2020 Tesla Model 3

2020 Tesla Model 3 Review: Going Electric Just Got Easier

by Sebastian Cenizo

The Tesla Model 3 is the Californian carmaker's luxury electric midsize sedan. It offers various options, with between 250 and 322 miles of range depending on the model of choice, while performance also varies. The base entrant is rear-wheel-drive and provides 283 horsepower while the other end of the spectrum sees the Performance variant promising 480 hp along with a low-three-second 0-60 mph time and the potential to hit 162 mph. Far cooler than a Chevrolet Bolt EV, but not quite as fancy as a similarly priced BMW 3 Series or Audi A4 - should the Model 3 be worth considering?

Read in this review:

2020 Tesla Model 3 Changes: 🚙What’s the difference vs 2019 Model 3?

Tesla vehicles are continuously updated through over-the-air upgrades, with no year-on-year model changes, so determining what changes have been made for 2020 can be tricky. However, the formerly optional, then standard performance package available to the Performance model is now an option again, confusingly.

Pros and Cons

  • Strong acceleration
  • Impressive range on all models
  • Good cargo space
  • Relatively affordable pricing
  • Exemplary safety scores
  • Distracting control interface
  • Minimal available options
  • Scant on convenience and luxury features

2020 Tesla Model 3 Trims

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
Standard Range
Electric
Single Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
$35,000
Standard Range Plus
Electric
Single Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
$37,990
Long Range
Electric
Single Speed Automatic
All-Wheel Drive
$46,990
Performance
Electric
Single Speed Automatic
All-Wheel Drive
$54,990

Model 3 Exterior

The Model 3 is not the prettiest of Tesla's offerings, but it's not offensively ugly either. LED lights feature at the front and the rear, while a smoothed front end with few openings creates a bulbous look. A tinted glass roof is standard, as is a chrome-framed glasshouse, while the rear is pert but smooth, too. 18-inch wheels are standard, but you can get 19s and 20s depending on the model. LED fog lights are also available.

2020 Tesla Model 3 Front View Tesla
2020 Tesla Model 3 Rear View Tesla
2020 Tesla Model 3 Front Angle View Tesla
See All 2020 Tesla Model 3 Exterior Photos

Dimensions

The dimensions of the Tesla Model 3 are comparable to those of other midsize sedans, with length measuring 184.8 inches and the wheelbase spanning 113.2 inches. Height is 56.8 inches while width with the mirrors folded is 76.1 inches. Curb weight varies depending on the spec of the vehicle. The Standard Range Plus base model weighs 3,554 pounds, while the Long Range model starts at 4,032 lbs. The Performance model, which shares many components with the Long Range variant, weighs four pounds more.

  • Length 184.8 in
  • Wheelbase 113.2 in
  • Height 56.8 in
  • Max Width 72.8 in
  • Front Width 62.2 in
  • Rear Width 62.2 in

Exterior Colors

Pearl White is almost Tesla's signature color and is included in the purchase price, but you can spice things up with Solid Black, Midnight Silver metallic, or Deep Blue metallic for $1,000. A Red multi-coat finish is also available, but this is the most expensive of the lot at two grand.

  • Midnight Silver Metallic
  • Deep Blue Metallic
  • Solid Black
  • Midnight Silver Metallic
  • Red Multi-Coat
  • Red Multi-Coat
  • Pearl White Multi-Coat

Model 3 Performance

If outright speed and acceleration are your concern, you'll want the Performance model with the available performance upgrade. In addition to a lowered stance, bigger wheels, and larger brakes, this spec builds on the Performance model's 3.2 second 0-60 mph sprint time by increasing top speed from 145 mph to 162 mph. The Long Range model is only capable of a max speed of 145 and gets from 0-60 in 4.4 seconds. The base Standard Range Plus variant is the slowest yet is still respectable, claiming a 0-60 mph time of 5.3 seconds and a top speed just five mph slower than that of the Long Range model. This base variant is rear-wheel-drive only and features a single motor over the rear axle, while the other two models are all-wheel-drive with two motors. Regardless of which you opt for, battery packs are laid on the floor of the car, giving the Model 3 a low center of gravity and impressive handling characteristics.

2020 Tesla Model 3 Rear Angle View Tesla
2020 Tesla Model 3 Badge Tesla
2020 Tesla Model 3 Wheel Tesla

Engine and Transmission

The base variant, known as the Standard Range Plus, features a single motor that is three-phase induction in type. The motor is positioned at the front of the vehicle and sends 283 hp through a single-speed direct-drive automatic transmission to the rear wheels. Thanks to the weight of the vehicle, the instantaneous torque of the motor is unlikely to cause much wheelspin but thrust is still strong. On the freeway, this instant torque is less vivid, but overtaking is still a breeze.

