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2020 Tesla Model 3 Review

The 2020 Tesla Model 3 finishes near the top of our luxury hybrid and electric car rankings. The Tesla is surprisingly athletic, and it delivers an incredible all-electric driving range.

Pros & Cons

  • Ample cargo space
  • Many high-tech features
  • Quick acceleration
  • Nimble handling
  • Lacks advanced smartphone connectivity features
  • Central touch screen controls most functions and can be distracting

8.8

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 9.0
Performance: 9.4
Interior: 7.4
Safety: 9.8
Reliability:
This model has never been fully tested for reliability. Its overall score is being calculated without reliability.
N/A

Is the Tesla Model 3 a Good Car?

Yes, the Model 3 is a great car. All models have a driving range of up to at least 250 miles per charge, with higher trims able to go upward of 300 miles. The Model 3 accelerates quickly, handles well, and generally delivers a smooth ride. This Tesla has a handsome, stylish cabin with supportive seats and plenty of technology. Some of this technology can be distracting, however, and Bluetooth is the only way to pair your smartphone with the vehicle.

Should I Buy the Tesla Model 3?

In the luxury hybrid and EV class, it's hard to beat the Model 3. As detailed above, this Tesla has a lot going for it, and with one of the lowest price tags in the class, it's also a great value. Still, you might want to check out alternatives like the BMW i3 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

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

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 company also tends to roll out updates as they're ready throughout the year as opposed to introducing several new updates all at once. With all of that in mind, the right answer to the "new vs. used" question probably needs to be answered on a case-by-case basis.

The 2020 Model 3 extends the range of its trims by a handful of miles but currently has no other major updates. Tesla introduced the Standard Range Plus trim level for 2019, and it carried a drastically lower price, though it came with compromises in range and interior amenities.

If you're considering an older model, be sure to read our 2018 Model 3 and 2019 Model 3 reviews to help inform your decision. Also check out our Used Car Deals page to learn about savings and discounts you can find on used vehicles.

Compare the 2018, 2019, and 2020 Model 3 »

We Did the Research for You: 28 Reviews Analyzed

Our car reviews include everything you need to know before heading to the dealership. We combine the opinions of the automotive press with quantifiable data like crash test results and reliability ratings to form a complete picture of every vehicle we rank.

This review uses applicable research and data from all models of the current Model 3 generation, which launched for 2018.

Why You Can Trust Us

U.S. News Best Cars has been ranking vehicles since 2007, and our team has more than 75 years of combined experience in the automotive industry. Our car reviews are objective. To keep them that way, our editorial staff doesn’t accept expensive gifts or trips from automakers, and a third party handles all the advertising on our site.

How Much Does the Tesla Model 3 Cost?

The Model 3 Standard Range Plus carries a base price of $39,990. Longer-range models carry a hefty price increase, but they're still less expensive than some competitors. The Model 3 Long Range starts at $48,990, and the top-of-the-line Model 3 Performance costs $56,990. That's less than a lot of luxury EV's top-trim prices.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Tesla dealer.

Can I Lease the Tesla Model 3?

Yes, Tesla offers lease options on its vehicles.

Tesla Model 3 Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: Tesla Model 3 or BMW i3?

The BMW i3 finishes behind the Model 3 in our luxury hybrid and electric car rankings, but it's still a respectable EV. Like the Tesla, the BMW handles well, but otherwise, the i3 falls short of the Model 3's standards. The Tesla can drive about 100 miles farther on a single charge, has lower recharging costs, and has smoother regenerative brakes. Also, the Tesla has a lower starting price. It's worth noting, however, that the i3 offers a range extender model, which has a small gasoline engine. This model can go about 50 miles farther than the standard i3 and allows you to refuel at any gas station.

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

The Mercedes-Benz C-Class isn't an all-electric vehicle, but it's a good luxury small car that's an interesting alternative to the Tesla. The C-Class features an opulent interior, several engaging powertrain options, and plenty of technology. What's more, unlike the Model 3, the C-Class has a traditional set of knobs and switches for adjusting settings, and it's available with advanced smartphone integration via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

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

Model 3 Performance

Model 3 Motor: Plenty of Power

The Model 3 is brisk and lively. No matter which powertrain you choose, this EV launches quickly and with almost no noise. The Performance models pack the most punch, but even the Standard Range Plus models have ample power.

Model 3 MPGe: Tremendously Efficient

With the Standard Range Plus battery, the Model 3 gets 148 MPG-equivalent in the city and 132 MPG-equivalent on the highway. With the Long Range battery, the Model 3 gets 124 MPGe in the city and 116 MPGe on the highway. Those are great ratings any way you slice it. They're on par with or better than many other luxury EVs' ratings, and they're far better than any hybrid can deliver.

For more information, check out What is MPGe?

