Now that Tesla has released the Tesla Model 3, available under $40,000, people who might not normally have considered a Tesla (due to their traditionally pricey vehicles) are now giving it considerable thought. If you fall into this category or have been thinking about getting a Tesla for some time now, you might be wondering if the Tesla Model 3 is worth the price.
So… is the Tesla Model 3 worth it? When taking into considering the many specs, features, and unique applications the Tesla Model 3 offers, in addition to its now lower price range (for a Tesla vehicle), it is our opinion that the Tesla Model 3 is well worth the money, as compared to other Tesla Models and similar luxury vehicles in this price range.
We compared the Tesla Model 3s price against what the car offers. We found the Tesla cars to be superior to other vehicles in a lot of ways – but most notably in the daily drive quality and the minimal costs of driving and maintaining a Model 3 compared to a standard gas-powered car.
Does a Tesla Match your Lifestyle?
The first thing to look at when considering getting a Tesla and whether or not it’s worth the money is whether or not this type of car will suit your lifestyle. Living in a rural or remote area that is far from a Tesla Supercharger, for example, might make for a frustrating car owner experience. Living in a big city where they are readily available and nearby will make charging a Tesla more convenient.
What do Tesla Cars offer that Others do Not?
Before we dive in deep to compare the Tesla Model 3 against rivaling Tesla models, it’s important you understand the key features that Tesla cars have across the board that make them a superior choice, when choosing between other brand named luxury vehicles.
- Electric Vehicle – Tesla offers an eco-friendly vehicle that also looks sleek and drives incredibly well. Unlike a gas vehicle, there are no gas emissions given off from a Tesla. It is a clean energy vehicle, and as consumer knowledge increases in regards to the environment, more people will begin to seek out this type of energy for their daily commute. Not only that, but having an all electric vehicle means no longer paying for gas!
- Advanced Driver Assist Mode – The autopilot mode in a Tesla vehicle is singular technology. It is lane centering capable, has adaptive cruise control, the ability to self-park, the ability to automatically change lanes upon surveying the surrounding traffic and the ability to be summoned. You can tell your car to come find you in a parking garage with a push of a button on the Tesla app.
- Automatic Vehicle Software Updates – No other car company can do this to the extent that Tesla can. No other car can improve its driving range via a simple software update. The Tesla Model 3 used to only be able to achieve 300 miles at full charge. Now, after a few software updates, it can go 319 miles at full charge. While that might not seem like a significant improvement to you, consider other standard gasoline vehicles. Can they magically improve their miles per gallon ratio? No, they cannot.
- Excellent Warranty – Tesla’s warranty is fantastic: an eight-year or 100,000-mile warranty. This is far better than most car companies. And most car companies do not offer the following feature:
- Tesla Mobile Rangers – One very cool thing Tesla does for its customers is providing mobile rangers that come to you, wherever you are, to fix certain small necessary repairs or software updates. The convenience of not having to bring your Tesla into a shop, but rather have someone come to you so that you can stay in the comfort of your own home is a big win in my book. In addition, the mobile rangers are a free service offered under Tesla’s warranty.
- The Tesla App – This app puts Tesla owners in communication with their cars, anytime from anywhere. From the app a Tesla owner can assess the overall status of their vehicle, including the current estimated mile range, whether a service is needed soon, or even whether any doors are open. From the app you can also use the ‘summon’ tool mentioned earlier in the advanced driver assist mode. It literally is as simple as pushing a button and instructing the vehicle whether it should drive forward or reverse from its current position.
You can also lock/unlock the car doors from the app (in case you are paranoid you left it unlocked). Within the app you can control the desired charge limit (whether you want the vehicle to charge 100% or only 80% as recommended by Tesla.) Climate control is another amazing feature in the Tesla app that allows you to control the internal temperature of the vehicle before you get in (so if you’re in a climate with extreme weather conditions, this will make your driving experience much more enjoyable.)
Another clever feature of the Tesla app is ‘valet mode.’ It allows a Tesla owner the ability to restrict access to the vehicle when handing the car over to valet. (Such restrictions include not showing any personal information on the touch screen console, locking the glove box compartment, and limiting the maximum speed the vehicle can achieve.)
A Side By Side Comparison of The Tesla Sedan Models
Now that we know Tesla vehicles have superior technology and features, let’s get down to the nitty gritty of which Tesla model stands out above the rest. Since we are specifically interested in figuring out whether the Tesla Model 3 is worth the money, we’ll give more priority and focus to the Tesla Model 3’s features as compared to the Model s and Model x.
