While Elon Musk and the other executives at Tesla might envision the Model 3 as an electric car for the masses, the reality is that the smallest and lowest cost Tesla has always been more of an all-electric alternative to compact luxury sedans. And this is especially true of the latest 2020 version of the Model 3, which contains all the things people love about this compact sedan with a few targeted improvements thrown in for good measure. Here’s what you should know when considering buying a 2020 Tesla Model 3.
The exterior styling of the Model 3 remains largely unchanged in the 2020 version. When it comes to style, Tesla seems to have adopted an “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” attitude. The exterior of the new Model 3 looks like a sporty, compact sedan. It retains the all-glass roof that has become a trademark of sorts for this car. Beyond selecting different exterior colors, there isn’t a lot in the way of customization for the 2020 Model 3. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. The Model 3 continues to be a sleek and impressive looking sedan. Just don’t expect any radical changes for the 2020 version.
Models and Prices
The 2020 Model 3 comes in three trim lines. There’s the long-range, all-wheel drive version that costs $44,500 and produces 271 horsepower. Then there’s the standard range version, with rear-wheel drive, for $38,990. The lowest cost model will set you back an even $35,000. Whether you pay the higher price for the top trim level will largely depend on how important all-wheel drive and additional traction are to you. Keep in mind that the Model 3 is well equipped, and the interior is basically the same, across all trim levels. You still get a very good electric car for a starting price of $35,000.
Engine and Performance
The standard range 2020 Tesla Model 3 can hit 60 mph in about 5 seconds. That’s pretty impressive for a compact electric sedan. Its top speed has been clocked at 140 mph. In terms of driving range, the new Model 3 can travel 310 miles on a single battery charge. That range is best in class and quite a bit further than rival electric cars.
Tesla has recently introduced what it calls “Level 3 Superchargers,” which can charge the car up to 170 miles of driving range in only 30 minutes. The Model 3’s battery can be 80% charged in 40 minutes. (At the 80%-point, charging slows to safeguard battery health). In terms of how the Model 3 drives and handles, reviewers have called it “smooth” and “impressive.” It has strong acceleration and handling, and is overall a powerful drive.
The Model 3 is a very practically designed car, and this shows up in the interior. While the design is minimalist in nature, what most first-time owners notice immediately is all the storage capacity. This is due to the Model 3 not having an engine in its engine bay. (The engines are actually affixed to the car’s tires). This leaves the Model 3 with what the company calls a “frunk” (front trunk) in the area where most car engines are situated. This frunk is large, providing 117 liters of cargo storage at the front of the car. That’s in addition to the regular trunk which offers an additional 425 liters of cargo space.
If that weren’t enough space, there is also a hidden storage section below the floor where you can stash cables and luggage. All told, the 2020 Model 3 offers 542 liters of storage capacity, which is best in class and then some. Additionally, the Model 3 has door pockets with bottle holders all around, cup holders in the rear center armrest, plus cup holders between the front seats. Then there’s the storage caddy between the front seats (which is massive), plus the glovebox that is opened using the touchscreen. If storage is your thing, then the Model 3 is the car for you.
Note though that a lot of that storage capacity has come at the expense of passenger leg room. One knock on the Model 3 continues to be that the space in the back is tight for adults. Leg and headroom aren’t great, mainly because of the angle of the car’s roof.
Features and Warranty Coverage
As with all Tesla models, the main feature in the Model 3 is the centrally mounted 15-inch touchscreen that serves as command central for the car. Almost everything except the steering is controlled using the touchscreen – from setting the position of the side mirrors or the steering wheel, to the Bluetooth audio streaming and phone connectivity.
One downside to such a high-tech vehicle is that the 2020 Model 3 still is not compatible with either Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. While that is a bummer, the newest Model 3 still has plenty to recommend. Rear occupants get two USB ports. The climate control is among the best in the industry. Almost everything with the car is controlled by the touch of the center console. Actual physical buttons are kept to a minimum.
When it comes to a warranty, the Model 3 comes with Tesla’s standard four year or 50,000 mile coverage, whichever comes first. The battery and drive unit are covered for a warranty period of eight years or 100,000 miles, with minimum 70% retention of battery capacity over the warranty period. Additional warranty coverage is available for more money.
As mentioned, the Model 3 can travel 310 miles on a single battery charge and be nearly fully charged in just 40 minutes. The faster recharge time is a significant step forward for Tesla and a big selling point of the new Model 3. Industry analysts and auto reviewers agree that lowering the amount of time it takes to recharge electric cars will be critically important to convincing more consumers to purchase these vehicles. Tesla continue to push forward in this regard.
- Faster battery recharging times.
- Best in class driving distance at 310 miles on a single battery charge.
- Impressive infotainment system and touchscreen display.
- Ample cargo storage throughout the car.
- No real changes to the car’s exterior.
- Back seats are cramped for passengers.
- Infotainment system is not compatible with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
- Warranty coverage is average at best.
The Last Word
People who want an electric car at affordable prices should consider the Tesla Model 3. It combines great driving range with fast battery recharging and impressive performance. People who appreciate technology will love the car’s 15-inch touchscreen and the cargo storage cannot be beat. However, if you plan to have multiple adult passengers in your vehicle, then you may want to look around for a car that is a bit roomier. There are electric cars available at cheaper price points than the Model 3, but few can match its performance or pedigree.