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Exclusive: Hands-On With the Tesla Model S 4.0

Tesla is pushing out its first major software update to Model S owners, finally giving Elon’s all-electric golden-child the infotainment features you’d expect of a $100,000 sports sedan.

This 4.0 release addresses what we found to be rather egregious oversights in an otherwise phenomenal vehicle. If your run-of-the-mill domestic econobox offers voice controls for music and navigation, how could a vehicle at the pinnacle of modern engineering come without it?

This update answers that question and a few more. And we got a chance to check it out.

Topping the list of updates is voice control, which is handled through an embedded 3G modem that connects to Google’s voice-recognition system. It’s limited to navigation, telephone and using Slacker Radio, but Tesla’s knocked its first attempt at voice commands out of the park. The process is far easier and more intuitive than most.

Depress the voice control button on the steering wheel, say “Navigate to 520 3rd Street, San Francisco” and release the button. Moments later the destination appears on the gorgeous 17-inch display. Tap the “navigate” button and you’ve got turn-by-turn directions. You’ve got one-shot commands for address (no more providing a city, then a street, then a number) and Google’s search functionality provides ultra-quick point-of-interest searches.
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