The 12 Best Features Of The Tesla Plaid

Tesla Motors, Inc. has had an impressive run. From building a Lotus-based overpriced battery-powered roadster to a full range of battery-powered cars, Tesla has accomplished what few could have imagined just over a decade ago. This success is likely due to a combination of a good market environment along with having a forward-thinking and tenacious CEO — but it hasn't been all roses. This success is not without some controversy and hiccups along the way. CNN Business reports that the cars themselves do not generate profit and that the profit comes from regulatory schemes. CEO Elon Musk is far from being free of controversy and scandal.

Controversy and business practices aside, the Tesla Model S has been a paradigm-changing vehicle. It has challenged many notions of what a car should be and what features should be on a car. It has proven the efficacy of electric drivetrains and shown that basic items such as switches are not always necessary. But to take a step above all else is the Tesla Plaid, a blazingly fast experiment in unbridled power that challenges the supremacy of the most expensive supercars on the track at a fraction of the cost. While the Tesla Plaid offers plenty of cutting-edge features, these are 12 of the best.

Massive horsepower

The most obvious feature of the Plaid is also its biggest selling point. That feature is massive horsepower. SlashGear reported during the pre-order period that it would be coming out with 1,100 horsepower, and Tesla lists its current power rating at 1,020. Either way, it is an impressive figure that is far above what other sedan and sport models offer customers at anywhere near Tesla's price point.

The Plaid spins all four wheels with three AC induction motors, powered by a 407-volt lithium-ion battery pack. And since it is electric motors delivering this power, the torque is instant, with no noticeable delay. Owners of the Plaid will have to shell out about $130,000 for the privilege of launching this kind of power, but it still pales in comparison to other cars that have similar acceleration that can cost anywhere from $300,000 to $1 million for the most exclusive hypercars.

Track Mode

There is no use buying a car with gobs of power with no way to use it. The best option for drivers in Autobahn-free locales is to take it to a race track. There are tracks across the country that offer days where cars can be taken out just for fun and for drivers to have the opportunity to put their performance cars through the paces and some organize amateur race days as well. Tesla has all this worked out with the "Track Mode" that the car can be entered into.

Tack Mode is a combination of settings, controls, and displays drivers can utilize to get the most out of the Plaid running at full tilt. Car and Driver tested it and said it optimizes cooling for the powertrain, adjusts the suspension for high-speed driving, and offers a range of information on the driver display related to track driving. It is a must-have tool for anyone who wishes to unleash the potential of the Plaid.

Sentry and dashcam

The Tesla Model S uses an array of cameras for multiple purposes. The self-driving features rely on cameras as well as lane assist and other driving aids. These cameras are also put to other uses with major benefits to the owner or driver of the cars.

Vehicle security is paramount on a vehicle as expensive as a Tesla, and owners will typically spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars to outfit them with protective equipment and alarm systems. Tesla has this covered by using its cameras placed around all sides of the car. When the car is unoccupied and locked, the cameras can sense motion and record its surroundings. This is paired with a large warning displayed on the screen and can prevent theft from starting, and record it should one proceed.

The same cameras can also be used to monitor surroundings while driving in Dashcam mode, an opt-in feature that requires a USB stick installed to enable recording. This can be helpful should an accident occur, as recounted by the Washington Post. Crucially for the Plaid owner, the Dashcam mode can be used to record laps around the track. It can be used for ordinary mundane trips to the grocery store, but the track recording feature is of particular interest to speed freaks who want to relive their track days later at home.

Automatic shifter

The shifter so ubiquitous on all cars from the dawn of the car industry has gone through many changes over the last 100-plus years. Early cars feature long, unwieldy metal shafts directly connected to the internals of the transmission to facilitate gear changes. The shifter has more recently evolved into the dials and buttons seen on most cars today.

Tesla has turned the shifter on its head and integrated it into the touch screen like so many other controls in the car. Most of all, what Tesla has done is eliminated the need for a shifter altogether. As The Verge explains, on-screen there is a small car icon to the left and it can be dragged up or down to go forward or reverse.

