Tesla Model 3 Owner Review

title image of Best product ever, but not without flaws

Tesla Model 3

LR RWD 2018

9.5/10not logged34 votes

Best product ever, but not without flaws

The Model 3 remains the best product of any kind that I’ve ever bought, but it’s not perfect

29 Jul 2021

Tesla Model 3 Pros and Cons

Pros:
  • Real over the air (OTA) software updates just like your phone

  • Supercharger network

  • One of the safest cars on the road 

  • The flat out modernness and configurability of the infotainment system. It actually feels like a touchscreen/OS that was made in 2018/2021 whereas even 2022 model year cars are still coming with infotainment systems that feel very 2006-2008

  • Instant torque

  • Cheap / stable refueling costs

  • Driver profiles - automatically selects the correct one based on who unlocks the car. Most settings + seat, steering wheel & mirror positions are saved per profile

  • Autopilot

  • Comfy seats

  • “Filling up” overnight is amazing. It’s one less thing to stress about. i.e. “do I need to get gas?” is one of those things that’s always on the back of your mind like “did I leave the stove on?”  Not anymore with an EV

  • Fun to drive

  • Mobile service, when available, is a game changer

  • Quiet propulsion system

  • Maintenance costs - namely, that there pretty much aren't any. I haven't even had to refill the washer fluid yet in 3 years

Cons:
  • No cooled/ventilated seats

  • Superchargers in the middle of the US need battery backups. In 2 of 3 long road trips (1500-3000 mi one way), I’ve run into a supercharger that was out of service for several hours due to a local power outage

  • Road noise is a bit loud. This has apparently been fixed in Model S Plaid, not sure about newer Model 3s

  • Service is hit or miss. Sometimes it’s great, and sometimes you need multiple visits to fix a single issue

  • Service centers usually can’t help you resolve software bugs or even get them escalated to headquarters

  • Factory tires wear out quicker than expected (though this is apparently just a thing with higher performance cars - I'm used to Corollas and the like)

  • Windshield wipers have trouble sometimes. This appears to be an issue specific to my car and not Model 3s in general

  • No auto-opening trunk - this has been fixed on newer Model 3s

  • If you can’t charge at home, you probably shouldn’t get any EV at all (though a Tesla would be your best choice if you decide to get one anyway)

  • Rear legroom not great, but fine for a car of this size

  • No heated steering wheel - this has been fixed on newer Model 3s

Considered buying

Chevrolet Bolt EV

example image of Chevrolet Bolt EV

The Attractions:

Decently quick

Not terrible range

The Dealbreakers:

Lack of cargo space

DC fast charging speed way too slow - road trips impractical

No good DC fast charging network - even in 2021 Electrify America doesn’t cut it for me

Nissan Leaf

example image of Nissan Leaf

The Attractions:

Basically the only other affordable EV available at the time

The Dealbreakers:

Terrible range (even newer models are not great)

Slow DC fast charging

Chademo standard for fast changing

No active battery cooling

Owner Review

Best product ever, but not without flaws

TL;DR car is awesome. It’s a blast to drive and I’ve driven it across the country in the same amount of time it would have taken me to drive an ICE car, and that was despite a charger being temporarily offline due to a power outage. It’s not without flaws, though some of them can only be solved by getting a physically larger car. For how big (small?) it is outside, it’s quite roomy inside, but that still doesn’t make the rear seats any more comfortable than other midsize sedans.

If you’re in the market for a new car, you’d be doing yourself a disservice to not put this car very high up on your shortlist (unless you’re looking for an SUV in which case you should check out the Model Y instead)

===========End TL;DR ===========


The Model 3 is a fantastic midsize sedan. It's incredibly quick and very roomy in the front seats and trunk space. Rear legroom is decent but not amazing. The biggest problem is that there isn't much height between the seat and the floor where your feet rest. For those with long legs this means your knees are a bit high up.

The front row seats are the most comfortable of any car I've ever driven. On my longest trip yet (3100 mi each way), I sat in the car for 15+ hours a day for 3 days straight and arrived without any cramps or aches. Supercharger stops do help with this though. On a shorter trip (1400 mi over 2 days), I did get some minor aches in my right leg once so it's important to get the seat and steering wheel properly adjusted.

With some notable exceptions (northern Canada/Alaska, southern Mexico/Central America), this car can take you anywhere you could possibly want to go on the North American continent. The Supercharger network is well built out and can get you anywhere. There are some remote areas where you would definitely need to be able to charge at your destination to be able to make it back to the interstate, but electricity is quite ubiquitous so worst case scenario you'll need to charge for 2 days off a regular wall outlet before you can leave your aunt's farm in the most remote corner of Montana.

