Tesla Model 3 Test Drive Roundup: What Critics Love and Hate

Elon Musk’s plan to bring high-quality and affordable electric cars to the masses has finally come to fruition with the unveiling and release of the first batch of Tesla Model 3 vehicles. With such an important release, many of the top automotive and tech publications were invited to limited test drives of the newest Tesla.

Credit: Tesla

(Image credit: Tesla)

Most writers were impressed by the Model 3’s stellar interior design as well as its great overall driving feel. Some criticized the high price tag of any add-ons, and were disappointed that both the cheapest $35,000 and the twin-engine model would not be released until a later date.

Here’s what the critics love and hate so far.


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Credit: Tesla

(Image credit: Tesla)

In her drive test for Fortune, Kirsten Korosec enjoyed the spaciousness of the Model 3’s interior, its keyless operation and attention to details such as the air ventilation system. She was disappointed by how quickly the price increased with options as well as by the lack of some features found on the Model X and S.

“It is simple without being cheap, it is roomy without being big. It is unmistakably a Tesla.” - Kirsten Korosec, Fortune

The Good: “The front center console is roomy, and has a special docking station for two smartphones.”

“One of the nicer appointments is the extended rear glass, which creates a moonroof effect for passengers without the clutter a headliner found in traditional vehicles. The result is a roomier feel.”

The Bad:“The famous Tesla door handles that pop out as the driver approaches the vehicle and are found on the Model S and X are unavailable on the 3.”

“For buyers who chose to get every upgrade like a premium paint job, 19-inch wheels, and full self-driving capability—which is not yet available, and likely won't be anytime soon—the price tag will be just shy of $60,000.”

MORE: Tesla Model 3: Everything You Need to Know

Motor Trend

Credit: Motor Trend

(Image credit: Motor Trend)

Writing for Motor Trend, Kim Reynolds most appreciated the Model’s 3 excellent ambiance and performance. He was discouraged by the near-$60,000 price of the model he tested and was not completely sold on the concept of a touchscreen replacing the typical arrangement of gauges.

“With the Tesla Model 3’s performance, slinky style, fascinating creativity, and, critically, its Supercharger safety net, I think this is truly where it [the second era of the car] begins.” - Kim Reynolds, Motor Trend

The Good: “Tesla worked hard to increase interior space, and subjectively it succeeded. For a compact car, the Model 3 feels incredibly light and airy.”

“And then the foot goes down. How does it drive? The gush of torque clearly indicates DNA shared with the Model S.”

The Bad: “A quick summing of its features puts it at about $59,500 before incentives—including $1,500 for the larger 19-inch wheels (18 inches are standard), and a grand for the red multicoat paint. You can have any no-extra-cost color as long as it’s black. Seriously.”

“It’ll take a lot more miles than this to decide if the single off-center screen completely substitutes for a conventionally located gauge cluster”

The Verge

In her Verge review, Tamara Warren found the high quality materials and overall roominess used to craft the Model 3 to be exemplary. She didn’t think the driving experience felt quite as responsive as other high-end automobiles, but did like the keyless operation.

“After hearing so much hype about this car, I was surprised that my first reaction was a profound sense of delight. Here was the car Elon Musk promised to make 14 years ago.” - Tamara Warren, The Verge

The Good: “And the best part: when I pulled into park, I asked about the key. The car doesn’t haven’t one. You control the car through the Tesla app on your phone.”

“I spent a few moments checking out the rest of the car — the back seat had ample room for my long legs, and plenty of room for a car seat.”

The Bad: “All too soon I had to brake, which in this short sprint, felt like a confident, firm exercise, not carbon fiber ooh la la, but enough to do the job.”


Credit: Tesla

(Image credit: Tesla)

In his Model 3 drive test review for Wired, Jack Stewart loved the quick acceleration and minimalistic overall design. He noted that the twin motor option is not yet available and didn’t like the high price tag of any of the add-ons.

“This car feels like an automotive tipping point, a sign that electric vehicles—and hopefully, the infrastructure that supports them—have finally come into their own.” - Jack Stewart, Wired

The Good: “The interior is the most radically different from other cars. It’s definitely minimal, but in a stylish, Scandinavian kind of way.”

“Push your foot down on the accelerator pedal and the Model 3 leaps away from a standing start. The acceleration of electric cars always elicits giggles—it’s some sort of unavoidable human response—and the Model 3 is no exception.”

The Bad: “Then there are optional add-ons, which will quickly jack up the price.”

“Both models come with just one electric motor driving the back wheels. The twin motor—the all-wheel-drive option—will follow in a few months.”


Credit: Bloomberg

(Image credit: Bloomberg)

Writing for Bloomberg, Tom Randall most enjoyed the slimmed down nature of the Model 3, its good steering balance and the long driving range of the extended-battery model. He also appreciated the airy interior, though he found that the trunk’s small opening to be problematic.

“After taking one of the first drives of Tesla's new Model 3 last week, I came away thinking that CEO Elon Musk has finally delivered an electric car for the everyday road tripper like me.” - Tom Randall, Bloomberg

The Good: “The Model 3 still has plenty of pickup, effortlessly jumping from zero to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds in the upgraded version I test drove, which gets a stunning 310 miles on a charge. It’s nimble, comfortable, and has tight steering that’ll keep you grinning.”

“The lack of gauges on the narrow dash is refreshing. The solid strip of open-pore wood gives the space warmth, and the glass roof makes the the cabin feel like an atrium.”

The Bad: “I brought a tape measure with me, and the opening [of the trunk] measured 18.5 inches tall and 42 inches at its widest. That’s pretty standard for a small sedan, which is to say, not great.“

“The $35,000 standard Model 3 version won’t be available until Fall.”