My Next Tesla Under $60K

So I’m a month in on my Tesla Model S 90D. I love it. It’s the fastest car I’ve ever owned, there’s no turbo lag (like my previous Audi), it looks amazing, it drives itself, it made it to Truckee on a single charge, and the list goes on. There are only two things I don’t like a month later. Two things I knew I’d probably not like about the Tesla.

One, it’s really expensive. $95K is a lot of money to spend on anything, let alone a car. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have $95K lying around, but with 1.75% financing, $11K back in rebates, and my down payment back from Audi on the Diesel A7 they never delivered me, and a good Silicon Valley job, I was able to swing it (for now).

Two, all the Teslas sort of look the same. There is very little visual difference between the cars besides the standard colors. I will cover the vanity and appearance in another post, this post is about what I would do different next time about the price.

If there’s one thing true about the average Tesla buyer, we all spend way too much time on the Tesla Design Studio. So since you know my two gripes post purchase, I’ve been both perusing aftermarket customize your Tesla websites, and the Tesla Design Studio configuring a cheaper model to see how much I could save if I removed features I know I could now live without. See below my new configuration.

Tesla Design Studio

In my “save $1000 on a Tesla” post I shared my current configuration, the one that cost me $95K. So as a follow-up, here is my sub $60K configuration that I would probably choose today. You will notice it doesn’t quite hit sub $60k, but that’s because the Design Studio isn’t reducing the price by (1) a $1000 referral discount (2) $2500 California Credit, which brings our total to $59,450. Below I’ll go into more detail on why I could live without nearly $35,000 in extras.

Tesla Model S under $60k

First off the paint. Yes, I could probably live with black paint over silver, but the silver costs $1000, it fits in my under $60K article budget, and my last 4 cars have all been black, so time for a change.

Second, the panoramic roof. Again, fits in my budget for the article, and after a month, I really don’t think I would want a Tesla without it. I live in California and its summer. I’ve used it almost every day I’ve driven the Tesla and in Santa Cruz this past weekend I used it every drive.


Wheel upgrades direct from Tesla I can live without. Since you know my other gripe is that all Teslas look the same, go buy some aftermarket rims and give your Tesla a slightly different look than the neighbors Tesla. You can keep the cost out of your loan and have fun upgrading at a latter date.

While I originally purchased the Air Suspension, I would only purchase it if I wasn’t focused on fitting into a particular budget. I do lower (and occasionally raise) the Tesla, but only because I have the feature. I could live without this.

Matte Wood finish is something I would include in the budget for $750. It’s very difficult and expensive to change later. Tesla will do it for you they’ve told me, but you are looking at min. $1500 to complete the job. So why Matte? The Tesla is a fingerprint magnet. From the huge touchscreen, to the near piano black default finish, everywhere I look fingerprints are being left behind. By choosing a matte wood finish you are reducing fingerprints across half of the interior cockpit.

Your color preference in headliner is your business and your opinion. It’s free either way, so I have no advice for you there.

Autopilot is fun, can be dangerous if you believe what you read, and is in beta, and it is free for the first 30 days… so why even bother burdening your loan and your purchase price with it. If you can afford it, decide you want it, then just buy it later. Assuming not too many people die from it, maybe it’s a nice holiday gift to yourself 🙂

All wheel drive? Maybe, but it adds $5K to the price and unless you are going to Tahoe all winter in your Model S, you really don’t need it in most situations. At least I can say that for places like California where it only snows in the mountains. Also, after feeling the power of the Tesla, I think it would be fun to have a little less traction when it comes to flooring it off a dead start. I’ve driven all wheel drive Audis for many years. They are practical, they hug the road, but like an automatic to a manual gearbox, they just aren’t as fun to drive as an old school rear wheel drive. So in this configuration, I’d say no.

Tesla winter package

The Winter Package really only adds heat to the rear seat. Unless your precious little hands need a warm steering wheel, the front seats of every Tesla come with heaters for free. So again, unless you live part-time in the snow, here’s another $1000 you can save.

I didn’t consider the high fidelity package the first time, so I’m certainly not considering adding it to this configuration. A car simply doesn’t have the silence (even a Tesla) to appreciate the fidelity of good speakers. Save the money and go upgrade your living room speakers for equal money. You’ll thank me later.

The premium upgrade package was also glossed over in my original configuration, just as I’m doing now. Just not worth $3,000 for a series of lights and an air filtration system to survive an apocalyptic event. Honestly, if the air outside is that bad, you are screwed the minute you leave your Tesla to get food and water. You really should have spent the $3,000 on a gas mask and canned food.

Tesla Ranges

I saved the best for last. 60, vs. 75 vs 90. For starters, you can upgrade to the 75 kWh later. I probably would in this scenario. But I’d leave it off my loan, and would again gift myself at some future date when I had the money saved up, and decided I really needed the extra range. Which is also why I could live without the 90 kWh. After a month, I’ve loved having 300 mile range, but I’ve loved more stopping at Superchargers and getting free electricity while I stretch, shop for groceries, or grab a meal. I could live by reducing my range to 200, especially knowing I could go back up to 249 at a later date via the 75 kWh upgrade.

So there you have it. If you haven’t purchased your Tesla yet, hopefully my advice here gets you just a little closer and a $1000 savings.

9 thoughts on “My Next Tesla Under $60K

  1. Thanks for the advice, interesting read! My Tesla would be similar to this, although as I´m living in an area where there´s practically winter at least 4-5 months/year, I would opt for the winter package and AWD, and maybe leave out the panoramic roof (not using it during winter and might also have worse insulation than normal roof).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is the kind of information us Model 3 reservation holders need. The whole $35k price could easily disappear when picking “nice to have options” that could be added later as you stated. I’m really looking forward to design studio outfitting my Model 3 and will keep your article in mind when doing so. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What is with your obsession with ‘leaving it off the loan’? If you want to ‘leave it off the loan’, simply supplement the down payment with the cash to cover the extra features you’re adding. Some of the features you’re talking about adding later cost more money to add later. I.E. autopilot is an extra $500 to add later. Same with the 60kWh to 75kWh battery upgrade.

    If you have the cash to cover the features you want, there’s no reason not to add them prior to order confirming your order. And even if you don’t, at sub-2% financing, it still makes more sense financially to add it to your loan…. you’re not going to pay $500 to finance the $2500 cost of autopilot. But you’ll pay $3000 instead of $2500 if you add it later.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A few reasons.
      – If you aren’t sure you want the feature, you have more time to decide. You may not need the 75kWh upgrade, and you may not feel AutoPilot is worth even $2500.
      – A Tesla loan can last as many as 78 months. Life can change. Employement can change. The desire or ability to maintain a Tesla loan payment is a concern to a lot of people. Keeping the loan payment as low as possible is a goal of many. Keeping options off the loan payment is healthy for many.

      Your point however is valid if you know 100% you want the option, and you have the money now. If that’s the case, purchase it now and increase your downpayment (assuming loan amount is a concern).


      1. Adding AP and the 75kWh upgrade prior to order confirmation would add less than $200/mo to your payment (at current rates). If that’s of huge concern to you, you probably should not be purchasing a Tesla.


  4. Where are the articles / opinion pieces regarding the other Electric/Alternative Fuel vehicles and their manufacturers? I would like to read some of your perspectives on the rest of the industry.! Thank you for your time and website.


    1. Hi Barry, my perspective is the other manufacturers are way behind. Audi and several others are over hyping concept cars, or less than 100 mile range full electrics. I’m also only writing about products I own or have very direct experience with. I only own a Tesla right now, so thus the articles are focused on Tesla. Hope that helps explain the one-sided view.


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