This was added to a car as a pretext to eliminate the function altogether. The true functioning of the car should require no input from the driver as it is supposed to figure out on its own whether you are wanting to drive or back out. Using its cameras and contextual clues, the car should know which way you want to go such that no input is needed from the driver aside from pressing the accelerator. The on-screen controls are a backup. As of the time of writing, the auto shift feature is still in BETA testing.

Instant torque

The power delivery of an electric car is much different from that of an internal combustion engine. This is not unique to the Plaid, but, since it has so much power, it is of great consequence to Plaid owners.

Due to the inherent nature of an electric motor, it generates torque instantly. As explained by The Conversation, as soon as the magnets in a motor are charged, the potential power is unleashed. An internal combustion engine must build up power through successive revolutions of the engine and power increases as the engine spins faster. This gives electric motors a huge advantage of immediate, low-end torque that propels vehicles off the line in a race. With more than 1,000 horsepower in the Plaid, the instant power delivery means the car can accelerate at an incredible pace, pinning you back in your seat and creating significant g-force against the body.

Having instant torque is a big advantage in a drag race. Being able to sustain that power will be the trick for those wanting to keep up through laps on a road course. Regardless, Tesla is sure to be stiff competition.


It is well known in the public forum that Elon Musk is not averse to controversy. This applies to his tweets, statements, business decisions, and even standard features on his cars. Such is the case with the new steering wheel on the Model S Plaid and other vehicles. In the place where one would expect a steering wheel like cars have had for more than a century, there is something that looks more at home in a Beechcraft Twin Engine aircraft — a yoke.

Once again eschewing tradition and staid practicality, the Tesla features a rectangular-ish semi-curved yoke with all the controls converted from stalks, levers, and buttons to touch-sensitive controls. It is intriguing and it is also odd. SlashGear previously reported on it and Musk says it takes some getting used to but feels natural after that. He has also confirmed there will be no going back and the yoke is here to stay.

Rear seat screen

Keeping children entertained during long drives is a problem as old as the car industry itself. While early adopters may have had kids mesmerized by the ability just to ride in a horseless carriage itself, kids today are a bit more sophisticated. The modern age does give us plenty of distractions to keep the rear seat occupants busy, yet many tend to get lost, stolen, or broken along the way. Tesla has a final remedy for all of this in the form of a rear passenger screen.

Located on the rear of the center console is an 8-inch touchscreen placed in landscape view that not only provides an interface to the rear climate controls, it loads up popular video streaming services. Tesla lists a few apps it is capable of using, however, notes that availability is dependent upon the market in which the unit is being used. That said, in most cases, streaming video apps such as YouTube and Netflix should be available in most locales.

No parent needs to be told how valuable this little resource is. Furthermore, with the technology-laden nature of this car, future developments may increase the potential uses of the rear screen. For now, keeping the kids quiet on the way to grandma's house should be plenty.

Bioweapon Defense Mode

With such a big name as Bioweapons Defense Mode, it could be assumed this was some kind of military technology or the product of some kind of DARPA research. It is not. However, it is a unique Tesla feature that other car companies would do well to emulate.

Tesla has equipped some of its cars, including the Model S, with a giant air filter, about ten times the typical size in a car, and includes a HEPA filter. According to Elektrek, Tesla claims that it will remove "at least 99.97% of fine particulate matter and gaseous pollutants, as well as bacteria, viruses, pollen, and mold spores," and that its effectiveness is around 100 times that of typical filtration systems. The filter is impressive when removed from the car and takes up the space in front of the windshield and stretches across the entire width of the windshield. Tesla has recorded and posted a video demonstrating how effective it is and the results are convincing.

Tesla Arcade

Anyone who owns a Tesla or is fairly familiar with one knows that charging is going to be a chore to contend with. For road trips, drivers will need to use the Supercharger network to get down the road. Each stop takes about half an hour, so what is a person to do with that time? Play video games.

