It’s been just a little over one month since I took ownership of my 2021 Tesla Model 3. Just like any product, there are things I like and things I’d like to see improved. I have waited to write a more in-depth review of my Model 3 to get more seat time and for some actual data to compare with my last vehicle. With that, let’s get started!
After a month of ownership, there are several things that I really like about the Model 3.
- The ride is smooth and quiet. Tire noise is average, but no engine noise is great. I do think the 2 panels of glass on the windows helps.
- The seats are among the best I have ever sat in for a car. Misty, my wife, would like to sit a little higher but overall feels the seats are comfortable for her. The headrests are not great for ponytails, though! It’s also great to be able to have driver profiles linked to our phones. Depending on who is driving, the seats, mirrors, and other settings adjust to that driver’s profile. Tesla did a great job with that feature.
- Acceleration is fun and instant. I actually still have yet to press the accelerator all of the way down. In fact, Misty said she forgot how fast it accelerated on one trip and hit the accelerator a bit hard, was surprised, and just giggled to herself a little. This is one of my favorite features because when I need to overtake someone or get into another lane quickly, it’s easy to do and actually makes driving safer. In my previous Santa Fe, there were times that I couldn’t get around someone or was worried about pulling out onto a street. That is not the case in the Model 3.
- One pedal driving is pretty fantastic as well. In most electric cars, you have the option to use the accelerator to regenerate power to the car when slowing down. Essentially, the first 30% of the accelerator slows the car down. It took just a little bit of time to get used to that, and now it’s a game to see if I can get the car to stop without the brake and see how much regenerated power to the battery I can get back.
- The touchscreen is pretty good. I get the information I need, and it’s gotten pretty easy to use. There are times I miss physical buttons, but so far, it’s not been an issue. I love that I can watch shows and play games when waiting somewhere and have used that feature a couple of times.
- The navigation has been spot on so far. I have been a long-time Google Maps user both in Android Auto and Car Play, and Tesla’s navigation has been good in comparison. There have been a few times when it doesn’t recognize my voice. However, I still often look up my destination in Google Maps and use the share menu to send the route to the Tesla, which works awesome.
- We didn’t go with the Model Y because we felt the 3 had enough storage, and so far, that has been true. For a car of this size, you can pack a lot into the truck. We have yet to need the Frunk. I’ll add an update on that after some of our upcoming road trips.
- I love not having to bring along a car key. The phone as a key system is amazing. While there have been a couple of times I have had to unluck my phone before the doors would unlock, it’s worked most of the time flawlessly. You can also enable a drive code that you have to type in to drive the car for extra safety. This technology is the way it should be for all cars.
- Autopilot-Adaptive Cruise is really well done. This part of Autopilot is amazing and works better than any other cars I have owned in this regard. It knows when to slow around corners and works at pretty much any speed.
- I love that some great 3rd party app creators have taken advantage of the Tesla API to allow a user to see more about the car’s data. I am currently using Tezlab and Teslafi (referral for a free month at the bottom of the post) for the year to get extra data about my car. They each have advantages, but I wanted to see which one is the most useful to me. I’ll write up some reviews of both of these in the future.
- A recent study shows that charging is one of the major reasons that EV owners go back to gas cars. For me, charging has been pretty great and easy so far, even living in an apartment. We have 4 Chargepoint chargers in our garage, and I’m able to park in a handicapped spot to charge when I need to. There are times when that spot is taken, but it has not been an issue so far. Our building charges $0.90 per hour for the first 5 hours and $2.00 an hour after that. I have been able to keep charging within those 5-hour slots without a problem. It’s a 6kwh charger, and I get about a 10% battery per hour of charge in general. Charging would be much easier if we lived in a home with a private garage, but it’s been pretty convenient so far. I love that I don’t have to think about going to the gas station to get gas or wild pricing changes at the pump.
- Over-the-air updates are pretty good as well. Once these work properly, it’s amazing to have a car’s systems updated automatically over the life of the vehicle and see it improve. It’s one of the main reasons I purchased a Tesla!
