2018 Tesla Model 3 Review
2018 Tesla Model 3 Review
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Edmunds' Expert Review
Vehicle Test EngineerCalvin Kim is an automotive journalist at Edmunds.
- Tesla prestige at a lower price
- Class-leading performance and handling
- More technologically advanced than rivals
- Supercharger network access for long-distance driving
- Currently only available with pricey options
- Touchscreen interface design can lead to driver distraction
- No Android Auto or Apple CarPlay support
- Limited cargo capacity and interior storage
- Questionable durability based on our experience
- Part of the first generation of Model 3 introduced in 2017
- New dual-motor variants with all-wheel drive
- A mid-range battery pack model with 260 miles of range
2018 is the first full year of production for Tesla's Model 3. While at the time of this review the long-promised standard Model 3 with 220 miles of range has yet to materialize, the initial single-motor drive with a long-range battery has been joined by a new dual-motor (all-wheel-drive) version and an available light-color interior.
Continue reading Edmunds Expert Rating below
2018 Tesla Model 3 EV Insights
Model 3 Mid Range
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Estimated Range Based on Age
236 milesThe range for a used 2018 Tesla Model 3 is estimated to be 236 miles because electric cars typically experience 1-2% of range loss per year, with slightly faster degradation over the first 50,000 miles as the car settles into its long term state, according to Recurrent's study of 15,000 EVs.
EV batteries lose 1-2% of range per year. Est. range for this car is 236 miles.Electric cars typically experience 1-2% of range loss per year with slightly faster degradation over the first 50,000 miles as the car settles into its long term state, according to Recurrent's study of 15,000 EVs.
Estimated range mapThis map is a visual representation of the possible one-way and round-trips by this vehicle (on a full charge) from the geometric center of Ashburn, Virginia. The depicted ranges are based on the estimated new vehicle range value provided by the EPA, rounded down to miles for one-way and miles for round-trip. Actual range will vary depending on the condition of this vehicle’s battery pack, how you drive, driving conditions and other factors. from
Charging at Home
Total Charging Time (240V outlet)
Tesla SuperchargerProprietary Tesla charging standard. Supports Level 1, Level 2, and DC Fast charging.
EV Battery Warranty
8 yrs or 100,000 milesThe federal government requires that EV batteries be warrantied for a minimum of eight years or 100,000 miles. The EV battery warranty includes replacement if your battery capacity drops below a certain percentage of the original capacity.
Estimated battery warranty remaining is 3 years or 30,000 miles for this car.Warranty remaining value is based on the vehicle year, and on driving 14,000 miles per year. Confirm exact warranty coverage for each vehicle with the dealers and the manufacturer before purchasing.
EV Tax Credits & Rebates
Available Rebates. Restrictions apply.
- Restrictions: Dominion Energy offers EV owners a rebate of up to $125 towards the cost of a Level 2 charging station.
To qualify for this rebate, the customer and/or charging station must meet the following requirements:
- Receive electricity from Dominion Energy.
- Have an electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle.
- Networked/Smart charging capabilities to program the station to off-peak periods and respond to managed charging events
- You also earn a $40 e-gift card on the anniversary of your enrollment every year you remain enrolled.
Cost to Drive
Monthly estimates based on costs in Virginia
Am I Ready for an EV?
EV ownership works best if you can charge (240V) at home or at work This typically means a 240V home installation, but you could also have a similar setup at your office or other places your car is already parked for several hours each day. Don't expect a regular household outlet (120V) to suffice unless you've got a plug-in hybrid, in which case overnight charging at home is feasible.
If you can’t charge at home, charging at a charging station could take at least 10x longer than at a gas station With public charging infrastructure still in its infancy, the user experience can be maddeningly inconsistent. Tesla owners tend to rave about the reliability and speed of the company's proprietary Supercharger stations, but rival DC fast options have thus far been plagued by technical issues and overcrowding. It's an evolving landscape and our best advice is to do your research on the available options for the EV you want to buy.
Adding a 240V home charging system could cost up to $1,000 or more If your existing electrical service can handle the additional demands of EV charging, you may be able to add Level 2 charging at home for less than a grand, including installation. But your costs will multiply if you need to upgrade your electrical panel or add a dedicated circuit.
But if you just can't wait for the affordable version, or you have an order already filed, you won't be disappointed with the Model 3 that's on the road now. In many ways, it sets new standards for a relatively affordable electric vehicle. The big battery has a rated range of 310 miles, which is more than any non-Tesla rival's range. With rear-wheel drive, the current Model 3 can cover 0-60 mph in 5.1 seconds and will top out at 140 mph. The new all-wheel-drive Performance blasts from 0 to 60 mph in a claimed 3.5 seconds, which is quicker than most high-performance sports cars.