To make the subtle differences more easily noticeable, we’ve created a side-by-side comparison table which shows each Tesla sedan model’s driveline, range output, acceleration, topside and baseline price:
|Model||Driveline||Range (miles)||0-60 Sec Acceleration||MPH Top Speed||Base Price|
|Model 3 Standard Range||Single motor, rear-wheel drive||240||5.3||140||$35,400|
|Model 3 Standard Range Plus||Dual motor, all-wheel drive||310||4.4||145||$39,990|
|Model 3 Long Range AWD||Dual motor, all-wheel drive||310||3.2||162||$49,990|
|Model 3 Long Range AWD Performance||Dual motor, all-wheel drive||310||3.2||162||$59,990|
|Model S Standard Range||Dual motor, all-wheel drive||285||4.0||155||$75,000|
|Model S Long Range||Dual motor, all-wheel drive||370||3.7||155||$85,000|
|Model S Performance||Dual motor, all-wheel drive||345||3.0||163||$96,000|
|Model S Performance LM||Dual motor, all-wheel drive||345||2.4||163||$116,000|
|Model X Standard Range||Dual motor, all-wheel drive||255||4.6||155||$81,000|
|Model X Long Range||Dual motor, all-wheel drive||325||4.4||155||$91,000|
|Model X Performance||Dual Motor, all-wheel drive||305||3.4||163||$102,000|
|Model X Performance LM||Dual motor, all-wheel drive||305||2.7||163||$122,000|
Tesla Model 3
The Tesla Model 3 is Tesla’s most cost-effective vehicle and also its most popular. In fact, Tesla received 200,000 deposits before the car was even officially available on the market. Currently, you can special order and wait for the Tesla Model 3 standard range for $34,500. However, if you don’t want to wait for your vehicle and go through this special ordering process (and don’t care much about saving $4,900), then you’d be looking at the Tesla Model 3 Standard Plus.
The Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus offers a 240-mile range, 0-60 acceleration in 5.3 seconds, and 140mph as the top speed range for $39,990.
The Tesla Model 3 Long Range offers 310-mile range, 0-60 acceleration in 4.4 sec (a wee bit faster), and a 145mph top speed. It is $10,000 more expensive than the Standard Range Plus at $49,990. The Long Range model also has the dual-motor, all-wheel drive. The interior is an upgrade, and the car has 14 speakers. Its premium connectivity provides you with satellite maps, live traffic views, audio streaming services, and an internet browser. The center console is a little more souped-up as well. And this model comes with LED fog lights.
The Tesla Model 3 Performance is even faster at 0-60 acceleration in 3.2 sec, a 162mph top speed, and comes fully loaded with sleek performance trim. This super speedy stylish Model 3 will bump you up to $59,990.
Tesla Model S
The Tesla Model S has been around since 2012, but recently got a facelift in 2016. Many Tesla fans think the five-door Model S needs some revamping. This isn’t likely to occur until all the necessary adjustments are made to the Model 3 cars, as they are in demand at the moment.
This sedan starts at $75,000, but the interior of the vehicle looks less like a luxury vehicle and more like a middle of the road vehicle that you’d pay $39,400 for. If you were to go for a Tesla Model S, you might as well do the $1,500 upgrade to get the nicer interior so that you feel you’re getting your money’s worth.
Some of the Tesla Model S’s coolest features are the HEPA air filters that supposedly block out viruses, nasty smells, and carbon fumes. It also comes loaded with a dope sound system, satellite radio, tush-toasters (or more popularly referred to as ‘heat seaters’), and even a heated steering wheel (fancy.)
Tesla Model X
This premium crossover made its great debut in 2015. The vehicle is unusual, touting Falcon Wing doors and a bizarre dance mode where the car doors lift, and its lights dance to your music. (You can watch proof of this here.) The car’s acceleration and top speed are compatible with the Model S. However, the car’s range is lower than the Model S. The Model X Performance LM starts around $81,000.
The coolest feature of the Model X is the optional third row of seats, making an otherwise sporty/flashy car into a potential family vehicle (you can drop your kids off feeling a little bit like The Jetsons.)
After Comparing the Tesla Model 3/Model S/Model X
The Tesla Model 3 is superior in price to both the Model S and Model X. While it is a simpler vehicle (no Batmobile style falcon wing doors) it functions as well as either the Model S and Model X. The Tesla Model 3 is in higher demand than the S and X models, so it may take longer to receive your Model 3. For the base model price at $35,400 the Tesla Model 3 is hard to beat. It still comes with the Tesla app and the sleek minimal interior with the middle touch screen console.
The mile range in the Tesla Model 3 is still decent at 240 miles. However, if mile range is the most important to you, then you might lean toward the Model S long range (since it’s range is 370 miles). But that extra 130 miles in range is going to cost you $84,000. That is a massive price difference. If $84,000 is too much for 130 more miles worth of range, you could opt for the Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus, which will give you 70 more miles in range (310 miles total) for only $39,000.
Pros and Cons of Owning a Tesla Model 3
Focusing in more on the Model 3’s specifications, let’s compare the pros and cons to help decide whether the Tesla Model 3 is really worth the money.
