2019 Tesla Model 3 - Review & Road TestFeb 27, 2020
Is it possible to
reviewTesla's Model 3 without getting sucked into the company's gravitational vortex? I don't know. We'll try to forget about flamethrower rockets and Joe Rogan. In this video we focus solely on the Model 3 and how it fares as a car. First let's set the level. The Model 3 is the smallest and cheapest car in Tesla's all-electric lineup. It has seats, has a maximum range of 310 miles, and a theoretical starting price of $36,000, including destination charges. We will deepen that later. Before that, let's talk about the car. Point one: It's amazing to drive in every aspect. Acceleration is instant, relentless and intoxicating.
Need to speed past another Camry? Sure thing. Want to merge authoritatively with highway traffic? Made. Do you want to dazzle your three-year-old with the majesty of electrical torque? Can do. I'm going to do it again. As far as auto show tricks go, the Model 3's quiet propulsion intensity is one of the best. Press the accelerator and there will be no downshifting or engine related lag. just go. Add side Gs and the Model 3 shines even brighter. Steering feels stable in a straight line, but off-center it has a sporty quick ratio. Small adjustments make big changes in your trajectory.
The Model 3 is the kind of car that rewards precision and a willingness to push the limits. There is a stop sign. There is no me, there is no probing at this time. Mike really mature. With its well-tuned multi-link suspension and heavy battery pack tucked low in the chassis, Tesla's smallest is a tough guy around corners. If you've dismissed electric cars as gloom-crushing goblins of joy, you've clearly never driven a Model 3. Yes, there's no emotional engine rumble, but consider this, without a dramatic internal combustion soundtrack, the Model 3 you can still create reactions like this. Interior noise, meanwhile, is decently toned down, though the lack of an engine brings out the sound of the tires.
The brakes feel completely natural, which is a stellar achievement for an electric car, and if you don't like the acceleration and regenerative braking intensity, slow vehicle demeanor, or steering efforts, just swap them out. Regarding the steering setup, with such a quick ratio, light efforts from comfort mode make it difficult to steer with precision. So don't use them. One last driving remark, there is a blind spot over my right shoulder. I'm sure technology has a solution for that. Why yes, Micah does it on camera. With the $5,000 Enhanced Autopilot Package, Model 3 can automatically steer, accelerate, brake and change lanes for you.
Once activated with the drive selector, it displays a real-time readout of the vehicles around you and the
roadahead, including curves. Right now it's some incredibly cool technology that works more precisely than some dumb controllers, but the system requires constant attention. This isn't autonomous driving, though Tesla promises it will come later. If constant vigilance is required when using autopilot personally, I prefer to just drive. You can feel different. It got really dark for a second in there. I have it. That being said, the real-time display makes the autopilot much more attractive than other semi-autonomous systems. My big complaint is the effort it takes to master autonomy.
You can't just add a bit of steering or brake when good human judgment suggests it's a good idea. Instead, it must force its way through autonomy, which then abruptly disables the system. During critical moments they can be unnerving. Range aside, the Model 3 is a source of unexpected but logical conclusions. It's like talking to a three-year-old, it's the kind of car where you literally have to leave your expectations at the door. To unlock the door, you can use your phone as a key or touch the valet key card on the B-pillar. Modern life, right? The door handles don't extend like the Model S, but do swing open GTR-style.
Inside, if you're not using your phone, place the key card behind the cup holders to enable drive mode. You'll notice there's no start button, just pull the gear selector down and you're good to go. In fact, look around you and you'll see a glaring lack of physical controls. These guys adjust the seat and these jog wheels do just about everything else. They move the mirrors. They adjust the position of the steering wheel. They change the volume of the audio and also alter how far you follow the vehicle's head using dynamic cruise control. Yeah pretty much anything a normal car would do with a button or knob these guys do.
