We compare a 2019 Tesla Model 3 to a brand-new 2021 Model 3 and find Tesla made twenty-five changes. While most refer to the 2021 Model 3 as a "mild refresh", twenty-five changes is a pretty substantial amount, so we explain each one of them in the video above.
The biggest change to the appearance is the redesign of the center console, which is number 10 on our list and can be seen at 8:46 in the video. The new console now has a matte gray finish and replaces the piano black surface that many Model 3 owners complained about. The console storage area also has a new lid that slides open instead of the previous one that flipped up and was at times difficult to close.
There are also now two wireless charging pads as standard equipment - number 11 on the list at 9:13, which we're sure won't make Model 3 aftermarket wireless charging pad sellers too happy. The side cushions of the center console now have accent stitching,(#12 @9:21) which is a mild change but gives the console a more custom look.
Jump directly to the 25 changes in the video:
- @1:32 New Aero Wheels & Cover
- @2:50 Chrome Delete
- @3:15 Smaller Frunk
- @3:35 Hood Easier To Close
- @4:12 Double Pane Glass On Front Windows
- @5:23 New Trunk Gasket
- @5:53 Automatic Opening & Closing Trunk
- @7:27 New Headlights
- @8:02 Trunk Opens 3” Less Than Before
- @8:46 Center Console Redesign
- @9:13 Wireless Charging Pads
- @9:21 Accent Stitching On Console Trim
- @9:38 Armrest Tray No Longer Included
- @9:56 USB-C Ports Replace USB-A In Center Console
- @10:34 Formatted USB Drive Included & Mounted In Glove Box
- @11:27 USB-C Ports replace USB-A In Rear Seating area
- @11:35 Metal Scroll Wheel On Steering Wheel
- @11:59 Graphite Colored Paint Used On Power Seat Controls
- @12:12 Magnetic Sun Visor Clips
- @12:32 New Graphic On Door Release Buttons
- @13:12 Heated Steering Wheel (*Edit: I think I got this one wrong)
- @13:54 Heat Pump System
- @15:25 Improved Battery Cells / More Capacity
- @16:25 Increased Range
- @17:21 Improved Efficiency
*Edit: #21 is the heated steering wheel. After talking with a few Model 3 owners, I believe I got that one wrong. I'm replacing it with a change that I missed:
For 2021 the TPS sensors for the Model 3 & Y are now BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy). Previous model years are RF (radio frequency). You can only get them from Tesla and cost $75 ea.
However, the biggest improvements are those that cannot be seen. Tesla also added the heat pump system that they use in the Model Y to the new Model 3. That's a huge improvement because it was one of the few areas where the Model 3 trailed behind some of the competition.
We recently posted a video review by Tesla Bjorn that demonstrated how much more energy-efficient the heat pump system is and it was substantially better than the previous resistive-heating system.
Gallery: 2021 Tesla Model 3 refresh changes
Another major improvement is the range (#24 on the list @16:25). The combination of the more energy-dense 2170 battery cells, the heat pump system, and other improvements in efficiency bumped the Model 3's range up from 322 miles per charge to 353 miles.
However, it's not all good news. There is one negative we had to discuss (@6:30) because it seems like an issue that developed as a result of the new automatic opening & closing trunk. The trunk lid, where it continues up the c-pillar on the left side of the vehicle, is drastically out of alignment.
This goes beyond complaining about panel gaps which vary from vehicle to vehicle. The issue seems to be a consistent problem with all of the 2021 Model 3s that we've seen, and there are also a bunch of YouTube videos in which owners are complaining about it already. We've scheduled an appointment with Tesla service later this month to correct it and will update this post once we've had the service visit.
So check out the video and let us know what you think. Did we miss anything? Are you as impressed with the 2021 Model 3 refresh as we are? It seems like a lot of improvements, and considering Tesla has lowered the price of the Model 3 is now a better time than ever to buy one? Or perhaps you believe the Model Y is still a better option because of the added utility it offers.
As always, let us know in the comment section below.