I've taken 3 long road trips (4000 - 7000 mi round trip) in the car and it has performed admirably come rain or shine. I've run into my fair share of autopilot issues in cold weather, and you have to watch out for construction but otherwise Autopilot / Navigate on Autopilot make road trips a breeze. I drove from Seattle to Boston in just over 3 days — sleeping on a Tesmat in the back of the car at night while charging on L2 chargers — went to Costco to grab groceries, made lunch, and went out on a pond in a canoe for an hour. In almost any other car (except for a few newer ones that have good ADAS systems), I'm sure I would have been practically dead upon arrival. I could tell that without Autopilot I would have needed an extra full day to make the trip and might have just given up halfway through. With Autopilot I plan to make the drive every year and have even sworn off domestic flights since it's now trivial (apart from the time commitment) to drive anywhere I could possibly want to go in the contiguous 48.

You definitely have to pay attention with Autopilot. There are a few places I know of where it will do very dangerous things if you let it, but as long as you're paying attention, it's so easy to take over when it's about to do something wrong that most of the time passengers don't even know I've taken over (they don't know to listen for the chime that indicates I've done so).

The trunk space is surprisingly large, especially for a sedan of this size. Costco runs are a breeze with the frunk only occasionally (once a year?) being needed to squeeze in something that didn't fit in the trunk. The hidden trunk underneath the main section is cavernous and allows you to fit far more than you'd expect into the trunk.

Accepting the limitations of the sedan form factor (I don't like driving SUVs and especially not large pickups), I have only one complaint related to storage. It would be great if the middle seat could fold down independently from the other two just like the Model Y center seat can fold separately. This would make the transportation of long items much more convenient (you could seat 4 passengers in the car instead of only 3 while carrying long items). This would certainly make things much nicer for those who ski, snowboard, or surf, but even for people like me who do none of those things it would be nice. I have taken long (8-10 foot) items home from Lowe's and Home Depot on many the occasion in the Model 3, but had to fold down the 60 part of the 60/40 split to do so.

The car shines as a daily driver. Never having to go to a gas station is great, and the quick acceleration and one pedal driving are game changers for navigating traffic while driving manually, and Autopilot removes almost all the stress from driving in rush hour traffic.

The long and short of it is that — as long as you can charge at home or at work — driving a long range Tesla is hands down more convenient than driving an ICE, even taking the road trips into account. I save a lot of time every week by not going to go get gas, and on road trips the forced breaks make the drive more relaxing and actually end up being not that much longer than how long you'd stop to get lunch or use the bathroom anyway (average charging stop is 20 min. You can often have 15 min charging stops when you just need to pee and save longer ones (30-40 min) for when you're grabbing a bite or a coffee). On a long travel day, you take maybe 2-3 extra stops over what you'd have taken anyway, and that's speaking as someone driving by themselves. If you have kids I don't think you could get to a destination in an ICE car any faster than you could get there in a Tesla.

All my gripes are minor in the grand scheme of things. I often equate the Model 3 to a smartphone with a few dead pixels. Imagine a world in which every phone maker other than Apple still made flip phones, but the phones that Apple did make occasionally had a dead pixel or two, especially in the phones shipped during the first month or so that they were available. Would you buy the smartphone with a dead pixel or two, or would you buy the flip phone? If you would get a flip phone in this scenario, go buy any other manufacturer's car (even the other EVs out there are probably at best like a Blackberry in this analogy — even in 2021). If you would get a smartphone in this scenario, get a Tesla (whichever model fits your needs/budget). There are a few bad apples out there just like any car manufacturer, and even the good ones may have the odd quirk or two, but the overall experience is still unparalleled and the positives far outweigh the negatives. Even after 3+ years of ownership I can still say this is the best product of any kind I've ever bought, and that's even with the few "dead pixels" I've run into. If you can charge at home or work, wait no longer. This is the car for you (unless you want an SUV — in that case look to the Model Y)

Long-term average consumption

Long-term average consumption: 263 Wh/mi

Tesla referral link

If my review helped you decide to buy a new Tesla, I'd be happy if you use my referral link below that will give the both of us 1.000 free Supercharger miles.

orion19635

Discussion

  • 2021-07-30 12:14:43 UTC

    consumption

    Hi. The consumption of the Model 3 is really good. I tried the VW ID.3 and I was driving around 200 Wh/km (321 Wh/mi).

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