Is the 2021 Tesla Model 3 a Good Car?
Yes, the 2021 Tesla Model 3 is a good car. It has one of the longest driving ranges of any vehicle in the luxury hybrid and electric car class, which should soothe range anxiety concerns. The rest of its performance is similarly impressive, with deft handling and lightning-like acceleration. Inside, this sedan sports a minimalist cabin design and a competitive cargo capacity. However, space in the rear seat is snug, and the large touch screen can be hard to use while driving.
Should I Buy the 2021 Tesla Model 3?
While the Model 3 is a great sedan, there are plenty of great electric cars worth considering. The Tesla Model S is significantly more expensive, but it’s also the only EV on the market to have a longer driving range, with more than 520 miles in some trims. There’s also the all-new Polestar 2, which is roomier than the Model 3 and has a more user-friendly infotainment system.
2020 vs. 2021 Tesla Model 3: What’s the Difference?
Unlike other automakers, Tesla doesn’t distinguish its vehicles by model year. Tesla sends out regular over-the-air software updates to add and improve various aspects of the car, including drive range and infotainment features. That said, there are a few distinctions. For 2021, the Model 3 gains a longer range, up to 13 miles in the Standard Range Plus trim and 31 miles in the Long Range trim. It also receives some cosmetic updates, such as a new wheel design, satin trim, and a restyled center console.
Here are some of the Model 3’s key changes since Tesla launched it as an all-new EV for 2018:
2019: Standard Range Plus trim debuted
2020: driving range increased
2021: driving range gets boost; exterior and interior styling receive refresh
If you’re considering an older model, be sure to read our 2018 Model 3, 2019 Model 3, and 2020 Model 3 reviews to help make your decision. Also, check out our Best New Car Deals and Best New Car Lease Deals pages to learn about savings and discounts you can find on new vehicles.
Tesla Model 3 Versus the Competition
Tesla Model 3 vs. Tesla Model S
The Tesla Model S is an excellent vehicle in our luxury hybrid and electric car rankings. It’s also a pricey one, costing more than $32,000 more than its smaller sibling. That money will get you almost 90 miles more driving range, as well as more cargo room, a larger touch screen, and quicker acceleration. Some Model S’s can even eclipse 520 miles of range. If you want a more budget-friendly EV, stick with the Model 3. Otherwise, the Model S is a better choice.
Tesla Model 3 vs. Tesla Model Y
The Tesla Model Y is essentially an SUV variant of the Model 3, with its hatchback design allowing for a larger cargo hold. You’ll get more than 300 miles of driving range in every Model Y trim, but each is slightly less than in the comparable Model 3 trim. The Model Y is also a few thousand dollars more expensive to buy. In most other respects, these vehicles are similar, so choosing between them is a matter of preference.
Model 3 Interior: One Screen to Rule Them All
Model 3 Cargo Space
With 15 cubic feet of space, the Model 3’s trunk is decently sized for the class. Add in the split-folding rear seats, and it becomes possible to carry large or bulky items, such as a bicycle. Tesla also uses the space where an engine would go as a kind of front trunk, or frunk. The lithium-ion battery pack is located under the floor and doesn’t impede on cargo space.
How Many People Does the Model 3 Seat?
Up to five people can sit in this car. The cabin is airy, with excellent visibility, and there’s plenty of head- and legroom up front. Reviews of the back-seat space are mixed, with some critics saying there’s a decent amount and others noting that adults will feel confined.
Model 3 and Child Car Seats
There are two complete sets of LATCH connectors for the rear outboard seats and a tether anchor for the rear middle seat. Other than the lower anchors being set deeply in the seats, the setup is easy to use.
Model 3 Interior Quality
The Tesla Model 3 has a simple, minimalist interior that is handsome, upscale, and distinct from most other cars on the market. There aren’t any buttons or knobs on the dash, as everything is controlled via the massive touch screen.