On the inside, you'll likely appreciate the Model 3's minimalist interior design highlighted by a gigantic central touchscreen display. But the touchscreen has some drawbacks. Because Tesla routes almost all of the car's controls through it, you'll often end up having to take your eyes off the road to use them.
Of course, the Model 3 is compatible with Tesla's Supercharger network. Model 3 owners will have to pay for access, unlike owners of the larger Model S and Model X. Still, once you're hooked up, the network greatly enhances the Model 3's long-distance driving ability and is a distinct advantage compared to other similarly priced EVs.
We will note that we've had some trouble with a 2017 Tesla Model 3 that we've bought and are testing for a year. You can read about the maintenance issues we've encountered in our Tesla 3 Long-Term Road Test. It's just a sample size of one, but we also encountered reliability problems with our Tesla Model S and X test cars.
Then again, Tesla has typically improved its cars' reliability over time. If you want the more affordable standard-range model (available late 2018 or early 2019), it may not make sense to get the Model 3 right away. Overall, though, we like the Model 3 and think it's a great choice for an EV.
Notably, we picked the 2018 Tesla Model 3 as one of Edmunds' Best Electric Cars for 2018.
What's it like to live with?
Edmunds' editorial team acquired and lived with a 2017 Tesla Model 3 Long Range for nearly two years, logging 24,000 miles. As an all new-design for Tesla, it had a few teething problems at first. But most of the issues were electronic in nature and were later sorted out via software updates. The 2018 Tesla Model 3 offered more powertrain choices than our early long-term Model 3. It's the same generation, though, so most of our observations still apply. To learn more about the Tesla Model 3, check out our experiences as early adopters living with our 2017 Tesla Model 3 Long Range.
Edmunds' Expert Rating8.4 / 10
The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the Tesla Model 3 Long Range (electric motor | direct drive | RWD).
|Overall||8.4 / 10|
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. The standard 18-inch all-season tires are the limiting factor. Buy the optional 19-inch tires if you wish to maximize grip.
There's ample thrust from the 258-horsepower electric motor, and it moves out in a smooth, seamless way with no shifting interruptions. The rear-wheel-drive layout adds poise and confidence when you lay into it. Ours reached 60 mph in 5.3 seconds at our test track, which is properly quick.
The powerful four-piston fixed-caliper front brakes are easy to modulate, but you'll rarely need to use them because lift-throttle regenerative braking will handle routine braking. Our panic stop from 60 mph took a longish 133 feet due to our car's standard 18-inch all-season tires.
The Model 3's steering feels nicely weighted and quick off center, which makes it a joy on winding roads even without a ton of feedback. When driving straight, it feels connected, and the effort builds rather naturally as cornering loads mount up. Of the three settings, we liked Normal and Sport.
It displays admirable coordination and balance when entering a corner, transitioning through a bend, or feeding on the power while exiting. But the standard 18-inch tires hold it back and can lead to early stability control intervention if pushed hard. Optional 19-inch rubber may have higher limits.
Power delivery is impeccably smooth and accurate, and the throttle 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 lift-throttle braking is easy to manage.
We found the Model 3 to be a pleasant place to sit, and that feeling held up for hours at a time. Its comfortable seats and quiet cabin deserve a great deal of credit. It rides agreeably most of the time, but it can sometimes feel busy and bound up if the road surface is broken or uneven.
The leather seats that are part of the Premium Upgrades package are broad but not flat. They are supportive but not hard. The adjustments are simple but effective. We liked the fit and feel much more than any Model S and Model X seats we've sampled, and we remained comfortable all day.
It swallows large and small bumps with equal ease, and it glides along nicely over reasonably smooth asphalt. But the suspension doesn't breathe freely over lumpy surfaces and can feel stiff-legged on cracked concrete roads. The Model 3's tires run at a fairly high pressure, and it can feel like it.
Noise & vibration9.0
Immensely quiet and still. There's very little propulsion noise because the electric motor is under the trunk floor, and we didn't notice much wind noise flowing over the roof and around the mirrors either. The standard 18-inch all-season tires seem good at keeping quiet as well.
Electric heat means no waiting, and preconditioning the cabin is easy when plugged in. Front vents are contained within a door-to-door slot that looks like a styling element. Unique yet straightforward touchscreen controls allow driver and passenger to readily alter the air stream. Has rear vents.
The Model 3's interior is more attractive than we ever expected of such a simple design, and its driving position, roominess and visibility are all fantastic. The touchscreen doesn't block your view, but it does absorb your attention for too many routine tasks that should be doable without looking.
Ease of use5.0
Far too many controls divert the driver's attention away from the road and onto the touchscreen. You must look away to change the wiper speed (never appropriate, even in auto mode) or alter the cruise-control speed. The same goes for the side mirror tweaks and tilt-and-telescoping wheel adjustments.
