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MSRP: $35,000 - 59,500

8.9

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 8.8
Performance: 8.8
Interior: 8.1
Safety: N/A
Reliability: N/A

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2019 Tesla Model 3 Review

The 2019 Tesla Model 3 drives likes a sports sedan. This all-electric auto also boasts cutting-edge technology, and it places near the top of our luxury small car rankings.

Pros & Cons

  • Quick, smooth acceleration
  • Nimble handling
  • Extremely low energy costs
  • Cutting-edge technology
  • No smartphone integration
  • Adjusting some driver controls can be distracting

Is the Tesla Model 3 a Good Car?

Yes, the Tesla Model 3 is a superb car. It is equal parts sports sedan, family car, and thrifty electric vehicle (EV). It boasts agile handling and a smooth ride, while its all-electric powertrain provides exceptionally quick off-the-line acceleration. Remarkably, its starting price is below average for a luxury small car. Normally, EVs cost much more than their non-EV classmates. The Model 3 is also one of the most affordable options among EVs with a 200-plus-mile range.

Every Model 3 comes with a state-of-the-art infotainment system that controls everything from the stereo to the windshield wipers. This smartphonelike system receives over-the-air updates from Tesla, and it's enticing for techies, but some drivers will find the system overly distracting. Plus, with no smartphone integration available, be prepared to pull the car over any time you need to change playlists. This is one of the few drawbacks to the Model 3. Dependability is also a question mark, as Tesla doesn't receive predicted reliability ratings from J.D. Power.

Should I Buy the Tesla Model 3?

Singles and families alike will find lots to love about the Tesla Model 3, as its attractive cabin, smooth performance, below-average starting price, and low fuel costs will appeal to a wide range of shoppers. If the Model 3 isn't a perfect fit for you, however, you have lots of other options. From Tesla, there's the Model S sedan and the Model X SUV. Both EVs offer quicker acceleration, longer ranges in the base trims, and more cargo space than the Model 3, but both also cost significantly more than their smaller sibling.

The BMW i3 is another EV from the luxury small car class. It's spunky, nimble, and available with a range-extending engine. However, it costs about $9,500 more than a Model 3. More-affordable electric vehicles are also on the market. For example, the Chevrolet Bolt EV scores well in our rankings of hybrid and electric cars. This peppy EV has a 238-mile range and a base price of about $36,600.

Compare the Model 3, i3, and Bolt »

Should I Buy a New or Used Tesla Model 3?

Tesla doesn’t identify its vehicles by traditional model years. Rather, Tesla records the date when the electric car was built. The 2019 Model 3 represents one of the few instances where it is generally better to buy new instead of used. With its new Standard Range trim level, the price of a new Model 3 likely undercuts that of a used model by several thousand dollars. This lower trim does come with compromises in range and interior amenities, though most shoppers will probably find them inconsequential. Additionally, some quality issues identified on older vehicles have since been addressed, according to Tesla.

If you're considering an older model, be sure to read our 2018 Model 3 review to help make your decision.

Compare the 2018 and 2019 Model 3 »

We Did the Research for You: 19 Reviews Analyzed

Our Tesla Model 3 review includes far more than just one person's opinion. We collected professional evaluations from more than 19 sources and combined them with concrete data like fuel economy estimates, safety scores, and performance specs to help you make an informed buying decision.

This 2019 Tesla Model 3 review incorporates applicable research for all model years in this generation, which runs from 2018 to 2019.

Why You Can Trust Us

At U.S. News & World Report, we rank the Best Jobs, Best Hospitals, and Best Colleges to guide readers through some of life’s most complicated decisions. We've been ranking and reviewing the Best Cars since 2007, backed by a team with more than 75 years of combined automotive experience. To keep favoritism out of the picture, we maintain a separate advertising team and decline expensive gifts and trips from car companies.

How Much Does the Tesla Model 3 Cost?

Prices for a Tesla Model 3 start at $35,000 before incentives. That is a below-average starting price for a luxury small car and for an all-electric vehicle. The Model 3 costs substantially less than other luxury EVs like the Tesla Model S and BMW i3. For more information on pricing and features, see our discussion below on which Model 3 is right for you.

Be cautious when looking at prices on Tesla's website, as the automaker often deducts estimated fuel savings and possible tax incentives from its quoted price. You can also learn more about how the electric car tax credit works.

Tesla Model 3 Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: Tesla Model 3 or BMW i3?

The BMW i3 is a respectable EV, and many shoppers will appreciate its sprightly handling and slightly above-average predicted reliability rating. Except for that reliability rating, though, the i3 falls short of the Model 3 in most ways. For example, the Model 3 can drive more than 100 miles farther on a single charge, has lower recharging costs, and has smoother regenerative brakes. Furthermore, with its new Standard Range base trim level, the Model 3 has a starting price that undercuts the i3 by about $9,500.

