When Tesla launched the Model 3, it promised an affordable, well-equipped electric car with a 220-mile range and a price tag under $35,000. The 2019 Tesla Model 3 comes close to that promise, minus the overly optimistic price. But, for around $40,000, customers can get into a rear-wheel drive (RWD) Model 3 with a 240-mile range, a 5.3-second 0-to-60 mph time and a top speed of 140 mph. Roughly the same size as the Audi A5 Sportback, the Model 3 offers room for five, although four is a more comfortable fit. In typical Tesla fashion, the Model 3 is loaded with high-tech innovations, such as a single large display screen with internet capability through which all functions are operated. An available semi-autonomous driving mode upgrade includes a summons feature that lets you call your Model 3 from its parking space via a smartphone. On the downside, the Model 3 isn’t big on rear seat space or comfort, the single-screen control panel and enhanced Autopilot features both require too much driver attention to operate and supply and build quality issues are yet to be fully resolved.
What’s New for 2019?
The standard model gets a bit more range and slightly lower base price, while the enhanced Autopilot option is scheduled to get more features added later in the year. See the 2019 Tesla Model 3 models for sale near you
What We Like
- Up to 310-mile driving range
- Fast acceleration
- Good crash test scores
- Most affordable car in the Tesla lineup
What We Don’t
- Everything in one screen can be distracting for the driver
- No Apple CarPlay or Android Auto
- Second-row seat comfort
- No Insane or Ludicrous Mode
As the Model 3 is powered solely by electricity, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a different measurement for its range calculated under the MPGe standard. The 2019 Model 3 Standard Plus earns a 123 MPGe rating, meaning that on a single charge, it can travel 240 miles. The Long Range and Performance models bump the distance up to 310 miles. Charging with a conventional 110-volt outlet isn’t really practical, as it produces only about two miles of range per hour of charging, which would literally take days. Using a 240-volt charger reduces that time to between eight and 12 hours depending on the type of charger, but at a Tesla Supercharging station, that time drops to about an hour and a half for a complete charge from empty. In the real world, most people won’t need a full charge, so getting roughly 180 miles worth of juice at a Tesla Supercharging station should take about 15-20 minutes.
Standard Features & Options
The 2019 Model 3 comes in three trims: Standard Plus, Long Range and Performance. Tesla talks about a lower price Standard trim, but at the time of this review it exists nowhere on their consumer site. Tesla’s pricing uses some backhanded ways of dropping the price, basically calculating gas savings and possible local tax breaks into the price. We’ve listed the list price without the possible discounts. Because Tesla has now exceeded the government’s 200,000 models sales quota, the $7,500 federal tax credit for the Model 3 no longer applies. The tax credit for the first half of 2019 shrinks to $3,750, and then again to $1,875 in the second half of the year.
The Model 3 Standard Plus ($39,500) comes with RWD, Autopilot (automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, blind spot monitoring), heated 12-way adjustable power front seats, an immersive sound audio system, standard maps and navigation, fog lights, Wi-Fi and LTE connectivity, keyless entry, a dual-zone automatic climate control, black paint, 18-in wheels, a 15-in center control screen, power windows, power locks, auto dimming power folding heated side mirrors, Bluetooth, app-based key for entry and some car functions, a rear camera, a tinted glass panel roof and eight airbags. Options include paint colors other than black ($1,000, $1,500 or $2,000 depending on color) and the enhanced Autopilot system with full self-driving capabilities for $5,000.
The Model 3 Long Range ($49,500) adds a longer driving range (310 versus 240 miles) and a slightly faster 0-to-60 mph time (4.5 seconds versus 5.3 seconds) and dual-motor all-wheel drive (AWD). Also on board is the Premium interior that adds heated front and rear seats, 14-speaker Premium audio with subwoofer and two amps, satellite-view maps with live traffic visualization, in-car internet music streaming, an internet browser, LED fog lamps, a location-aware garage door opener, four USB ports and docking for two smartphones.
The Model 3 Performance ($61,500) brings an even faster 0-to-60 mph time of 3.2 seconds, plus 20-in performance wheels, a lowered suspension, performance brakes, a carbon fiber spoiler, a Track mode and an increased top speed of 162 mph.
The Model 3 warranty covers 8-year/unlimited on the battery and drive unit, while the rest of the car comes with a 4-year/50,000-mile limited warranty.
In addition to its numerous safety features, which include a super strong frame cage, forward emergency braking, a blind zone alert, lane-departure warning, electronic traction and stability control and eight airbags, the Tesla Model 3 can also tout a 5-star government crash test rating. The fully autonomous driving mode can help reduce fatigue and avoid accidents, but as of now, it still requires you to keep a hand on the wheel and your eyes on the 15-in touch screen.
Behind the Wheel
Given its nearly 4,000-lb weight, the 2019 Tesla Model 3 displays an impressive ability to sprint from 0-to-60 mph in just over five seconds. Opt for the Performance model and that time drops to about 3 seconds. Beyond its blistering speed, the Model 3 handles quite well for an electric car. There are various settings for steering feedback, but we found the standard setting less sensitive than the Sport setting and more communicative than the Comfort mode. Braking is also quite good, and Tesla will periodically upload software updates to improve anti-lock braking, acceleration and other programmable features, which is a nice perk.
The Model 3’s front seats are comfortable and form fitting, and there’s good legroom and headroom too. In the back, two occupants can fit comfortably, providing their legs are not too long. The wide flat floor helps with foot room, and the glass panel roof gives up a few more inches of headroom. Storage areas are numerous throughout the cabin, with a 15-cu ft cargo bay with additional storage under the load floor. Up front, there’s a small cargo hold where an engine usually resides, providing even more storage. The rear seats are of the 60/40 split folding variety.
Other Cars to Consider
2019 Nissan Leaf — The Nissan Leaf can’t quite go the distance compared to the Model 3, but its 226-mile range isn’t bad, and the Leaf’s base price along with the $7,500 federal tax credit undercuts the Model 3’s bottom line buy a good bit. The Leaf also offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
2019 Chevrolet Bolt— The Bolt also costs less than the Model 3, qualifies for the reduced federal tax credit and has a range of 238 miles. However, for the money, the Model 3 offers way more tech and advanced features, available AWD and much faster acceleration. The Bolt also offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
2019 Kia Niro EV — The Niro EV isn’t as luxurious, fast or impressive as the Model 3, but it also isn’t nearly as expensive. With 239 miles of range, the Niro comes closest to the Model 3’s range of any electric vehicle (EV). It can’t drive itself, but it does come with an impressive warranty, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Used Tesla Model X — If you can’t swing a loaded Model 3, try looking at an older version of the larger Model X. The Model X first arrived in 2015, and older models had a bit less range and power, but many of the same features as the new one. The 2015 Model X 60D was the least expensive version, with only a 200-mile range.
For its added range and upgraded feature set, we’d go with the Long Range model, then toss in the enhanced Autopilot self-driving upgrade just for good measure. The Performance model is nice, and you won’t sacrifice any additional range, but can you really tell the difference between 4.5 and 3.2 seconds? Find a Tesla Model 3 for sale