2018 Tesla Model 3 Review
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
List Price Range
$45,000 - $49,000
Used Model 3 for SaleSee all for sale
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
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
|Overall||8.4 / 10|
Most helpful consumer reviews
Long Range 4dr Sedan (electric DD)
Driven 15K miles in 1 yr. So far 1 tire rotation visit to TESLA service center. Great car!
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.
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!
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
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.