Tesla Model 3 Review: What The Big Publications Missed

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FEB 10 2018 BY EVANNEX 49

Tesla Model 3

There it is… my midnight silver Tesla Model 3 delivery at the automaker’s service center in Dania Beach, Florida (Photo: EVANNEX)

TESLA MODEL 3: THE THINGS ‘BIG NAME REVIEWERS’ DON’T TALK ABOUT

By Roger Pressman*

Lots of reviews discuss the Tesla Model 3—its performance and driving attributes, its interior and exterior design, the basic functionality achieved through the landscape display and a myriad of other features. In fact, here at EVANNEX, we’ve done one of those with a very early vehicle.

I’ve now been driving my Model 3, one of the first in South Florida, for about a week, and I’d like to share some of my observations about the car, without repeating what those of you who follow the vehicle already know from earlier reviews.

First, the big picture—Model 3 is a truly transformational vehicle. It provides high performance, long range, and a premium aesthetic at a broadly affordable price. But you already knew that. Let me talk about what you may not know—the good things and the things that might need some improvement.

*This article comes to us courtesy of EVANNEX (which also makes aftermarket Tesla accessories). Authored by Roger Pressman.

Now, full disclosure—many of the early owners of Model 3 have been past owners of Model S or Model X. I’m one of those people. I’ve had over five years of driving experience with Model S and almost two with Model X.  Many of my observations naturally lead to comparisons between S, X and 3. I’ll save most of that for another post.

So, let’s begin …

Charging Speed.  The first time I tried to charge Model 3 in my garage, I was surprised to learn that Model 3 charging using the new Tesla Universal Mobile  Charging Cable (UMC) is limited to a maximum of 32 amps. That means that charging on a 240V 40-amp, NEMA 14-50 outlet will get you about 22 – 24 miles of range per hour of charging.  That’s not great, but it’ll be absolutely fine for overnight charging.

Tesla Model 3

Charging the Tesla Model 3 (Photo: EVANNEX)

Because I also own a Model X with an old UMC, I immediately swapped out the new UMC for the old one and achieved a full 40-amps and a charging rate of between 32 and 38 miles of range per hour (actually more efficient than either Model S or X). The difference between the old UMC and the new UMC is pretty significant!

If you’re the owner of an older Model S or X, hold on to your old UMC and use it instead of the cable that comes with Model 3. And if you’re a first time Tesla owner and you want faster charging at home, you might want to consider buying an old UMC through the used components marketplace.

Information Placement and Ergonomics.  Every reviewer mentions the lack of a binnacle—the place directly in front of the driver where a conventional speedometer and other instrumentation appears. You get over this in about 5 minutes.

Tesla Model 3

Sitting in the Tesla Model 3, I find the UI easy to learn (Photo: EVANNEX)

The placement of the speedometer and other critical driving information and functions on the left-hand side of the landscape display works well. It can be scanned with no more eye movement than that required to scan the binnacle.

However, because this critical information takes up some of the screen real estate, all other functionality is pushed right on the display. In general, it’s not a big problem, but it can be annoying and possibly even distracting if you must reach or look to the far right side of the display (say, for example, to see turn-by-turn directions from the nav system). There are a number of ways this can be remedied through a software update, and I suspect Tesla will do so in the near future.

Audio.  I’m not an audiophile, but the sound system in Model 3 is really, really good—crisp with clearly defined high frequencies and solid bass. The “immersive sound” option makes all the difference—be sure you turn it on. In my opinion, the Model 3 sound system is better than the standard sound system in Model S or Model X. The user interface is serviceable, but I suspect that it will evolve over the coming months.

Interior Features. The Model 3 interior design language is minimalist and sleek. Visually, there is little design ‘noise’ to break the smooth flow of the interior geometry. It is, in my view, groundbreaking.

Tesla Model 3

The simplicity of the Tesla Model 3 interior is groundbreaking (Photo: EVANNEX)

One reviewer from CNN lamented the fact that there were no buttons and knobs in the driver compartment, a clear indication that he completely misunderstands the design intent and has no clue about the future of automobiles. But I digress.

