Chill Mode: The hidden gem in every Tesla car

Full disclosure: I own a Tesla Model 3, and yeah… it’s a transformative driving experience.

My wife had owned a 4-door Honda Civic for over 20 years.

It was her first car she had gotten when she came over from India. It was the car we used for frequent trips to the Cascade Mountains in Washington, the Grand Canyon (both the north and south rim), Crater Lake and road trips all over the midwest.

The most memorable moment was with our beloved Ridgeback dog we called ”Sweety”. She would climb out of the back seat and stick her head out the moon roof whenever she could. If that wasn’t available, she needed to have nearly every window down so she could catch the smells of various places we passed. She was literally raised in that car.

But in 2019, it was clear the engine wouldn’t last. It was leaking both steering fluid and engine oil. The supporting strut coils had already work out and the back of the car was sagging. The brakes were becoming problematic, despite our frequent visits to our favorite mechanic. It was showing it’s age for sure.

Bottom line: The Civic was becoming a hazard for my wife to drive. It was time for a new car.

What do we purchase?

Originally, my wife wanted to go for a high-end luxury car. We went to several dealerships looking for options versus what we researched online as ‘fair’ deals. We were practical drivers at heart, and putting a lot of money into a luxury vehicle was an investment that had to make sense.

Then, I had a thought… perhaps a pure-electric or hybrid vehicle might be a possibility. I wasn’t sure if my wife would go for it, but I banked on the fact that she always wanted a red car with great mileage.

Unfortunately, Texas is not a state that has many options for hybrids. Sure, there were car manufacturers that were making them, but nothing on the dealer lots. Those they did have were selling like Santa Claus hot pants. We couldn’t get our hands on anything tangible.

Then, I test drove a Tesla Model 3.


Long story short, I ended up purchasing a Black Tesla Model 3 with upgraded rims and a dual battery option (for longer distances between charges). My wife wanted the Subaru Forrester we already had rather than the Tesla, saying it was really ‘my car’. She said the “geek” in me would love exploring everything about it.

Boy, was she ever right.

At first, the Tesla felt rich. Way too rich for my blood. I kept thinking about the amount of money we paid for it and how it sacked our checking account.

As I had these internal reservations, I kept discovering something new about the car every day I drove it. I literally treated it like an antique dish set you occasionally polish before putting it back up in a buffet stand. I feared the first application of bird poop I’d receive in the coming weeks.

As I continued using the car, I kept reaching for controls that weren’t there anymore. The air conditioning and radio controls, the parking brake and even the trunk lid; All of it was contained within a single console interface in the center of the car.

Seriously, that’s it. The knobs on the steering wheel can control music volume and cruise control speed.

My iPhone paired with the vehicle, with the Tesla app acting as a key fob. That’s right, no keys needed. You just walk up to the vehicle, and it unlocks. You can even start the air conditioner in advance on really hot days to cool down the interior before hopping in… all from your smart phone.

But what really won me over wasn’t the design of the Tesla, nor the interior arrangement of the controls.

It was “Chill” mode, featured in the ‘Driving’ section for acceleration.
That single feature changed the way I drive, and for the better.

Chill Mode Explained

When you’re customizing your Tesla for driving, you can choose to control how the car functions in different ways. You can adjust the type and amount of auto-breaking the car does, if the car will ‘creep’ if the brake pedal is released and how much handling you want the car to take on.

For your acceleration options, you can choose between a ‘Standard’ option that gives you the ability to jet the Tesla right at the start, or a ‘Chill’ option to slowly accelerate from a full stop, or even a moving stop.

What’s transformative about ‘Chill’ acceleration is that it forces you to reconsider the instinctual ‘hit the gas’ reaction right when you see a green light.

As a result, you’re off the starting line at a much slower draw. The Tesla moves forward at a relaxed rate, preserving battery life in the process.

Even more valuable is the lack of stress this mode of acceleration offers.

Between the quiet ride and the other trappings of the Tesla, you ease into every forward motion without having to rush ahead of the pack. You really get into the enjoyment of going from one place to the next.

The final benefit relates to car insurance, especially those that use trackers to report your driving habits back to agencies.

Employing a ‘Chill’ acceleration mode, along with an regenerative braking configuration (where the Tesla will automatically brake for you when you take your foot off the accelerator) amounts to better driving habits that reflect on your member discounts at the end of every month.

But what if I’m a speed demon?

Despite what I’m encouraging here with responsible, conservative driving, you can drive your Tesla any way you’d like.

If you’ve got a Supercharger installed at home and have every ‘Sport’ selection engaged on your car, knock yourself out and warp the road with “ludicrous” speed (which Tesla’s do feature for higher end models).

But if you’re an average joe like me who can use quiet, stress free moments in a car before engaging my work, family life and the other demands of the day, I’ll be in “Chill” mode all day long. It’s been that transformative, and I’ve been driving all types of cars for over 30 years.

Don’t take my word for it though.
Go test drive a Tesla if you can, go “Chill”, and see if you feel the same. :)

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Robert Skrobe

Robert Skrobe

I run Dallas Design Sprints, The Design Sprint Referral Network and Talent Sprints.