That really sounds like robot noises. Very very well done Tesla. You sound appropriately futuristic. Contrasting the lack of buttons is a large amount of screen. Cramming all the traditional vehicle setup infotainment controls and gauge cluster readout onto a 15-inch center touchscreen sounds like a one-way ticket to flop town, but no, it works great. Tesla has done a brilliant job of creating an interface that is clear, attractive, and instantly navigable. The tabs at the bottom guide you to the right submenu. The options are displayed unambiguously, and you can even visit your favorite website, you know the one that pays you to
reviewcars, oh crap, is that the runtime?
We don't have time for all these things. There is a lot to talk about. Lightning round, okay, here's a quick rundown of the Model 3's abilities and quirks. Over-the-air software updates expand its capabilities over time, for example, Tesla updated the anti-lock braking setting, resulting in a noticeable reduction in braking distances. The 15-cubic-foot trunk is complemented by a spacious under-floor storage compartment and a roomy front trunk. The rear seats fold down, but the releases are inside the cabin, requiring a field trip to the interior to drop them. A low hood and large windows provide a clear view out, while a glass roof provides a clear view up.
I see green clouds. The front seats are comfortably shaped, supportive and include adjustable lumbar support. The armrests are well positioned and smooth. Oh hello, happy squirrel. Rear-passenger room is fine for my average five-foot-ten frame, but the seatbacks could use a more recline. It's like it has good posture, and the low seat cushions put occupants' knees higher than we prefer. The middle seat offers plenty of room for flat feet, but shoulder room is at a premium with three-in-a-row. Yes, we've heard complaints from some customers about the build quality, but as you'd expect, our
testcar was well worked out, aside from little things like.
Scuff marks near the electronic door opener, this bunching door seal, and the exterior chrome door trim that didn't quite line up. Interestingly any color other than black will cost between $1,500 and $2,500. Tesla's screen-based vent controls are much better than Porsche's, and the Tesla app offers useful information about your vehicle. As well as the ability to control various functions, including the summon function that allows you to remotely drive the vehicle in and out of tight spots, or you can simply ignore the legal department and ride ghosts. Is it something kids still do or are they just Tide Pods now?
It's possible to charge your Model 3 from a standard household outlet, but that's silly, since it gains only a mile or two of range per hour. A full charge would literally take this 240 volt charger and it speeds things up adding about 14 miles per hour. Getting paid to stay overnight is fine, but while you're on the go, one of Tesla's nearly 1,400 supercharger stations is the game. During our
test, we went from 65 to over 270 miles of range in about an hour. Just keep in mind that crowded stations mean extra wait time, and unlike Model S and Model X owners, Model 3 owners have to pay a surcharge.
In our case, 200 miles of range cost a modest $14.04. A base Model 3 includes eight airbags, automatic emergency braking, Wi-Fi, LTE Internet connectivity, dual-zone climate control, rear-wheel drive and 220 miles of electric range, all for a base price of around $36,000. Except as of the time we filmed this video, Tesla isn't building any of those versions, the ones you can get are the mid-range rear-wheel drive ones. The long-range dual-motor all-wheel-drive
modeland the all-wheel-drive performance
modellike our tester that adds lowered suspension, a higher top speed, 20-inch wheels, brakes performance and carbon fiber parts to the equation. All of those prices include destination charges, but exclude the $7,500 federal government tax credit.
A tax credit that may not exist or will likely be greatly reduced when your Model 3 is built. Some people might compare the Model 3 to the roomier Jaguar I-Pace, but starting at $70,000 it's a lot more expensive. Cheaper alternatives include the Chevrolet Bolt, Hyundai Kona EV, and Nissan Leaf, but none of them matched Tesla's technically-numbing points. The BMW i3 occupies a vaguely similar price spectrum, but it's no match for the range and speed of the Model 3. Truth be told, the Model 3 is in a class of its own. It's stupidly fast, aggressively innovative, comfortable for its size, and assuming they ever build one cheaply, it's overpriced.
For my part, I welcome our new lords of electric cars. So, about the flamethrower...
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