Renting a Tesla: Electric Vehicle Review

Sea gull in flight with ocean water in background

My husband has long been a fan of Tesla, actually any electric vehicle. And he’s toyed with the idea of getting one. I could say he admires the science of it, which he does. Or I could say that he thinks it’s better for the environment. But the real reason he looks longingly at an electric car is the savings at the gas pump.

Recently, underlying forces in the universe drew us to Florida for three reasons. First, my stepmom was in the hospital and not doing well (no worries, she’s better now). Second, it had been more than a year since I’d seen my brother and his family, all Ohioans currently living in the Tampa Bay Area. And third, one of my daughters is on the OSU rowing team and they were competing in the Big Ten Invitational in Sarasota.

Palm fronds in silhouette against a blue and pink sky.

We booked a last-minute flight and checked out our rental car options. Believe it or not, a Tesla Model 3 was available to rent for less than our usual choices, so we decided to give it a try.

Renting a Tesla

We flew into the Orlando airport and headed right out to the car (thanks to my new credit card for the status upgrade). The rental agent gave us a hang tag with a QR code on it and told us that google was our best friend when renting a Tesla. We chuckled along with her, but I was more than a little nervous about what we’d gotten ourselves into.

As you might already know, the door handles are recessed to prevent drag. It took me an embarrassing few seconds, but it wasn’t too hard to get the door open.

A sea gull takes flight just feet above the sand along the coast as gentle waves are in the background

The second step was getting down into the car. I’m not as young as I once was and I’ve grown accustomed to SUVs and crossovers. I rather enjoy getting up into a vehicle rather than getting down into one. (And I certainly prefer hopping out to climbing out!) I like the view a little better and my knees don’t creak quite so much on entry and exit.

This accomplished, we poked around the interior for a few minutes before we got started. All of the controls are through a large monitor in the center of the dash. Everything is controlled from this one screen. It certainly felt clumsy at first as we clicked between screens, adjusting the air conditioning, looking for a radio station and pairing our smart phones.

Then, I’d like to say we fired up the engine. But Tesla’s don’t have an engine sound at all. You just go. So just like that we were on our way out of the parking garage and into the Florida sunshine.

On the Road Again

Our first stop was a charging station. We didn’t really need to charge, but we wanted to see how it worked before we found ourselves in dire need. We clicked on the monitor and asked the car to take us to a charging station.

Two manatees swim underwater.

You can select from destination chargers or super chargers nearby. Destination chargers take longer. They are at a destination like a restaurant or mall, somewhere that you may be running errands. A super charger, on the other hand, is somewhere you’ll go when you want to charge your car quickly.

As the car guides you to your charging station, it begins conditioning the battery for the charge. The screen told us this was to allow the battery to charge faster. I don’t know the science behind it, so I decided to just take the car’s word on it.

Once there, you back into the charger and hook up. You can stay in the car with the air conditioner running full go (it was Florida after all). Many chargers are near convenience stations or shopping centers, so you can note the estimated battery charge time and nose around a bit.

Our first charge was at a Wa Wa gas and convenience station. We headed inside for a bathroom break and some snacks while the car charged. That first charge, which we took us to 90 percent, and we were back on the road. Our experience was so far, so good.

When you fuel at a super charger, there’s no place to pay or put in your credit card. The charger recognizes your Tesla and bills directly to the account. Since ours was a rental, the charge went through the agency, directly to the card on file.

Renting a Tesla: The Driving Experience

The car was surprisingly zippy. I’m not really a car person, so you’ll have to forgive my descriptions of the ride. But when you stepped on the accelerator it went and my husband agreed it was fun to drive.

It was low to the ground, so you felt the bumps, but it wasn’t really uncomfortable. These were Florida roads. There weren’t many bumps to speak of. It might be less comfortable hitting potholes after an Ohio winter.

A sea gull is seen taking off from the sand with his wings extended above him.

Renting a Tesla: Charging Convenience

We did quite a bit of driving during our trip and quite a bit of charging. That first day we went from Orlando to Tampa, down to Sarasota and back to Tampa. And all together we charged three times. The first one was just a test run, but the second two were absolutely necessary.

That was the daily average for our five-day trip. We’d charge the car twice a day with each charge taking between 20 and 50 minutes.

It wasn’t long before I found it a bit of a nuisance to drive. It felt like we were either driving it, charging it or worrying about charging it the entire trip. We charged it 11 times during the trip or a total of 335 minutes.

By contrast, Amanda and I had taken a five-day trip to Los Angeles a few weeks earlier and rented a Chrysler 300. We drove all up and down the Pacific coast and fueled up once, which took a total (including snacks and restroom) of less than 15 minutes.

Renting a Tesla: Conclusion

I decided, at least for this type of trip the Tesla wasn’t worth the savings either at the pump or at the car rental agency. After all, who wants to spend nearly 6 hours of their vacation charging the car?

We were doing quite a bit of driving though, from my brother’s home near Tamp to Sarasota where Natalie was rowing every day. Then eventually we headed over to my stepmom’s place in Lake Placid, more toward the center of the state. There things got even more difficult as chargers weren’t quite as easy to find.

A blue ocean with a blue sky above. There are white capped waves in the distance.

I wouldn’t totally shut the door on the Tesla experience. If we were staying exclusively in one area for an entire visit, the Tesla may have been a very good choice. Ditto for use as a daily driver. If I owned the car and just drove it to work and back daily, it might be a very good investment and a much better fit for us. I do think I’ll hold off any thoughts of getting one until they come up with a model that sits a little higher off the ground.

Do you own or have you rented a Tesla? What are your thoughts on using it as a daily driver?


We’re always looking for new adventures, especially in the Buckeye State, but really all over the globe. And we just wanted to share this quick, practical review of the Tesla experience. As we travel, we notice that they’re popping up much more frequently as a car rental choice. Before you head out on your next adventure, we just wanted to offer our experience so that you could decide if it was a good rental for your next trip.

If you’re interested in more of our adventures, far and near, be sure to check out our section on Travels. Planning on staying a little closer to home? Well, the Buckeye State is our first and greatest love, so you’ll find plenty of Ohio favorites in the Day Trips section.

Check back often, as we’re always sharing new adventures. In the meantime, thanks for FindingOhio with us and as always, we really appreciate you sharing our content to your social media. We love sharing our beautiful state with everyone!