Tesla has incorporated video games into the giant infotainment screen for a few years but with the newest models, the chipset included is comparable to those used in a Playstation 5, which gives the Tesla genuine computing and graphics power to play some pretty advanced and intense modern games. Motor Trend checked out the game system and showed the list of included games including Cuphead, BeachBuggy Racing 2, Cat Quest, and several classic arcade games. Many of these games rely on the touch screen for an interface while the driving games are controlled by the car's steering wheel, or, uh, the yoke. All of these can be played while parked, charging the car, with the climate control in full swing, allowing charging time to fly by.

No game controllers come with the car but can be plugged into the USB-C ports. The list is likely to grow and it is certain clever gamers will figure out how to hack their Tesla to run some of the most popular titles available. Fortunately for us all, Fallout Shelter is already included.

Ultra high-fidelity sound

Among popular parlance, the two most important things about a car are that it goes fast and has a good radio. The Model S Plaid goes plenty fast and it has a radio that is plenty good. While the audio and infotainment system in Tesla vehicles has always been above average, the newest models, including the Model S Plaid, have a particularly good, upgraded system. It is going to be important while parked at the supercharger and blasting the mutants in Fallout or watching the latest Spider-Man to have an immersive and thunderous soundtrack.

With the Model S Plaid, buyers are treated to the new Ultra High Fidelity Sound option that includes a bevy of audio delights. The system boasts a total of 22 speakers sorted with a mix of subwoofers, midrange woofers, midrange speakers, and tweeters. It utilizes Dolby Pro-Logic and runs through a 560-watt amplifier. Find My Electric says the sound quality of Tesla audio systems is great as a result of Tesla hiring audio engineers from a subsidiary of Bang and Olufsen to create the systems to optimize the space inside the car for the best fidelity possible. Musk has been quoted as saying the system sounds similar to a home theater system and functions with the performance of a Sony Playstation 5.

It literally goes plaid

Elon Musk and Tesla have a history of adding things to the cars that add a certain degree of whimsy and tongue-in-cheek fun. The Model S Plaid is no exception. Not only does it turn into a video game system, but the screen can also be used to doodle, your vehicle icon on the maps can be altered to a number of humorous options, the Model X can do a dance with the falcon doors, and the newest cars fart on demand.

There have been many cars named for many things over the decades, but the Plaid is surely unique. When the car is set into launch mode, it takes a couple of seconds to prepare to unleash full power. The car makes adjustments to cool the battery and lowers the front end and gives an indication of when it is ready for launch. After taking off, on the driver's screen appears a plaid-like graphic that is animated as if moving through some kind of plaid tunnel. What makes this fun, for those not in the know, is that Plaid is the incredibly high speed attained by a spaceship in the movie Spaceballs, a Mel Brooks parody of Star Wars from 1987. Of course, the ship only attained plaid after first reaching "ludicrous" speed, which was the name of the high-speed launch mode for the Model S P90D before. It would be safe to say Musk is a fan.


The enemy of the electric car since the early days of electric cars at the end of the victorian era has been range. Being able to store enough electricity to convert to forward motion is the eternal challenge. The Baker electric car of the Brass Era was only good for about 25 miles or so, but that was enough for a lot of the people who drove them. But with the ease of extracting energy cheaply from crude oil has made it the dominant form of energy for more than a century. Tesla helped to turn things around.

First with the Roadster and then the Model S, Tesla has proven that electric cars can store enough electrons to keep a car moving for an adequate distance such that it becomes a practical solution for everyday driving. Tesla made waves when its early vehicles came out with more than 200 miles on a charge and it has increased ever since. Tesla shows on its website the EPA estimated range of 396 miles per charge. It is now among the longest ranges of all electric cars, but there are others matching it or coming very close now. Car and Driver completed a real-world test and found it achieved an actual range of 280 miles and that trailed the tested range of the Porsche Taycan by 40 miles. Regardless of how accurate estimates are and what the competition is capable of now, the Model S Plaid remains an impressive car with plenty of range for most driving scenarios.