Although Model 3 has a collection of typical interior features including lighted visor mirrors (an inside joke for Model S owners), the primary focus is the center console. As the guy who designed the very first center console for Model S—EVANNEX’s critically acclaimed Center Console Insert (the CCI)—I’d like to commend Tesla for a well-executed center console for Model 3. It contains everything you’ll need to store your stuff, charge and view your smartphone display, and easy access your USB and 12V ports. It provides closed storage with smoothly operating covers and doors.

Three quibbles:

1. The standard gloss black surface of the center console shows every fingerprint, every spec of dust and every droplet of liquid that might inadvertently spill. Therefore, the surface becomes messy very quickly.

2. The center console surface is smooth and quite attractive, but its smoothness is also a minor liability. The center console is where the driver puts stuff—keys, ID cards, a pencil, even a smartphone when it’s not in its own compartment. As I mentioned, Model 3 is nimble, and during a quick turn, everything the driver places on the center console surface goes flying. It’s happened to me a few times already.

3. In my opinion, the physical height of center console violates the interior design language. It’s unnecessarily high. Hopefully, a future iteration will place the top of the center console at the same height as the seat cushion, allowing this important element to better blend with the interior. Sure, you’ll lose a little vertical storage space, but you’ll gain a better aesthetic.

Exterior Features.  I love Model 3’s exterior—clean, simple, and efficient. For sticklers, the panel gaps on my vehicle were consistently good at approximately 4 to 5 mm throughout, indicating a solid manufacturing process. The trunk opening is much larger than many feared it would be and with the rear seats folded down, you can load a 72” L x 36” wide x 16 “H box into the car. That’s a big box! The trunk hatch requires a bit of a push to close.

Tesla Model 3

A look at my Tesla Model 3 with the 18″ aero caps (Photo: EVANNEX)

The doors open wide for easy entry. Their signature feature are the J-handles that rotate outward for opening. I have two minor quibbles with the doors.

1. The J-handles are very cool, rotating outward with a push on the ‘fat’ part of the handle. The problem is that gripping the handle to pull the door open can be a challenge if you use the wrong hand. On the driver side, your left hand is the one you want to use, but if you’re carrying, say, a grocery bag in your left hand, opening the driver door with your right hand can require a little bit of arm twisting. When you approach the driver door, try to remember to have your left hand free. The opposite applies on the passenger side. From a design perspective, a future improvement might be to have the door handle spring open and stay that way until a pull on the thin end occurs. It would then return to the closed position.

2. You have to be conscious of making sure that your door closes properly. In many cases, a seemingly proper push of the door will leave it slightly ajar. The problem is that the window remains slightly lowered during closing, and if you don’t notice the problem and walk away, it’s possible for rain to enter your passenger compartment. Be careful with this and check your doors for full closure during your early weeks of ownership.

Suspension and Ride.  Most big name reviewers agree that Model 3 is a driver’s car with a tight suspension, very little roll, and nimble response. Its spring suspension allows you to feel the road, and it’s likely that some owners will accuse Model 3 of a harsh ride. I would characterize the ride as typical of a true sports sedan.

Tesla Model 3

In order to improve the 18″ wheel aesthetics, I removed the aero caps, and installed Model S silver center caps (which also fit Tesla Model 3), chrome gorilla lug nuts, and black track/red insert wheel bands (Photo: EVANNEX)

But here’s something that you should know. The body sits relatively high above the ground. With standard 18 or 19-inch wheels, there’s a lot of space between the outer perimeter of the tire and the wheel well fender cut out. Those owners who want a closer-to-the-ground look will undoubtedly remedy this with special suspension packages in the aftermarket.

Wheels and Tires. The OEM tire and wheel packages for Model 3 are pretty pedestrian. They get the job done and look okay, but if you’re like me and believe that wheels are probably the most important element, other than body design, to a vehicle’s overall exterior aesthetic, there’s a lot of opportunity for you to improve the look of your Model 3.  I moved immediately to make a wheel change.

