Navigation without the Tech Package

I'm about to buy an MS but struggling to make a decision on the Tech Package. My primary interest is the navigation--the other features are nice to have. With the v5 updates to the firmware, it seems that it may be good enough navigation without Tech even though it doesn't have turn-by-turn directions. Does it seem likely that the google map capability on the touch screen will evolve such that the better Garmin features will be less important?

It does not seem likely to me.

I think most here would agree that the tech package is basically a no-brainer on the Model S.

Get the tech package. The automatic keyless entry and the light door handles are my favorite feature and the daytime LED running lights look so great!

Without the tech package, the screen will show you Google map and optional traffic or satellite overlays.

If you just like the know the traffic pattern to your destination that it would do just fine. However, if you need directions or alternate routes info then you will need the tech pkg to use the navigation function.

I am also a fan of the tech package for some of the little stuff like the auto-present door handles and the like. Remember that Google Maps is going to be dependent on internet access so if you lose access you lose nav.

One other thing to consider is potential future-proofing. Some of the newer options like the infamous parking sensors require the tech package. This might be the case for future enhancements too, so having the tech package might make it easier for retrofits.


Get the tech package!

The Google map will still show your destination without the tech package. If you can self navigate to the general area, you can eyeball it the rest of the way. It is even made easier with 5.0 that will allow you to orient the Google map in your direction of travel.

OP here, with Tech, does the Garmin GPS become the source for the maps on the large display or just the small map in the main dashboard?

I don't have the tech package, but still have Google maps on the touchscreen. Reading from posts on other threads, I believe the maps on the dashboard screen are generated by the Navigon (owned by Garmin) software.

The Garmin maps are only shown in the instrument panel, not on the 17" screen. 17" always uses Google Maps and 3G to download the data.

of course, one needs GPS the most when you lose 3G...

If you want nav without the tech package you can use your smartphone connected to car audio through bluetooth, but that is a kludgey workaround.

Truthfully the present navigation is moderate, but I am hopeful improvements will come. Still have 4.5 not 5.0. It doesn't really take into account traffic patterns when directing you although you can see the patterns on the screen. Even then satellite view can take a while to update. I turn off satellite when the patterns look questionable. I personally like having screen directions rather than looking at a cell phone and am prepared to pay extra for whistles and bells but if I need serious navigation through Southern California traffic Magellan on my Iphone is much more useful and reliable.

The Tech Package seems like the key to future upgradeability.

This is not based on anything Tesla has decreed.

But if you want the parking sensors. Need Tech.

If you want autopilot. Eventually, you'll need the tech package.

The Garmin uses an on-board mapping database for NA--the tech package includes free updates for 7 years.


You have to remember the Google maps do not show if you lose 3G connectivity. The other thing you get is the tailgate opens by itself and can be set to stop before it hits your overhead door or gets to high for shorter drivers to reach to close it. It does include 7 years of update maps. I have paid as much for Nav radios on other cars but still was expected to pay $199 a year for map updates.

"the tech package is basically a no-brainer on the Model S"

perhaps i am in the minority here, but I thought the Tech package is almost completely NOT worth it for me. Many other cars their tech package is worth it, but not the MS. Here in canada that comes out to over $4000 upgrade on its own, plux taxes.

- dim lights on door handles....not neccessary for me
- daytime running LED lights.....not needed, and i feel it goes against the whole green thing
- keyless entry...yeah, i think its kind of cool, but I can push a little button on a fob. Of course it will be tricky to locate the fob in my pocket around the extra $4000 i'm not spending
- heated side and rearview mirrors .. never had an issue with this, and i live in canada...and why isnt this feature in the 'cold weather package' where it belongs
- power lift gate...again, somewhat cool, but for that money i can lift that
- memory seats.... i like, but since i will be driving 98% of time i can live without.
- As for the NAV, keep in mind without tech you still get to see the maps, and your car GPS position on that map. Thats all i ever would need. The only thing you dont get is the route display, or a voice telling you when to turn.

For me, not getting the tech just means i have to push a button to unlock car, and open liftgate on my own, and once every two months adjust my seat.