Getting in/getting out8.0
The doors open wide, but there's a knack to the nifty push-in/pull-out door handles that we're not sure everyone will like. The sills are a bit high and require a wee bit of foot lift, but the roof doesn't present much of a ducking problem. The front and rear are virtually the same on all points.
The seat and pedals are in perfect agreement, and the telescoping steering wheel has a ton of range. The feel and grip of the steering wheel rim are excellent, and the view out commanding. Our one gripe: We'd like a gap between the brake and dead pedal to allow the occasional leg stretch.
The optional Premium Upgrades glass roof does amazing things for headroom, and front legroom is abundant. This smaller Tesla still feels wide, and the abundance of glass only enhances the feeling of space. Rear legroom is decent behind a 6-footer, but toe room can be snug behind a tall driver.
The view out is expansive thanks to a low cowl, low door sides and slender pillars. The over-the-shoulder blind spot isn't very big, and backup camera coverage is broad with a large display. But we'd like slightly larger side mirrors, especially since their positions are hard to tweak when underway.
The Premium Upgrades package includes nice-looking leather and wood materials. Most of our car's panel fits are true, but one hood seam isn't flush. Our test car was delivered with a broken vanity mirror and a loose seatback cover. Note: Ours is a very early-build car, among the first 1,200 made.
The Model 3's trunk can hold far more than you'd expect thanks to a very broad pass-through and SUV-like fold-flat rear seats. We were able to fit an extra-large mountain bike in easily. Inside, cabin storage is plentiful, something we can't say about the other Tesla models we've owned.
Other Tesla models come up short in this area, but not the Model 3. It has a decent-size center console armrest and, because it uses a column shifter, it has two more hidden storage compartments ahead of the central cupholders. There are decent-size door pockets with molded bottle holders, too.
The Model 3 is a sedan with a trunk, but it's nearly as commodious as a hatchback. The trunk is broad, but there's also a deep well under the false floor. The rear seats fold utterly flat, and the aperture between is quite large. In a pinch, you could actually lie down and sleep quite comfortably.
Child safety seat accommodation7.5
The three top anchors are very easy to access under flip covers on the fixed parcel shelf. The lower LATCH anchors are tucked tightly between the seat cushions, so you must take care to avoid scratching the leather as you hook up a seat.
The Model 3 scores an A for its sound quality, navigation display, and the Autopilot traffic-aware cruise and lane management system. But it earns a D-minus because Tesla's chosen way to bring your smartphone into the audio environment involves Bluetooth audio and fiddling with your phone while driving.
Audio & navigation8.0
The large Google-based navigation display is beautiful and easy to control. The Premium Upgrades package includes an upgraded audio system with fantastic wide-spectrum sound. But it demands undue attention to switch between modes. It has FM, HD and internet radio but no AM or satellite radio.
Tesla lags far behind in this area. There's no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, but we're even more disappointed that an iPhone's music library doesn't come up on the screen when plugged in via the USB port; those are for power only. It's Bluetooth streaming audio or nothing — a huge hassle.
Our Model 3 is equipped with the Autopilot option, and it is the premier adaptive cruise and lane keeping system you can currently buy. The sensitivity of the collision alert and lane departure warning is easily customizable, but the adaptive cruise following distance is buried in the touchscreen.
The standard voice button didn't recognize names in our paired phone's contact list very well. We found ourselves using our phone's own voice search instead. It works best when you are looking for music outside your phone environment, such as on the Slacker and TuneIn services the vehicle supports.
Which Model 3 does Edmunds recommend?
Tesla isn't offering much choice for the Model 3 currently. The main thing you'll have to decide is whether to get single-motor rear-wheel drive or dual-motor all-wheel drive. The gains in acceleration from the dual-motor setup are significant, so it's likely worth the cost if you consider yourself a bit of a car enthusiast. One option for consideration is the Enhanced Autopilot upgrade, which future-proofs your car for when Tesla makes the Full Self-Driving Capability option available.
2018 Tesla Model 3 models
The main configuration for the 2018 Tesla Model 3 sedan is a long-range battery pack good for an estimated 310 miles of range. The single-motor (rear-drive) version is rated at 258 horsepower, and the dual-motor (all-wheel-drive) produces about 346 hp. The Performance version of the dual-motor setup cranks the output up to 450 hp. Tesla also offers a mid-range battery pack with rear-wheel drive and 260 miles of range.
Standard features for the Model 3 include 18-inch wheels, automatic headlights and high beams, front and rear parking sensors, keyless entry, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, cloth upholstery, six-way manually adjustable front seats, and 60/40-split folding rear seats.
Standard technology features include a 15-inch touchscreen, a navigation system with real-time traffic, voice activation, Bluetooth, a Wi-Fi hotspot, remote control of some systems via a smartphone app, a rearview camera, and a seven-speaker audio system with internet streaming radio and two USB ports. Standard safety features include forward collision warning and mitigation, blind-spot monitoring with collision avoidance, and lane departure warning.
