2019 Tesla Model 3

Performance


MSRP
$35,000
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2019 Tesla Model 3 Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 9.4

As with most electric vehicles, the 2019 Tesla Model 3 is exceptionally thrifty to drive, saving you hundreds of dollars in fuel costs each year compared with the average luxury small car. This efficiency is bundled in a package that's also delightful to drive, mixing elements of a sports sedan with a comfortable daily driver. The Model 3's suspension system may not be as silky as some prefer, though.

  • "The Model 3 feels sporty and engaging thanks to strong off-the-line performance, intuitive steering, and a balanced rear-wheel-drive chassis that feels coordinated and nimble." -- Edmunds
  • "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 (2018)
  • "It's the kind of friendly, engaging drive that could make anyone excited to slide behind the wheel. Hustling the Model 3 is rewarding and un-demanding. This isn't a car you drive with an iron grip and dilated pupils. It's playful, charming, involved without demanding sacrifices in comfort or usability. That fun-to-drive character doesn't feel like a contrivance. … It's one thing to discover driving joy in a sports car that was painstakingly engineered to tickle the pleasure neurons of autocrossers and track rats. Finding that in a family sedan—a car aimed at entry-luxury four-door buyers, the silver drones of white collar office parks worldwide—is an unexpected delight." -- Road and Track (2018)

Acceleration and Power

The entire Model 3 lineup is brisk and lively. Its electric motors launch this EV quickly with almost no noise, and ample power is always on tap. As of this writing, there are six trim levels to choose from, all of which feature a lithium-ion battery pack.

The kilowatt-hours of each battery are not specified, as Tesla labels its Model 3 batteries by range instead of kWh.

Tesla labels its Model 3 batteries by range instead of kilowatt-hours. The Standard Range Battery Plus can travel up to 240 miles on a single charge. It has a zero-to-60-mph time of 5.6 seconds and a top speed of 130 mph. It gets an EPA-estimated 133 MPGe combined city/highway.

The Long Range Battery adds another 70 miles of range, giving you approximately 310 miles on a single charge. In this configuration, the Model 3 reaches 60 mph in five seconds (4.5 seconds with all-wheel drive) and has a top speed of 140 to 145 mph. It delivers 116 MPGe and comes with dual-motor all-wheel drive.

The Performance trim level comes with the Long Range Battery and dual-motor all-wheel drive. It livens things up with its 3.2-second launch time and 162-mph top speed. Its estimated range and MPGe are identical to the Long Range Battery model.

There is no free supercharging with the Model 3, though all models are equipped to charge at a supercharger facility. Tesla reports that a Model 3 can add about 150-170 miles of range for every 30 minutes of charging at a supercharger. Fully recharging a Model 3 at home takes 10 hours with a standard charger and a 240-volt outlet and 8.5 hours with an 80-amp Level 2 charger.

  • "Power delivery is impeccably smooth and accurate, and the accelerator pedal is responsive without being jumpy. Direct drive means no shifting, so there's no way that gear changes can ever be out of step with the driver's wishes. The transition from acceleration to regenerative braking is easy to manage." -- Edmunds
  • "Acceleration is indeed less brisk than its bigger siblings, but that passenger-startling response that's a Tesla trademark is still here. I was able to zip through some increasingly dense traffic without issue, a quick flex of my right foot plenty enough to dive into any gap." -- CNET (2018)
  • "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 (2018)

Handling and Braking

The Model 3 handles like a sports sedan, with precise steering, nimble handling, and very little body roll. Its low center of gravity and taut suspension system keeps the car planted nicely in turns, though some luxury car shoppers may not like its somewhat firm ride. The regenerative braking system smoothly slows the car down when you lift your foot off the pedal, without the lurching feel that an aggressive regen brake often has. The base Model 3 comes with rear-wheel drive. All other trims come standard with all-wheel drive.

  • "… the Model 3 behaves like a proper sports sedan on a twisty road, aided by minimal body roll and a slightly rear-heavy 48/52 weight distribution. The regenerative brakes, steering effort, and accelerator behavior are all adjustable, allowing the driver to fine-tune his driving experience. In motion, the Model 3's powertrain is so quiet that road noise from the tires is more pronounced than in other cars. Nevertheless, the Tesla Model 3 is pleasant to drive, firm but comfortably suspended, and possessing a low cowl that provides a great forward view." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Ride quality is a different matter. The car is overly stiff, struggling to absorb bumps with the dignity expected from a luxury car. There's also considerable wind noise at highway speeds." -- Consumer Reports (2018)
  • "Going back to zero was a relatively mild experience also. The Model 3's regenerative braking produced an apparent but gentle drag on the vehicle as I released the accelerator, and I had to put the brake pedal down to slow the vehicle sufficiently to take turns." -- Jalopnik (2018)
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2019 Tesla Model 3

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