I’m away on vacation and, so, in place of my everyday EV, I’m driving an internal combustion engine (ICE) car. I acknowledge that anytime I switch from one vehicle to another, I have to build in some necessary adaptation time. However, this vehicle swap definitely feels like I’m regressing. I’m even having gas anxiety!
Generally, articles about transitioning from an ICE vehicle to an EV discuss the how-to of charging, the smooth acceleration of an EV, understanding regenerative braking, costs to charge, and the like. In my case, I’m away from home and reversing the typical pattern. With a sweet 2022 Tesla Model Y quietly sitting in my home carport, I’m on the road.
My vacation car while tooling around New England is a 2013 Honda Civic Si. It was a gem in its day, with 6-speed, quick acceleration, and curve hugging ability. I store it in a barn over the winter, and a family member kindly polishes it up for my summer arrival in the north.
This year I’ve found the transition to driving the Si a bit more tricky than before. Sure, there’s an age gap between the Si and Model Y of 9 years and associated technological advances in vehicles that has to be taken into account. However, the difference is much more than updates: driving an ICE vehicle is a whole lot more complicated than driving an EV.
Accessing the car — no phone key: My whole system for getting ready to drive has changed with the Si. I now need a physical key rather than my iPhone/ phone key. I need to insert the physical key and turn it to activate the ignition; later, I have to sequester the key somewhere so I don’t lose it. I always have my iPhone with me in this 24/7 connectivity world in which we live, and the Tesla recognizes my phone and permits me to enter. Once situated, all I need to do is move the stalk in the Model Y to Reverse, and off I go.
Driver profile settings: In the Honda I need to adjust my mirrors, seat height, heating and cooling settings, and radio station if the other driver has been using the car. All of those have been pre-set in the Model Y, with the exception of the driver’s mirror.
iPhone charging: I must remember to charge up my iPhone ahead of time as I plan to drive the SI. The alternative is to risk losing charge or having to run a wire over from a USB port to the left dash, where the iPhone rests in an aftermarket mount. The Model Y includes a charging well, which is such a nice convenience and allows the iPhone to stay as charged as I want.
Braking: One of the biggest advantages of the Model Y is the regenerative braking. Regenerative braking decelerates the Model Y whenever I release the accelerator pedal when driving. I didn’t realize how much I count on regen to slow the vehicle until I didn’t have it with the Si. Now, when a vehicle in front of me slows unexpectedly, I have 2 tasks: take my foot off the gas pedal and hit the brake. I must admit I came a bit too close to the vehicle in front of me during one of my first trips this summer in the Si. Oh, how easily we forget…
Navigation: I’m back to using the Google Maps app on my iPhone for unfamiliar travel. It tends to spin as it finds a signal, unlike the Model Y. I use the navigation in the Model Y constantly, even in familiar settings, as I’ve grown accustomed to checking for distance for correct lane positioning. That’s a luxury that I won’t be calling upon in the SI.
Touchscreen size and visibility: The Si has a teeny, weeny touchscreen which shows the rear of the car when I’m backing. It’s way too small to be of any assistance, so I’ve reverted to using my mirrors for reversing the car and parallel parking. You know, initially I thought that the Tesla touchscreen was too large and that it overwhelmed the dash. Now I’m a true convert. I like having features like mph, time, and oversized map in place of physical buttons easily visible with a quick glance.
Voice commands: I have to push buttons and twirl knobs to adjust settings in the Si. In the Model Y, a really cool feature is hands-free access to common touchscreen controls. I push a control on the right side of the Tesla steering wheel and use voice commands to make slight changes. “Reduce fan one step.” “Drop temperature one degree.” I’ve only begun to explore the possibilities with Tesla voice commands.
Windshield wipers: In the Si, I’ve found myself constantly fussing with the windshield wipers on the all-too-frequent New England rainy days. Intermittent: too much, or not enough? Downpour: is default enough force? In the Model Y, the vehicle does all the figuring. The windshield wipers come on automatically when drops of rain hit the windshield. The sensors determine when the force of the rain increases and requires quicker wiper action. How does it know? 🙂
Headlights: Much like the sensor-driven windshield wipers, the headlights are automatic. The Si is of a previous generation in which the driver controls their activation. Ah, just one more thing for me to do…
Infotainment: I have a radio with 2 FM stations and 1 AM station in the Si, and it also has a CD player. To listen to my favorite podcasts in the Si, I must set up a Bluetooth connection and play a podcast in the iOS app. This definitely requires a whole lot more steps than touching my personalized toolbar on the Model Y touchscreen and selecting my favorite Boston Public podcast with Jim and Margery. The Tesla, in fact, automatically updates each day’s podcast for me, so the newest episode is available in reverse chronological order.
Gas! I admitted it. I’m having gas anxiety as I drive the Si. Do I have enough gas for the current trip? When will I need to gas up again? How much will I have to pay? Should I use the app that compares gas prices in my local area? Will I need to get gas when I’m dressed up, likely spill a drop of gas on my shoes, and smell like gas at my fancy function? I’m finding the gas anxiety to be a bit consuming. Ah, the Tesla is so civilized. I monitor its charging level on my iPhone and, when it gets to a certain level, I plug it in overnight at my carport. I wake up, and the charge is back to its preset “full” level (I only charge to 80% regularly). There’s no hassle in filling up the EV at all. I even occasionally grab free electricity at the city garage.
As you can see in this sometimes tongue-in-cheek analysis, driving a Tesla Model Y is a bit decadent. It’s also much safer due to its many automated features. I didn’t previously understand how hard I worked when I drove my ICE vehicles.
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