2018 Tesla Model 3 Interior Review

Scorecard

Interior: 8.1

The 2018 Tesla Model 3 has a unique, minimalist interior look, thanks to a near total absence of physical control switches. Still, it looks good and is built with quality materials. The seats are spacious, and the glass roof makes the cabin feel open and airy. The central touch screen controls virtually everything. It has a few issues, but it's mostly easy to use. The Model 3 has more cargo space than many class rivals.

  • "The Model 3 offers low-frills luxury; the real reason you're here is for the drive." -- USA Today
  • The interior is almost unrecognizable as an automotive design. The Model 3's dashboard is an exercise in fanatical minimalism. It's perfectly symmetrical, completely bereft of buttons, knobs, or any kind of moving parts. Save for twin stalks serving the turn signals and gear selector, every control on the Model 3 is accessed from the central touchscreen." -- Road and Track
  • "Our test car is filled with nice-looking materials, including suede and wood trim that come with the Premium Upgrades package. The clean dash, large touch screen, concealed air vents, and the absence of knobs give off a minimalist vibe." -- Consumer Reports

Seating

The Model 3 seats five on standard cloth upholstery. Heated front and rear seats and power-adjustable front seats are available. There are two full sets of LATCH connectors for installing child seats.

The Model 3's seats are impressive. The front seats are comfortable and supportive, and there's outstanding visibility for the driver. The rear seats also have plenty of space (even for tall passengers), and the glass roof makes the cabin feel more open and spacious than it actually is.

  • "The driving position in the Model 3 is fantastic. Even with thick front pillars, the car's expansive windshield, sloping hood, and low dashboard give a clear, commanding view of the road ahead. It's similar to what it feels like to drive a sports car like an Acura NSX or Porsche 718 Boxster-cars that, like the Model 3, don't have an engine up front and therefore have a lower hood. The only real visibility issue is the high shelf behind the rear seats, which can partially hide the view of the car directly behind." -- Consumer Reports
  • "The simplicity of design and lack of console shifter (the right steering-wheel stalk controls the electric drive) means the center console is one big piece of furniture with multiple cubbies for storage. Battery location in the basement also opens more rear seat acreage for 6-foot-5 giraffes like me. I sat comfortably in the back seat with headroom to spare under the tinted glass roof." -- Detroit News
  • "I'm 6 feet tall, yet with my short legs I sit tall and often struggle to get comfortable in the rear seats of even full-size cars. I had no problem in the Model 3. Instead of a traditional roof liner, there's nothing but glass over your head in the back. While I do wonder what this'll mean on a hot, sunny day, it does make for some very lofty seating." -- CNET

Interior Features

Standard features in the Model 3 include dual-zone automatic climate control, two USB ports, Bluetooth, navigation, a Wi-Fi hot spot, a 15-inch touch screen, a rearview camera, front and rear parking sensors, and forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking.

A tinted glass roof, a premium audio system, and two additional USB ports are available. Several driver assistance features are offered as well, including adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, lane change assist, blind spot monitoring, automatic parking, and a summon feature. Several of these features are part of the Autopilot system.

The car’s giant touch screen controls basically everything, which is both a blessing and a curse. The screen itself is relatively easy to use and doesn't have a steep learning curve, but it can be distracting to adjust settings while driving, and the on-screen fonts are small and hard to read for some people. It is also worth noting that the Model 3 does not have a traditional gauge cluster with a speedometer, tachometer, etc. All of your driving-related information – speed, range, and more – is shown on the center stack touch screen. This may seem awkward and leave you wanting for a head-up display.

See 2018 Tesla Model 3 specs and trims »

  • The screen is full of menus and has an impressive level of capability and functionality, but drivers are forced to use the screen in ways that don't always make sense. It's fine for drivers to adjust their mirrors or the height of the steering wheel while they're stopped, but other adjustments that are normally made while driving can become distracting." -- Consumer Reports
  • While controlling the Model 3 through a screen is relatively intuitive in this gadget-filled age, the reality is that you may wind up asking the passenger to perform some of the functions just so you can keep your eyes on the road. If you're driving solo, stop lights will be your friend." -- USA Today
  • The 15-inch center touch screen will please or infuriate, depending on the buyer – but in my test, it stopped being awkward after about 10 minutes. There aren't many traditional hard buttons, either. Moving the steering wheel or the side mirrors – an operation seldom executed – requires a couple of taps on the screen. An easy-to-use system lets you save a half-dozen different driver profiles, and the car will adjust to the presets of whomever is driving." -- Kelley Blue Book

Cargo

The Model 3 provides a combined 15 cubic feet of space between its rear cargo hold and front trunk ("frunk"). The vast majority of that space is in the rear trunk. This Tesla has more cargo space than most class rivals, and standard split-folding rear seats allow for increased capacity to carry larger items. The low liftover height and wide trunk opening make it easy to load items. There's also ample small-item storage throughout the cabin.

  • "The Tesla Model 3 has a trunk opening instead of a Model S-like hatch to delete the hatch-required crossmember, which shaves rear headroom. The prototype's trunk opening was criticized as too small; now it's yawning. And at 15 cubic feet, with a very low lift-over and 60/40 folding rear seats, it looks hungry for a surfboard or a bike. (Franz assures me of this; he's a cyclist.) Up front, the frunk is precisely sized to hold a carry-on suitcase." -- Motor Trend
  • "And then there's the trunk. Here I was concerned because the rear glass does not swivel upward, this is a sedan not a hatchback, and from looking at the earlier concepts it sure seemed like you'd be left with a narrow opening back there. But, the trunk, though shallow, opens up high and gets well out of the way. There's actually a very large trunk opening and a plenty-deep trunk." -- CNET
  • "The Model 3's trunk is deep and would easily swallow two roll-aboard bags and two medium-sized backpacks with room to spare. The rear seats fold down 60/40 style so you can retain one or two rear seats while opening the truck to carry longer things like skis. And the action on all these moving parts feels smooth and sturdy." -- Jalopnik

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