What Is the Driving Range of a Tesla Model 3?

According to the EPA, you can drive up to 250 miles on a single charge with the Standard Range Plus model and up to 299 miles with the Performance model. The greatest range is with the aptly named Long Range model, which can go 322 miles on a single charge.

How Do You Charge the Tesla Model 3?

The Tesla Model 3 Standard Range and Standard Range Plus models come with a 32-amp onboard charger, and a 48-amp charger comes with the Long Range and Performance models. Each Model 3 comes with a 20-foot cord that can connect to a 120-volt outlet. Owners can also use a 240-volt outlet with the mobile connector using an available adapter. Yet another home-charging option is a charging station offered by Tesla or third-party companies. When you’re on the road, you can charge quickly using Tesla’s Supercharger stations, or use the included adapter to use J1772 charging stations. You can also take advantage of CHAdeMO stations with an available adapter.

How Long Does It Take to Charge the Tesla Model 3?

Fully recharging the Model 3’s battery at home takes anywhere from five hours to four days. The 120-volt option is best left for emergency purposes only because it adds just about five to 10 miles of range per hour of charging. Depending on your charge level, it could take several days of continuous charging to fully replenish the battery. Using a 240-volt outlet with your included cord or stepping up to Tesla’s Wall Connector or a third-party Level 2 charger increases charging to about 30-44 miles per hour, which would recharge the battery for most users overnight.

Tesla’s Supercharger stations provide much faster charging times. According to Tesla, these stations are capable of adding 180 miles of range in as little as 15 minutes. Most of these stations are located near shops or restaurants to give you a break on road trips. To help pass the time, Tesla offers users the option of a premium connectivity plan that allows drivers to watch streaming services like Netflix while parked. You can also play games using the touch screen or the Model 3’s steering wheel while the car charges.

Where Can I Charge the Tesla Model 3?

There are nearly 2,000 Supercharger stations with almost 17,500 Superchargers across the country. You can also charge the Model 3 at any of the nearly 25,000 charging stations throughout the U.S. Note that charging a Tesla at a non-Supercharger station will require the use of the included adapter for J1772 chargers or the available CHAdeMO adapter for CHAdeMO chargers.

How Long Will the Tesla Model 3’s Battery Last?

According to Tesla CEO Elon Musk, the Model 3’s battery can last up to 500,000 miles. To get the greatest life from the battery, Tesla encourages users to leave their car plugged into a charger if you don’t plan on driving it for weeks at a time. The Model 3 will automatically maintain a charge level that can be adjusted by the owner to maximize the life of the battery. The company also encourages owners to charge the battery regularly to maintain peak performance. Owners are discouraged from letting the battery fully deplete as this could damage important components or require a replacement of the 12V battery. Importantly, any repairs resulting from a fully depleted battery are the responsibility of the owner and are not covered by the warranty.

Model 3 Ride and Handling: Sporty and Stable

The Model 3 handles like a sports sedan, with precise steering, nimble handling, and minimal body lean around turns. Its low center of gravity and taut suspension system keep the car planted in turns, though some luxury car shoppers may not like its somewhat firm ride. The regenerative braking system works smoothly, which isn't the case in every EV.

How Fast Is the Tesla Model 3?

The Tesla Model 3 Performance goes from zero to 60 mph in 3.2 seconds and boasts a top speed of 162 mph. The Long Range model can go from zero to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds, and it has a top speed of 145 mph. The Standard Range Plus Model 3 has a zero-to-60 time of 5.3 seconds and a top speed of 140 mph.

Is the Tesla Model 3 Available in All-Wheel Drive?

Yes, the Model 3 has all-wheel drive, or dual-motor all-wheel drive as Tesla calls it. Both the Long Range and Performance models come standard with AWD.

Read more about performance »

Model 3 Interior

How Many People Does the Model 3 Seat?

This Tesla seats five people. The panoramic glass roof lets in plenty of light and gives the cabin an airy feel. The front seats have plenty of head- and legroom and remain supportive on long drives. The rear seats are a bit cramped, but two adults can ride back there without much trouble.

Model 3 and Child Car Seats

The Model 3 has two full sets of LATCH anchors in the back seat. The system earned an ease-of-use rating of Acceptable (the second-highest rating) from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Model 3 Interior Quality

Few vehicles – outside of other Teslas – exude the futuristic feel you get from climbing into the Model 3. It has a minimalist, stylish cabin, with plenty of quality materials.

Model 3 Cargo Space

The Model S has lots of cargo space. It has a 15-cubic-foot trunk and an additional cubby in the front where the engine would typically be located. The trunk gives you enough room for roughly 10 shopping bags, and with its split-folding rear seat, the Model 3 can accommodate oversized items such as a bicycle. The front cargo area is large enough to hold a small suitcase.

