Tesla’s vehicles come with some impressive tech features that require a data connection to utilize fully. While all Teslas include the basic Standard Connectivity at no charge, the Premium Connectivity package unlocks the complete suite of connectivity features. This add-on plan extends your Tesla’s capabilities but also adds an ongoing subscription cost. So should you opt for Premium Connectivity or stick with the free Standard version? Here’s an in-depth look at what each includes to help you decide if the upgrade is worthwhile.
The Key Differences Between the Two Plans
Every new Tesla comes with free Standard Connectivity for a period of 8 years. This covers:
- Basic maps and turn-by-turn navigation
- Streaming music and media over Bluetooth from your phone
- Software updates sent over Wi-Fi
- Mobile app features like remote climate control and location tracking
So with the base connectivity, you can still navigate and play audio from your phone. However, more advanced features requiring a direct data connection won’t be available.
For $9.99 per month or $99 annually, Premium Connectivity adds:
- Satellite-view maps with live traffic visualization
- Video streaming access to Netflix, YouTube, Hulu and more
- Caraoke singing with on-screen lyrics
- Internet browser
- Spotify, Tidal, Apple Music and Slacker Radio streaming
- Sentry Mode live camera access from mobile app
- Unlimited data for the above features
With this upgraded plan, your Tesla gains a built-in data connection allowing full use of all the high-tech options reliant on constant internet access.
Weighing the Pros and Cons
Benefits of Premium Connectivity
Tesla positions Premium Connectivity as moving your experience from “offline to online.” Here are some of the major upsides:
Expanded Maps and Navigation
The satellite view maps let you easily identify landmarks and terrain. Having real-time traffic data incorporated into navigation provides more optimal routing. This helps you circumnavigate heavy congestion and arrive at your destination faster.
Broader Entertainment Options
Access to various streaming music platforms means more choice over what you listen to. Passengers can also watch shows, movies, YouTube videos, and more on the touchscreen from services like Netflix and Hulu. The in-car Karaoke is another entertainment perk.
Enhanced Vehicle Security
You can check the live feeds from your car’s exterior cameras using the mobile app. This is useful for monitoring your Tesla’s surroundings in public parking and potentially deterring any tampering when enabled.
Having a direct modem connection for data removes the need to tether to a phone hotspot. This provides for higher quality streaming and more stable internet performance.
Downsides of Premium Connectivity
On the other side of the equation, some factors to weigh include:
Recurring Subscription Cost
At $10 per month, Premium Connectivity isn’t hugely expensive but does add another ongoing cost. The $99 annual fee reduces this slightly but still presents an extra yearly charge.
Spotty Coverage in Rural Areas
Since Premium Connectivity relies on a cell data signal, connection quality and availability varies by location. Remote regions with poor LTE coverage may struggle to access some features consistently.
Battery Drain from Continuous Data Use
Potential Lagging Performance
The in-car browser and streaming can sometimes be slow or laggy. This is more noticeable on older Tesla models without the latest hardware.
Who Gets the Most Value From Premium Connectivity?
Based on the key differences in what’s included between the Standard and Premium packages, some types of Tesla owners can benefit more than others.
Those who drive their Tesla regularly will find the most usefulness from satellite maps, live traffic, and robust navigation. Hourly drivers like Uber/Lyft riders especially maximize Premium Connectivity’s capabilities.
Long distance travelers get more enjoyment from unlimited music/video streaming. This helps pass time on road trips without relying on spotty local hotspots.
Buyers who prioritize cutting-edge tech features appreciate Premium Connectivity’s enhanced entertainment selections and camera access. It caters well to those wanting to fully utilize their Tesla’s gadgets.
Premium Connectivity ensures more consistent high-speed data for navigation and entertainment in urban areas with strong cellular networks. Congestion mapping also helps avoid traffic tie-ups.
Rear seat video streaming and Caraoke can help entertain kids on family road trips. Satellite view maps provide engaging visuals. The constant data connection keeps these options smooth.
Free Trial Periods Make Testing Premium Connectivity Easy
Tesla provides initial free access to Premium Connectivity on new vehicle purchases to let drivers experience the benefits firsthand:
- Model S and Model X orders get a full year of complimentary Premium Connectivity.
- Model 3 and Model Y purchases include a 1-month trial.
This provides an opportunity to utilize all the features and determine if the upgrade delivers value that justifies the ongoing cost before paying.
Weighing the Pros and Cons for Your Needs
On balance, Premium Connectivity expands your vehicle’s capabilities through its satellite maps, live traffic, security camera access, unlimited streaming, and expanded entertainment content. For those who drive frequently or take road trips and can maximize the extra features, the upgrade can be well worth it.
But for more casual users who just need basic navigation and primarily listen to their own music library, sticking with the free Standard Connectivity may suffice. Considering your personal usage, driving habits, and budget will determine whether the additional $10 a month provides enough extra convenience and enjoyment over the base inclusion to justify the spend. Test driving it yourself via the free trials can help inform your decision.
Overall, Premium Connectivity gives your Tesla added flair and functionality, but isn’t an absolute necessity. Evaluate your needs and driving use cases to decide if the benefits warrant the ongoing subscription cost for you.