Why You Shouldn’t Buy The $35K Tesla Model 3


…and why we think it’s still a valid choice.

The $35,000 Standard range Tesla Model 3 is finally available to order. The question now becomes, “should you?”

If you are Erik, of DÆrik YouTube channel fame, you shouldn’t. Not, of course, that he thinks you should refrain from buying the mid-size sedan if you want it. He just thinks the next variant up is a better deal. Besides laying out the reasoning behind his opinion in the video above, he also goes over the feature set within the entire range of Model 3, that now numbers six.

The TeslaTuber’s argument basically boils down to the fact that, for a mere $2,000 more, buyers could get the Standard Plus version. He does make a good point, and it’s one that Elon Musk himself raised in a tweet (embedded below), though the Tesla CEO also adds the $3,000 Autopilot option to that mix. The ADAS (advanced driver assist system) suite now includes “Autosteer,” along with traffic aware cruise control, which comes in addition to standard emergency braking, collision warning, and blind-spot monitoring.

While we think Erik and Elon make good points we, as writers, are extremely price-sensitive and so have a slightly different opinion. We actually like the cloth seats and don’t mind having to adjust them manually. Heck, if there were an option for manual roll-up windows, we’d choose those to save a few bucks. That’s not to say we’d get the $35,000 version either, though.

We like the idea of doing a bit of road tripping, and so shelling out the extra dough for basic Autopilot makes sense. After all, as Erik says, if you are already writing a check (or taking out a loan) for 35 grand, a few extra K is likely doable. Of course, your mileage may vary, so if you go with the bare bones package, we won’t judge. We’ll just be happy you went electric.

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132 Comments on "Why You Shouldn’t Buy The $35K Tesla Model 3"

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The $35k seems by a good margin the best bang for the buck.
Per example paying $5000 for the premium packet doesn’t seem a great deal. The same about the red paint, …

When I bought my car, the PUP included the glass roof, rear USB ports, and driver profiles. At the time, PUP was required and seemed like a no-brainer even if it was an option. The premium audio system, vegan seats, heated rear seats, power seats, wood dash, alcantara trim, phone dock, covered storage, fog lights, and glass roof was a compelling package.

Glass roof is coming with the car

Yes, but that’s a change. Originally there was to be a “steel roof” version, altho still with a huge windshield and huge rear window, so the steel roof would only have been about 1/4 of the area of the top of the cabin, or even less.

That was always assumed but I don’t think it was ever explicitly stated. Premium often listed UV tinted glass roof. And people assumed that meant base would’nt have it.

Exactly. As well

I thought it would have a still roof but it doesn’t say on the specs

Ron Swanson's Mustache

Stupid question: Is there any information on how well the glass roof holds up to a hail storm?

I can’t help but displaying an evil grin every time I hear “vegan seats”.

Ron Swanson's Mustache

Are they made from actual vegans?

5000 gets you premium AND MidRange battery (260 instead of 220miles).

Those extra 40 miles of AER make roadtripping a lot easier, especially in winter.

I don’t road trip in the winter. I’ll take the explorer or fly since people don’t know how to drive in wet white stuff

We used to always talk about how Tesla’s 85KWh buyers would get back the extra they spent above the 60KWh. They did. If it’s about “TCO”, the lowest price isn’t always the best way to go!

Good point.

Again: Concepts like “best bang for the buck” for a complex, expensive product like a car are highly specific to the individual consumer’s circumstances. My “best” isn’t your “best”, and all that.

In this case, I could easily imagine someone who REALLY wants not just a new car and not just an EV but a Tesla, but can barely afford $35k, making it a good option for him or her.

In all sincerity, I suggest people peruse an intro to microeconomics text and see what it says about utility functions and utility maximization.

Just as I showed last week, the Standard Plus (20 miles more range)with Autopilot. Seriously, why buy a Tesla without Autopilot?? But I would have to change the wheels and a color other than black….like Red!. Which puts me at $44k and everything I want. And can still get the Full Self Driving when that makes sense years down the road.

Then again, someone could buy the Standard and upgrade to Autopilot later…for $4k instead of $3k. Ouch!

Don’t want Autopilot

You mean you actually LIKE driving?
The horror!

