How to Choose the Right Tesla Model for You


How to Choose the Right Tesla Model for You

Choosing the right Tesla model can be challenging just because there are so many great features to choose from. Some models are better for commuting, while others are better for long weekend rides. Whether you need something for yourself or for the whole family, there’s a Tesla model out there for you.

So, how do you choose the right Tesla model for you? To choose the right Tesla model for you, compare the features and performance abilities on each model carefully. Make sure that the model you choose matches your needs and exceeds your standards to ensure that you don’t end up with a model that falls short of your expectations!

Before you jump into model comparisons, it helps to look at customer reviews. These are the key to finding quirks and hidden gems in each model of Tesla you’re considering, so make sure to read at least a few for each model before making your final decision. After all, a Tesla is an investment in the environment, your comfort, and the future of the car industry.

What are the Tesla Models Currently Available?

As of writing this, there are currently four Tesla models available, with two more on the way. Each model has unique features that appeal to a variety of needs of common consumers. From small, compact commuters to a seven-seat sport utility vehicle, Tesla offers something for everyone.

Model S

The model S is essentially the basic commuter Tesla, but it certainly isn’t a vehicle to be taken for granted. According to Business Insider, Tesla sold 7,225 of these in 2019, which is competitive with the Chevrolet Bolt EV and the Nissan Leaf in the electric car industry. 

The Model S features a compact sedan design with four doors and 28 cubic feet of wiggle room. It also comes with a driver display and an additional 17-inch display, which makes programming and navigation smooth and simple. With all-wheel drive, this model is especially useful in bad weather conditions and comes with Tesla’s autopilot function.

Model 3

A lengthy step up from the Model S is the Model 3. This four-door hatchback sedan was the best-selling electric vehicle in 2019, selling 67,650 units. The Model 3 has many attractive features that put it at the top of the market.

A 15-inch touch screen display and expansive glass roof give this car its luxurious feel. It features dual-motor all-wheel drive, which is why the Model 3 is labeled the fastest accelerating Tesla in the lineup thus far. It has a sleek design, 20-inch customizable wheels, and, like all Teslas, comes in five gorgeous colors that highlight the perfect body lines.

Model X

The Model X is the perfect family car. Seating seven passengers, this car’s back seats come with falcon doors, which makes loading up even easier. Rated for NHTSA 5-star safety, the Model X provides comfort and versatility for the entire family. 

Although this car may look similar to a standard sport utility vehicle, it comes with all the bells and whistles. 88 cubic feet hold a 17-inch expansive touchscreen display, encased in the front with the industry’s largest all-glass panoramic windshield. Built around functionality and performance, the Model X is peerless atop its 20 – 22-inch wheels.

Model Y

At last, a utility sedan. This model is a game-changer in the electric vehicle (and the sedan) market. It comes with a traction control feature that allows the car to operate smoothly and with excellent control in the rain, snow, mud, and dirt. Unlike most sedans, the 66 cubic feet provides a lot of cargo room.

The Model Y, like the Model X, holds up to seven passengers with its optional third-row seating. It also shares the expansive glass roof with UV protection, protecting passengers and the interior. It comes with a 15-inch touch screen display, dual-motor all-wheel drive, and 20-inch performance wheels.

Model SModel 3Model XModel Y
DriveAll-Wheel DriveRear-Wheel DriveAll-Wheel DriveDual Motor All-Wheel Drive
Acceleration2.4 Seconds to 603.2 Seconds to 602.7 Seconds to 603.5 Seconds to 60
Range348 Miles310 Miles328 Miles300 Miles
Seating5 People5 People7 People7 People

*All specs are based on the Performance package of every model compared. Click here for more specs.

Pricing and Value of Tesla Cars

As most everyone knows, Teslas aren’t exactly pocket change. This doesn’t change the fact that once you’ve factored in the value you’re getting with the car, for most people, a Tesla is worth every last penny. From top-grade steel construction to all-leather interiors, Teslas hold their value well and make a great investment toward environmentally friendly practices.

A major financial advantage of Teslas (at least in the past) has been that buyers can earn an electric vehicle tax credit in the year that the vehicle is purchased. Back when Teslas were introduced, this tax credit was $7,000, but in the years since it was introduced, this tax credit has been rolled back and reduced until it currently sits at $1,850 until March 2020. 