For that 'hassle', i'd rather put that money to better use....like invensting it in TSLA.....maybe by time i get my next car that will pay for it :)

It is rumored... yes I know... that the now unused flash memory that was once going to be used to store music, will be activated to store cached Google maps, thus allowing their continued use in the event of a temporary loss of data connectivity. We'll see.

My 2 cents on this is that the in-dash map function is pretty cool but for most navigation situations, the Google MAP is in many ways better. Google Maps is very a familiar interface from other devices and the larger overview it provides is very helpful.

@Kaboom: agree with you entirely. My Model S arrives on Monday. I'm planning on using my car only for local commuting, so don't see the need to spend thousands of dollars for turn by turn directions. Sometimes there is a virtue in simplicity, and not having the tech package frees up funds for other features that might actually make a difference. For me, that's the air suspension to raise the car when I'm driving the dirt roads at my farm.

Lighted door handles? Daytime running lights? Self opening hatchbacks? Self presenting door handles? These are, let's face it, luxury items, not "must haves."

@Kaboom: You don't need to press anything on the FOB to open the car. Just press the handle with the FOB buried in your pocket among all those hundred dollar bills. The only time you need to press is to lock.

@PaceyWhitter: The iPhone solution is not so kludgey at all. The phone connects automatically when you enter the car. Instead of keying in my destination in the car, I speak it into the phone, and Google Maps app's turn-by-turn navigation comes through nice and clear via bluetooth. There are no additional buttons to push. The only difference I can see is that the iPhone doesn't sit as comfortably in my eye line - but then I always use the Tesla's Map at the same time anyway.
Of course, when you drive somewhere without cell coverage, you're out of luck. Then you have to have your trusty old Garmin with you.

I don't have the tech package, but on the few occasions when I need turn by turn... I have no problem setting the destination on my smartphone and just sending it through the S sound system by setting the phone as a media device in addition to a phone.

thanks for the tip. Didnt even know that. So the only thing the 'keyless' entry does is slide the door handles out as you approach?

I thought the tech package is required for the air suspension

I'm a little fuzzy on the whole "Google Maps nav vs. Garmin nav" thing.

I know if I press and hold the right steering wheel button and say "Navigate to [wherever]", that I'll get Google nav on the main screen.

I also know that this nav is dependent on a 3G connection.

What I don't know is how to use the Garmin nav that displays on the left side of the instrument screen...

My car has the tech package but has not been delivered yet.

Tech Package is a no brainer

Daytime running lights are worth a discount on insurance, I believe. Not sure how much.

I have to agree that Google navigate is much better than the navigation provided by the tech package in my short experience, but the convenience of having it built-in so you don't have to mess with a separate device probably still makes it worthwhile IMO. I was using 4.5, so maybe it's better on 5.0

@kaboom re air and tech. This requirement was added only recently to the US website. It is not - yet - required on the European site. Tesla did increase the price of air from €1600 to €2300. All in all I think this not a real technical requirement but a marketing trick.

I went ahead an ordered Tech but not based on any of the things they normally tell you. What I was told yesterday during my meeting with a manager is that the Tech package back up camera is HD versus the other which is not. I was also told that you only get the traffic overlay (showing which streets are green, which are congested) if you get Tech. Those were important to me. Finally they only let you get the sensors if you buy the Tech Package which is such a bummer but that basically pushed me over to getting it. Has anyone else been told these things?

I read somewhere the HD camera is now standard on all cars. More and more options are depending on the tech package.

New buyers should be aware that the Navigation system is basically non-funtioning in version 5. Hopefully they will come up with a fix soon but new buyers should be prepared to have an alternative means of GPS until they work things out.

I know the tech package is expensive but its really comes in handy. The Navi is something that you need to learn so I would set a route you already know and learn the Navi from that. the DLRS its looks nice in gray, Multi-Red, white. The Cornering lights turns on when turning the steering wheel from 5-24 or 25 MPH and also in reverse. The automatic keyless entry is nice to have but I found out it works better when walk up to the MS from the front. The lighted door handed is good when parked in a dark place. The power liftgate is great when parked in the garage you can set the hight of the trunk. The gps homelink is great when you need to open your gate or garage when you get near the gate or garage the homelink icon will pop down. The Driver Profile is great when having many driver or you can set one for yourself and another when you EXIT. I love the tech package so you should too.

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