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Driving Across the US in a Tesla Model X on Autopilot: Free, Safe but Not Ideal

It takes a little under 3 hours to fly non-stop from Austin, Texas, to Chicago, Illinois. That’s over 1,200 miles across the country, a trip you can also make by car in an estimated 17 hours of continuous driving.
YouTuber shows what it's like to drive across the US in a Tesla Model X 9 photos
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Undertake the same trip in a Tesla and the time you spend on the road nearly doubles, as compared to a diesel car. YouTuber Ryan Trahan set out to carry out this experiment in his Model X – for the sake of science, he says.

The undertaking is presented in the 18-minute video available at the bottom of the page, which already sits at over 3.8 million views. Ryan and his friends took the road trip to show the pros and cons of driving an electric car on US highways, and his conclusion is that, while this was a fun thing to do once, cost-free and safe, he would never do it again because it was downright exhausting.

Most of the time, Ryan had Autopilot engaged, and this was the best thing about the trip. He warns that no driver should get completely distracted when on Autopilot because it’s not bulletproof, and praises Tesla for creating tech that allows the driver to feels less stressed out during long drives.

“Autopilot makes you feel like you're a passenger,” he says. “Normally on road trips your eyes are peeled onto the road and its so physically and mentally exhausting that it is tiring. Here, I am looking around at some pretty trees and enjoying the ride.”

Secondly, Ryan was impressed by the fact that the entire ride was cost-free, aside from the money he and his friends spent on food while the car was charging. For the record, supercharging is not free, except for Model S and Model X cars purchased before January 2017, and for those bought through certain referral programs.

Ryan just got lucky. So take it with a grain of salt when he says, “The cost was free! It cost us zero dollars to cross the country. I put a couple of thousand miles on the car which will depreciate its value but there were no out-of-pocket costs.”

The downsides to making the trip in a Tesla include the many hours spent charging (nearly 10 hours) and the limited range, which becomes even more limited depending on weather and other factors. Having to divert from the planned route to get to a supercharger adds even more miles and time to the journey.

All in all, while the cross-country trip was fun (for a while) and relatively cheap, it wasn’t something he would recommend.


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