What Could be Improved
- Autopilot-Autosteer is both good and frustrating. However, a great friend of mine recently purchased a Model Y, and he loves this feature. However, he has never owned a car with lane assist before. Autosteer is fantastic at staying in your lane. It’s better than my previous vehicles by far. However, it’s frustrating because it disengages a little too quickly when you move your hands to indicate you are paying attention. I have gotten better with that. But the real issue is I have to re-engage Autosteer every time I change lanes. On both of my previous vehicles, the lane assist would re-engage when it found lane lines again. This is how this feature should work in Autopilot. That or Auto Lane Change from Full Self Driving should be a standard feature for all Teslas.
- Phantom Drain can be a problem. Phantom Drain occurs when your car sits in between usage and charging and the battery drains. Similar to a phone. Because we live in an apartment, I cannot keep my car charging as is recommended. I lose several percentage points of my battery each week, some weeks more than others. To fix this, Deep Sleep should be much more aggressive if you have all of the monitoring features turned off. Some of this could be attributed to the 3rd party apps above, and after some playing around, I have managed to reduce phantom drain drastically. But it is still lost money.
- The backup camera is pretty good, but our last two vehicles had a 360 view for parking. Misty misses this more than I do, but with the number of cameras on a Tesla, this feature would be pretty great. They cannot add a 360 view because there isn’t a camera on the car's front.
- The infotainment system is not as good as CarPlay or Android Auto, in my opinion. We switched back to Spotify recently, so the fact that Spotify is built is good. The interface for playing what you want is not as good as CarPlay/Android Auto. The built-in stations on Slacker are fine, but if you want to play media from your phone, things don’t work as well as they could. The messaging system in the Tesla is pretty good for reading and replying to text messages, but I preferred CarPlay/Android Auto. Lastly, I miss being able to use Google Maps in my car easily. As mentioned, the Tesla navigation is pretty good, but I still prefer Google overall. The easiest solution is to add CarPlay/Android Auto support. That would be fantastic!
- Over-the-air updates could be better in terms of the reliance on WiFi. Living in an apartment makes getting these updates very difficult. I had to use the hotspot on my phone, and I have a limited amount of high-speed data. I also had to chat with Tesla support to get the first update to pull from the servers. While I like the ability to update, I wish they could all happen on Tesla’s network. Maybe with Starlink, that could change one day?
Those are the things I like and the things I’d like to see improved. If more come up over time, I’ll write some additional posts.
Now let’s dive into some of the data for the Model 3 so far. My wife and I use Coda.io for a ton of different tracking needs. We track our finances, hiking, and I’m using it to track all of my Tesla stats. It’s a fantastic app, and you should check it out. I have left a referral code for that at the bottom of the post as well.
Cost of Charging and Gas
Below are the stats and power cost for my Model 3 compared to what the Santa Fe’s gas would have cost. I used $4.10 a gallon as the average price. It was both above and below that price during the first 39 days. I received my Model 3 with 20 miles on it, and these miles are included in the calculations below.
Even with Phantom Drain, I saved about $90 in the first 39 days over the Santa Fe. Home charging and solar power potentially could have gotten it down to $0 for charging and a $119 savings. But for apartment living, this is still pretty great! I’ll continue to post this data each month!
Distance Traveled: 759.3
Avg Price per Gallon Gas: $4.10
Santa Fe Gas Mileage Avg: 26
Total Gas Cost: $119.74
Total Charging Cost: $29.08
Total Saved: $90.66
Let me know in the comments if you want me to get even more detailed with these stats with total kWh and such.
Total Cost to Own
Thus far, I have only had the cost of the Model 3 and the charging costs. These cost breakdown as follows:
Model 3: $52,836.58
Charging Cost: $29.08
Total Cost of Ownership: $52,865.66
I had planned to create two great videos. However, the footage for one was corrupted, and the footage from the other didn’t turn out well enough to create a video. I will add videos in the future. I may also create a companion video for this review.
Well, that’s it for the first month’s review. Let me know how I can improve these posts and what questions you might have. Misty and I will be heading on our first trip with the Model 3 this weekend. You can expect a post about that coming up.
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