Now in its fourth model year, the Tesla Model 3 manages to be efficient, luxurious and fun to drive. For those reasons and more, the Tesla Model 3 is Edmunds' top-rated Luxury Electric Vehicle for 2020.
You can configure a Model 3 to maximize what you want, whether it be a low price, long range or high performance. And in every iteration, the Model 3 gives you access to Tesla's proprietary Supercharger charging network and some of the best semi-automated driving assistance features around. Of course, the brand cachet the Tesla name carries in many parts of the country is probably worth something too.
The Model 3 has its foibles. The lack of hard buttons forces drivers to use the touchscreen to operate almost all vehicle functions. There is no compatibility with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, leaving Bluetooth as the only option to pair your phone. Build quality and long-term reliability also remain question marks, though by and large, consumer reviews on the Model 3 are very positive.
Put it all together and you're looking at the most fully realized affordable electric vehicle on the market. Tesla's habit of upgrading the vehicle's capabilities through over-the-air updates — often adding games and other fun features in the process — is icing on the cake. The Model 3 should warrant consideration not just from electric-vehicle shoppers but anyone looking for a break from the norm.
What's it like to live with the Model 3?
Edmunds' editorial team acquired and lived with a 2017 Tesla Model 3 Long Range for nearly two years, logging 24,000 miles. As an all new-design for Tesla, it had a few teething problems at first. But most of the issues were electronic in nature and were later sorted out via software updates. The 2020 Tesla Model 3 differs from our early long-term Model 3 by way of improved cabin materials and different powertrain options. It's the same generation, though, so many of our observations still apply. To learn more about the Tesla Model 3, check out our 2017 Tesla Model 3 Long Range coverage.
Which Model 3 does Edmunds recommend?
The midlevel Long Range Dual Motor comes with sensible upgrades that make the most of the Model 3's strengths — namely, its extensive range and charging capabilities. This trim has up to 72 more miles of range than the base version, plus a faster onboard charger for juice-ups on road trips. It also adds all-wheel drive, a boon when you want to experience the larger battery's impressive acceleration.
The Tesla Model 3 is a fully electric sedan that comes in three primary trim levels: Standard Range Plus, Long Range and Performance. (A more affordable Standard Range is also available as a special order, but Tesla does not list it on its website.) Each trim provides different levels of driving range and acceleration from a battery-electric powertrain.
Be aware that Tesla updates the Model 3 on an ongoing basis rather than by model year, so what follows might not necessarily reflect the most current offering.
Standard features at the Standard Range Plus level include 250 miles of range, rear-wheel drive, a glass roof, power-adjustable front seats, a 15-inch touchscreen, a navigation system and Bluetooth. Autopilot, a safety suite with exterior cameras and adaptive cruise control with an assisted steering system, is also included.
A larger battery pack (good for 322 miles) and all-wheel drive come with the midlevel Long Range trim. You get a few more features with the Long Range, including a premium sound system. The biggest punch comes from the Performance trim. It uses the same battery and dual-motor layout as the Long Range, but it's tuned to deliver maximum thrills. Other upgraded equipment includes performance brakes and a lowered suspension.
For all Model 3s, Tesla offers a Full Self-Driving Capability option, which includes extra features such as summoning your car in a parking lot. But the company says not all of the features will be fully active until later in 2020.