- Upfront Price – first and foremost is the low price of the Tesla Model 3 (starting at $35,400) and 240 miles worth of range.
- The Gas Money Savings – When comparing the price of charging a Tesla Model 3 vs paying for gas in a normal petrol vehicle, your yearly savings end up being roughly around $2,000 a year.
If you were to drive a gas car that gets 30MPG, at $2.75/gallon, you would be spending (roughly) $2,383 to drive 26,000 miles (or over the course of a year.)
If you consider the oil changes every 4,000 miles at $50 each, then that adds an additional $300 bringing you to a rough total of ($2,708) a year to maintain a standard gas vehicle.
- Minimal Interior – Unlike most vehicles on the market, the Tesla Model 3 has a very minimal interior. The console is essentially a thinner, larger, glorified iPad (or smaller computer) that controls all the features inside the car.
- Center Console Features – Instead of a wide, spread out analog meets digital console, the console is entirely based within the computer system of the car. Everything is touch screen, and easily accessible through the main menu.
- All Glass Roof – This feature is more than just a sunroof or a moon roof… it’s a ceiling made of glass. This might be one of the sleekest elements of the car. It lets in a lot of natural light, and since the back seats fold down, you can lean back and star-gaze. If you want to get cozy, you can turn the monitor in the front onto a fake fireplace setting. While this is not a feature one needs, it certainly is a bonus.
- Storage – Everywhere you look in the Tesla Model 3 there is storage! It has two trunks. Yes, two! One standard trunk located at the back of the vehicle and one frunk (def: front-trunk.) Since a Tesla does not require a gas engine, the front area where a standard car engine would be is free for the use of your personal storage needs.
- Minimal Maintenance – You will spend zero dollars on gas, zero dollars on oil changes, zero dollars on tire rotations, etc. Why? Because your Tesla doesn’t require most of these. And while a Tesla Model 3 does require tire rotations, these can be done for free at select body shops who offer it as a free service to electric vehicles. Yet another perk of owning a Tesla. So while the upfront cost may be unaffordable for a majority of people, the actual cost of owning a Tesla day today is virtually zero (minus some charging fees on your electricity bill, which are minimal). When you consider this, the upfront cost doesn’t seem so steep.
- Unmatchable NVH Standards – NVH stands for Noise Vibration Harshness. Electric vehicles are so silent, still, and gentle. The reason for this is because there is no engine. Therefore, you aren’t burning anything, so there are fewer vibrations and noise. When it comes to a Tesla, there truly is no comparison to a quiet and gentle ride. If you are annoyed by constant noise pollution, and you want a vehicle that helps reduce that, there is no better car. It’s unreal how quiet and smooth a drive the Tesla Model 3 is.
- Speed that Flies Under the Radar – Unlike a Mustang V8 that is super loud when going fast, the Tesla Model 3 will go as fast, without disturbing your neighbors. Not only that, but the accessibility of speed in this vehicle is unmatched. You can go as vast as a V8 engine, as quickly (or even quicker), but without the giant rumble of an angry engine.
- It Does Cost Money to Charge – There will be costs with charging due to having to pay for electricity. However, this number is still going to be relatively low compared to what you regularly pay for gas in a petrol vehicle. For one year, if you drove around 26,000 miles in your Tesla Model 3, using your at-home electricity and considering the times you pay for specific Tesla Super Charging stations, your total will be somewhere around $600 or less. That’s $50/month or less. Most people gas up their cars for anywhere between $30-60 a WEEK. Even considering this, many Tesla owners reported their electricity bill only went up to $30-$40 a month. That is NOT a significant number. That’s honestly incredible considering charging a full car each night only amounts to $35(ish) a month.
- The Added Cost of Installing in Home Chargers – If you do live in a rural area, you can install a Level 2 (240-volt) charger in your garage if there are no Superchargers nearby. However, a Level 2 charger costs between $500-$700, and the parts and labor to install will be anywhere for $1,200- $2,000. Alternatively, you can install a Level 1 charger which only costs $300-$600 to purchase and around $1,000-$1,700 to install. However, these 110-volt chargers only charge up to 5miles worth of range per hour of charging. Which means even a basic Model 3, which has a 220-mile threshold, would take up to 40 hours to fully recharge.
- Getting Used to Breaking Regeneration – One difference between driving a gas vehicle vs. an electric car is the noticeable difference between breaking and merely lifting your foot off the gas pedal. In a standard gas vehicle, when you lift your foot from the gas, the car will slowly begin to decrease in speed due to the lack of acceleration. However, in an electric vehicle like the Tesla Model 3, the car relies on breaking to regenerate the battery life. Therefore, when you lift your foot off the throttle, a Tesla decreases speed much quicker (almost like you’re braking) because the vehicle wants to conserve energy and regenerate the battery life.
