By Josh Teder
December 17th 2018
The Tesla Model 3 may very well be the most important car of our time. With it’s release, the Model 3 users in a new era of affordability around electric vehicles, accompanied with the sales and scale never seen before for an EV. After owning one now for over 6 months, it’s time to dive deep and determine if the Model 3 has lived up to the hype in this extended review. We’ll take a look at which core features have been the most important, what issues we’ve had with the car thus far, and what could be improved with the car. So stick around because this is 6 Months Later, Tesla Edition.
The first day I got my Model 3, all I could think about doing was throwing up. I was about to get the car of my dreams, the car I stood in line for to put money down sight unseen. Every time I was in a new city I always went to their Tesla store to see the cars and imagine what it would be like to own one. To actually become a Tesla owner seemed like a dream, it was surreal. Was I going to wreck it? Was not going to live up to the hype? A million questions were running through my head as I signed the paperwork, which took like 5 min, in stark contrast to what most experience at a car dealership.
Signing that paperwork was the first experience I had with Tesla where I knew what people said about Tesla, was going to end up being true for my experience. Tesla was a different company, they were going to do things differently, but more importantly, how they should be done. My first day of ownership was more about the car, not about the paperwork. Most of the time at the Tesla store was spent on an overview of the car and it’s features.
Looking back on that first day of ownership now, I was right to be nervous and filled with excitement. This car has matched and exceeded almost every expectation I had for it. To say it’s a great car is an understatement. In my book it’s the best car in it’s price range. So what makes the Model 3 so good? Let’s dive in.
First the looks, the car simply looks stunning. The design language is clearly Tesla and it makes people turn heads everywhere you go. They’ve done a good job making a great looking electric car, which is something almost no other car manufacture has been able to do at scale up until this point. It doesn’t look like a weird-mobile. It also doesn’t look like an ordinary car, which lets be honest, if you’re going to get people to switch over to electric, you need to make the car that looks like something people desire. Tesla gets that and has excelled at that with it’s design language.
The grill-less front, angry headlights, sharper lines that run the length of the car towards the hips, all work in tandem to make the Model 3 look aggressive, but not too aggressive.
The interior is just as stunning as the exterior and also turns a few heads with how sparse, clean, and simple it looks. It’s also quite practical. I love the storage space and phone dock as well as the USB ports up front. Going to the Model 3’s interior from any other car that has a ton of buttons and gauges is like going from a phone with a physical keyboard to an iPhone. And once you go to this experience, you’ll never want to go back.
Now when the Model 3 first was announced, having one screen in the center of the dash without anything behind the steering wheel caused a bit of an uproar in the Tesla community and in the media. How will you ever see the speed? Is that even safe? So after 6 Months of owning the car, was all of that discussion and concern valid? Nope. It wasn’t.
Not having a screen or guage in front is you is actually pretty freeing. Tesla was able to make the steering wheel smaller, allowing for better grip and ergonomics. Thanks to it’s nifty vent design technology, you can actually push air through the steering wheel at your face, which on a hot summer day has been a very welcome feature.
Looking over at the top left corner of the screen to read the speed only took me a couple of hours to get used to and now that I’m used to it, I can’t say it’s any different than having the speed behind the steering wheel. It’s just not an issue, plus, the car also comes with an option speed chime, which I actually use a lot. You can set the car to chime when you approach a certain miles or kilometers per hour number over the current speed limit, giving you a gentle reminder to let your foot off the accelerator pedal before you get a ticket you speeding maniac.
Some people would probably find this chime annoying but I highly recommend setting it when you first get the car if you’re not used to how a Tesla accelerates. I found it hard to figure out how fast the car was going when I first got it without looking at the speedometer, so the chime certainly helps.