Yes. I do like driving. Only cruise control on more then 3 hrs on the road and in the country interstates

Who doesn’t like driving should just call a cab, use AMTRAK or fly -regardless of EV or ICE. Just my 2 cents

I’ve driven multiple Tesla’s and I don’t care about autopilot, at least not the expensive self-driving version. I do like adaptive cruise for my rush hour commute portion of my commute, after all it’s no fun driving bumper to bumper. But outside of that short use-case I WANT TO DRIVE!
Why would someone want a base Tesla, EASY, it’s a fast and fun to drive car that does not burn gasoline. It’s the only thing like it on the market right now because the other EV’s at this price point are lame to drive and just plain ugly to look at.
Personally my config would be: Standard Plus for the nicer interior and sound system. MAYBE the $3k for adaptive cruise. I would put winter tires on the UGLY base wheels and buy a 2nd nice looking set for summer. And the base black paint (complete with imperfections) would get covered up with a wrap of my choosing to make it unique.

I’m looking to get Standard+, Black with 19’s and White Interior because Ultra White is amazing

I would chome delete and ceremonies coat that sucker out

It is tempting, @moto!

oh, and notice that I said WINTER tires on a base model which means driving a RWD in the snow….yes yes, nothing wrong with that! People are brainwashed into thinking AWD is absolutely necessary for winter driving. Nope! Just need a set of winters and you’re good to go especially with all the electronic aids on modern cars and the Tesla gives you a nice center of gravity and weight balance so AWD isn’t necessary. The bigger question is, can I turn the nannies off in the winter and have little drift fun??? That might be a deal break I better research that.

Ive heard that disabling traction control can make it drift..not sure how to do that
Puling a fuse maybe?


It’s a button in the menus

Well, AWD ain’t absolutely necessary for winter driving, but it help so much with such ease that I wouldn’t want anything less.
Of course, California summer sure doesn’t need it, but way up north evryone have AWD, so there must be a reason.
Car that drive more than 120 km/h or FM radio ain’t necessary either, but nobody would do without.

Almost no one needs AWD. Only thing it is good for is to drive too fast when the conditions doesn’t really allow it giving a false sense of security and grip.

Good winter tires on the other hand is mandatory.

Yes, the reason is marketing.

What you want in winter is RANGE. I’d argue the digital torque vectoring of Tesla’s RWD, plus its more efficient permanent magnet motor, plus snows, make the correct choice of Model 3 real hard.

I don’t know consensus, but the 325 RWD spec may be considered more than just “15 miles extra”, versus the AWD’s 310. Having had a RWD MS, I probably would opt for more range (+tires).

In the dry, Tesla’s AWD MS cars are also more nimble. That may answer a different question, and besides, Tesla doesn’t make a perm-magnet RWD Model S.

Nothing wrong with RWD in the snow. Fish tails would be the opposite

AWD gets you moving on the snow but only snow tyres will help you stop and turn on snow/ice. Amazed at how many people only factor on getting their car moving when it is snowing.

“Seriously, why buy a Tesla without Autopilot??”

Becuase it’s $3k for driver assist that the company still claims is a beta product and you have to constantly monitor and are basically paying for the privilege of being an early tester (honestly they should be paying people to use Autopilot with how much data they are collecting about you).

Yeah .. not to mention that with current sensors and tech in the car, full autonomous driving might never happen!

Needs a pin down into a groove in the road, or two pins, one front, & one in back, for “Lane Keeping!” A bit hard to swerve to avoid side swipes, though!
/S. 😀😁😂

I don’t want autopilot. I want to drive my car. And looks are more important.

Agree with Will. I don’t want AutoPilot either. I like to drive I don’t let a computer takes control of the car from me.

You also get significantly more range for that $5k and a larger battery pack.

You can get by without heated seats with fabric seats. The breath-ability of fabric makes it feel less cold. Vinyl or leather feel colder because there is so much more surface area transfer temperature to your body making contact. One thing no Model 3 or any other Tesla has are vented seat coolers and here is where fabric seats win again. There is nothing premium about pleather. Never was and never will. They should make fabric seats optional on all Teslas.

Performance Model S & X have ventilated seats now, standard. They were previously an option back in ~2016 but performed poorly and were pulled.

Even though I own Model 3 with leather seats, fabric is the way to go , automaker make it as leather as premium seating just because it cost more, if leather is so comfortable why people don’t sleep on leather mattress.

I would pay extra for fabric over leather. And people with leather sofas… I do not understand how someone would want to have that.

Exactly – I hate leather seating, but really love heated seats!!

There’s heat seats in the front only. Look at the specs

I just looked at tesla.com and heated seats are not mentioned in the context of the Standard Interior. Where are you finding that they are?