The purpose of this tax credit is to incentivize the use of alternative energy and encourage people to buy electric cars. But even if you miss the window to receive this tax credit, the money saved in gas alone makes Teslas an excellent choice for thrifty drivers.

Although Teslas tend to be more spendy up-front than an average commuter vehicle, the value of each model is apparent in their unique features and capabilities. Here is a list of the base price of each current Tesla model as displayed by www.tesla.com in January 2020 for the Performance (mid-range) package:

  • Model S: $94,490
  • Model 3: $52,690
  • Model X: $79,690
  • Model Y: $43,700

These prices reflect new (never owned) models, but used prices of previous models are comparable. Teslas appear to hold their value not only as luxury cars but also as the future of the automotive industry. While most cars on the market today depreciate quickly, the future of Tesla is nothing but bright.

If the price is a major factor in making a decision on which Tesla to buy, different packages can be purchased with each car that can make a difference in how much you ultimately pay. Cost shifts considerably between the base models and top-of-the-line cars, so perhaps choosing a Tesla in a base model can help the decision-making process a bit easier.

Performance of Tesla Cars

Many internal-combustion lovers doubt the capabilities of an all-electric car, but the hard truth is that a Tesla is the most powerful electric car on the market, with incredible acceleration times and extremely high top speeds. Each Tesla model’s performance capabilities differ, though different packages change these statistics.

To provide an accurate comparison between each model, here are some specs provided by www.tesla.com:

  • Model S: The Model S can accelerate from 0 to 60 miles per hour in just 2.4 seconds—an astonishing feat for an electric car. This car has a top speed of 162 miles per hour.
  • Model 3: The Model 3 has an acceleration of 3.2 seconds—that’s 0 to 60 miles per hour. This model tops out at 162 miles per hour as well.
  • Model X: The Model X is voted the fastest SUV, reaching 60 miles per hour from 0 in just 2.7 seconds. Surprisingly enough, this SUV has a top speed of 163 miles per hour.
  • Model Y: The Model Y is quick for its sedan-SUV crossover design at 3.4 seconds from 0 to 60 miles per hour. It has a top speed of 150 miles per hour.

These modern Tesla models all fall within close proximity to one another performance-wise, but once again, the ultimate performance of the vehicle depending on which performance package you choose. If you’re choosing a Tesla based on performance, the Model S is the way to go

Features of Tesla Cars

Each Tesla comes with its own unique features, but there are a few that are consistent in every model. Choosing a Tesla based on its features might be tricky because of this, so it might be best to keep other attributes in mind as well when comparing the models.

Here’s what comes with every Tesla model:

  • Autopilot. Every new Tesla model comes with an autopilot function based on 
    12 ultrasonic sensors that allow the vehicle to drive for you. This function is particularly nice for long drives and tiring commutes to work.
  • Electric Powertrain. The electric powertrain in Tesla vehicles is universal. The powertrain gives the cars their low point of gravity, making them easy to handle and safer than most of the competing industry.
  • Supercharging. This one is fairly obvious since electric cars need to charge. The beauty of supercharging is that a single fifteen-minute charge “fills up the tank.”
  • Displays. Although the size of the display differs from model to model, each Tesla comes with a 15 – 17-inch touchscreen display.
  • Parallel Parking. Tesla cars can parallel park themselves.  That’s right! No more hitting the curb trying to squeeze into a spot.
  • Five Color Choices. Tesla produces its recent models in only five different colors- while this might be a bummer for some, the colors that are offered are exclusive to Tesla and give the cars a superior look.
  • Leather Interior. Leather comes as a standard in all Tesla models, which can be customized per the model. Color options include white, black, and tan. With the leather comes wood décor, which adds elegant flair to the design. The color of the wood décor depends upon which color of leather is chosen.

Features vary only minimally beyond this point, but models can be customized using a car-building tool on the website. Depending on the model, the wheels and number of seats can also be customized. This helps to bend barriers when choosing which model to buy, especially for families.

Despite the fact that it only offers a small number of models in comparison to longer-running brands, the amount of customization in appearance and performance for each Tesla is a large part of why they are so appealing to the public. The technological bells and whistles don’t hurt either. 

