This is what a rental Tesla Model S interior looks like after 19,000 miles

We recently spent the day with a Tesla Model S Plaid to give you all a full insight into what it’s like to be behind the wheel of this three-motor electric muscle sedan. Many things about it were impressive: the acceleration, the stellar technology and the great range. There were also a handful of negatives, but here we’ll focus on how the Plaid’s interior held up over its 19,000+ miles.

The most obvious problem was staring at us right after opening the door. Tesla’s yoke steering device appeared to have been attacked by a wild animal. Its covering was worn and stripped on both sides of the vertical yoke bars, leaving the bare yoke somewhat uncomfortable underneath. Yeah, it looks wrongwrong.

Now, some caveats. This Model S Plaid is a rental that has been on Turo for an indefinite period of time. According to the list, he only did 7 trips in total, including ours. Rental life is tough for any car. Even so, being used and likely abused as a rental, this type of wear and tear is something we’ve never seen before on rentals with a similar number of miles. Maybe one with 100,000, but less than 20,000? Clorox wipes and hand sanitizer are going to be rough on any car interior, but this kind of damage is still glaring.

For a while, too, we thought there was a chance this yoke was an outlier. Or maybe someone degraded it on purpose on a previous rental trip? But recent online revelations from other Plaid owners belie that theory. In the tweetsModel S owners detailed the degradation of their own yokes, showing that our experience is not abnormal.

We are rapidly approaching the point where many Model S Plaid owners will achieve similar mileage goals as our rental. Unless Tesla quietly improves the quality of its yoke coating over the past year, we suspect it will be a common occurrence. Besides looking bad, this quick-wear cover is a testament to the kind of durability testing that Tesla does. Of all the things you touch in a car, the steering wheel and seats wear out more than anywhere else. You’d think Tesla would want to make sure its brand new fancy steering gear is a bulletproof piece, right? Since Tesla doesn’t have a PR or communications department, we can’t actually ask Tesla what their testing and QA system was for the yoke, but we can assume from the results that all that was done was not enough.

Other than the yoke, the seats in this rented Model S Plaid were pretty gross to look at – check out the difference in appearance between the pristine seat tops and the coarse, flat bottoms. White seats are always a gamble when it comes to car interiors, but again, we’ve never seen one look so faded after just a year of use. We had long-term test cars with white or cream interiors for over a year, and they never ended up looking like this. In fact, we just dropped our long-term Hyundai Palisade with the Calligraphy trim quilted white leather interior option, and you’d be hard pressed to notice a difference in the leather hue between when it arrived and when it left. Again, this speaks to the durability of the materials used.

Other than the yoke and seat issues, the only other big issue was that the black trim was chipped on one of the emergency door release latches. This could very easily be the fault of a ring or other hard material being pushed with some force, which is less of a Tesla problem and more of a user error. The rest of the interior of this particular Plaid showed no other signs of accelerated wear, making the steering wheel and the seats the two big issues.

However, while driving, we noticed a number of continuous squeaks and rattles that a car around $150,000 shouldn’t exhibit after just 19,000 miles. Unlike a vault-type Mercedes-Benz or Porsche that can cost a similar amount, this Tesla made noises you’d expect from a car with a lot more miles than it has. And yes, even rental cars. It’s one of the many reasons why the Plaid is much less of an American luxury car and more of an American muscle car.

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Betty K. Park