda. The Merc cruise is the easiest and most intuitive I have used. I use it even around town. Never had a problem with the position. +1 fredtowers.

bish | June 10, 2013


You can turn the cruise control off by pushing inward on the stalk. When off, if you accidentally move the CC stalk up or down, it will not effect your speed.

irishstoutaz | June 10, 2013

Was the same position and style on our E550... you do get used to it but I agree it isn't the best place and hit it occasionally when attempting to use the turn signal.

truebeliever | June 10, 2013

Remember when the recommendation for holding the steering wheel was to place your hands at 10:00 and 2:00? Well, that was before air bags. Now that most cars have airbags in the center of the steering wheel the new recommendation is to drive with your hands on the wheel at about 9:00 and 3:00. The new hand position helps keep your hands and arms from getting hurt by the airbag if it deploys. If you drive with your hands at 9:00 and 3:00 then the turn signal stalk in MS (and Mercedes cars) is in an ergonomic place for signaling. IMHO "twiddling" your stalk while driving should be illegal!

2-Star | June 10, 2013

@TrueBeliever - I only twiddle the stalk when there is a LOT of room between me and the next car, or maybe there is no next car in sight. I think it's particularly useful in keeping me exactly at the speed limit or four miles above. Clearly I don't use this technique in any kind of traffic situation, just on the open road. I hope it doesn't become illegal, and it would be very hard to enforce.

ir | June 10, 2013

It just takes some getting used to, but as it was mentioned the recommended hand positions for airbag cars is much lower now.

What is worse it switching back to older cars, I end up hitting the wipers when I want to shift gears.

truebeliever | June 10, 2013

Sorry fredtowers. I was referencing paragraph 5 in the original post.

Dr. Bob Reinke | June 10, 2013

Thought it was because I'm an old fart and it's difficult to get used to changes. Although I love everything else about our Sig P85, hate that awkward cruse control stalk. It falls in the same stupid catagory as the pushbutton transmission control on an Edsel. Why ouah buttens when the lever is so easy. All my Toyota Supras have three slide switches on the steering wheel; handy, easy to control, easy to bump speed up or down, and never confuse them with the directional signal stalk. Tesla, like Ford needs to learn that the most expensive and most complicated method is not always the best or easiest.

tesown | June 10, 2013

Great info. Thanks everyone for the great responses. I didn't know about the new recommended positioning .. that was informative. Thanks.

However, I do share the opinion of folks here like Dr. Bob Reinke about the positioning.

In my opinion the cruise control stick transfers some control from the driver to a machine. This should really be a deliberate move on the part of the driver.

Just from the sampling of posts here, it appears that people do accidentally do something with cruise instead of the turn signal - to me this is a big no no .. all it takes is one costly mistake.

I can with 100% certainty say that I have never engaged cruise by mistake on any of my Toyotas, BMW or Honda in the last 20 years ..

Just was looking at Toyota's positioning this morning to think about this some more - to get to cruise, the driver needs to reach out with fingers outstretched - this may be ergonomically not the best position, but it is a very safe position .. In the BMW as well, the same thing happens - cruise is the last lever that is out of reach from normal oft used levers ..

Just my opinion.

dsecrist | June 10, 2013

You have to compress the stick in order to turn on cruise control. If the little yellow light isn't on, pushing the stick up or down doesn't do anything. Are people really driving around town with the cruise control turned on (yellow light on)?

Personally, it took me about 1 week to get used to the new position. I never mistake the two sticks anymore; for the first week, absolutely.

tesown | June 10, 2013

@dsecrist, you are right if cruise is off, the stick has no effect.

However, cruise stays on even after you are done with a current trip - till you explicitly turn it off .. when well through through, then ideally one would turn on cruise when needed, and turn it off by pressing the button.

The thing that I'm worried about really is an accidental situation.

That said, I'm getting used to this as well - but just though this odd.

jbue | June 10, 2013

I was constantly hitting cruise instead of turn signal. One day I'm on the freeway using cruise and exit down ramp. Of course when I braked to slow at top of ramp the cruise disengaged. When I got near the stoplight at bottom of ramp I reached to signal left turn and hit the cruise...whoa the cruise kicked in again. Now that I have that feeling firmly in mind I consciously look for the turn leaver every time....should be a habit soon.