The Versatility of Tesla Cars

Teslas are the king of the automotive industry as far as versatility is concerned. Aside from the obvious versatility provided by the autopilot systems, the model with the most versatility is most certainly the Model X. A full-on standard utility vehicle (SUV), the Model X features third-row seating, falcon-wing doors, and best-in-class storage. It is comparable to all other SUVs in its size class in performance, but still has that futuristic Tesla charm. 

With both style and seating, a Tesla performs as both a futuristic display vehicle that holds its own aesthetically as well as a practical mode of transportation. 

The unique feature of versatility that the Model X possesses is the capacity for a second trunk. As unbelievable as this sounds, the Model X, if customized to feature only one motor, has extra space. This is due to the elimination of not only a second motor (making this particular model rear-wheel drive) but also all the engine components of a regular car.

In addition to this second trunk, the first and second row seats of the Model X also fold down, making room for luggage, sports gear, and anything else that a smaller Tesla wouldn’t normally be capable of.

Tesla Post-Purchase Services

Along with all the technologies offered in each model itself, Tesla also has a robust system for post-purchase automotive service. Tesla is a very specialized make still, and as a result, they can only be repaired by Tesla-certified mechanics and software diagnosticians. Naturally, this can be a bit of a challenge when they break down since they are still relatively uncommon.

Because their cars operate off a digital interface, Tesla’s technical support is able to fix many problems with vehicle operation remotely through the car’s network, in the same way IT in an office can remotely take over and repair a desktop computer. To take advantage of this sort of remote reboot, Tesla owners only need to contact Tesla’s technical support. 

For those mechanical and software problems that can’t be fixed remotely, Tesla also offers a remote technician service, where a Tesla repairman will actually make an appointment to come out to your house and diagnosis the vehicle without you having to take it to a shop. This is a vital service since many Tesla owners do not live near a Tesla service center.

A major challenge for Tesla has been trying to keep their cars maintained and serviced since there are currently not enough service centers and certified collision repair centers for Tesla to go around, but this is a post-purchase service issue that will be resolved as time goes on and more Tesla service centers become available. 

All Tesla owners, whether they choose a performance or standard model, can take advantage of Tesla post-purchase services to help keep their new electric vehicle in tip-top shape. 

Want a Tesla on a Tight Budget?

If you have a tight budget but still want to enjoy the perks of owning a Tesla, the Model X is the car for you. The Standard Range Plus package comes to $35,690 before tax and add-ons, so you can still experience the joys of switching to an electric car or simply upgrading from a hybrid.

The Model X Standard Range Plus has a range of 250 miles, which still allows for considerable drive time between each charge. Its top speed is 140 miles per hour, which is still much faster than most other electric cars on the market. It can reach 60 miles per hour from 0 in 5.3 seconds and is very customizable.

While Teslas can be expensive to purchase up-front (even just test-driving a Tesla can put you out a few thousand dollars in service fees and insurance if you end up not purchasing it), the money they can save you over an extended amount of time makes them a valuable vehicle. 

In a historical period of increasing gasoline costs, owning a Tesla can actually help you trim your monthly budget by reducing the amount of money you spend having to commute. Those people who own electric vehicles are largely insulated from this major cost-of-living expense moving forward into the twenty-first century. 

The Best Tesla for a Weekend Ride

Everybody needs a weekend ride that adds some flair and finesse upon arrival. Whether you like to cruise long, winding roads, or just go out on the town, the Tesla Model S takes the cake. This model is equipped for long rides with a low point of gravity, so it handles twists and turns on those long roads with ease. 

Another great car for a nice, relaxing weekend road trip is the Model Y. The dual-motor all-wheel drive is a must for any terrain, and the seven-person seating allows for family and friends to tag along. If you need some extra space for your outdoor adventures, simply fold down the seats and load up the fun.

Best Tesla for Commuters

When it comes to commuting to work, Tesla pretty much has it covered. However, there are some cars in the industry that stand out as good commuter cars, and the case still holds true within the Tesla market.

Perhaps the best commuter model is the Model S. Small and compact with a super-quick acceleration time, this model is sure to waste no time speeding up from the countless number of stoplights on your way to work that you gave up trying to count. The 348-mile range makes it easy to commute back and forth without having to constantly charge.

