Tesla Model 3 Long-Range Rear Wheel Drive Source: Car & Driver
This April 2018 in-depth review (link below) by Car & Driver of the long-range, rear wheel drive Model 3 is worth reading if you are considering a Model 3.
2018 Tesla Model 3
APRIL 2018 BY JOSEPH CAPPARELLA PHOTOS BY BRAD FICK
The review is the most comprehensive that I have read so far, and it should assist prospective buyers. However, some of the initial shortcomings mentioned in this early review have already been corrected by Tesla in Model 3s being currently produced. My wife and I own the same configuration as reviewed. It's an excellent review and for the most part I have no problems with it. However, in this article I will note any changes that have occurred since the review, or any differences in opinion that I have with elements of their review.
Fuel Economy and Driving Range Rating:
The reviewers (from Detroit) devised their own fuel economy test that drove the car faster than typical posted highway speeds and took their measurements at 28 degrees Fahrenheit. Unsurprisingly the car didn’t meet the official published EPA results. At Florida temperatures, and traveling at posted highway speeds, this version of the Model 3 will probably go actually further than the EPA sticker value of 310 rated miles. We learned that the testing data that Tesla provided to the EPA would support an actual range of 334 rated miles, but Tesla asked EPA to list the rated miles as 310.
We currently have 1,656 miles on our Model 3 which are much more miles than the reviewers had to perform their tests. From our trip odometer the average efficiency for our total mileage is 233 Wh/mi. This is significantly less than the published EPA rating of 270 Wh/mile. Bottom line: The car is extremely efficient and I believe the published 130 MPGe.
Interior and Passenger Space Rating:
I agree with the reviewers that the rear seating is uncomfortable, especially for taller people. Tesla has since revised the rear seating to address this issue.
Although I haven’t used a decibel meter in our car, I am positive that the interior noise is nowhere near 69 decibels. Update: I used a free phone app to measure the sound levels in the car at 70 mph. The readings did not exceed about 50 decibels. We experience a very quite ride similar to our Model S.
Rear visibility is poor as the reviewers point out, but the high definition backup camera provides an excellent rear view when the car is in reverse and if needed it can be turned on when moving forward.
Cargo Space and Storage Rating:
The cargo and storage space is half that of a Model S, but nevertheless quite adequate for most situations. The Model 3 has certain storage and convenience features not found on the premium Model S such as door pockets, a rear folding armrest with cup holders and clothing hooks. The Model 3’s Center Console has quite a bit of storage space.
Safety and Driver Assistance Rating:
At the time of the review there was no blind-spot monitoring or automatic high beams, but those feature have been added. The blind-spot monitoring is the same as in the Model S & X, but personally I find it to be of marginal value as currently implemented. I would prefer an indicator in the side view mirrors rather on the dash or center displays.
Engine and Transmission Rating:
The review incorrectly states, “When combined with an adapter and the Model 3’s onboard charger, 240-volt outlets can add between 11 and 30 miles per hour of charging,…” Whereas it is true that most public SAE J-1772 chargers rarely have a capacity to permit an EV to charge at more than 30 miles of range per hour, if you were to find a high-capacity public charger of 60 amps (11.5 kW) or more, the long-range Model 3 can charge at up to 44 miles of range per hour with a J-1772 adapter. We charge our Model 3 at home at this speed connected to a Tesla High Power Wall Connector rated for 80 continuous amps. For comparison, our Model S with a high capacity on-board charger charges at around 55 miles of range per hour.
The review fails to mention that the new second generation Mobil Connector that comes with the Model 3. It plugs into either a 110 volt or 240 volt outlet and will only handle a maximum of 32 amp, or 30 miles of range per hour. If you have the first generation Mobil Connector, it will handle a maximum of 40 amps, or 37 miles of range per hour when plugged into your long-range Model 3.
Performance and Driving Impressions Rating:
The review states, “…you do hear plenty of noise inside the cabin as the tires thwack and thrum when driving over pavement imperfections.” This is not my wife's or my experience.
The review stated, “…we did notice a bizarre amount of variation in our test, which involves six consecutive panic stops—the third of these stops took an interminable 196 feet.” Consumer Reports (CR) were also critical of the braking on the early Model 3s. However, within a couple of days following the CR review Tesla was able to send out an over-the-air update to resolve the issue. In fact. CR was very impressed with the fix.
“I’ve been at CR for 19 years and tested more than 1,000 cars,” says Jake Fisher, director of auto testing at Consumer Reports, “and I’ve never seen a car that could improve its track performance with an over-the-air update.”
The Car & Driver review stated, “In normal driving, you’ll rely more on the regenerative brakes than the brake pedal. However, we’d prefer more configurability in that system than the two modes of regen currently offered, as neither can bring the car to a complete stop and enable one-pedal driving as the Chevrolet Bolt EV and some other EVs offer.”
Whereas I agree that in normal driving most drivers rely more on regenerative braking than mechanical breaking, I strongly disagree with their observation that regenerative braking can’t bring the Model 3 to a complete stop. I use one-pedal driving on both our Model 3 and S, and both have aggressive regenerative braking when set in the Standard setting.
For safety when coming to a stop after using one-pedal regenerative breaking, I always also apply the mechanical brake (press the brake pedal) to ensure the car is firmly stopped. This will automatically set the Hill Hold feature which applies the electronic parking break to prevent the car from rolling on inclines. The brake is instantaneously released when pressing the accelerator.
Exterior Design and Dimensions:
The review states, “It incorporates many design elements from the more expensive Model S, making it immediately recognizable as a Tesla, but it’s significantly taller and less sporty looking than its low-slung, sleek-sedan sibling. Also, of some concern were the large and inconsistent panel gaps present on our test car, which raise questions about the car’s assembly quality.”
Whereas this is a personal taste sort of thing, I agree that the Model 3 while resembling a Model S is slightly less sporty looking. However, in their summary remarks they go on to state, ”Not-so-sporty, bloblike shape,…”. The remark “ bloblike” in my opinion is nowhere near the truth, but this is something prospective buyers can easily decide for themselves.
Regarding the fit and finish we didn’t experience any problems with panel gaps, etc. In fact, the quality was slightly better than our Model S purchased a year earlier.
The review accurately described the two means of gaining access to the car, the smartphone Tesla application and the backup card keys. Apparently they didn’t run into any problems. In our case, and in talking to other early Model 3 owners, gaining access could be a frustrating experience when relying on the phone app as the primary means of entry. In fact, my wife abandoned it entirely and devised a lanyard that she would wear around her neck with the card key attached.
For the most part, the problems with the Tesla phone app resolved themselves within a couple of weeks’ ownership. Nevertheless, I prefer the key fob entry system of the Model S in which we never experience a problem.
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President, Florida Tesla Enthusiasts