Tesla Model 3: These 5 fun features help make this electric car unique

It's full of tech, and also an irreverent sense of fun

You've read the review (or maybe you haven't), and you've learned how the Tesla Model 3 is a bit of an odd duck. As we spent a couple days with the EV, we came to learn a few of its quirks. Here are five nifty features that — in addition to the electric powertrain, unique styling and loads of tech — really make the car unique.

Smartphone/key card unlocking

The Model 3 knows you're coming. Its key is actually a card, and it uses short range radio-frequency identification (RFID) signals to communicate with the car. Using the key card, though, you can authenticate your smartphone, allowing it to communicate with the Model 3 via Bluetooth. Then you can control certain functions with your phone, including the door locks. The key card, when used instead of the phone, needs to be swiped over a sensor in the B-pillar, but you can leave your phone in your pocket, so long as you have the "Walk Up Unlock" and "Walk Away Lock" features enabled.

Still, you should keep a card with you (in your wallet or purse) in case your phone dies.

It seems like a gimmick, but there are countless times we've walked out the door into the snow, locking the door behind use, before realizing we've left the key fob inside. Our phone in our pocket or, more likely, in our hand. We're glued to that damn thing. If only we could've used that (or something small enough to keep in our wallet) as our car key.

It makes getting into and driving away in the Model 3 a seamless, automatic act. This seems like the next logical evolutionary step to banishing bulky, inconvenient keys and fobs.

Central touchscreen

The 15-inch touchscreen on the dash is central command for basically every non-driving function in the vehicle. In it are a number of menus, controlling everything from audio to navigation to climate control to lights to locks to regenerative braking levels. You even use it to open the glovebox. This means that there aren't a lot of buttons elsewhere in the vehicle — or even an instrument cluster. That's not to say we don't have complaints about it. Read our review if you want to hear about those.

HVAC system

Sure, it's interesting that HVAC is included in the myriad functions controlled through the central touchscreen, but there are two other reasons the Model 3's setup in pretty neat. First is the way you operate it. On the screen, there are boxes for the driver and passenger. Each has a dot that you move around to aim where you want the air to flow. The dot in each box can be split in two, so you can aim the airflow in two different directions on each side of the vehicle.

The second cool thing is that you don't even see the vents, which are incorporated into a single, larger vent hidden in the dash. Because you don't have to touch them to aim them, that frees up the design so you don't even have to see them. This contributes to the interior's minimalist look.

Room for a twin mattress

We didn't actually camp out in the Model 3. We're not above living out of a car — far from it — but we weren't going to subject someone else's daily driver to a night of burrito sweats. Still, we folded down the rear seats, plugged an air pump into a 12-volt receptacle, and inflated a twin mattress — just big enough to accommodate your 6-foot-tall author — to see how it felt.

So, does lying down in it feel like getting an MRI? Not if you lie with your head toward the front of the car. The amount of space above your legs is limited, but that's shouldn't be a problem if you don't toss and turn too much thinking about what chain of events led you to sleep in your sedan. It felt pretty cozy, actually, if a bit sad.

Easter eggs

Hidden, intentional quirks aren't unique to the Model 3 — heck, or even to Tesla. Tesla has been known to have a lot of fun with them, while letting their customers and fans feel like they're in on some sort of great inside joke, whether it's about " Spaceballs," 007, or farting unicorns.

In the Model 3, some of the classics are hidden in the touchscreen. Santa Mode is festive, and the draw pad is a nice way to waste time while waiting to pick someone up. There's a Mars theme, a nod to Elon Musk's SpaceX ambitions. There's also a "More Cowbell" feature that features a Mario Kart-themed navigation screen for Autopilot. There will certainly be more Easter eggs like this tucked into future over-the-air updates.

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Tesla Model 3 Information

Tesla Model 3

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