2018 Tesla Model 3 Review

2018 Tesla Model 3
List price
$45,807
2018 Tesla Model 3

Pros & Cons

  • 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
Tesla Model 3 years
2021
Upcoming
2018
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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.

Edmunds' Expert Review

Overall rating

8.4 / 10

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.

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.

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.

Trim tested

The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the Tesla Model 3 Long Range (electric motor | direct drive | RWD).

Driving

8.5
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.

Acceleration

8.0
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.

Braking

8.0
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.

Steering

9.0
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.

Handling

8.0
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.

Drivability

10.0
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.

Comfort

9.0
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.

Seat comfort

9.0
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.

Ride comfort

7.5
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 & vibration

9.0
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.

Climate control

9.0
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.

Interior

8.0
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 use

5.0
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 out

8.0
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.

Driving position

9.5
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.

Roominess

8.5
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.

Visibility

9.0
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.

Quality

6.5
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.

Utility

8.5
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.

Small-item storage

8.0
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.

Cargo space

9.5
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 accommodation

7.5
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.

Technology

7.0
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 & navigation

8.0
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.

Smartphone integration

4.5
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.

Driver aids

9.0
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.

Voice control

5.5
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.

EdmundsScorecard

Overall8.4 / 10
Driving8.5
Comfort9.0
Interior8.0
Utility8.5
Technology7.0

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2018 Tesla Model 3.

Trending topics in reviews

Most helpful consumer reviews

Best. Car. Ever!
Kevin,12/13/2018
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.
Good value
SKP,08/07/2018
Long Range 4dr Sedan (electric DD)
Driven 15K miles in 1 yr. So far 1 tire rotation visit to TESLA service center. Great car!
I have a supercar for under $70,000 ?
NIck,12/06/2018
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!
Silver Bullet - 2018 TESLA Model 3
Scott T,07/24/2018
Long Range 4dr Sedan (electric DD)
It is just a great car that happens to be electric. 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!

Features & Specs

MPGe
136 city / 123 hwy
EPA kWh/100 mi
26
EPA Electricity Range
310 mi.
EPA Time to Charge Battery (at 240V)
10.0 hr.
MPGe
120 city / 112 hwy
EPA kWh/100 mi
29
EPA Electricity Range
310 mi.
EPA Time to Charge Battery (at 240V)
10.0 hr.
MPGe
120 city / 112 hwy
EPA kWh/100 mi
29
EPA Electricity Range
310 mi.
EPA Time to Charge Battery (at 240V)
10.0 hr.
MPGe
128 city / 117 hwy
EPA kWh/100 mi
27
EPA Electricity Range
264 mi.
EPA Time to Charge Battery (at 240V)
10.0 hr.
See all Used 2018 Tesla Model 3 features & specs

Safety

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 Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    Overall5 / 5
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    Overall5 / 5
  • Side Barrier Rating
    Overall5 / 5
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front Seat5 / 5
    Back Seat5 / 5
  • Rollover
    Rollover5 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of Rollover6.6%

More about the 2018 Tesla Model 3
Used 2018 Tesla Model 3 Overview

The Used 2018 Tesla Model 3 is offered in the following submodels: Model 3 Sedan. Available styles include Long Range 4dr Sedan (electric DD), Long Range 4dr Sedan AWD (electric DD), Performance 4dr Sedan AWD (electric DD), and Mid Range 4dr Sedan (electric DD).

What's a good price on a Used 2018 Tesla Model 3?

Price comparisons for Used 2018 Tesla Model 3 trim styles:

  • The Used 2018 Tesla Model 3 Performance is priced between $45,807 and$45,807 with odometer readings between 15386 and15386 miles.

Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.

Which used 2018 Tesla Model 3s are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2018 Tesla Model 3 for sale near. There are currently 1 used and CPO 2018 Model 3s listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $45,807 and mileage as low as 15386 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2018 Tesla Model 3.

Can't find a used 2018 Tesla Model 3s you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Tesla Model 3 for sale - 3 great deals out of 14 listings starting at $16,717.

Find a used Tesla for sale - 10 great deals out of 19 listings starting at $21,529.

Find a used certified pre-owned Tesla Model 3 for sale - 4 great deals out of 15 listings starting at $23,970.

Find a used certified pre-owned Tesla for sale - 2 great deals out of 10 listings starting at $14,067.

Should I lease or buy a 2018 Tesla Model 3?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

Check out Tesla lease specials
Check out Tesla Model 3 lease specials