Picked up a no radar Model Y from Princeton yesterday. Today I decided to travel down to Barnegat to visit family. Might be a lengthy post, but the following is the experience with a no radar car.
To set the scene a little there was moderate to heavy rain. It was by no means a downpour, but closer to that than a drizzle. Didn’t start AP until I went on the parkway since it’s only a couple miles away. Almost immediately after engaging autopilot I got a notification saying something along the lines of autopilot speed reduced due to inclement weather. I waited a while to see how low it would go, but eventually had to take over after it hit 54 or 55mph-ish. Traveling 55 on the parkway is just dangerously slow even when it’s raining so I had to take over. I’ve taken this route many times in similar and even worse weather conditions and never had problems with my old Y. I figured I would just use cruise control, but I guess I should have known since it only allows TaCC, it had problems with that as well.
So I go another 10 or so miles having to drive manually without even basic cruise control (I know first world problems). At this point the rain briefly stopped completely, so I tried it again. It ended up being a double whammy of sorts. First I got a phantom brake event when I went under a double overpass and immediately after there was a merge. I wouldn’t think it would be from the overpasses since my understanding is radar was rumored to cause that by bouncing up into them and misinterpreting it for a car. It also unfortunately cannot be explained by the merging cars though or really anything else since they were no where near me and I wasn’t even in the right lane. Shortly after that, while it is still not raining mind you I again got the limited speed warning I’m assuming from the other cars kicking up the rain driving to the side of me. At this point I just went the rest of the way manually. Even when driving manually I got an alert stating forward collision warning when I was nowhere near anybody, not once, but twice. The Tesla went from the best car to drive a long distance on the freeway to a worse experience than my old Honda since at least that could use cruise control.
On the way back it was even worse though. It was about 3AM and the auto high beams were flashing on and off at almost every sign. I assume the reflection of light from the highly reflective signs were confusing it. I thought no problem, this is why I disabled auto high beams on the old one. I press forward to turn high beams off. I immediately get a notice saying they need to be on for autopilot. It now requires auto high beams to use autopilot. I turn them back on and just say I’ll look like a goof with them constantly turning on and off. There weren’t all that many people out there at this time anyway. I’m driving along and it was getting closer to another vehicle than I was comfortable with with high beams on. I also didn’t want them to think I was road raging on them since they kept flashing on and off due to the signs. So again I just decide I’ll use cruise control and again I find out I can’t even use that without auto high beams. So yet again I’m manually driving the car having a less pleasant experience than my old Honda.
Again I came from and still technically have an old Model Y with radar. The only reason I even “upgraded” is I was lucky to have reserved one while it was $49k thinking maybe if a tax incentive passes I could upgrade and end up only paying a little. When they said they had one ready I checked Vroom and for some reason they offered $51k, so it was kinda a no brainer even if the bill doesn’t pass that says any cars after May 24th.
Either way, it was unequivocally a worse experience than my old one, and it wasn’t even particularly close. Still hope much of it can be fixed with updates, but at this point not only is it almost unusable in the rain, it’s almost unusable in areas in which it had previously rained and there are other cars near you. This last point is likely just me being too nervous I’m pissing off other drivers, it may not well of even been bothering anybody, but at least for me, and at least based on this experience, it’s not even usable at night… at all.
TL;DR: Based on my admittedly limited experience, and at least for now, the non-radar versions are significantly worse. In multiple ways, not just weather.