Which Is Better: Tesla Model 3 or Mercedes-Benz C-Class?

If you are hesitant to own an all-electric vehicle, you may want to consider a long-time favorite such as the Mercedes-Benz C-Class. It has a lavish cabin and offers a lengthy selection of interior upgrades and brisk powertrains. Some drivers will also prefer the layout of the C-Class' cockpit over the Model 3’s. Unlike the Tesla, the Mercedes has a traditional set of knobs and switches for adjusting things like windshield wipers and cabin temperature, and the C-Class is available with advanced smartphone integration via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Compare the Model 3, i3, and C-Class »

Model 3 Interior

How Many People Does the Model 3 Seat?

The Model 3 is a four-door sedan with seating for five people. Its accommodations are roomy and comfortable, and the sizeable glass roof makes the cabin feel airy. The Model 3 comes standard with cloth upholstery and manually adjustable front seats. Upgrades include power-adjustable front seats, upgraded seating upholstery, and heated seats for the front and back.

Model 3 and Car Seats

The Model 3 has two full sets of LATCH anchors in the back seat.

Model 3 Interior Quality

The cockpit of the Model 3 is strikingly sparse. Its minimalistic styling isn't austere, however, as the enormous touch screen adds a futuristic flare, and the wood inlays impart a sense of European elegance.

Model 3 Cargo Space

Between its deep opening and fold-flat rear seat, you can carry quite a bit in the Model 3's trunk. Its 15-cubic-foot trunk can easily manage two sets of golf clubs, and with seats folded, there's even enough room for a bicycle. An additional storage space up front (where a gasoline engine would typically be located) is large enough for a carry-on suitcase.

Model 3 Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

For interior controls and displays, Tesla opts for an untraditional route. A single 15-inch touch screen mounted in the center of the dash shows driver information – such as how fast you're driving – and is used to make almost every interior adjustment, from audio volume to cruise control settings. The advantage is that the cockpit is not cluttered with switches, screens, or physical buttons. The downside is that the driver must divert attention from the road to make even simple adjustments, like changing the windshield wiper speed. Some professional reviewers say it can be awkward to keep track of the vehicle's speed, and they lament the lack of a head-up display. Additionally, Tesla doesn't offer any type of smartphone integration. Though you can play your favorite tunes via Bluetooth, you must make song selections using your phone (which is illegal to do while driving in some parts of the country).

Read more about interior »

Model 3 Performance

Model 3 Engine: Swift and Virtually Silent

Tesla Model 3 performance can be summed up in two words: baby rocket. Acceleration is instant from the electric motors, and the near-silent power delivery makes it feel as though you are launching in a small space craft, not an earth-bound vehicle. This Tesla isn't as quick as a Model S, but you can still hit 60 mph in 3.2 to 5.6 seconds, depending on the trim level.

Model 3 Gas Mileage: Extremely Efficient

Driving the all-electric Model 3 will save you a bundle in fuel costs compared with most luxury small cars. For example, compared to the typical fuel costs of a BMW 330i, the Model 3 saves the average driver around $900 each year. The Model 3's estimated range depends on the trim level, starting with the base Standard Range (220 miles, per Tesla). Additional trim levels include Standard Range Plus (240 miles, per Tesla), Mid Range (264 miles, per the EPA), Long Range (310-325 miles, per Tesla), and Performance (310 miles, per the EPA). The kilowatt-hours of each battery are not specified, as Tesla labels its Model 3 batteries by range instead of kWh.

All Model 3s are equipped to use Tesla Supercharger stations, though free supercharging is not included with the car. According to Tesla, these stations add 150-170 miles of range for every half-hour of charging. The EPA reports that the battery can fully recharge in about 8.5 to 10 hours with a 240-volt home charging station.

Model 3 Ride and Handling: Athletic and Stable

The Model 3 handles much like a sports sedan. In other words, it's nimble and planted, and it reasonably absorbs most bumps in the road, though its suspension system will feel too firm for some. The regenerative braking system slows the car smoothly without the aggressive, unnatural feel that some EVs have. Rear-wheel drive is standard in the base trim; select trims come with all-wheel drive.

Read more about performance »

Model 3 Reliability

Is the Tesla Model 3 Reliable?

J.D. Power does not currently evaluate Tesla's electric vehicles for predicted reliability.

Tesla Model 3 Warranty

Coverage for the Model 3 includes a four-year/50,000-mile warranty, along with an eight-year/100,000-mile warranty on the standard battery and an eight-year/120,000-mile warranty on the long-range battery.