Tesla Model 3

My Tesla Model 3 with new 20″ AG M580 wheels installed (Photo: EVANNEX)

It is true that there are considerations you must address before you buy aftermarket wheels—additional cost and the possibility of poor fit or tire interference. It also worth noting that they’re frowned upon by Tesla, but that won’t stop tens of thousands of Model 3 owners from making a switch. My advice:

Order your Model 3 with standard 18-inch wheels and tires, then, if you’re so inclined, upgrade to aftermarket 19s or 20s to improve the exterior aesthetic. The EVANNEX-AG staggered wheels on my Model 3 are 20s, fit the Model 3 perfectly with no interference, and I think, give the car a very cool premium look with a muscular feel. They’ve already gotten a lot of very positive comments. This approach is somewhat more expensive than opting for the OEM 19s provided by Tesla for a $1600 premium, but I think the result is worth it.

For those that are curious, my wheels are AG M580, 20×8.5 front, and 20×10 rear. I opted for Michelin PilotSport 4S tires, 245/35/20 front, and 274/30/20 rear. There are other less expensive tire options. By the way, the rolling diameter of the AG 20s and tires is within one percent of OEM 19s, so there is virtually no impact on speedometer or other driving functions.

Summary. I waited almost two years for my Model 3. Overall, it’s exceeded my expectations in almost every category. But like every car, it’s not perfect. I’m confident that Tesla will remedy almost all of the quibbles and minor issues I mention in this post quickly. And for other things, we at EVANNEX will try our best to provide those of you Model 3 owners (or reservation holders) with the ability to make this near perfect car perfect for you.

Tesla Model 3

My Tesla Model 3 with new 20″ AG M580 wheels installed (Photo: EVANNEX)

Bottom line—the Tesla Model 3 was definitely worth the wait!

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*Review by Roger Pressman, author of Getting Ready for Model 3, and, founder of Electric Vehicle University. Note: If you’re located in South Florida, feel free to view this Model 3 in-person at a special event (just be sure to RSVP) this Sunday.

*Editor’s Note: EVANNEX, which also sells aftermarket gear for Teslas, has kindly allowed us to share some of its content with our readers. Our thanks go out to EVANNEX, Check out the site here.

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49 Comments on "Tesla Model 3 Review: What The Big Publications Missed"

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Taylor S Marks

I had been pretty set on the Midnight Silver, but it looks way too shiny in these pictures. I was hoping it’d be duller – more gray.

Back to considering blue… or maybe even black? Ugh. Wish I could see a line up of all of them under a variety of different lighting conditions…

It’s photo edited and looks like chrome in these photos. The regular Midnight Silver is the same as on the S and X.

Haggy

I like the midnight silver. It doesn’t look like these pictures though. The only problem I have with it is that it seems like half the Model 3s on the road are that color. I had no way of knowing that when I got my car (12/27) but I’d think twice before doing it again.

The color I see least is black. I think that the black looks nice, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it goes from rarest to most common once the base model is available.

Pushmi-Pullyu

“I had been pretty set on the Midnight Silver, but it looks way too shiny in these pictures. I was hoping it’d be duller – more gray.”

I most definitely would not judge colors or shininess by what you see in these photos. Just by looking at the photos, I can see that false color settings were used to produce it.

This isn’t a place for a rant about why certain photographers choose to give their photos false colors for an “artistic” effect. No doubt such manipulation of the color palette has its place in the art world, but that place is not in a photo illustrating an objective discussion of a real car.

TheWay

Is that really a color effect? There may be a bit of overexposure in some of the shots, but I think the issue here is that he may have applied a glossy protective coat to his car.

Otherwise you would not get so many reflections like a mirror no matter how much you play with the palette.

jimjfox

LOVE that color!

David

“Broadly affordable price”???
The model s must be affordable too since the minimum price of a model 3 is $50,000 unless you get auto pilot making it $55,000.
So much for affordable.

