The long-awaited Car and Driver Tesla Model 3 Long Range instrumented test is here and it's not quite as positive as some other mainstream reviews.

The negativity toward the Model 3 is fortunately not about the car itself, at least not mostly. Instead, Car and Driver used its instrumented test story to bring more public light to what it believes are Tesla's false promises and shortcomings.

Related: Tesla Model 3 Mainstream Media Review Roundup

The review begins with a concise list of overall pros and cons:


Tesla Model 3 Instrumented Test

Satisfying handling, impressive tech integration, looks and feels like the future.


Not the price we were promised, not the range we were hoping for, the questionable build quality we’ve learned to expect.

The Tesla Model 3 that CEO Elon Musk promised - the "inexpensive, mass-market" vehicle, which many people likely put their deposit down on in hopes of dropping its price further with the $7,500 federal EV tax rebate -  is not here, and won't be for some time.

By the time it does arrive, the rebate may be gone, or at least reduced. This does not rub C&D the right way.

In addition to the above issue, Tesla has made the $5,000 Premium Upgrades package mandatory on the current Long Range Model 3. This variant of the car starts at $49,000, a far cry from the promised $35,000 small sedan.

The takeaway points from C&D's test drive, in terms of instrumented testing and how the Model 3 performs, are largely summed up in a single graph, which we've presented in condensed form below:

The car we tested rode on the base 18-inch tires, which means workaday 235/45R-18 Michelin Primacy MXM4 all-season rubber. As such, the chassis test numbers—a 176-foot stop from 70 mph and 0.84 g around the skidpad—were unremarkable, even by mainstream-family-sedan standards.

...the electric motor still provided a decent if not eye-opening shove as it propelled the car from zero to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds—just a smidge quicker than the Audi A4 and the BMW 330i, which both have turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-fours. That acceleration rate suggests that the Tesla puts out more than the quoted 221 horsepower.

Push the Model 3 a bit closer to its handling limits, as we did on our 10Best loop, and the tires give up early and understeer becomes the predominant dynamic trait.

The car that C&D tested has an MSRP of $56,000, due to the addition of the $5,000 Enhanced Autopilot feature, the $1,000 paint color (any color other than black), and the $1,000 destination fee. With all of that being said, what did they think of the car itself?
Tesla Model 3 Instrumented Test

Car and Driver's notable takeaways:

  • Solid and satisfying if not pushed past 7/10 of its capabilities
  • Pushed to its handling limits, the tires give up and understeer is predominant
  • No one-pedal driving - Regen is not strong enough and lacks adjustability
  • Chassis tests were "unremarkable, even by mainstream-family-sedan standards"
  • Acceleration is impressive, but it's not Ludicrous
  • Lots of road noise at high speeds
  • Cabin rattles and creaks
  • The calculated range was about 200 miles (not EPA 310), though it was cold outside
  • The 15-inch touchscreen is beautiful, responsive, well-organized, good graphics
  • Having everything controlled by the screen is problematic and confusing
  • You get used to the screen quickly, and useful information is in plain view
  • The minimalistic interior works for what its worth and saves money
  • Lots of interior storage space
  • Rear seats are adequate, but result in a "knees into their chests" position
  • Interior quality was void of any obvious finish issues
  • Exterior fit and finish was among the worst they've seen lately
In the end, Car and Driver seems saddened that the Model 3 could have been so much more had it not been such a hurried process. If Tesla wasn't forced to make so many, so fast, the potential could have led to something truly special. The publication concludes:

As much as Tesla has achieved here in creating a nicely integrated, capable, and relatively fun entry-luxury EV, we’re still left waiting—along with all those hopeful would-be owners—for the Model 3 to change the world.

Gallery: Tesla Model 3 Instrumented Test

Source: Car And Driver

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