The Premium Upgrades package (mandatory for early adopters) adds LED foglights, tinted glass, heated and power-folding auto-dimming exterior mirrors, a panoramic glass roof, heated seats, 12-way power-adjustable front seats, a power-adjustable steering column, simulated-leather upholstery, wood interior trim, a covered center console, driver-seat memory functions and a premium audio system. For the Performance trim, Tesla also offers a Performance Upgrade package that includes 20-inch wheels, performance tires, a lowered suspension, upgraded brakes and a higher speed limiter.
Also available is the Enhanced Autopilot option that adds adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, automatic lane changing and self-parking. Early calendar-year buyers could choose an option that would have given the Model 3 the capability to be fully self-driving in the future, but Tesla discontinued this option partway through the year. Nineteen-inch wheels are available as a stand-alone option.
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most helpful consumer reviews
5 out of 5 stars
2018 Tesla Model 3 Long Range 4dr Sedan (electric DD)
Driven 15K miles in 1 yr. So far 1 tire rotation visit to TESLA service center. Great car! 4 yrs in. Everything is good. Battery charge capacity has gone down to 296 miles for 2018 LR model 3.
5 out of 5 stars
Best. Car. Ever!
2018 Tesla Model 3 Long Range 4dr Sedan (electric DD)
No degree of hyperbole could come close to describing how awesome and revolutionary this car is. Let me just state that this is the second best purchase I have ever made, after my house. I'll try to reign in my enthusiasm to provide a concise review. Background: Coming from a 2001-era jalopy of an SUV, even a shiny new bicycle would have been a welcome upgrade. As a fairly tech-y … millennial, I'd had enough knowledge of Tesla as a company when I plunked down $1000 to reserve the Model 3 in April 2016 to feel comfortable in parting with that money for a couple of years while awaiting the car. The higher profit long-range model came first and I had resigned myself to getting the short-range model at reduced federal tax credit, when low and behold, an unexpected mid-range was unveiled in October 2018 and I handed more money over to Musk & Co. Transitioning to an EV: If you already drive an electric car, disregard this part. But most people buying the Model 3 will be buying their first EV, as I did. The transition is smooth. I do recommend having a reliable source of electricity to plug into nightly. Otherwise, a quick primer on amps, volts, kilowatt hours, charging stations, charger types, and battery chemistry isn't necessary per se, but it's good to have a working knowledge of what's going on in the car. Range anxiety goes away after a few road trips, and it's always lower in a Tesla than any comparable EV due to the extensive Supercharger network. I routinely use my mid-range model with 260 miles range to taken 4-5 hour road trips. Anything requiring more than 2 Supercharger stops (~550 miles, in my case) is annoying, and I'll usually use my gas-powered SUV for those trips. In my neck of the woods, home charging is 1/4 the cost of gas per mile (Supercharging is about 1/2 the cost of gas), so savings add up quickly if you drive a lot. The non-volatility of electricity costs reduces financial stress. I'm guilty of a bit of schadenfreude when my coworker complains about the price of gas going up (he has a BMW requiring premium gas). Driving/Handling: Amazing. While I may not have much cred in this area, my brother in law (who has owned and tinkered with a Corvette-engined RX-7, Honda S2000, Miata, and a Datsun 280Z) was blown away by the instant torque, precise steering, and great emergency braking. And this is the "slow" version of the car! AutoPilot: This is the number one best reason to own a Tesla. One may scoff at spending $5K on what amounts to a software unlock, but it's money well spent. In its current iteration, AutoPilot is accurate and greatly reduces fatigue during stop-and-go traffic as well as long boring stretches of highway with minimal traffic. I usually take over driving during heavy, flowing traffic, but I really don't have to. My only qualm is that I'm too impatient and want full self-driving capability NOW, but it's nice to know that my car can upgrade to that when it becomes available. I'd also like to see them reduce the alerts to grab the steering wheel as I truly feel that the system is fully capable of safe self-driving on highways in its current iteration, and that the nanny is there more to cover Tesla's butt (legally speaking). Why you should get this car: Get this car if you want a stylish sporty ergonomically beautiful small sedan, if you are thinking about buying a battery electric car (there is no worthwhile competition to the Model 3), if environmental street cred is your thing, if you spend lots of time on highways and/or want to dazzle your friends with AutoPilot, or if you want the safest car available today. Also less maintenance / lower cost of ownership than comparable gas-powered vehicles. Most importantly, if you want a vehicle that could accurately be described as inspiring, made by a forward-thinking company headed by an iconic visionary with huge aspirations, I would look at a purchase of a Model 3 as a vote of confidence for this future and a big middle finger to the legacy automakers that drag their feet on battery electric vehicles and make cars that have no soul. Why you should not get this car: Even at $35K, it's not the cheapest car on the market. And although it is bigger than one expects inside, it still is a small 5 person sedan, so if roominess is of importance, consider a Model S or an SUV. If you don't have the ability to install a level 2 charger in your home or routinely use a cheap/free level 2 public charger, you may want to consider gas-powered cars instead. Also, if you routinely are on the road for long road trips (600+ miles), the inconvenience of longer charging times vs filling up gas may become irksome. Things I don't like about the car: The doors are incredibly light and require a firm smack to close properly ...even my old Mazda 3 had more premium feeling doors. Rear visibility sucks due to the high boot. Large turning radius. Voice control for music works only when there is strong AT&T signal; even in metro Orlando, there are gaps.