RedShift | June 10, 2013

I come from a BMW and Acura, and I hate the Merc cruise control.
I generally find Merc interiors pretty poor on the ergonomic and intuitive scales, but the cruise control is especially terrible, both for placement and the way it works. Hit it a tad too hard and speed variation is too much.
Many other cars have the turn signal stalk in that position, so it's harder for some to get used to.

It has that whiff of 'we want to be different coz we are MBZ ' arrogance to it.

Sorry for the rant.

tesown | June 10, 2013

@jbue, what you describe is exactly what I went through ..

I hope at some point there is an option to have a shortened cruise control lever, so that it does not get in the way when one tries to activate the turn indicators .. The prominence of the lever is the bigger issue for me atleast ..

Glad to see I'm not alone with this issue ..

Brian H | June 11, 2013

Just cultivate the 3-9 driving position and your hand will be in the right place.

parkwaechter | July 10, 2013

Since many years I have cars with cruise control. Since more than 10 years I have cars with cruise control and cruise limiter. On all European roads with the extreme density of traffic you will mostly use the limiter. With always stop and go the cruise control is useless. Here in Germany you have the problem of keeping the speed limit. I think you should not compare cruise control from an Mercedes with cruise control from Tesla S. The Tesla S with the explosive acceleration must have a limiter. Yesterday I tested an Opel Ampera (Chevrolet Volt) and one split second without watching the speedometer - it was only allowed 30mph - I have had more than 90mph on the speedometer - and that was only the Ampera. Is there anyone who knows if the Tesla S could be ordered with the limiter at one touch? The Tesla hotline in Germany was not able to answer this question.

stangel | July 10, 2013

I'm amused that the Chevy Volt not only gets a new brand name overseas, but a new model name too. One wonders if there was any resistance to renaming "Volt" to "Ampera"?!

RedShift | July 10, 2013

Hate it. Not intuitive for me.

wcalvin | July 10, 2013

The tactile feel of the turnsignal/wipers stalk is much heavier than that of the petite cruise stalk.

carlk | July 10, 2013

@Dr. Bob Reinke And you're driving a P85? ;-)

Colasec | July 10, 2013

@stangel :) nothing but :)

Kleist | July 11, 2013

@parkwaechter - I asked the question in the US if there is "parental control" ( limits based on driver profile and protected by password ) and the answer was no.

Brian H | July 11, 2013

The other option was apparently Ohmi Gosh.


pebell | July 11, 2013

During the test drive I mistook the turning indicator stalk for the cruise control twice, so I definitely understand the problem.

Then again, when I switched from a Volvo (with cruise control buttons on the steering wheel) to a BMW with cruise control on a stalk, for the first few weeks I was constantly signalling the driver in front of me with my headlights when I just wanted to set the cruise speed. After a few weeks that never happened any more.

I am hoping the adjustment to the MS goes equally well. Although a mistake with the cruise control on such a powerful car might be costly, the road rage I induced with the inappropriate signalling wasn't without danger either ;-D

Keith72 | July 11, 2013

I initially found the location to be awkward, but my problem seems to be the opposite of the rest of the posters here. I found myself hitting the turn signal when I wanted to hit the cruise. I got used to it fairly quickly though. I like that it stays on all the time (my previous car was similar in this respect). My wife's car shuts off every time you turn the car off, and for me, I find that annoying, I like having it stay on all the time.

parkwaechter | July 11, 2013

@kleist-too much testosterone yet? I think you haven't drive as much and fast cars I drove in my life - but I hope you will have the chance to do it. Good luck my friend!

Lessmog | July 11, 2013

@stangel, @Colasec, @BrianH: Watt's in a name?

Alex K | July 11, 2013

@ resown | JUNE 9, 2013: Anybody find the position of the cruise control awkward?

I have gotten used to it and now find the cruise controls on our Lexus 450h and Porsche Panamera S Hybrid feel awkward. It takes a while to relearn those other controls.

The steering controls on the Model S are from Mercedes and supposedly Mercedes had done consumer safety trials and placed the steering controls based on the feedback they received.

LuvTesla | July 11, 2013

I have the same issue. Even after using it daily for almost a month, still hitting it on turn and getting jolted. Its worse when making a right turn and it speeds up by around 5 miles. Is there a way to set the cruise increments?

Alex K | July 11, 2013

@LuvTesla | JULY 11, 2013: Its worse when making a right turn and it speeds up by around 5 miles. Is there a way to set the cruise increments?

