Tesla Model S Subzero Weather Package Review

Tesla Model S Subzero Weather Package

The Tesla Model S Subzero Weather Package adds heated rear seats, wiper blade defrosters and heated washer nozzles.

On July 4th the family and I decided to embark on a road trip to Rockport, MA which is 180 miles round trip from home. This post isn’t about the amazing range of the Model S but rather how the Subzero Weather package kept complaints to a minimum, but more importantly saved me some money.

Tesla Model S Subzero Weather Package

Tesla Model S Subzero Weather PackageThe Subzero weather package is a $750 option that can only be added at the time of purchase. I haven’t heard of anyone being able to retrofit the option afterwards. The Tesla site shows a car driving in the snow as the marketing teaser for the weather package, but it actually has very little to do with driving in the snow. The alternate picture shows a better representation of what you get – heaters.

Tesla calls it “Cold Weather” on the touchscreen controls but the package is marketed as the “Subzero Weather Package”.

With the Subzero Weather package you get three additional controls as follows:

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

Seat Heaters

The main reason I bought the Subzero Weather 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 a seat heater turned on in order to help with her back issues.

The Model S takes seat heaters to a new level by providing three seat heater positions for the rear. Each one can be controlled independently of one another and can be adjusted from a heat setting of 1 – 3. From the off position, tap once to go to level 3, then tap again to go to 2 etc. One suggestion that would be a nice-to-have, and a relatively easy change through a firmware update, is if they provided a quick “off” ability. I’m always doing extra tapping to go from 3 to off. A long press maybe?

ALSO SEE: How Does a Tesla Over-the-Air Software Update Work?

When I first took delivery of the Model S, 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 it’s no wonder that Tesla recommends using them to deliver heat versus cranking up the cabin temperature as it’s a much more efficient method of getting warm.

Other than the quick “off” ability I’d like to also 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!

Rockport-MASo, 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 five 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.

Heated Wipers

Tesla Model S Subzero Weather Package Wiper Blade DefrostersThe other two options that come with the Tesla Model S Subzero Weather package are related to your windshield. What Tesla calls “Wiper blade defrosters” is a set of heating elements that are part of your lower windshield designed to warm up your wiper blades and prevent them from freezing onto the windshield. They’re also supposed to help remove ice from the wiper blades but I’ve heard mixed reviews on its effectiveness. The heating elements are controlled by touching the dash area. Like the seat heaters, this is not controllable from the mobile app, but having it would allow you to defrost the wipers long before arriving at your frozen car. Also, it’s important to note 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.

I never noticed it until just now as I was taking pictures for this post, but did you ever notice that the Model S frunk has no washer fluid dispensers to detract from its beauty? It turns out they’re tucked under the edge of the frunk by the windshield.

Tesla Model S Subzero Weather Package Washer Heated Nozzles

This placement will make them less prone to being covered by ice and snow build up. The third option that comes with the Tesla Model S Subzero Weather package is a heating element to keep wipers free of snow and ice.By all reports it does a pretty good job at it.


If you live in a cold or seasonal climate then the Subzero Weather package can be very useful. Despite not having put this package to a true test during the dead of winter yet, I’m getting use out of it all year long. Unlike the Premium Lighting package, this upgrade is more reasonably priced and actually provides a useful benefit.

Missing from the package are controls for the passengers and extras like a heated steering wheel that typically comes standard on other premium sedans. About 26% of buyers purchase the Subzero Weather package and, despite its shortcomings, I’d recommend purchasing it. Your friends and family will thank you for it.

Rob M.

Author: Rob M.

Rob's passion is technology and gadgets. An engineer by profession and an executive and founder at several high tech startups Rob has a unique view on technology and some strong opinions. When he's not writing about Tesla, Solar City and related news he's off hacking code, playing video games or hiking the trails of New England with his dog.Rob's Model S details: S85 | Grey / Tan Interior | Obeche Matte Trim | 19" standard | Parking Sensors | Sub-zero | Pano | Premium Lighting | Dual Chargers | VIN: 36801 | Took delivery 4/21/2014.Feel free to follow him on twitter @teslaliving for random thoughts, lots of pictures, news updates etc.

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  • Tom Moore

    My Model S wasn’t ordered with the cold weather package because the contents did not seem compelling to me. I come from cold country and visit northern New England frequently. I’ve never had a car with heated wipers or washer fluid nozzles though I have recently had some cars with heated seats. My northern cars *have* had abundant heat and defrost capabilities, exploiting the 80% of fossil fuel energy that gets dissipated as heat, and is usually wasted, though it does come in handy when the temperature goes well below freezing. In contrast, just about everyone who owns a Model S frets about the use of low entropy electric energy to generate high entropy heating when it gets very cold and the heat pump can’t provide enough.

    So my suggestion is to add a propane auxiliary heater to the heat pump in place of an electrical resistance auxiliary heater. A standard grille gas bottle fits in the “microwave” area at the rear of the frunk, and the exhaust gases could be vented to the lower windshield area where they would also warm the washers and wipers and any exterior ice or snow.

    I made this suggestion on teslatap.com, and it wasn’t much appreciated there. But it seems to me that fossil fueled heating would be a useful complement to electric powered locomotion that would eliminate range loss in subfreezing weather, and thus could be regarded as a range extender. It has a distinct economic and simplicity advantage over other range extenders such as internal combustion engines or fuel cells. Until 100+ kWh batteries become affordable, this strikes me as a “green” way to extend range. It would use an energy source that is economical and appropriate to the task, applying heat only when absolutely needed, in contrast with an ICE or a fuel cell.

  • mdj

    I was debating on the subzero package until I realized (duh!) that being an electric car there is no heat source under the hood. Seems like a good addition..

    • Tom Moore

      Were you responding to my post suggesting a propane heater? Was it deleted? If so, I’m speechless…

      • We just realized your comment was caught in moderation but it’s now live. Apologies on the delay.

  • Smiley99

    I remember buying a 2008 Tacoma Truck that did not come with heated mirrors. I think it should be the law for all vehicles in Canada to come with heated mirrors, heated front and back windshields. Constently wiping the fog off the mirror on the highway was a pain.