The Quiet Zen of Model S Cruise Control

The Quiet Zen of Model S Cruise Control

I live in Reno, Nevada, and regularly make trips to Sacramento and San Francisco for business. So the trip over the Sierra Nevadas on I-80 is very familiar to me. In all my previous cars, I learned to virtually never use the cruise control (CC). Why? Because in the mountains, the CC in an ICE car will "hunt and lurch". I'm sure you know what I mean unless you live in Kansas or West Texas. As you start up a hill, the car looses a couple of MPH until the CC realizes that it has to step on it, but then, it downshifts and lurches forward. It is annoying at best, and at worst is probably not all that good for the transmission. And the worst thing is, there is no regulation going down hill. I once got a ticket on CC, where the CC was set to about 70 MPH, because I was going down a long down section, and the car (a Lexus RX 330) got up to 82!! Argghh!

Now, along comes my Model S. I set the CC on about 71 MPH and never think about it, unless traffic gets in the way. As the MS "feels" the ups and downs, it quietly and smoothly accelerates and, yes, decelerates (using Regen, of course!), keeping exactly 71 MPH. It doesn't matter how steep the grade, you really don't even notice that the car has changed. Zen motoring, at its best!!

DJay | April 6, 2013

Another Zin aspect is when the speed is increased by 5mph using the cruise control level. There is no down shift nor any panic effort to get to the new speed, just a comfortable effortless acceleration to the new speed.

DJay | April 6, 2013

that is Zen

KWTESLA | April 6, 2013

My last car would down shift and up shift with annoying regularity on a hill as the grade began to increase . I would get annoyed and shift in the sports transmission mode to keep it steady. That is behind me also with the model S . Model S handled the Altamont Pass as smooth as silk.

By the way "wheatcraft" where do you charge in Reno or Tahoe. We are planning a trip that way soon we live in the San Joaquin Valley . Do you use the Folsom Supercharger ?

StefanT | April 6, 2013

Love it too but does anyone have a gentle technique to disengage the cruise control? Because of regen, which I love, disengaging the cruise control wakes sleepy passengers that think we are about to plow into something. I have tried to match the car speed using the pedal before disengaging but there is not the typical pedal feedback. I try to remember to switch the regen to low when I am using cruise control to make the transition less abrupt but often forget. Am I missing a simpler solution?

inverts | April 6, 2013

StefanT: re disengaging, I step on the gas until speed increases just a bit, then I know that I am at level, then cruise off, then use gas as normal. If you need to disengage quickly, just guess where it is, still better than taking cruise off without any gas at all.

IMHO: the 1 mph increases/decreases engage the motor quite heavily, on flat ground around 65 mph it uses around 30 kw, but when changing by one mile, it quickly jumps up to 60-80 kw and jumps forward that mile. I would prefer a bit gentler acceleration, say with 40-45 kw. I know, this is a "the waves at the beach house are too loud" complaint. I also love the Zen/Wa of cruising along in my MS.

The strong regen is wonderful. My commutes includes the Conejo grade on US101 between northern Los Angeles and Ventura. The Prius got half way down and battery was full, so used engine break, and regen could not hold the car at speed. With MS I don't have to think about it :-)

David Trushin | April 6, 2013

Given the last thread on this topic and the new interest in it, it might be a good idea to review the operation of the cruise control for those that aren't that familiar with it.

Push the stalk in to turn on. Once you have reached your desired speed, move the stalk up or down to set the speed. Move the stalk forward (towards the dash) to disengage. As mentioned above, unless you are accelerating to match the speed, the car will go to regen when you do this. It takes a little practice to get this right. Pull the stalk to you to resume the speed you last set. I believe this is remembered as long as the cruise is on. That means that if you put it in park, leave the car and come back later and resume, it will go to the same speed as before. This is different from my other cars, which lose the set point when the car is off.

To change speeds, pushing the stalk up or down to the first stop increases or decreases by 1 mph, to the second stop by 5 mph. To reset the speed, push towards dash to release, get to your new speed and slide the stalk up or down to set.

Of course, touching the brake also release the cruise control.

Play with the control too much and it will disengage itself with an error. It will come back when you turn the car off and on again.

If I left anything out, or made a mistake please correct it for me.

StefanT | April 6, 2013

@inverts - thanks, basically what I have been trying to do but I clearly need more practice. Since it is all software it is easy to wish up a solution. My wish would be to have the car coast until given brake or accelerator authority.

martijn | April 6, 2013

"Pull the stalk to you to resume the speed you last set."
Does this work after becoming to a complete stop? So when the traffic light turns green you can just pull the stalk, and leave your foot at rest.
Once drove a car with that functionality, loved it.

eddygorsuch | April 6, 2013

Not yet having mine, this is a blind guess, but how about holding the cruise stalk down at the same time as trying to match speed with the go pedal? How fast is the deceleration when holding the stalk at the decrease cruise by 1 mph setting?

David Trushin | April 6, 2013

martijn I haven't tried that. If it behaves like that plan on accelerating pretty fast. You might have to be going faster than 20 mph.

wheatcraft | April 6, 2013

@KWTESLA: I live in Reno, so charge at home, of course, when in Reno. When going back and forth to Sacramento and the Bay area, I use the Folsom Supercharger. I have used it now about 6 or 7 times (in a month) without a hitch. I have never pulled in to find all the stations full; I have pulled in when there were two other Model Ss charging (out of 4 stations), but never more than that. A couple of time, nobody else was there.

If you are in Reno, there are a number of Level 2 charging stations. Check out In south Reno, there is one at Einstein's Bagels, which is walking distance to Mimi's and PF Changs. A couple more are at NV Energy (our power company) just a few blocks south. I think they are all free.

hfcolvin | April 6, 2013

Just returned from my first road trip and enjoyed the cruise control. I never used it on the Prius, because in our hilly locale, the poor ICE sounded like it was about to launch through the hood struggling to get up a hill at 65mph.

bburns8888 | May 5, 2014

Hi, Chiming in late...just returned from Santa Barbara to San Francisco where I loved using the cruise control. Much smoother and steadier, as many have noted.

I agree with @inverts' comment about increasing or decreasing 1 mph to 5 mph, using cruise control. I think it makes the power surge each time and then comes down. It was my first extended voyage in the Model S, and I was surprised at how off I was with the mileage range, and I'm pretty sure it was my frequent adjusting of the speed via cruise control.

I've also seen in forums that cruise control might not help with regenerating energy going downhill? Is that conclusive? Thanks!

BB & RD in SF