On the Long Range model, the original motor is supplemented by a rear-mounted three-phase internal permanent-magnetic motor that, in conjunction with the first motor, produces a total of 449 hp. This model sends output to all four wheels, enhancing acceleration and grip. The Performance variant uses the same setup, but produces even more power, with 480 horses. In these all-wheel-drive variants, acceleration and overtaking ability are enhanced to the level that you have to ensure the road is clear ahead before planting your right foot with wanton abandon. For cheap thrills, little is as intoxicating as near-silent warp speed that can humble supercar owners.

  • Engine
    Electric
  • Transmission
    Single Speed Automatic
  • Drivetrains
    AWD, RWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

Electric vehicles will likely never be as engaging to drive as their gas-fed counterparts, yet the Model 3 does a good job of trying to be as fun. Steering is responsive and sharp with impressive weight, with this characteristic customizable through three different on-board settings, although the wheel is lacking in feel, as is typical for these types of vehicles. Thanks to that low center of gravity we mentioned earlier, body roll is well contained and only truly ham-fisted driving will get the Model 3 to reign power back in. Naturally, the all-wheel-drive variants are better than the base rear-drive model in this respect, with a higher grip threshold allowing you to push harder.

Even with such impressive handling ability, the Model 3 is rather supple over small and large bumps alike - a feature that is partly a by-product of the weight of the vehicle. When you let off the power and want to slow down, regenerative braking instantly but gradually slows the car, and once you've acclimatized to the experience, you can use it to slow down in traffic without touching the pedal. When you do need to touch the brakes, the pedal is easy to modulate and allows you to make smooth stops with ease.

Model 3 Gas Mileage

Capabilities of the Tesla Model 3 vary depending on the model you opt for. The base Standard Range Plus is the lightest and therefore returns the best figures, with EPA estimates of 148/132/141 MPGe on the city/highway/combined cycles. However, this model only has a 62 kWh lithium-ion battery and thus offers the shortest range of just 250 miles, although this will likely be plenty for most users. The Long Range and Performance variants get a bigger 75 kWh battery and boast 322 miles of range. If you add the performance package to the Performance model, this drops to 299 miles. These all-wheel-drive models' figures on the EPA cycles have been estimated at 124/116/121 MPGe for the Long Range and Performance models in base form. This drops to 118/107/113 MPGe if the performance upgrade is equipped.

Tesla 120 kW superchargers can fill these 75 kWh batteries from 10-80% in as little as half an hour, while regular chargers will take a little more than double that. Fortunately for those who will charge at home, a 7 kW home charger can fully fill a depleted battery in 13 hours.

  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 138/124 mpg
* 2020 Tesla Model 3 Standard Range RWD

Model 3 Interior

Spartan seems a bit condescending a term to use when describing the interior of the Model 3, but at least it's simple. Two things strike you about the interior when you first open the door: it looks bigger than it would appear from the outside, and that central screen on the dash is huge. This effect is amplified by how simplistic the dash and most of the interior are, but it is indeed a large screen, measuring 15 inches. It's a very clean and modern look overall and it works fairly well, but we still would prefer some physical knobs. Interior space is good too, proving to be more than just an optical illusion, although those in the back shouldn't be close to the six-foot mark if you intend to go on a long trip.

2020 Tesla Model 3 Infotainment System Tesla
2020 Tesla Model 3 Steering Wheel Tesla
2020 Tesla Model 3 Dashboard Tesla
See All 2020 Tesla Model 3 Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

The Model 3 seats five individuals in relative comfort, but as we've noted above, the sloping roofline cuts into the rear headroom a little. Fortunately, legroom is good - a bonus that comes with a car that doesn't have a transmission tunnel. In the front, 12-way power-adjustable seats allow the driver to get into a good driving position. All-round visibility is exemplary too, and forward occupants will have no issues with headroom or legroom. Ingress and egress for all passengers are impressive too, and all seats offer a good balance between support and comfort.

  • Seating capacity
    5-seater
  • Front Leg Room 42.7 in
  • Front Head Room 40.3 in
  • Rear Leg Room 35.2 in
  • Rear Head Room 37.7 in

Interior Colors and Materials

Two interior color schemes are available for the Tesla Model 3, the first of which is called All Black but features a contrasting wood element through the dash. Leather isn't viewed as environmentally friendly, so a leatherette with white contrast stitching features instead. However, we prefer the $1,000 Black and White color scheme. Here, the seats and elements of the door cards and dash feature a bright and futuristic blank white. Spec your Model 3 with either black or white paint and the car has an overall appearance that wouldn't look out of place in an early-2000s sci-fi flick.