Read more about reliability »

Model 3 Safety

Model 3 Crash Test Results

The Tesla Model 3 earned a perfect five-star overall rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, acing all three NHTSA subcategories. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety does not list crash test evaluations for the Model 3 but gives it a Superior rating for front crash prevention and a Good rating for its headlights. Both are the top ratings achievable for each category.

Model 3 Safety Features

The Model 3 comes standard with automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, side collision warning, blind spot monitoring, sensors on all sides of the car, and a rearview camera. The available Enhanced Autopilot system can operate the car's steering, throttle, and brakes. It's capable of some self-driving actions such as changing lanes to navigate around vehicles or pedestrians. The available Full Self-Driving Capability package unlocks even more semiautonomous and self-parking abilities (though this system doesn't actually make the car able to drive without human interaction).

Read more about safety »

Which Tesla Model 3 Model Is Right for Me?

The Model 3 currently comes in five main trim levels, with driving range and interior amenities representing the principal differences between them. Starting prices run from $35,000 to $58,000, and Tesla's driving range estimates range from 220 to 325 miles.

The base model – with its $35,000 starting price, 220-mile range, and nicely equipped interior – is an excellent place to start. However, we recommend stepping up one trim level to the Standard Range Plus. For an extra $2,000, you get another 20 miles of range and an upgraded cabin that includes power-adjustable and heated front seats.

Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Battery

The Model 3's new base trim is the Standard Range Battery. It has a starting price of $35,000, a lithium-ion battery with an estimated 220-mile range, and rear-wheel drive. Standard features include a 15-inch touch screen, a navigation system, cloth seats, and a glass roof. Several advanced safety systems also come standard, including automatic emergency braking, sensors on all sides of the car, and collision warnings for forward and side impacts.

Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus Battery

The Model 3 Standard Range Plus costs $37,000 and increases range to an estimated 240 miles. Its standard Partial Premium interior includes 12-way power-adjustable, heated front seats and upgraded upholstery and trim.

Tesla Model 3 Mid Range Battery

Prices start at $40,000 for the Model 3 with the Mid Range Battery, which provides an estimated 264-mile range. Model 3s from this level and above come with the Premium interior. Heated rear seats, a premium audio system with 14 speakers, satellite-view maps for the navigation system, in-car internet streaming music and media, and an internet browser are among the Premium interior's standard features.

Tesla Model 3 Long Range Battery

The Long Range Battery model can travel up to 325 miles on a single charge, according to Tesla. Prices start at $43,000. Upgrading to dual-motor all-wheel drive adds $4,000 to the price tag and lowers the range to 310 miles.

Tesla Model 3 Performance

The Model 3 Performance ($58,000) builds off the Long Range Battery all-wheel-drive model, adding a lowered suspension, performance brakes, a carbon fiber spoiler, and track mode.

See 2019 Tesla Model 3 specs and trims »

The Final Call

In its second year of full production, the Tesla Model 3 proves itself worthy of its hype. It's also surprisingly affordable, whether you're cross-shopping it with other small luxury cars or all-electric vehicles. The Model 3 is fun to drive, has low recharging costs, and promises a reassuring 220-mile-plus range. It also comes equipped with many alluring features, including a state-of-the-art system that combines infotainment settings, the driver's display, and driver controls, all operated by a single touch screen. This system is also one of the Model 3's biggest weaknesses. To operate it, the driver must look away from the road even for quick tasks like adjusting the windshield wiper speed. Still, the Model 3 is a great sedan that will charm EV enthusiasts, spirited drivers, and families alike.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • "… the 2019 Tesla Model 3 is one of the best electric vehicles on sale today. The Model 3 is roughly the same length as a Mercedes-Benz C-Class, but it makes excellent use of its dimensions and feels roomier than many of its competitors. Its trunk is also massive, and the lack of an engine means there's a front trunk as well. Rounding out its strengths are tight steering, poised handling and instant acceleration that make it a thrill to drive. You also get Tesla's suite of advanced driving aids, which is one of the best in the business, especially at this price point. Our only gripe concerns the central touchscreen system." -- Edmunds
  • "My time with the Model 3 suggests that Tesla has an excellent car here. Its modern design and clean interior, combined with spirited driving dynamics thanks to a sport-tuned chassis and the always-there electric torque, will please most buyers." -- Kelley Blue Book (2018)
  • "Only time will tell on reliability of the car, and there will be some inevitable teething issues, but overall I'm impressed with what I've seen and felt. This is an EV that drives as good as it looks and is competitively priced. We've come to expect the first two things from Tesla cars of the past. It's good to finally add that third part to the equation." -- CNET (2018)
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