My Volt has heated cloth seats and a heated steering wheel. In the fairly mild winter in my state I actually don’t use the cabin heater most of the time. The heated steering wheel is a great hit in my family, warming cold hands quickly. I know the MS and X have this option, but does the M3 ?

Not yet, unfortunately. And, yes, the Leaf has had standard cloth, heated seats, and a heated steering wheel for several years, now. And the Model 3 does not even have it as an option! SMH

$2k gets you from standard 220 mile to 240 mile. That seems fair to me. But in addition, you also get better audio, also get 12-way power seats. Once you use these two things, you will be glad you took this option.

Can I agree with both too? I think the ultimate compromise is the $37K package Eric suggests as well as base autopilot which both agree. I also agree to conserve the features that Dominque does except maybe manual windows. I actually like cloth seats too both for the savings and comfort. I know that limiting the choices also helps manufacturing cost at this time so there is that.

Another Euro point of view

Because it may make Tesla go tits up ?

Please buy a Tesla to bankrupt Tesla. That’ll show them.

😀 😀 😀

Teach Tesla a lesson, buy a Tesla, hit Elon right where it hurts!😂

But, that would mean A-Euro would have to give up his beloved “Clean Diesel”!

I hope half a million people buy a Tesla this year to show Elon that nobody really wants an electric car.

Nope. $35k is good for me. Need it only for point A to point b and back again

If the distance between A and B is not too far, you can get a decent EV for much less than $35k.

Of course the same argument applies to a pair of used rollerskates. Or walking barefoot.

Right, almost forgot the hitchhikers cross-shopping EVs.

I’ve never known 6 years in advance the distance between every two points I’ll need to drive between. I think cars really need to have ubiquitous fast charging and at least 200 miles a charge or you’re going to be making sacrifices you shouldn’t have to.

Still need it to go to PA in the Summer and Fall from NE Ohio

Tesla will never have roll up windows due to the frameless doors. That design requires the windows to automatically drop/raise when opening/closing the doors.

Huh? That makes no sense

I think he means no hand cranked windows. But that doesn’t matter anyway because these days electric windows actually cost less to make than hand cranks.

My first car was a 1975 Chevy Imapala that somehow
managed to have crank windows, and no frame around
the window. So, … I am going to agree with the much
downvoted comment by Bunny.

You can make a car with frameless doors without having windows that automatically drop/raise. This state-of-the-art technology was available in a 1968 Chevy Corvette.

Actually, power windows have been both lighter and cheaper than manual for about 30 years now. Economy of scale and all that.

And for only a $3k (or 7.5%) premium you can go from MR to LR and get an 23% increase in range which is a smoking good upgrade deal. I suspect it will be the SR+ and the LR RWD that will be the best sellers in the range.

I would not consider any of the smaller battery ones. For an extra $8k having a 50% larger battery is important to me. Faster charging, fewer charges required for daily use, and probably an extra 50 miles in the cold which is a huge plus.

Some Co-workers want Standard Range + AWD! Not yet an apparent choice!

That is what we did – jump on the LR. I was disappointed when it disappeared and I suspect it could go away again. My story – 70k miles on a 70D. 240 initial range – down to 224. Sunday – we are meeting the in-laws for a child pickup, after coming back from a weekend away (in total a 300 mile day). Plenty of chargers on the way – but every extra mile helps. And supercharging is almost surely faster on an LR compared to a SR.

If you plan on keeping your car 10 years and extrapolate some degradation and factor in the winter hit, get the LR. That $8k gives me 100 extra miles, internet and premium interior. Probably means we can keep the car 15 years instead of 10 years.

I’ve been cross shopping the 70D a 3 and found it interesting that the range at 70mph is about the same for the SR+ (calculated since no empirical data exists yet).
I think even the MR 3 will beat the 70D in road tripping. LR (for us) would really be a luxury, not a need.

This!! – Larger battery = faster charging per mile – that is actually more important in my book.

Agreed. So much so I ordered the LR RWD last night!

Congrats! LR RWD is the first Model 3 I ordered about one year ago. Very energy efficient. Really love it. I ordered a second one with AWD.

I would pay more for the version with cloth/manual seats. In fact, I-Pace offers cloth seats for something like $8k more.

I hate the cold leather seat in winter. I love cloth seats. I never spill anything.

Tesla premium seats can be heated (use your phone to remotely turn on), my wife said that’s one of the best things.