Model 3 Trunk and Cargo Space

Since electric cars don't have an engine sitting under the hood that area is used as a buffer for frontal collisions but also doubles as a place for a frunk. In the Model 3, that front trunk offers 2.7 cubic feet of volume, while the rear offers 12.3 cubes for a total of 15. The back is large enough to swallow carry-on luggage for four, while the front can fit an additional overnight bag. If that's not enough, you can fold the rear seats to maximize rear storage to 40.3 cubic feet.

In the cabin, you get a pair of cupholders in each row, along with door pockets that feature recesses for water bottles. There's also a spot for your phone in the center console, a reasonable glovebox, and a center armrest storage bin.

2020 Tesla Model 3 Armrest Tesla
2020 Tesla Model 3 Hood Up Tesla
2020 Tesla Model 3 Front Luggage Space Tesla
  • Trunk Volume
    15 ft³

Model 3 Infotainment and Features

Features

As standard, the Tesla Model 3 features 12-way power-adjustable front seats with heating, a tinted glass roof, heated and power-folding wing mirrors, remote access through a mobile app, keyless entry and ignition, LED headlights with automatic high beams, rain-sensing wipers, a brake hold feature, a surround-view camera, parking sensors, and a dash cam. Dual-zone climate control also features, along with lane departure warning and lane keep assist. You also get adaptive cruise control, traffic sign recognition, and forward collision warning with autonomous emergency braking as part of the Autopilot suite of semi-autonomous driving aids. Further wizardry can be unlocked with the Full Self-Driving Capability option that adds a summon feature, automatic parking, auto lane change, and the still unreleased features of automatic city driving and traffic light recognition.

Infotainment

The aforementioned 15-inch horizontally-mounted touchscreen display in the center of the dash is the base of operations for the infotainment system, but also for most other vehicle functions. It features navigation with real-time traffic updates, both of which use the familiar Google Maps interface. Bluetooth connectivity features too, along with HD Radio and FM-frequency radio. However, AM radio, SiriusXM satellite radio, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto are all conspicuously absent. At least an internet browser and some online stations are offered. A 14-speaker premium sound system is also available. While the overall look and feel of the system is decent, the lack of any physical knobs or buttons, as well as icons that can be too small, can distract one from the road for too long.

Model 3 Problems and Reliability

Thus far, the 2020 Tesla Model 3 has been completely free of recalls, although one was registered for the 2019 model. This was in October of last year and referred to a missing airbag warning sticker on the sun visor.

In terms of coverage, a four-year/50,000-mile basic warranty is accompanied by an eight-year/100,000-mile battery and powertrain warranty. Long Range variants get 120,000 miles of security here.

Model 3 Safety

The Tesla Model 3 is a stand-out performer in crash ratings, earning the best possible five stars out of five in the NHTSA's testing, along with the best possible performance of Good in the IIHS crash tests. In addition, the IIHS awarded the 2020 Model 3 with a Top Safety Pick+ award once again, just as they did with the 2019 model.

US NHTSA crash test result

  • Overall Rating
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
  • Side Crash Rating
  • Rollover Rating

Key Safety Features

Key safety features in Tesla products fall under the Autopilot suite of driver aids, which includes forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and lane keep assist. Fully-autonomous highway driving, automatic lane changes, and automatic parking are available add-ons. Blind-spot monitoring is included on all Model 3s too, but the warning is shown on the central screen, which is acceptable when the "offending" vehicle is on the passenger side, but counter-intuitive when there's a vehicle next to the driver's side of the car. Standard airbags include a pair of knee, a pair of frontal, a pair of side-impact, and two curtain airbags.

Verdict: 🏁Is the 2020 Tesla Model 3 a good car?

If you're used to benchmark luxury midsize sedans like the BMW 3 Series and the Audi A4, chances are that the Tesla Model 3 may feel numb and sparse to you. On the other hand, the instantaneous torque delivery, the novel "Easter egg" features, and the semi-autonomous driving abilities of the Model 3 may be exciting enough. Total cargo space is helped along by rear seats that fold completely flat, meaning the Model 3 is practical too. Naturally, you have to take into account what the network of charging stations is like in your specific area, but that network continues to grow. In addition, regular software updates ensure that you're not just buying a current model - you're probably buying next year's version too. If you can look past the slightly lax build quality, the plain but futuristic interior, and the limited options for luxury, convenience, and customization, the Tesla Model 3 could be just the car for you.

