It may seem odd to you that i’m writing about the Subzero Weather Package for the Model S when its summer time in the US, but if you lived in New England you’d understand. On July 4th the family decided on a road trip to Rockport, MA which is 180 miles round trip from home. This post isn’t about the Model S’s amazing range but how the subzero package kept complaints to a minimum and saved me some money.


Subzero PackageThe Subzero weather package is a $750 option at the time of purchase and I haven’t heard of any possibility of retro-fitting the option. While the Tesla site shows a car driving in the snow as the default image for the picture, the package has very little to do with driving in the snow. The alternate picture shows a better representation of what you get — heaters for things.

One thing to note is Tesla calls it “Cold Weather” in the controls but the package is called the “Subzero Weather Package.” I don’t believe the “Cold Weather” option turns up in controls for Model S’s without the Subzero package as every Model S comes standard with front seat heaters and controls always available at the bottom of the 17″ screen.

With the Subzero package you get 3 additions:

  1. Rear seat heaters
  2. Wiper blade defrosters
  3. Washer nozzle heaters

Seat Heaters

The main reason I bought the subzero package is that I live in New England and anything that can help with the winters is worth it! But seriously, my family loves seat heaters. My wife never drives without one on to help her back issues. One of the reasons I chose my old 2007 Acura MDX when I got it was it was the only car I was considering that had rear seat heaters and my daughter was all over that.

The Model S takes seat heaters to a new level.

The Model S takes seat heaters to a new level by providing 3 seat heater positions for the rear. Each one can be independently controlled  and set to off or a level 1-3 heat setting. From off, tap once to go to level 3, then tap again to go to 2 etc. One thing that would be nice is if they provided a quick “off” ability. I’m always doing extra tapping to go from 3 to off. A long press maybe?

Tesla should provided a quick “off” ability for the seat heaters.

When I first took delivery, only 1 of my 5 seat heaters worked. A reboot fixed that and they’ve been fine since. The seat heaters work amazingly well and its no wonder that Tesla recommends using them to deliver heat versus cranking up the cabin temperature as its a much more efficient method of getting warm.

Other than the quick “off” ability i’d also like to see these cold weather elements controllable from the app so I could warm my seat as well as my cabin before entering. Another annoyance is that Tesla, in their minimalist no-buttons approach, decided not to provide the rear passengers control over, well, their rear. This means as the driver I get the constant requests to raise or lower the temperature on various rear seat positions (my co-pilot hasn’t been brave enough to touch the screen yet herself). Short of adding switches in the rear of the cabin (unlikely for Tesla, and not happening with just a software update), I don’t see this one getting addressed. They may want to consider how minimal their approach is in the Model X. SUV rear seaters expect control!

The Model S doesn’t provide rear seat passengers any climate controls.

So, back to why i’m writing this in July. The outing was great and Rockport, MA is beautiful, but in traditional New England form, right after the “Lobsta” rolls, it clouded over, dropped to 65 and rained all over us. I had my handy one-person umbrella stuffed in my glove box but otherwise we were unprepared. After an hour of shopping in the rain and holding off on expensive sweatshirt purchases, the seat heaters earned their keep. All 5 were blazing on the way home as we were drying and warming up. Seat heaters are not just for the winter months and can help loosen up a stiff back, take some boredom out of a long drive, and warm you up when you’re physically or mentally cold.

Wiper Heat

Heated WipersThe other two options that come with the package are related to your windshield. One Tesla calls “Wiper blade defrosters” is a set of heating elements that are part of your lower windshield that warm up your wiper blades to stop them from freezing to the windshield. They’re also supposed to help remove ice from the wiper blades but i’ve heard mixed reviews on that front. The heating elements are separately controlled by touching the dash area in the picture above. Like the seat heaters, this is not controllable from the app and would be another useful thing to turn on long before reaching the car. Also beware that these heating elements automatically turn off after a period of time so you may need to periodically turn them back on if you still need them to do some work.

Beware that these heating elements automatically turn off after a period of time

I never noticed it until I was writing this post, but did you notice that the Model S’s frunk has no washer fluid dispensers to detract from its beauty?It turns out they’re tucked under the edge of the Frunk close to the windshield:

Heated Nozzles

This placement will make them less prone to getting a lot of ice and snow build up on top of them, but snow and ice can slide down into that area. The third option that comes with the subzero package is a heating element to keep these free of snow and ice and by all reports it does a pretty good job at that.


If you live in a cold or seasonal climate then the subzero package can be very useful and while I have yet to put this package to real use in the winter, i’m getting use out of it all year long. Unlike the Premium Lighting package, it’s more reasonably priced and actually provides a tangible benefit. Missing from the package are controls for the passengers and extras like a heated steering wheel that comes standard on many premium sedans these days. While Tesla has been a strong seller in warmer climates like California, their cars have done well in tough Norwegian winters too. About 26% of buyers purchase the subzero weather package and, despite its shortcomings, i’d recommend the subzero weather package — your friends and family will thank you.

Despite its shortcomings, i’d recommend the subzero weather package