Is the ADAS (Advanced Driver Assist System) an official replacement of Autopilot ? The name is not fluid as Autopilot, but if that will make regulators happy, I’m all for it – I don’t want to keep explaining to people AP is not self-driving.

And I am ready to plunk down $2000 for it if Tesla holds up its promise (for existing car owner prior to recent price reduction).

“Is the ADAS (Advanced Driver Assist System) an official replacement of Autopilot ?”

That was my question, too. I hope so! I’ve been saying for years that Tesla ought to drop the “Autopilot” label. Elon thinks it shouldn’t confuse people, but the reality is that most people think an airplane’s autopilot is intended to do a lot more than it actually does.

That’s just the more industry standard term for the capabilities Autopilot offers. Lane Keeping, and Adaptive Cruise Control.

With Tesla’s current shut down, drive out, drop prices behavior Tesla looks to be in panic mode which is a not a good sign when you are looking to drop some serious change on their product instability and chaos in the company making the product is not inspiring,
at this point Tesla would be off my list till they get their act together.

Is there no period button on your keyboard?

Apparently not because he is panicking here and over on Electrek too.

Channelling his inner Kerouac, perhaps?

Troll number 3

Yeah, the extra $2000 Standard Plus seems like it’s a better deal, but it’s unclear what’s really the difference. Is there really more battery capacity and how is that accomplished (different modules, one more module, maybe same as Standard, but Standard has some locked out)? Or is it an efficiency difference? Want to find out more about that first.

Most likely a software-limited version. I cannot fathom that they are producing 4 different battery pack sizes.

I can. They want to minimize costs and probably the new assembly machine came on line in GF1.

My biggest question on that package is the sound system difference, because that’s a very important feature that you cannot upgrade and you must live with. I can’t stand a car with poor sound…

Totally agree. Sound is very important. My Model 3 has premium audio, love it! I don’t know how does that line up with the new offerings. It seems they now have three levels of audio.

My guess is the SR is software limited.

Musk did say they had a new pack architecture for the SR that would be lighter and more efficient offering more range.

I was kind of expecting the SR to have close to 240miles range to beat the Bolt EV. Elon couldn’t let the first EV below $40k with more than 200miles range beat them.

But having the SR at $35k and 240miles range would have put the MR in a weird spot price/range value wise.

I was thinking they might cancel the MR. But offering the SR as the base model with base interior, and SR+ with a bit more range and better interior, creates a pretty well crafted product lineup.

That image graphic on this story shows the widest range of choices over any other EV, even from Tesla!


Yes, I was pleasantly surprised with the array of configurations.

I said on the first day of that news, Standard+ makes far more sense.

Of course, that is the entire point. It is the marketing scheme of “stair case to heaven”. Get you in the door for the low entry price and milk you up the option chain.

I fully expect that the SR will not have much demand, and so by the end of 2019 (when the US federal income tax credits expire), the SR+ will be as low as it goes (possibly for $35k).

Agree st SR will be gone like the Model S 40 and 60 (and now 75….)

This article is just trying to save Tesla from bankwuptcy. Tesla loses money on the 35K car.

You forgot the SARCASM emoji,,

Golgoth is just a dumbass troll and nothing more.

Shuuuuirrr they do. Just like GM loses money on the Bolt and all automakers make EVs at a loss. /s

Munro’s analysis is that Tesla is the only manufacturer making money from EVs.
15% gross US and 25% China production of Model 3 at volume. 36% on their teardown LR model. Up to 40% on other variants from China.

Man where are these trolls coming from

Its absolutely worth. 220 miles / 350 km will be good enough for millions who drive long distance fewer times a year and more trips within that range. After all millions have already bought vehicles with < 190 mile / 300 km range.
Lets see when do they make the 1st delivery, still this will be only a partial month. So we can wait for next month to see the happy buyers who stretch themselves for $35,000 to buy this clean green car.

In the long run it wont matter – I think the 35k model will be gone by end of 2020. Had Elon not promised price and specs 3 years ago (which, ugh, he is about to do again with the Model Y next week), I think the “Standard range plus” would be the base model.

So yeah, if you want it, buy it now, because I don’t think it’ll be around after 18 months. Otherwise you’ll probably be buying the SR+ for 37k (or more).

If they had sales lots with each variant to sit in and test drive, it would go along way to help people to make a decision. Otherwise how are you supposed to know what to order?

I made the mistake of trying the configurator. The one up from the base model is clearly the best deal, but now I am trying to convince myself that the AWD is what I really need. At least I am practicing some restraint because the Performance is really just too much.