5 out of 5 stars
Silver Bullet - 2018 TESLA Model 3
Scott T, 07/24/2018
2018 Tesla Model 3 Long Range 4dr Sedan (electric DD)
It is just a great car that happens to be electric. Now with 42K miles. I have had it since July 2018, after waiting two years, and I am glad I waited and did not settle for a lesser car. The car looks great and handles like a road car should. TESLA has done a great job to create a beautiful car that is fun to drive, safe and turns heads as it passes by. The simple clean interior is … not cluttered with knobs, as all the hidden high tech is handled through a intuitive touch screen, or by voice command. The sound system is very impresssive. The charging is simple and mostly done at home with the TESLA wall connector. Going anywhere is easy with the Supercharger network being everywhere. I know I am never going to buy a gas (ICE) car again. Great job TESLA! We also received in May a Model Y, so we will have no ICE cars! The Model Y is great as well.
5 out of 5 stars
I have a supercar for under $70,000 ?
2018 Tesla Model 3 Performance 4dr Sedan AWD (electric DD)
Update 6/6/19. Other cars are stupid. How Tesla is pushing cars forward on so many dimensions and no other manufacture is even trying is beyond me. It’s not about being electric that is most significant, its the software. That is the big deal. If Tesla mad an ICE car it would be so far advanced from others offerings they could not catch up. They cannot even try, that is how behind … car manufactures are in software, they aren’t even trying :( I have a performance model 3 2018 which was traded for a 2016 Lexus RX F Sport. $70,000 out the door. -10,000 in taxes so around $60,000 all in all. Some things you might not know. Best stereo I have ever had in a car, including upgraded stereo from Lexus when the enhancement mode is on high. The sound stage is invisible and completely immersive. Full 5 bar graphic equalizer. I don't know why this is not mentioned more, it is phenomenal for standard equipment. There is no standard key, you use your phone or a "hotel door card". So replacement keys are $5. There is almost no maintenance. If you don't follow the schedule the warranty still holds, this is because the car really just requires a coolant change and brake fluid changes (brakes dont get used much due to regeneration). This is a major shift when compared to Porsche which has frequent routine maintenance in the 1000s. The tires are excellent on the performance, but you will need winters if you live up north. The seats are comfortable, fit me like a glove, better in comfort than the Lexus and the RX has great seats. Coming out of a Lexus which has the settings divided all over the place in multiple systems, the configuration is very easy to use. The dealer model is very different. I picked up my car in 30 minutes with maybe 5 papers to sign. No upsell at all !!! The App that runs the car lets you do all kinds of stuff and makes the Lexus app seem ten years old. It is so fun to use. Plus there are third party apps that let you integrate into workflows and siri. I can turn my AC on with a voice command. Lastly, the performance of this car is beyond words. You have to experience it. It is so planted and fast. You have to get into high end German cars to get this type of feel yet in some ways its superior. Some feel more balanced in hard corning but don't have the acceleration which is other worldly. There is a place to put your phone with a charger that makes your phone accessible. Lastly, the autopilot is so cool. This car will off load much of the effort of driving especially in start and stop, where it can do all the work. At $5000 it better be good, and its good and gets better and better. Cons: Door handles, some sounds from the cabin when it's cold outside, learning curve since it departs from typical car metaphors, Tesla is struggling with growth so the cars change from month to month instead of every year, UI takes a while to master but does become second nature. And the car is fun, it comes with asteroids built in, a santa mode that reskins the interface for christma, cool names like "chill mode" (instead of eco mode). Tesla has a fun vibe. Lexus has a old vibe, taking itself so seriously in all manners. I love this car!
