2018 Tesla Model 3 Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2018 Tesla Model 3 was new.


Performance: 8.7

The 2018 Tesla Model 3 provides a quality driving experience. It accelerates quickly and easily, and models with the long-range battery can go beyond 300 miles on a single charge – which is far for an EV. It also rides smoothly and handles winding roads without complaint. Oh, and it still gets the outstanding efficiency you expect from an electric vehicle.

  • "Out on the road, the Model 3 feels special. There's an eagerness to the car. Steering, acceleration and chassis are nearly perfectly balanced, no one trait overpowering the others." -- Road and Track
  • "The Model 3 is calm and composed, and exceedingly predictable. Those are all great qualities in a daily driver, which is of course this vehicle's primary mission designation. It felt faster than a Chevy Bolt, but I didn't find the Model 3 to be significantly sharper or fiercer through turns. Tesla's five-seater certainly looks like it could rip a slalom more aggressively than Chevy's hatchback, but the Bolt is almost 400 pounds lighter at 3,580." -- Jalopnik

Acceleration and Power

The Model 3 comes standard with a battery that provides 220 miles of range and a surprisingly quick zero to 60 mph time of 5.6 seconds. A long-range battery is available. It increases range to a maximum of 310 miles, and it also drops the zero to 60 mph time to 5.1 seconds.

With either setup, the Model 3 is extremely quick off the line, but it also has the kind of acceleration you need for highway passing. In short, the Model 3 never feels starved for power.

Since electric vehicles – like Teslas – don't run on gasoline at all, their "fuel economy" is measured in mpg-equivalent (mpg-e). According to EPA estimates, a Model 3 with the long-range battery gets 136 mpg-e in the city and 123 mpg-e on the highway. Those are terrific numbers for an electric vehicle, and they're out of this world compared to the mpg ratings of other cars in the class.

  • "Let's start with the takeoff. Unlike regular gasoline-powered engines, electric cars deploy their full torque instantly. Because of this, the Model 3 rushes off the line with authority, and every prod of the accelerator translates to immediate thrust in near silence." -- Consumer Reports
  • "This car is, in a word, fast. Sure, it's no Ludicrous Mode-equipped Tesla Model S, but that might as well be called Arrest Me Mode. Instead, the Model 3 offers what we'll call Goldilocks Mode. It's just the right blend of blast-off power from a dead stop that, even with the accelerator mashed to the floor, never crosses the line over to terrifying." -- USA Today
  • "The Model 3 lives for the highway roll. Dead-stop acceleration is soft for the first tick, swelling into a broad wave of torque once we're moving. The 50-70 sprint takes 2.5 seconds, the immediate hit feeling like the world's un-laggiest turbo motor. It's an unusual sensation in an entry-luxury sedan, matting the accelerator and squirting away without the drama of a downshift, accompanied only by the growing rush of wind and the receding ring of high-power circuitry." -- Road and Track

Alternative Fuels/Charging

Model 3 owners can charge their vehicles at home using a standard 120-volt outlet. Using a 240-volt adapter kit will drastically reduce charging times. For the best times, stop at one of Tesla's Supercharging stations, which are sprinkled throughout the country. At one of these stations, you can recharge your battery to more than 50 percent in just half an hour.

  • As has been typical in my lead-footed Tesla Model S test drives, I took 44 miles off the battery for every 30 miles on the odometer. Under more civilized driving across Michigan and Ohio, my tester's owner says he's been able to average 305 miles on a full charge – not far off Tesla's claimed 310 miles for the big-battery EV." -- Detroit News

Handling and Braking

Rear-wheel drive comes standard in the Model 3, but all-wheel drive will be available later in the model year. Ride quality is on the firm side, but it's not uncomfortable. Where the Model 3 shines is with its handling. This Tesla isn't a sports car, but it provides good road grip and sharp steering, leading to a buttoned-down feel around turns that any driver can enjoy.

  • "Our testers were impressed by our car's glued-to-the-road handling, with steering that is quick and precise, much like a well-tuned sports car. The Model 3's taut suspension keeps the car from leaning when cornering, while its sharp reflexes help it carve through tight turns with ease and tear down straightaways." -- Consumer Reports
  • "What's blanching, though, is the car's ride and handling. If anybody was expecting a typical boring electric sedan here, nope. The ride is Alfa Giulia (maybe even Quadrifoglio)-firm. … The Model 3 is so unexpected scalpel-like, I'm sputtering for adjectives… And to mention body roll is to have already said too much about it. Sure, that battery is low, way down under the floor. But unlike the aluminum Model S, the Tesla Model 3 is composed of steel, too, and this car's glass ceiling can't be helping the center of gravity's height. Nearly-nil body roll? Magic, I'm telling you. Magic." -- Motor Trend
  • "What truly stands out is the car's regenerative braking. In most instances, simply lifting off the throttle results in the Model 3 immediately slowing down, often to the point where you never need to step on the brake pedal. (In fact, Giovine says that's the only thing he tells renters to watch out for.)" -- USA Today

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