David Cary

Autopilot is an OPTION.
There is the TC to consider.
The average vehicle cost in the US is somewhere around $30k, so a $42,500 car is not that far off that. When you consider the reduced fuel cost and likely high resale value, it is “broadly affordable”.

It is possible that the TCO will be within a few thousand of a Camry. It will most certainly be lower than a BMW 3 series which is its main competitor.

But But the TC will go away soon. And then the SR will be available – almost certainly before the TC is completely gone.

Mulon Esk

LOL

Will

Lmao. Afforable my butt

David. “Broadly affordable price”???”

Compare the TM3 to a similarly equipped BMW 3 Series – not a Camry!

Ron

Widely affordable varies by neighborhoods.
On my side of the tracks, one sees a lot more Corollas & Camrys than BMWs.

Igor

Yeah those so called “reviews” are getting annoying

James

standard phrases like “near perfect” or “groundbreaking” make those “reviews” simply embarrassing

pjwood1

Careful, or we might “digress” to ergonomics

Pushmi-Pullyu

To be fair, the article does include the disclaimer “*This article comes to us courtesy of EVANNEX (which also makes aftermarket Tesla accessories).”

Now of course that doesn’t necessarily alert every reader that this is not an unbiased review, but regular readers of InsideEVs should know that Evannex articles have a pronounced pro-Tesla bias.

I’m particularly annoyed at the hard sell for aftermarket wheels, which doesn’t even mention that the original equipment wheels — with the (very ugly) “aero” wheel covers — give better range due to lower drag.

Curt

Yeah it even rains in Florida and this shill doesn’t even mention the missing wiper controls

BojanF

So, the thing that the big publications missed was to plug aftermarket rims?

Frankly, I think that the stock aero wheels look better than the alternatives offered in this article.

James

and which big publication did a review?

Pushmi-Pullyu

Motor Trend and Road & Track, if not other auto review magazines, have both done multiple reviews of the Tesla Model S.

Eco

Refreshing review … I liked it !

EVShopper

“this can be remedied through a software update, and I suspect Tesla will do so in the near future.”

So, like in 2 years by Tesla time?

pjwood1

His comment was about the screen, where even Evannex goes critical. -Note to self: dissatisfaction near universal.

I bet more pixels are allotted cruise +-, and a couple other donkey tail targets, but don’t count on a 15″ touch screen becomming less of a 15″ touch screen.

BojanF

Here’s an idea how Tesla could fix the perceived TACC control problems: make the wheels on the steering wheel control speed and follow distance if the gear selector is pressed downwards. Use of touchscreen avoided.

Of course, one can also easily avoid using the touchscreen by disengaging AP, accelerating or braking to the desired speed, and reengaging AP.

fotomoto

“but it looks way too shiny in these pictures.”

Pics have an (unfortunate) amateurish filter effect applied to them. You’ll want to find better examples or better yet see one in person. I realize that, depending on where one lives, the latter suggestion might be quite difficult.

Pushmi-Pullyu

Yes, seeing one in person may be difficult. One can at least Google [“Tesla Model 3” midnight silver] and choose the “images” option to get a better idea of what the actual appearance is, but even then the actual color your eyes see is going to depend on the individual computer monitor and its user-selected settings.

Dan

Aftermarket wheels and the like do not add value; it’s like buying a piece of sculpture and then replacing part of it to your liking. You are basically just mucking it up.

If you still want to do it save the original parts for resale; most people will prefer the Tesla designer’s choices to yours.

Tedfredrick

Also when you modify the car people will get scared you raced around and it will decrease the value.

Six Electrics

I would appreciate an aftermarket product that would fix the car’s panel gaps. Both of the 3s I’ve seen in person have had them.

Recoil

Six that is a lie. As you have never been out of your parents basement there is no way you could have ever seen a model 3 let alone the sun.

Maybe you should also read the articles and all the other ones from people who actually have seen them and driven them and they all say the panel gaps are very uniform.

G2

+1
PS: be nice to 6E; his boss is a real bear.?