The Model X is also a great commuter for the family. Spacious storage and seven-person seating make it easy to get everyone where they need to be in the morning without a hassle. The falcon-wing doors make for a smooth load-up every day, preventing squished fingers and door dings in the parking lot.

Best Tesla for Cold Weather

If you live in an area that experiences cold, snowy winters, then your car needs to more than fast and sleek looking. Anyone who has ever gotten stuck in the snow or skidded through slush knows that winter can be a challenging time for drivers.

You’re going to want a model that has all-wheel drive. Tesla has a long list of recommendations for keeping your car going in the wintertime, including the addition of snow tires or chains and anti-ice window treatments, but these are available for all models. 

They also offer a preconditioning feature that will prepare your Tesla for you before you get to your car, similar to a remote start, but it is a bit more robust when used with the “scheduled ride” feature and will even defrost your charge port.

Charging and Convenience of Tesla Cars

Charging is where choosing the right Tesla model might get tricky. All Tesla models are equipped to be charged at home, so you can leave the house with a full charge every day. Some Tesla models come with complimentary charging at the widespread Tesla supercharging stations, but others require payment for each charge.

For convenience, complimentary charging at charging stations might be the icing on the cake. The Model S, no matter which package you choose, comes with this feature, as does the Model X. The Model 3, on the other hand, is pay per use all the way around, as well as the Model Y.

Every Tesla model comes with a home charger, which is included in the price of the car. All chargers are 11.5 kW. On average, 300 miles of go costs about $13 in electricity- depending upon the price of gas in your area, that is huge savings over the price of gas. You can do that math with the fuel cost calculator at www.tesla.com.

There are 1,804 supercharger stations, totaling 15,911 superchargers total across the United States. Chargers are placed conveniently in cities, along highways, and in parking lots across the country. Even remote destinations are bound to have a supercharger within reach. Charging convenience is essential to any electric car, but all Tesla models are chargeable this way.

Models Worth Waiting For

Tesla has two models in the works that are sure to get the world’s attention. If you’re thinking about buying a Tesla, these models might make you want to wait to make that big purchase.

Roadster

The all-new Tesla Roadster may not yet be released, but it’s already setting records. Labeled the world’s fastest car, the Tesla Roadster has some amazing capabilities- such as reaching 60 miles per hour from a dead stop in 1.9 seconds flat. This record-setting acceleration is paired with a top speed of over 250 miles per hour, with a groundbreaking range of 620 miles.

At a base price of $200,000, this car is for the speed lover, and less of a family-get-around daily driver, although it still manages to seat four. This model can also be purchased in a Founder’s Edition, costing $50,000 more at $250,000. The record-setting electric supercar is well worth the price to committed car-a-holics.

Its sleek design is modeled for the most effective aerodynamics in the industry and the world. The lightweight glass roof is removable and fits nicely in the trunk- a feature that turns this car from a powerful machine to a weekend cruiser in seconds. 

The Tesla Roadster is scheduled to be released in late 2020, or early in 2021 at the latest.

Cybertruck

The Tesla Cybertruck is not just another truck with an electric motor tacked on. It is an entirely new species. With its crazy-futuristic design full of metal and lines, the Cybertruck brings a whole new cyberpunk aesthetic to the Tesla line. With an estimated starting price of $39,900 and expanding up to $69,900 for all the bells and whistles, the Cybertruck has a reasonable price for what you get.

The Cybertruck is built to last—and by last, they mean outlast—anything and everything that could happen to a truck. The unique exoskeleton is made from thirty-times cold-rolled steel and Tesla armor glass. This ultra-hard material will make any potential dent seem like a careless worry. The Cybertruck also features 100 cubic feet of lockable storage. 

The Cybertruck is customizable up to three motors and a full self-driving feature, but more features will be released as the model nears its estimated production date in 2022. With these three motors, however, the Cybertruck can reach 60 miles per hour in less than 2.9 seconds and keep driving for over 500 miles.

No matter which model of Tesla you choose, it is hard to make a bad choice. Most people find that they are happy with the model they select, and the main concerns tend to be budget. If you can afford the super high performing Model X, it is worth the price tag, but the less expensive models are not likely to disappoint.

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Greg

Hi, I'm Greg. My daily driver is a Tesla Model 3 Performance. I've learned a ton about Teslas from hands-on experience and this is the site where I share everything I've learned.

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