You probably already know this, but pushing the CC past the detent makes it go up/down by 5mph, otherwise it's just 1mph. This probably doesn't help since you are violently flicking the CC lever thinking it's a turn signal lever. You could turn off CC, I guess, so nothing happens.

Brian H | July 12, 2013

The 'old' steering positions of 10&2 suited the reverse layout. 9&3 is reputedly safer, and matches the Mercedes/Tesla stalks.

ddruz | July 12, 2013

I have to admit that even after two months of ownership I'm not completely used to the cruise and turn stalk positions. Wish they would have put the turn stalk in the standard place. Feels too low.

I sometimes hit the cruise control stalk when I want to make a turn signal and jump my speed 5 miles either way.

Brian H | July 12, 2013

Adjust your steering wheel grip positions to the recommended 9-3 style.

NKYTA | July 13, 2013

@ ddruz
After almost 7 months of ownership, it has been second nature for a while. I tend to use the 9 and 2 position, pretty comfortable.

The worst part is when I have to drive my wife's ICE. I never know what I'm hitting, blinkers, brights - and then I get out of the car and walk away with the keys in the ignition, motor running, car unlocked. Doh.

DSurber | July 13, 2013

We've had our MS for less than two weeks and I've driven it at most a dozen times. Yesterday I got in our 6-speed manual VW Jetta and turned on the wipers trying to put the car into reverse.

mreitman | July 13, 2013

Same as the S Class Mercedes. Tesla outsources it from Mercedes. I have had two S Classes and it is not a problem. I drive with my lest hand only most of the time and it is very easy to reach the turn signal dimmer stem.

CraigW | July 13, 2013

Since the steering wheel comes from Mercedes, it isn't surprising that those former owners would be comfortable. For the rest of us the location above the turn indicator - and at the 10 position on the steering wheel where you keep your hand - creates safety problems for many of the rest of us.

A number of times,when I have been in cruise control, I have moved my hand and pushed the cruise control lever either up or down 5mph by mistake. In steady traffic this can be dangerous.

ZsoZso | April 1, 2014

I did my first testdrive on the Model S last Saturday and I kept using the cruise control lever instead of the turn signal -- although CC was not active so it did not effect my speed, but I guess I kept changing lanes without signaling which might have annoyed drivers around me.

I am used to having the cruise control in the form of buttons on the wheel rhather than a lever (was driving mostly japanese cars: Nissan, Mazda, Subaru, Mitsubishi).

Once I buy the car, I hope I'll get used to the different positioning of the turn indicator before I get into trouble with it.

dlake | April 1, 2014

Most will become accustomed to the lower position of the turn signal, but my gripe is that the wiper controls are hidden from sight by the left spoke of the steering wheel. Sometimes one must look at the stalk to see how to set the wipers.
Minor issue in an otherwise awesome car.

ZRO CO2 | April 1, 2014

Having driven for many years in Australia where most indicators are on the Right I have on several occasions while departing the side of the road thrown the car into reverse instead of putting on the left indicator.... why do we have the gear control on the column a few simple buttons on the dash or steering wheel would be far better. having them on a post on the steering column makes me think it has been taken from a cheap American truck or van.

JPPTM | April 1, 2014

lanr...ask Mercedes...the controls on the S are obtained from the Mercedes parts bin, not from some 'cheap American truck or van'.

Alex K | April 1, 2014

@Ianr VIN33401 | APRIL 1, 2014 : why do we have the gear control on the column a few simple buttons on the dash or steering wheel would be far better

Gear control on column allows for car maneuvering without having to remove your hands off the steering wheel.

Amps2go | April 1, 2014

I've had my Tesla for almost a year and I still accidently hit the cruise control when I intend to hit the turn signal. The wiper controls are also hidden behind the steering wheel. I am so used to Japanese cars with the controls exactly opposite. Now when I drive my wife's Highlander, I invariable reach up to the right of the steering wheel to put the car in gear to no avail.

I wish all cars had these controls in the same place. Oh well.

NKYTA | April 2, 2014

It really doesn't take that long to get used to. And none of my previous cars was even close to this configuration.

Gadfly | April 2, 2014

Like everyone who has ever owned a Merc, you will learn to love it, and will miss it on any other car it is your misfortune to drive.

You probably know that the mechanism is actually supplied by Mercedes.

ZRO CO2 | April 2, 2014

@Alex K have never had a problem with moving my hand either driving a Manual or a floor shift Auto before or in a Prius with a dash shift but I have 3 times now thrown my MS into reverse