What it’s like to switch from a Tesla to a Corolla

I’m stuck with a Toyota Corolla for a month while my Tesla is repaired. It hasn’t been a seamless transition.

What it's like to switch from a Tesla to a Corolla

Key Takeaways

  • Carrying a physical key is frustrating after relying on phone keys for years.
  • Old habits with gas vehicles resurface, like forgetting to turn off the engine.
  • Range anxiety returns with gas-powered vehicles after being used to thoughtless EV charging.

A couple of weeks ago, I dropped off my beloved Tesla Model 3 at an auto body shop for repair. Last December, a small metal ladder fell off a truck ahead of me and slammed into the side of my car. There was nothing I could do. It took almost four months for the body shop to get the necessary parts in, and now it'll take 30 days for the repairs to be finished.

What it's like to switch from a Tesla to a Corolla

At least I hope it's completed within 30 days. That's how long my auto insurance provider will cover the cost of a rental car. When I set everything up, I was able to choose the kind of car I'd drive for the next month. Originally I hoped there would be some sort of EV available, but those dreams were soon crushed when I found myself staring at a Toyota Corolla as my lone option.

Last December, a small metal ladder fell off a truck ahead of me and slammed into the side of my car. There was nothing I could do.

Below I've rounded up a few things I really miss about my Tesla, and a couple of things I enjoy about the Corolla, after leaving gas vehicles behind years ago.

What it's like to switch from a Tesla to a Corolla

Three things I hate about not having my Tesla

I have to carry a key again

Over the last two weeks, I've had to get reacquainted with various aspects of driving a gas car again, but perhaps the one area where I've struggled with the most is with carrying a key fob. I haven't carried physical keys in five years.

Physical keys, for me, were supposed to be a thing of the past. It's a perfect setup for me. I lose things like my wallet, shoes (yes, my shoes), and Chapstick daily.

With my Tesla, my phone is my key. Locking and unlocking it is as easy as walking up to or away from it. Not to mention, you don't have to turn the car on or off. There's no start button, or an ignition you turn with a key. You get in, put it in gear and drive.

What it's like to switch from a Tesla to a Corolla

My house has smart locks which also require my phone or a top secret code to gain entry. Physical keys, for me, were supposed to be a thing of the past. It's a perfect setup for me. I lose things like my wallet, shoes (yes, my shoes), and Chapstick daily. Sometimes multiple times a day. Adding keys to the mix, and a single key fob at that, is sure to end up in frustration.

What it's like to switch from a Tesla to a Corolla

Old habits are hard to break

Speaking of having to worry about carrying a key again. The second day of driving the Corolla, I made a quick stop at a gas station to see if they were selling solar eclipse glasses, and it wasn't until I was nearly to the entrance when I realized I'd gotten out of the car without turning it off.

Not only was the key still in the ignition and the engine still running, but the car was completely unlocked, free for the taking. Thankfully, I realized it and was able to complete a walk of shame back to the car to turn it off and lock it up.

Not only was the key still in the ignition and the engine still running, but the car was completely unlocked, free for the taking.

I've also walked up to the car expecting it to unlock, or walked away from the car leaving it unlocked almost every single time I've driven it. I've been spoiled by the ease of getting in and out of my Tesla, and I'm not sure if it's a habit I can break.

What it's like to switch from a Tesla to a Corolla

What it's like to switch from a Tesla to a Corolla

Range anxiety makes a comeback

For the first year or so after switching to an EV, range anxiety was a very real thing. I constantly monitored my Tesla's charge level, using various apps to calculate what my projected range would be for long drives and trying to figure out when and where to charge.

However, over the last four years, range hasn't been something I give much thought to. I leave my house every day with enough charge for my needs, and then when I come back home, I plug back in. It's a thoughtless process now.

I'm sure it'll be like riding a bike, but I can't help but shake the gas range anxiety feeling.

With the Corolla, I've found myself looking at the gas gauge with the same range anxiety feeling I'd had during my rookie year with the Tesla. I've yet to have to stop and pump gas, but that's because I haven't driven it a lot. And when I do, I'm sure it'll be like riding a bike, but I can't help but shake the gas range anxiety feeling.

What it's like to switch from a Tesla to a Corolla

What it's like to switch from a Tesla to a Corolla

Two things I love about my temporary Corolla

Toyota's lane assist tech is pretty good

In my Tesla, I use Full Self Driving for probably 90% of my driving. It's not perfect, and I have to pay attention to every decision it makes, but it eliminates a lot of the mental energy consumed by being in complete control of a car — especially during highway driving.

But after my first drive, which was roughly an hour of highway cruising, I was pleasantly surprised at how smooth the entire drive was. I never felt like the car was leaving the lane or losing its place.

I didn't have high expectations for the overall experience of using Toyota's Safety Sense driver assistance tech, which includes Lane Tracing Assist to keep the car in a lane, and Adaptive Cruise Control to adjust your driving speed based on the car in front of you.

What it's like to switch from a Tesla to a Corolla

But after my first drive, which was roughly an hour of highway cruising, I was pleasantly surprised at how smooth the entire drive was. I never felt like the car was leaving the lane or losing its place. It wasn't quite as smooth as my Tesla, but I have no complaints about Toyota's Safety Sense driver assistance features.

What it's like to switch from a Tesla to a Corolla

Wireless Apple CarPlay is fantastic

I've long been against the idea of Tesla or Rivian integrating Android Auto or Apple CarPlay into their vehicles. There are many reasons I feel this way, which I'll spare you from for now, but the gist of it is: Tesla and Rivian aren't traditional car companies, and because they're building the entire product from the ground up, they should own their software and hardware experience — much like Apple does.

What it's like to switch from a Tesla to a Corolla

That said, after figuring out that the Corolla supports Apple CarPlay, I immediately set it up. To my surprise, it supports wireless CarPlay — which is a treat to use. You get in the car, turn it on (with the key!) and the CarPlay interface shows up on the screen, ready to give you directions with Apple Maps (it's the best, you can't change my mind), respond to or send messages, and blast my favorite Apple Music playlists.

I still don't want CarPlay in my Tesla, but there's a small part of me that misses it.

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