I got the mid-range M3 in December and despite the loss of half the tax credit since, the net cost if I bought it today would be less. I love the car – far from suffering buyers remorse – if I could upgrade to long range now for $3K more I would do it. On the other hand, I wouldn’t and still won’t shell out that much for autopilot – just a personal preference.

Honestly the only thing I’d want that isn’t standard is the memory seats, and maybe audio but it’s not a huge deal. The diff in range isn’t worth the price to me, the times I’d use over 220 but under 260 are rare.

I’d just take the 35k one probably. I don’t like paying for things I won’t make use of.

It is for people whose grandma lives 240 miles away

If your grandma lives 240 miles away, you’re still gonna need to charge en route even if you have the Plus version.

Mine grandmas are died

I ate my grandma! /tamatoa

Tesla has priced all these options very well. There is nothing wrong with the $35k version. If you are a budget person and the car’s range is not an issue it will still be a great car, no need to spend extra.
Of course, the upgrades are temptingly priced and spaced just right to drag you up where you probably don’t belong. But what the hell, you only live once right!

If I was shopping for a car, this would be it.

Elon, and indeed Erik and David, as far as I can see, are rather rich. If you have the money, certainly go for the higher spec car. But Model 3 buyers upgrading from ex-lease Civics are already spending far more than ever before on a car, let them buy the car for $36,200 and not feel like second class citizens.

Too late!

I bought a car that gets me to where I want to go … Model 3 standard. I don’t buy a car to ‘live in it.’

Standard Range Plus AWD option is sorely missed!

All depends on people’s budgets and ability to have home charging. People are buying EV’s to cut their greenhouse gas emissions. Tesla is now available for average person (average new car price is $35,000) with savings on fuel, maintenance and with state EV credits. There’s no real competition for Tesla in this price range. Long range Leafs, Hyundais, Kias can’t really be purchased in 2019.

Tesla now offers people ability to make a sound financial decision in purchasing an EV. For people in US, added advantage of buying US made vehicle to boost US economy, jobs and tech.

I agree ! Less than .01% of “cheap skate” car buyers, buy bare bones cars , the $2000 dollar interior is a “great deal”, A must have ! Only the very foolish cheapest of cheap skates would pass on it !

Do you have any facts to back up your “less than 0.01% of cheap skate buyers buy bare bones models” claim? Just curious.

If I were one of the people that were waiting for a true $35k Model 3, I’d probably just get the most basic $35k model. As Tesla constantly tinkers with options and pricing, it’s very possible that you’d be able to add at least AP later for no more than the current $3k asking price. Customers that paid $5k for AP and another $3k for FSD a couple of years ago are no doubt kicking themselves, as Tesla now offers AP+FSD for just $5k total (with FSD still not activated yet). So those people that forked over $8k got screwed out of $3k with the newest price changes.

The saddest people are those that spent $35k+ on a Bolt and that doesn’t even have adaptive cruise as an option at all!

Assuming the SR is a SR + battery that is software locked:
Take a chance with SR to get the cloth seats, then unlock the extra capacity later? Tesla has been known to run deals on software battery upgrades

For some reason I assumed, that SR+ is actually software locked version of MR…

Not with the price changes – the total of $5k is only for those who did not buy EAP or FSD before March 1st. If you bought March 1st or later, then it’s $8k for everything ($3k AP + $5k FSD).

I’m in the 35k$ camp, but I will agree the new upgrade pricing does appear very tempting.

Except for the colours. Those remain silly.

IMO , Wise Choice ! you get a lot of Extras for that 2 grand , It’s money well spent . It’s a Great Deal !

Damn….why can’t I get one with a big battery and crappy interior? My dogs are going to ruin the interior so I prefer a boring interior.

I’m about to jump onboard the Tesla bandwagon. Unfortunately, being a Canadian with a crappy dollar and PM, the US $35,000 Model 3 SR is translates to a whopping $47,600 CAD so not really cheap for us. I am just waiting for Tesla HO internal sales to send me a quote on my two ICE trades before placing the order but it seems like they are so bloody slow to respond and since I now understand that our Tesla stores will remain open, I am wondering if I should pop in and deal with humans face to face at the Tesla store ? Autopilot is a must for me just to play with but the extra $ really gives me pause since it takes it over into the $55,000 CAD price point for a “basic” SR plus with just Autopilot. If the SR plus was offered with AWD, I would choose that for sure.