EV Review: 2018 Tesla Model 3
It’s been years since Elon Musk first mentioned a fully-electric car designed for the mainstream automotive market. When the Tesla Model S sedan and the Model X falcon-wing SUV hit the market, it was clear they weren’t the answer. But in the summer of 2017, Tesla finally began delivering their mainstream electric car to the masses.
Unfortunately for Musk and Tesla Motors, they were no longer first to the party, and the market was no longer cornered. Other cars like the Chevrolet Bolt EV, the Hyundai IONIQ Electric, and to a lesser degree, the BMW i3, have already begun enticing those who may have even put a deposit on a Model 3. So, the Tesla Model 3 would need to be the best fully-electric car available.
It’s a truly amazing car, especially for the entry-level price of $35,000. The acceleration it offers is 5.6 seconds from zero to 60 mph, and its electric motor is the equivalent of 258 horsepower. It’s way short of the Tesla Model S, but it’s also a third of the price.
But what about the competition? The 2018 Tesla Model 3 is probably the best-looking of the bunch and is offered by a car company that’s dedicated exclusively to EVs (and space travel). That’s a big plus, but Chevrolet beat the Model 3 to the market with the Chevrolet Bolt EV, AND it has a longer 238-mile range. Yet, if Tesla can keep up with demand, the Model 3 could be the best mass-produced EV to date.
With the 2018 Tesla Model 3, you might be expecting a midsize or full-size car. In reality, it’s smaller. It’s about the size of a Honda Civic sedan, but that’s not a bad thing. Despite being a compact sedan, it looks very much like a Tesla – sans a front grille, a shapely hood like a Jaguar, and a svelte profile like an Infiniti.
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An upsweep towards the shortened trunk gives the Model 3 a coupe-like look, and it runs on stunning 18-inch wheels as standard and offers optional 19-inch wheels. LED fog lamps and a tinted glass roof are available in the Premium Upgrades Package for an extra few thousand dollars.
Like other Tesla models, the Model 3 is built to high standards. Body gaps are minimal, the car feels solid, the interior material quality is premium even though the base is fabric, and it’s well laid out. Standard options include a 15-inch (yes, 15-inch!!) touchscreen display, dual-zone climate control, onboard navigation, Wi-Fi and LTE internet connectivity, a backup camera, and one-touch power windows at all four corners. For its entry-level price of $35,000 before tax rebates, that sounds like a fantastic value.
Tesla gets a little silly with the Model 3 in terms of the interior and equipment options, however. If you choose the Premium Upgrades Package, you receive premium heated seating and cabin materials throughout including open-pore wood trim, power adjustable seats, steering wheel, and side mirrors, upgraded sounds system, the tinted glass roof, and a few other goodies. It’s a $5,000 add-on. But it doesn’t end there. Get the Model 3’s Enhanced Autopilot system for entry-level hands-free driving (another $5,000) and get the Full Self-Driving Capability for another $3,000 (but it’s not an active feature yet). That pushes the Tesla Model 3 very close to the $50,000 mark – the long-range model is well over.
Unfortunately, only a couple hundred Tesla Model 3 sedans have made it to customers so far, so the driving experience is assumed rather than first-hand. But the assumptions are quite promising. The 2018 Tesla Model 3 is the most powerful mass-market EV so far with its 258-hp electric motor. The next closest is the Chevrolet Bolt EV, and it’s only 200-hp. There’s a stark difference in performance also, which means any driving enthusiast can certainly be expected to lean towards Tesla’s Model 3 instead of the Chevy.
Tesla hasn’t been good about timelines, but they’re great about developing cars that handle well. The Model 3 uses double-wishbone front suspension with coil over twin-tube shocks in the front and independent multi-link suspension in the rear. Whether cornering, braking, or accelerating, the 2018 Model Tesla 3 will hold fast to the ground.
Rounding out the driving experience is the range and charging. The 200-mile range is short of the 238 miles the Bolt EV can handle, yet its well within the normal range of the average American driver. As well, it’s capable of supercharging (at an extra cost) and you can add up to 30 miles of range per hour it’s plugged into your level-2 charger. That’s another huge plus for the Model 3.
|Electric Range||220 miles / 356 km|
|Total Range||220 miles / 356 km|
|Time to Charge||4 hours (Level 2)|
|Electric Motor||192 kW|
|Battery Capacity||50 kWh|
|Top Speed||140 mph / 225 km/h|
|Warranty||4 years / 50,000 miles or 80,000 km|
The 2018 Tesla Model 3 was the benchmark EV even before it hit the market, so it has a lot to live up to. With its limited number of cars delivered so far, it looks like it could very well meet expectations. You’d be hard-pressed to find another electric car that can achieve the performance, style, and comfort of the Tesla Model 3 at its low price point.
The use of the Model 3 is widespread. It’s going to be popular for middle-class families, business people, and company cars, as well as for the tech-savvy and environmentally-conscious car shopper with a slightly above-average budget.