Model 3 Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

Standard features include dual-zone automatic climate control, a 15-inch touch screen, four USB ports, Bluetooth, and navigation. Available features include a premium 14-speaker system, satellite-view maps for the navigation system, in-car internet streaming music and media, and an internet browser.

Few cars in any class can compete with the Model 3's central touch screen, which is easy to see not only because of its size but also because of its crisp graphics. The screen responds well to inputs, and the interface is intuitive. Still, there are some downsides to the Model 3's setup.

Nearly everything in the vehicle is controlled through the touch screen, so drivers must look away from the road and use the touch screen to adjust even basic elements like the windshield wipers. Also, aside from Bluetooth there is no smartphone integration, which is a minus compared to many rivals that offer Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, or both.

How Is the Tesla Model 3 Software Updated?

Tesla provides free over-the-air software updates to its vehicles to regularly improve and add new features. These can include updates to the vehicle’s operating and infotainment systems. Software updates can also alter the Model 3’s horsepower, driving range and safety features. You can also purchase some safety features and performance upgrades via OTA updates at any time.

Read more about interior »

Model 3 Reliability

Is the Tesla Model 3 Reliable?

J.D. Power does not currently evaluate Tesla's electric vehicles for 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 the highest rating of Good in all six crash tests performed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. It also received a Good rating for how well the headlights illuminate the road ahead.

The IIHS has a different scale for grading crash avoidance and mitigation systems. The Model 3 received the highest rating of Superior for its vehicle-to-vehicle front-crash prevention system, while the vehicle-to-pedestrian system earned the middle rating of Advanced.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the Model 3 an overall safety rating of five out of five stars, with five stars in the frontal crash, side crash, and rollover tests.

Model 3 Safety Features

Standard driver assistance features include automatic emergency braking, sensors on all sides of the car, forward collision warning, side collision warning, blind spot monitoring, and a rearview camera.

Available active safety features include Enhanced Autopilot, which operates the car's steering, throttle, and brakes and is capable of actions such as changing lanes. The available Full Self-Driving Capability package unlocks even more semiautonomous and self-parking abilities (though it doesn't actually make the car able to drive without human interaction).

Read more about safety »

Model 3 Dimensions and Weight

The Model 3 is 15.4 feet long, and its curb weight ranges from 3,554 to 4,036 pounds.

Where Is the Tesla Model 3 Built?

Tesla builds the Model 3 in California.

Which Tesla Model 3 Model Is Right for Me?

The Model 3 currently comes in three main trim levels: Standard Range Plus, Long Range, and Performance. The Standard Range Plus comes with fewer features and has a shorter battery range than the other two trims, but it's also much less expensive. Otherwise, all three trims are fairly similar, and since buyers aren't giving up that much by choosing the Standard Range Plus, it's the best value in the lineup.

You can add the Full Self-Driving Capability package to any trim for $7,000.

Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus Battery

The Model 3 Standard Range Plus carries a base price of $39,990 and has an estimated 250-mile driving range. Its standard Partial Premium interior includes 12-way power-adjustable and heated front seats. A 15-inch touch screen also comes standard, along with Bluetooth, four USB ports, and navigation.

Standard driver assistance features include automatic emergency braking, sensors on all sides of the car, forward collision warning, side collision warning, blind spot monitoring, and a rearview camera.

Tesla Model 3 Long Range Battery

The Model 3 Long Range starts at $48,990. The Long Range Battery model can travel up to 322 miles on a single charge, according to Tesla.

Tesla Model 3 Performance

The Model 3 Performance costs $56,990. It builds off the Long Range Battery model, adding a lowered suspension, performance brakes, a carbon fiber spoiler, and track mode. It has the same 322-mile range, but it goes from zero to 60 mph 1.2 seconds quicker.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Tesla dealer.

See 2020 Tesla Model 3 specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2020 Tesla Model 3 is powerful and athletic, and it has a much longer electric driving range than most EVs. It's got a futuristic, comfortable interior and ample trunk space, and all for a lower starting price than many of its classmates. In short, the Model 3 delivers plenty of bang for your buck and earns its spot near the top of our luxury hybrid and electric car rankings.

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

  • "This sleekly styled, 5-seat sedan dazzles with ample electric range, cool technology, and a starting price of about $40,000. Still, the Model 3 is too pricey for most mainstream car shoppers, especially now that the federal income-tax credit for all Teslas has expired. But for those who can swing the lease or loan payment, the smallest and least expensive Tesla offers day-to-day usability, surprisingly fun road manners, impressive safety ratings, and an intriguing glimpse of a gasoline-free future." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "While the 2020 Tesla Model 3 may not be the affordable 'everyone car' Tesla promised upon its introduction, it is still an attractive prospect for anyone shopping the midsize luxury car market." -- Autotrader
  • "… 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 (2019)
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