Tedfredrick

Mine doesn’t have panel gap problems. The ride is excessively harsh for commuting.

Curt

Nice try. But the tear down company that actually does vehicle manufacturer studies savaged the panel gaps. And the stock on tape. And the wind noise. And the appalling seals.

Pushmi-Pullyu

It would be really great if you’d stop writing about the pretend electric cars you pretend to own or pretend to have seen, as if they’re real.

floydboy

Yeah, duct tape will cover those unsightly panel gaps. Although, I HAVE found them handy if you actually want to get inside the car!

Get Real

I see that 6 Fool Cells/Tesla Shorts continues his desperate and pathetic online campaign to try and sway the market and save his shorts by posting FUD and lies on all Tesla threads.

What a loser.

cab

With regard to the ride quality, it appears that Tesla has revised the part numbers for the struts and coil springs in cars made after December 27th. Cars before that date are reported to be somewhat firmer than those made after that date.
A few owners on TMC who reported a “harsh” ride are getting those components swapped to the more recent revision. One owner indicated tha the car is still firm and handles well, but some of the jiggliness appears to have been addressed and harshness reduced a bit (i.e. it’s not like they went from a sport to a non-sport suspension…..more of a “fix” to the sport tuning from the sounds of it).

Tedfredrick

That is great to know. I have an appointment Friday to get the new springs

Tedfredrick

Mine was made before December 27th and the ride is excessively harsh for a 3800 lb car. I have owned 3 BMWs and this is more harsh than the 328 with the handling package and the run flat tires

Curt

Via software update?

Because everything wrong with this product can be fixed with software

Shane

IMHO the rear part of the center console/arm rest in every car should be the same height as the arm rest in the door. I hope you’re not suggesting otherwise.

Bill Howland

Interesting comment Mr. Pressman regarding the ‘Gen 2’ UMC versus the “Gen 1” you also have.

Not sure of the numbers, and while much much more reliable than the original $1500 Roadster UMC (Tesla Techs averaged around 5 spares in each truck they failed so often), the fact that the 40 amp original unit only has a 30 amp relay in it means it isn’t likely to be super-long-lived – if used at 40 amperes.

(I suspect many users find the car throttles down the charging current due to voltage drops, and thereby indirectly makes the ‘gen 1’ unit more reliable).

Interestingly, per the Tesla website – all New X’s and S’s are being shipped with the “Gen 2” unit, thereby reducing the current from the old 40 to the new 32 amp rating, even though the internal car charger will be either 48 or 72 amperes.

(The 30 amp rated relay should last much longer this way).

The other thing I like about the “Gen 2” is that the various male plug adapters have the adapter down the wire a bit from the attachment plug, thereby not being a danger from overheating to the permanent receptacle on the house.

Dr. Strange

On the 32A/40A issue — anyone know if the J1772 adapter for the Model 3 (I assume it comes with one) will support 40A charging? I have a 40A J1772 EVSE and would like to know if I can take full advantage of it when my Model 3 arrives.

AlanSqB

Yes. It’s rated up to 80 amps.

Tedfredrick

It has a 48 amp limit not 80

Bill Howland

Regarding the J1772 adapter, while it is ‘limited’ to 48 amperes (or 32) by the ‘3’ car charger, if you take this very same adapter and use it on a model “S” you will get either 48 or 72 amperes (or 40 or 80 if you have an old model ‘s’).

In other words, its the exact same thing they’ve been selling with the “s”, and “X”, however, the included ‘charger cord’ with the brand new “s’s” or “x’s” are limited to 32 amperes as mentioned below.

Tedfredrick

It will only charge at 32 amps for me with my old charger that is a Seimans. If you have a 50 amp Clipper Creek for example I’m sure it will go to 48

floydboy

Those wheel arches are unduly large. Makes me think they’re designed for a higher riding, taller-tired vehicle. Model Y arches on Model 3.

Steven

“…On the driver side, your left hand is the one you want to use…”

Isn’t that true for most left hand drive vehicles?

At least we left hand folks get something besides drive-through windows.