- Poor Functioning Automatic Windshield Wipers – A number of Tesla Model 3 owners report that the auto function for the windshield wipers is not very effective. It would seem that Tesla should increase the sensitivity of the wipers as the typical complaint is that there is often a heavy amount of rain or mist on the windshield, which makes it difficult to see. Still, the auto-wipers do not kick in. It is a relatively easy fix on Tesla’s end, and people wonder why Tesla has not fixed this problem yet.
- Not only is it a safety concern for the auto-wipers to not kick in for the obvious reason that having anything on your windshield wiper that makes you unable to see is unsafe. It is dangerous because operating the wipers requires that you use the screen console to adjust them. In a traditional vehicle the windshield wiper toggles are directly behind the steering wheel so that you can flick them on by the feel of your hands, without ever even having to look at them.
- Wonky Customer Service – One would think when buying a premiere vehicle with superior technology, that the customer service would be outstanding. Like, the Nordstrom of cars. However, many customers have reported various issues during and after their buying experiences. One customer said having ordered a 2020 Tesla to be delivered before January 1 of 2020, because Tesla was giving tax breaks if you ordered before the new year (we’re talking $4,000 tax credit, which is no small amount). However, Tesla called to confirm the delivery. Because this customer was unavailable to pick up the phone and it went to voicemail, Tesla rescheduled his delivery from December 27 to January 14 – giving his Tesla to a different customer. Which meant this customer, who was relying on that tax credit, would not receive it.
- When he called Tesla to remedy this, they essentially said, “sorry, buddy, that’s tough luck.” Tesla essentially has a factory of vehicles ready to ship out. In their computer system, if someone misses even one call about their delivery, the system will give that car to the next person who will answer their phones. This seems like a very bizarre way of doing business, especially when that customer calls back a mere hours later to confirm the delivery… that’s not much of a grace period. The customer who reported this decided to cancel their order all together because the experience felt so irritating. In other words: Their scheduling algorithm leaves a lot to be desired.
- Brand Anxiety – Tesla is still such a new company, and some buyers are concerned as to whether Tesla will still be around in ten years. Unlike brands like Toyota, which have a longevity of history, Tesla does not have longitudinal proof of how their cars age. In fact, Toyota recently gave a customer a new vehicle for free, because that customer had driven their Toyota vehicle for over 250,000 miles. The car was so well taken care of that he could have continued driving it. Brands that have been around for a while have the luxury of proving their longevity, whereas Tesla is so new, it is not yet able to prove this. Thus, some people are hesitant to buy a fully electric car based purely on software, especially considering how often software needs to be updated continually. Some wonder if their electric car that runs of software act like a standard computer and just start malfunctioning one day?
- The Advanced Driver Assists Technology Is an Extra Cost – While the autopilot mode may be one of Tesla’s most brilliant and distinguishable features, it costs an additional $6,000 to include in the vehicle if you are purchasing only a standard model. Which means, if you are purchasing a Tesla Model 3 Standard Range vehicle t $35,400 but really want the autopilot option installed, you’d have to pay an additional $6,000. Putting you at $41,000 before tax. For some, this pushes them over their budget and makes a Tesla Model 3 no longer an affordable vehicle.
$40,000 is no small chunk of change. When asking whether or not spending $40,000 on a Tesla Model 3 is worth it, you have to consider the other things and experiences you could use that money to buy if you’re to gauge whether or not it’s actually worth your money.
With $40,000 you could do any of the following:
- Put yourself or a loved one through college
- You could put a down payment on a house
- You could afford to take your family on multiple memorable family vacations
- You could start a business and use that money as initial capital
- You could purchase a cheap car for $20,000 and have $20,000 in savings, which would allow you to live a more comfortable life style day-to-day (things like being able to go to dinner or going to see a movie without stress or worry.)
- You could afford a medical surgery or necessary medications, etc.
This is just a small example of what you could use your money for that you’d potentially put toward a Tesla Model 3.
The Key Take Away?
If you have the money and the means to buy a brand new vehicle, without it affecting the comfortability of your finances day-to-day, the Tesla Model 3 is an excellent choice of vehicle. You would save around $2,000 each year just by not owning a gas vehicle! For some, that ultimately lowers the upfront price of the Model 3 in their eyes (especially if you currently own a real gas guzzler). Even when comparing some of the minor annoyances some customers have experienced with their Tesla Model 3, we still believe the Tesla Model 3 is worth the money, if you have the money to spend.
Since the Model S and Model X do not have as many necessary features to justify spending $84,000, we’d still vote to purchase a Tesla Model 3 in comparison.
Owning a Tesla also reassures your environmental consciousness of your smarter, more eco-friendly choices (which in today’s climate crisis is actually very important).