The Tesla Model 3 was the American automaker’s attempt to make an electric car that was accessible in price to the mass market population. The end result is pretty commendable, but it is not without its faults.
In a considerably short amount of time, Tesla has moved the needle on the electric car movement by a huge amount. With its Model S sedan and Model X SUV proving to be very popular, the new Model 3 was supposed to be a much more affordable, entry-level offering.
The Model 3 is a compact sedan with a much lower price point than other Tesla vehicles and despite this, the goal was to combine relative affordability and segment-exclusive technology into a package that still accurately represents the Tesla brand. There is a lot to unpack here when it comes to the Model 3.
2018 Tesla Model 3 Pros and Cons
Generous Standard Equipment: Although the base model is still not ready for sale yet, at an announced MSRP of $35,000, standard features include LED headlights and taillights, dual-zone climate control, heated front seats and an innovative Tesla smartphone app that offers remote start and a host of other functions.
Curiously, blind spot monitoring is not standard and not even available as an option on any trim level.
Segment-Exclusive Technologies: The minimalist cabin in the Model 3 may seem deceptively sparse at first but nestled right in the center of the dashboard is a brightly lit 15-inch touchscreen that controls most of the functions in this car. Even something as simple as steering wheel adjustments is done through the screen. Of course, the big deal here is that the standard 15-inch touchscreen is unheard of in the segment and Tesla is setting new standards for infotainment setups here.
Not ending there, a Model 3 does not have a traditional key like other vehicles. Instead, your phone through a Bluetooth connection serves as the vehicle’s key. Once you approach the car with your phone on you, the car automatically opens. Just in case, two credit card-sized key cards are supplied. That key card can both give you entry to the vehicle as well as starting it. Over-the-air security and software updates are also a big bonus.
Tesla’s “Autopilot” hardware comes with Model 3s and customers can pay a fee to enable it when the software becomes available.
It’s Fast: Teslas have gotten quite the reputation for being fast, and the Model 3 is no exception. Early tests saw the Model 3 run the quarter mile in 13.8 seconds @ 101 mph, which is sports car territory. Instant and strong acceleration is always appreciated.
Fun Handling: Despite the Model 3 being designed with mass market customers in mind, attention was given to make it sporty and agile. Weight distribution of 48 percent front to 52 percent rear puts the Model 3 in performance car territory and it shows in the car’s quick responses and confident road manners at speed.
It also helps that the floor-mounted battery keeps the center of gravity low and makes the car feel planted on the road.
Good Range: The Long Range model, the only version available for now, can get 310 miles on a single charge. That makes the range longer than any non-Tesla EV on the market. The standard Model 3 is capable of 220 miles of range, which is more than the Hyundai Ioniq Electric (124 miles) and Nissan Leaf (151 miles), but less than the Chevrolet Bolt EV (238 miles).
Obvious Cost-Cutting Measures: It would be fair to lower expectations a little for the Model 3 considering the price, but a few things stand out as missteps for this model in terms of quality.
A rear bench seat that is mounted too low makes it more suited for the third-row of a large SUV and it makes seating in the rear of the Model 3 quite uncomfortable due to a lack of thigh support. Also, as mentioned earlier, the inability to get blind spot monitoring and also rear cross traffic alert at all in a such an advanced vehicle like this is odd. Issues with the interior and exterior fit and finish have also been reported.
Long Delivery Times: There has been a lot of discussion about production problems and supply issues with the Model 3 that have been making customers wait longer than expected for delivery of their vehicles. The base model has been delayed multiple times and is now tentatively due for the end of 2018.
The philosophy behind the Model 3 was to provide an affordable luxury EV, but the absence of the base model (for now) that reflected that mission makes it very hard to see the value in the Model 3 just yet.
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