2018 Tesla Model 3 video
[MUSIC PLAYING] DAN EDMUNDS: What we have here are three electric vehicles that are well known, perhaps because each is a dedicated EV that has no gasoline counterpart. Chevrolet has plugged everything they learned from their Bolt plug-in hybrid into the Bolt EV. JASON KAVANAGH: The Model 3 represents Tesla's first foray into a more accessible EV. CALVIN KIM: And the Nissan LEAF, the first widely available electric vehicle in the United States, is now in its second generation. And while they're all mainstream offerings, they're not true direct competitors. JASON KAVANAGH: Today, we're going to explore the differences and similarities among these three popular EVs. Well, the Tesla Model 3 has a lot of power, actually. I mean, there's no complaints that I have with the acceleration in this. And like all EVs, it has that instant torque. You can punch around cars on the freeway pretty much instantly. I mean, you dip your foot down on the accelerator, and there's just an instant reaction from the car. That's one of the things that EVs and in particular, the Tesla does really well. DAN EDMUNDS: One of the things I like about the Bolt is it's quick. I'm just rolling into the throttle, not really laying into it hard at all. And it's up to speed and in a short order. And I am having no problem getting around folks. People think these things are golf carts. Uh-uh. CALVIN KIM: The Nissan LEAF has what sounds like a low number-- 146 horsepower. But it's the torque that really gives it the beans. It's got about 236, possibly the torque. Don't quote me on that. But 236 is a lot for a small car like this. The car weighs about 3,500 pounds. So it's well in line. I mean, basically, it'd be equivalent to a bigger engine in a compact car. Needless to say, acceleration is easy and brisk. JASON KAVANAGH: Well, compared to the Bolt or the LEAF, the Tesla Model 3 is definitely the most powerful. It's the most capable. It's also the most expensive. It's also the only rear-wheel drive EV of the three. The other two are front-wheel drive. And that affects the driving dynamics in a beneficial way for the Model 3. The Model 3 has the best steering and handling of the bunch by far. It's just a more grown-up feeling car in the way it goes down the road. The steering feel is really good. It corners flat. It picks up its speed well over bumps. In terms of steering and handling, the other two don't touch the Tesla Model 3. DAN EDMUNDS: The Bolt handles great. I mean, you wouldn't think so to look at it. It's tall and skinny. But the battery pack is low and underneath the floor, so that keeps the center of gravity low. And that makes it feel more like a go-cart than an SUV or something like that. The steering is also nicely weighted. It's immediate, but not darty. It's just what you want to kind of maneuver around in traffic. JASON KAVANAGH: Now, the range in the Model 3 is kind of its trump card. We got the long-range version, which has a 310-mile max range in normal mode, which is what Tesla recommends you use on a day-to-day basis. This will do 279 miles, which is still really impressive. It's still more range than the other two. In fact, it's the longest range EV you could buy currently. CALVIN KIM: This face-lift of LEAF-- you get 150 miles of claimed range. Wonderfully for us, if you put it in ECO mode and enable e-Pedal, you can get a lot more than that. With our long-term LEAF, we've been able to drive it a little bit already. And we've routinely gotten over 150 miles with those features enabled. That's great news for commuters, especially those that drive a little bit longer distances. So they can go a week without charging. Now, for EV owners, the best way to do it is to charge every night. But, hey, if you're going to go visit a friend's house, or maybe go across town to hang out somewhere, it's nice to have that option. DAN EDMUNDS: The Model 3 has a higher range rating than this one. But I don't really think that at actual practice that would be the case. Because I've had a really hard time getting close to the Model 3's rating. And yet, with this car, which is rated at 238, I've gone 334. That's almost 100 miles more than the rating. And if I'm paying for more battery than I need, then that's a big part of the price of the car. And this car could be cheaper if it had a 150-mile range or a 175-mile range. CALVIN KIM: One of the best advantages of electric vehicles is the ability to regenerate, which is regenerative braking. That means you can use an electric motor that propels you to help slow you down. And one thing that they did very cleverly, though, is give you a switch right on the center console here called e-Pedal. And just by clicking the switch, you immediately engage that regenerative braking. Nissan says you can break as much as 2/10 of a "g," which doesn't sound like a lot, but from our testing, it's plenty. JASON KAVANAGH: And in the Model 3, the regenerative effect is strong. You can basically one-pedal drive this thing most of the time. DAN EDMUNDS: Now, the Bolt is especially good in this regard, better than I think any other car that you can buy, any other EV. Because when it's in drive, like it is now, I toggle using this here. When it's in drive, there's no regenerative braking. It's all pads and rotors, so the brake feels utterly natural. A lot of cars-- EVs and hybrids use something-- a computer that kind of decides whether it's going to be regenerative or brake pedal, based on demand. And so then the brakes feel weird. This never feels weird, indeed. And then when you put it in L, there's so much regenerative braking that the brake lights come