Ergonomics is something Tesla thought a lot about with the Model 3’s interior design, and honestly, I think its a much better design than the current Model S. The cupholders are where they should be, the arm rests on the console and doors are very comfortable and my arms never get soar. The seats are also one of the most comfortable seats I’ve ever sat in in a car. I’ve taken this car on 6 hour road trips and never felt soar, which is something I’ve never experienced before in a car.
Another nice thing about the interior, especially on long trips is the premium sound system. It’s crisp, has a nice bass, and one of the best sounding car speaker systems I’ve ever experienced and has become one of my absolute favorite features of the car.
Maintenance of the interior has been minimal, and thankfully pretty much everything is easy to clean. The seats are easy to clean also pretty durable, thanks to their vegan leather material. For cleanings the floors and mats, I use a small vacuum cleaner that plugs into the A/C outlet in the center console to clean the car wherever I am. One area of the interior that doesn’t hold up, however, is the piano black finish on the console. It scratches so easily, even if you try to take extra precautions when interacting with it.
Now onto driving the Tesla Model 3. After 6 Months, the thing I still can’t get over is the electric torque this thing produces. It’s quick, and the non-performance version for me has been plenty fast in day-to-day situations where I’m not trying to show off to friends. Its basically like Elon has said, the Model 3 is like owning your own personal roller coaster. Even after 6 Months of ownership, I still feel good every time I punch it.
What powers that great instant acceleration is of course the model 3’s electric motors and battery. Having an electric car for over 6 months has taught me a lot and also appreciate having one way more than I thought I would. I start every morning with the equivalent with a full tank of gas. I also never have to go to a gas station, which I don’t miss at all. Especially during times when people were freaking out about an incoming hurricane this summer and gas stations were running out of gas, I didn’t have to panic at all, I was good.
The only downside I have found with owning an electric car over the past 6 months is with road trips. No matter how you look at it, it typically will take you longer to drive an electric car on a trip than a gas car because of the limits on the car’s range as well as the time it takes to charge.
Now there are some ways you can mitigate the extra time on road trips and one thing I did on the several road trips I took this year in the Tesla was to plan my charging stops around meals, so by the time I was done eating, I was good to go onto the next charging stop or end destination. The upsides of driving a Tesla however, far outweigh the downsides on road trips. You get that instant tork, a comfortable interior and ride and the awesome software on the screen that makes driving a Tesla such a unique experience.
The software on the Model 3 is incredible, especially the fact that my car, just like my phone, get’s regular software updates. And these aren’t just bug fixes and minor tweaks, sometimes you get major features added to your car that you never had before. In my experience, I’ve gotten several new features since taking delivery including:
- New version of Autopilot with 360º view on center display.
- Blind spot visualization on the center screen
- Dashcam feature
- Auto High beams
- Better regen breaking intensity
For someone who doesn’t have autopilot on their Tesla, having the visualization of all the cars around my Model 3 is still a very useful safety feature. Overall, everything on the screen in the center of the dash is pretty good. Tesla has stepped backwards with a few small things in certain updates like moving the recirculated air icon to the far side of the screen, but overall most of the updates they’ve made have vastly improved the user interface.
The software is snappy and responsive, very different from my experience on previous Model S cars I’ve test driven. The navigation is hands-down one of the most useful things I’ve come to love about my Model 3. It’s easy to navigate anywhere, and you can just swipe down the navigate bar for either going to home or work. The live traffic built in is a godsend. If you’re on a familiar route and you don’t have navigation turned on, the life traffic visualization will help alert you to tricky spots before you get into a situation you can’t get out of and then you’re stuck in a traffic nightmare.
The live traffic is also built into the navigation and will route you on the fastest route, which in my testing has been equal to the experience I get with Google Map’s routing.
Safety is another area where the Model 3 has held up over the past 6 months. It’s been given one of the highest ratings ever given to a vehicle here in the US by the government and I’ve already had some experience with it’s safety features including the forward collision warning which has saved me from accidentally running into a car once. I’ve also experienced the side-collision avoidance system and it works as advertised. I had a truck come into my lane and before I had time to react the Tesla moved into the other lane, avoiding the truck while sounding an alert sound.