Model 3 Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation
Just about everything in this vehicle is controlled by the touch screen, including adjusting the mirrors and turning on the windshield wipers. Its sheer size and crisp graphics are pluses, but having so many functions buried in its submenus can make the interface hard to use. This car has native apps for streaming services like Spotify, but there’s no smartphone integration beyond Bluetooth, meaning features such as Apple CarPlay or Android Auto are absent.
Model 3 Performance: Quick, Like Lightning
Model 3 Powertrain
Tesla doesn’t distinguish its models by horsepower or kilowatt-hours, nor does it have gas engines measured by displacement. Each trim gets its own electric motor, and all of them are powerful. Instant torque lets you launch from a stop, and acceleration comes rapidly.
Model 3 MPGe
The Long Range gets an EPA-rated 141 MPG-equivalent in the city and 127 MPGe on the highway, and the Performance trim gets an estimated 118 MPGe in the city and 107 MPGe on the highway. The mechanically similar 2020 Standard Range Plus gets 148/132 MPGe. Those ratings are outstanding, easily surpassing every hybrid in the class, as well as many other EVs.
What Is the Driving Range of the Tesla Model 3?
According to the EPA, the all-electric range is 315 miles for the Model 3 Performance and 353 miles for the Long Range. There are no EPA estimates for the base model, but Tesla claims it gets up to 263 miles.
How Do You Charge the Model 3?
A 32-amp onboard charger is standard, and a 48-amp charger comes with the Performance and Long Range models. Regardless of trim, this EV has a 20-foot cord that can connect to a 120-volt household-style power outlet. An available adapter lets owners use a 240-volt outlet with a mobile connector. A home charging station offered by Tesla or third-party companies is an option too.
While on the road, you can charge quickly using one of Tesla’s Supercharger stations. Also included is an adapter for J1772 charging stations, and there’s an available adapter for CHAdeMO stations.
How Long Does It Take to Charge the Tesla Model 3?
While you can recharge the Model 3’s battery at home with a 120-volt power outlet, doing so can take between five hours and four days, as it adds approximately 3 miles of range per hour. With a 240-volt outlet, or Tesla’s Wall Connector, that time can be reduced to about 10 or 11 hours. You’ll get 30 to 44 miles per hour, which can essentially recharge the battery overnight.
For a faster charge time, consider one of Tesla’s Supercharger stations, which can add 175 miles of range in 15 minutes. Many of these stations are located near shops or restaurants, and Tesla offers a premium connectivity plan that lets drivers watch streaming services like Netflix while parked. You can also play games using the touch screen or steering wheel while the car charges.
Where Can I Charge the Tesla Model 3?
You can charge this EV at home with a 120- or 240-volt power outlet or Tesla’s home charging station. Alternatively, you can use an adapter with a public charging station or one of Tesla’s 20,000-plus Supercharger stations.
How Long Will the Tesla Model 3’s Battery Last?
Because numerous conditions affect the life of a battery, it can be hard to provide a firm answer for how long it will last. However, it is estimated that a Tesla battery can last for between 300,000 and 500,000 miles. To maximize battery life, Tesla recommends keeping it plugged in to charge when you’re not planning on driving.
Model 3 Ride and Handling
Precise steering and a sporty suspension help this vehicle handle like a sports sedan. It’s fun to drive, but while its ride is comfortable, it may be a bit firmer than some luxury car shoppers would want. The regenerative brakes operate smoothly, which is not a given among EVs.
How Fast Is the Model 3?
The base Model 3 can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds and has a top speed of 140 mph. Long Range models get there in 4.2 seconds with a top speed of 145 mph, and the Performance has a scorching 3.1-second acceleration time and can reach up to 162 mph.
Is the Model 3 Available with All-Wheel Drive?
Yes. Both the Long Range and Performance come standard with Tesla’s dual-motor all-wheel-drive system.
Is the 2021 Tesla Model 3 a Good Car?