on. And you can actually execute a stop all the way down to zero without ever touching the brake pedal. You just modulate the throttle. Compared to the Model 3 and the LEAF, I like the Bolt's setup much better. Click it into L. You've got all the regen you want. Put it in D. You've got the brake pedal feel you want, if you want that. The Model 3-- it's poke through the touchscreen. And the LEAF requires you to flip a switch, and you may not remember to do it. And it's not where you think it should be. This is really intuitive, really easy, and very effective. CALVIN KIM: Inside the Nissan LEAF, you'll find a pretty much traditional car. The materials are good. There's not a lot of busyness with the colors and design choices. We're in the top SL model, so the seats are this nice leather with microsuede inserts. The controls-- again, easy to use, well laid out. Again, it's more like a regular car, instead of maybe a science project, or a sci-fi set you'll find in some of the other EVs. DAN EDMUNDS: The one thing that really disappoints me more than anything else about the Chevy Bolt is the quality of the interior materials. It's just hard plastic which would be OK if it was attractive. But there's just a lot of weird lines. And this color scheme is kind of hard to take. I mean, I would trade away some battery capacity and range to get a better interior. I mean, it doesn't help that we've got the light-colored interior here. I think that really does not show it in its best light. A darker color might mask some of this stuff, even like the reflections of the dashtop or in the windshield. Everywhere I go at just about any light condition. And that's kind of annoying, because the visibility as a car is great otherwise. This car is probably the least well equipped of the three when it comes to active driver aids. It has a Lane Keeping Assist System. It has a Forward Collision warning, but it doesn't have Adaptive Cruise. It has nothing like Autopilot or Nissan's ProPILOT Assist. That's not bad because you're not paying for it. But at the same time, it does lag behind. And you couldn't get those things if you wanted them. JASON KAVANAGH: The design of the Model 3's interior is pretty unusual. There's not a whole lot of stuff in it. I mean, it's a wide-open space with a big touchscreen in the middle, and that's about it. I mean, you could even go and say that maybe this is a little generic looking. But what you can't say is that it's cluttered or crowded. It feels really breezy and airy in here. There's a lot of space. If you need anything, you have to go to the touchscreen. Or you've got a couple of controls on the steering wheel, and that's about it. A good amount of headroom for me. I'm over 6 feet tall. It does have this panoramic sunroof arrangement up here, which gives you a little bit extra headroom. Compared to the Bolt and the LEAF's interior, or the Model 3's cabin-- is definitely a departure. And some people really love it. And some people-- they're maybe going to have to warm up to it a little bit. In terms of material quality, the Model 3 does pretty well there. The seats are this synthetic leather, which feels pretty convincing, and looks like the real thing. There's this synthetic suede on the headliner and on the door panels. There's also this wood applique on the dashboard. Overall, the materials look pretty good at a glance. If you look closer at the Model 3, though, you'll notice some build quality issues here and there-- cheap plastics, things that don't fit quite right. We've had some issues with things falling off our car. But it is built to a higher price point, certainly than the Bolt or the LEAF is. CALVIN KIM: The Nissan LEAF is a hatchback which means, obviously, it's got a big hatch. A lot of interior cargo room with the seats folded up. The rear seats do fold 60/40. You'll find that once you do fold them up, there is a bit of a shelf from the seatback to the cargo floor. But I'd say that between its comp competitors, this general cargo area is very useful-- the low-loading height, and the nice, deep floor, and the tall ceiling height. So you can fit taller cargo, bulkier cargo in a little bit easier. DAN EDMUNDS: Of the three, the Bolt does have the least cargo-carrying capacity on paper. But it is very flexible, because of the way the seats fold, the way the floor can be set into two positions. And because you can put roof racks on it. JASON KAVANAGH: The Model 3 might look like a hatchback from the outside, but surprise, it's a sedan, which means it has a traditional sedan trunk. But that's no bad thing, because the Model 3's cargo space is pretty huge. Not only is the trunk really deep and a good width, there's extra bonus storage in the floor of the trunk and an additional trunk at the front of the car. So you're not hurting for cargo space at all in this. Another thing it has is a 60/40 folding backseat, which goes basically completely flat. You could sleep in the back of the Model 3 if you fold the seats down. That's how much space there is. CALVIN KIM: Compared to its competitors, the LEAF prices pretty well. Now, in this SL trim with the Pro-PILOT Assist and everything like that, that'll set you back a little over $37,000. That's a little bit less than the Bolt Obviously, a lot less than the Model 3. And the federal tax credit is still available for this car, so you can get out the door for a lot less than that. You do get a lot of car for your money. The biggest attractor, though, will be the range. Both the Bolt and the Tesla Model 3 have a lot more range than the LEAF does. Now, for those that are truly range conscious that really do want