Now let’s move onto reliability. I put out a video early-on into my ownership of the Model 3 and it proved to be a bit controversial with all of the issues I had. Most of them were minor issues: the charge port door sensor wasn’t working correctly so the entire charge port door assembly was replaced, the driver’s side windshield wiper was loose and scraped the underside of the hood and caused a chunk of the wiper to fall off, the hood wasn’t aligned properly.
Tesla fixed all of these early issues, however, when they realigned the hood, they scratched the paint in several cases, causing my car to have to go to a body shop for repair and repaint. When the car came back from the body shop the steering wheel had scratches on it, so then that had to be replaced.
The only other issues I’ve had more recently are the center armrest squeaks when you pull it back to reach the storage compartment underneath and the rubber part above the wood panel dash is discolored in parts, which a passenger pointed out to me. Also, a few days before I shot this video a metal piece fell out from the charge port door. It’s part of the system that recognizes when the door is closed, looks like the adhesive Tesla used for it doesn’t hold up very well in the colder temperatures.
Now, while these issues sound like a lot, and sure, it’s been a longish list, to me, it doesn’t feel like it’s been a big deal. Tesla has taken care of everything. The treatment I’ve received at the service center in Raleigh has been great and the amount of time my car has spent in the shop over the past 6 months is maybe 2 weeks. However, during those two weeks, I got a loaner Model S, usually a performance version, so while I missed my 3, at the same time, I loved getting to drive an even faster car.
While on the subject of things that didn’t go correctly with my Model 3, let’s talk about some of the things that I think could be improved with the car, because there are some that I do think are important to address.
The largest area in the Tesla Model 3 and all Teslas for that matter that needs to be improved is the music services available. The cars come free with Slacker, which is fine, but it’s no where near as good as Spotify or Google Play’s algorithms. It often will play the same songs from an artist rather than the newer stuff, probably since those cost more to stream and it’s radio stations just aren’t as good as Google Play, Spotify’s or Apple Music’s. An Integration with any of the major streaming services would be a welcome addition.
Another area of improvement Tesla could focus on with the 3 is the windshield wipers. The way the windshield wiper fluid sprays onto the car doesn’t spray evenly and doesn’t hit all vertical areas of the windshield, causing the wiper arms to not have any fluid in parts when they wipe across to clean the windshield, not cleaning the windshield effectively. Also, the auto wiper mode has been inconsistent, though has gotten a lot better in the past few months. It still doesn’t work well at night though, which makes sense given Telsa is using the autopilot cameras to sense the rain.
While the aerodynamics of the car are extraordinary, one consequence of that is that dirt seems to collect at the back of the car a lot more than anywhere else around the car, but at more of a rate than I was used to from other cars, which makes sense given how water comes down the back glass and drips down the lip of the hood and deposits dirt in that area.
Some other improvements I think could be made to the car are: a more scratch resistant black finish on the console, and a manual release for the two front doors that is less accessible so passengers don’t instinctively pull it first before pressing the button to get out of the car. With the 3, you’ll need to explain to passengers as soon as they get into the car how the doors work and remind them before they exit or they’ll likely pull the latch which can potentially damage the door seals.
With all of these improvements and minor issues I’ve had with my Model 3, I’m still in love with this car and don’t regret my purchase for a second. What Elon, Franz JB and all the other Telsa teams have done with this car is nothing short of extraordinary. Once you get a Model 3, you’ll never want to drive any other car, and that’s certainly how I still feel after 6 months of owning one. b
Thanks so much for watching this video, if you liked this video, give us a thumbs up and subscribe to the channel for more Tesla videos like this one including videos about taking the Model 3 on a road trip and the Autopilot experience of the Model 3. Thanks again for watching, I’m Josh Teder for 6 Months Later.