to go on longer trips, rumor has it that the Nissan LEAF-- bringing out a higher range LEAF next year-- one with a 60-kilowatt battery that cracks the 200 barrier. Even if you're on the fence about that, this standard range LEAF with 150 miles is nothing to sneeze at. DAN EDMUNDS: The thing about this car is you can buy it with a premium package, or you can get the lower-priced base model that does everything as far as the driving experience. It just doesn't have as many bells and whistles for a lot less money. The Model 3-- right now, the mythical $35,000 one doesn't exist. It's vaporware. Certainly, this is a lot less money than the Model 3. If the $35,000 one ever comes out, well, we may have to re-evaluate that. JASON KAVANAGH: When the Model 3 was launched, it was purported to be the $35,000 entry-level Tesla. While that might be the case, Tesla is not shipping the $35,000 variant of the Model 3. They're only shipping a long-range variance. And once you have even a bare minimum of options like this one-- I mean, this one's sticker price is $55,000. So we're in a totally different segment than the other two cars, which are substantially less expensive than this one. Tesla's Autopilot system makes Nissan Pro-PILOT Assist look like it's in diapers. And in a way, it is. It's Nissan's first attempt at a semi-autonomous driving mode, whereas Tesla has had several years now of real-world use of Autopilot. And they've accumulated a lot of data. With that said, it's not a perfect system. We've discovered some issues with it in the past. But the continual software updates are a means to address limitations, not just in Autopilot, but in any system in the car. So again, pros and cons with being at the leading edge of things. CALVIN KIM: Definitely one of the coolest features of the LEAF is Pro-PILOT Assist. Now, it's not an autonomous driving system. What it is, though, is a very, very connected driver-assist system. Now, just one button push on the steering wheel enables the system. And then to turn it on, you just activate your cruise control. Now, what that gives you is adaptive cruise control, which keeps the distance from ourselves and the car in front. It does lane centering to-- keeps the car in the center of the road. And it'll even bring you to a complete stop. It's not a self-driving car. All it's doing is just keeping it in the center and at a safe distance from the car in front. In an interesting twist of fate, this system actually works pretty darn good, even alongside the Tesla's Autopilot system. Now, the Tesla has the advantage of a GPS and a connected system, where it knows road conditions to a certain extent. The Nissan does not have that feature set. But considering the price premium that Autopilot has and that Tesla has, we believe Pro-PILOT is a fantastic addition to the Nissan LEAF. DAN EDMUNDS: The thing about the Bolt EV is while I like the way it drives, I'd trade some of its range for a nicer interior and better seats. JASON KAVANAGH: Yeah. And while the Model 3 is definitely the best driving, most capable EV here, you're going to pay for the privilege. The least expensive Model 3 you can get is $50,000. The $36,000 version just doesn't exist yet. CALVIN KIM: Speaking of price, that's the Nissan LEAF's forte. It's the least expensive. But it's also one of the more comfortable out of the three, which begs the question, which of these three EVs is the right one for you guys? DAN EDMUNDS: Well, for me, 151 miles of range is enough. And I do like those seats, so yeah, the LEAF. JASON KAVANAGH: Yeah. For me, the cost is the single overriding factor. And while I don't think the Nissan LEAF is necessarily the best driving one here, its price point is really attractive. So that's the one for me. CALVIN KIM: Well, we're unanimous. It's the LEAF for me also, thanks to its price and practicality. DAN EDMUNDS: But I do reserve the right to change my mind when the $36,000 Tesla Model 3 becomes available. For more videos, click Subscribe. [MUSIC PLAYING]
EV Comparison Test -- Chevy Bolt v. Nissan Leaf v. Tesla Model 3
As battery electric vehicles become an established part of our automotive landscape, we took this opportunity to put the three most popular EVs - Chevrolet's Bolt, Nissan's Leaf and Tesla's Model 3 - through testing to re-examine each model's strengths and weaknesses. As a group, how… have electric vehicles changed from when they first hit the road? Which is the best all-around EV? Watch to find out about the latest crop of battery electric cars.
2018 Model 3 Highlights
|EV Tax Credits & Rebates||$125|
|EPA Electric Range||260 miles|
|Cost to Drive||$48/month|
|Total Charging Time (240V)||10.0 hours|
|Cargo Capacity |
All Seats In Place
|Drivetrain||rear wheel drive|
|Warranty||4 years / 50,000 miles|
|EV Battery Warranty||8 years / 100,000 miles|
Our experts like the Model 3 models:
- Automatic Emergency Braking
- Warns if a front impact is imminent and applies the brakes if the driver doesn't respond in time.
- Active Cruise Control
- Maintains a set gap between you and the car you're following. It comes to a complete stop and resumes following, too.
- Lane Keeping Assist
- Warns if you are drifting out of your lane and will nudge the steering to get you back in line.
NHTSA Overall Rating5 out of 5 stars
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
- Frontal Barrier Crash RatingOverall5 / 5Driver5 / 5Passenger5 / 5
- Side Crash RatingOverall5 / 5
- Side Barrier RatingOverall5 / 5Driver5 / 5Passenger5 / 5
- Combined Side Barrier & Pole RatingsFront Seat5 / 5Back Seat5 / 5
- RolloverRollover5 / 5Dynamic Test ResultNo TipRisk Of Rollover6.6%