🚘What's the Price of the 2020 Tesla Model 3?

The cheapest model in the lineup is the Standard Range Plus, which starts at a base price of $39,990 before a $1,200 destination charge. While that delivery fee is a little lofty, various tax incentives and rebates can cancel it out and even bring the price down slightly. The next model in the range is the Long Range, which is all-wheel-drive. This model costs $48,990, while the top of the range sees the Performance model start at $56,990. Fully loaded, this model will set you back $66,990 before rebates. A $100 non-refundable order fee secures the build of your chosen model.

2020 Tesla Model 3 Models

The Tesla Model 3 is available in three iterations, but standard and optional features are largely the same across the range. The three versions on offer are as follows: Standard Range Plus, Long Range, and Performance. Standard features shared by all include 12-way power-adjustable heated front seats, a tinted glass roof, heated and power-folding mirrors, and a 15-inch touchscreen display with Bluetooth, four USB ports, navigation with live traffic updates, and remote mobile access. Parking sensors, a surround-view camera, blind-spot monitoring, forward collision detection with automatic emergency braking, dual-zone climate control, LED headlights with auto high beams, a dash cam, and adaptive cruise control are all included too.

As base model, the Standard Range Plus is rear-wheel-drive and features a single electric motor. It produces 283 hp, giving it a 0-60 mph time of 5.3 seconds and a top speed of 140 mph. Range here is promised at 250 miles.

The Long Range version gets an additional motor and all-wheel-drive, allowing it to accelerate from 0-60 in 4.4 seconds and on to a top speed of 145 mph. This model has a range of 322 miles.

At the top of the range is the Performance, the quickest model, accelerating from a standstill to 60 mph in just 3.2 seconds. With the optional performance package, this version can top out at 162 mph, but maximum range then drops from 322 to 299 miles.

See All 2020 Tesla Model 3 Trims and Specs

Additional Packages

The base model comes with aerodynamic 18-inch wheels as standard, but sportier 19-inch wheels can be added for $1,500. The same applies to the Long Range model, but the Performance variant doesn't have access to 19s. Instead, you can spec the performance upgrade, which adds 20-inch wheels, upgraded brakes, a carbon fiber rear spoiler, lower suspension, and a track mode. This costs nothing extra. The full set of Self-Driving Capabilities is an available option for all models, and costs $7,000. This gives you access to future autonomous driving aids, but for the time being, you get autonomous highway driving, automatic lane changes, and automatic parking.

🚗What Tesla Model 3 Model Should I Buy?

The choice here will largely depend on your requirements, but for most, there's no need to upgrade from the Standard Range Plus model. Its range of 250 miles is respectable, and its acceleration is reasonably good too. However, we would highly recommend opting to spend seven grand to gain access to all of Autopilot/Full Self-Driving features, as well as be granted access to future upgrades over the air. With this, you have a good EV with decent range and a price that is below $47,000, even without taking rebates into account.

2020 Tesla Model 3 Comparisons

Tesla Model S Tesla
Tesla Model Y Tesla
CompetitorHorsepowerMPGPrice (MSRP)
Tesla Model 3258 hp138/124 mpg$35,000
Tesla Model S TBC$74,990
Tesla Model Y TBC$49,990

2020 Tesla Model 3 vs Tesla Model S

There's always a bit of sibling rivalry in a manufacturer's lineup and Teslas are not exempt; in the case of the Model 3, competition comes from the Model S, a car that is arguably far sexier and svelte in design but also boasts a less attractive price tag that can exceed six figures. Base pricing starts just below 80 grand, but this doesn't buy you better acceleration, as the base Model S can only get from 0-60 in 3.7 seconds, slightly behind the quickest Model 3. However, you do get over 370 miles of range, and there's a sub-three-second Performance model available if that's what you're after. With a portrait-style 17-inch infotainment display and a little more flair in interior design, the Model S feels fancier. Meanwhile, maximum cargo of 58.1 cubic feet is a comprehensive improvement over the Model 3. If you can afford to do so, we'd get the Model S.

See Tesla Model S Review

2020 Tesla Model 3 vs Tesla Model Y

The Model Y is another popular alternative to the entry-level Tesla, and starts at a base price just below $53,000. If you need space, this is the electric crossover for you. Unlike the Model 3, there's plenty of space in the back for people of all sizes and body types, and with the seats flat, you have a cargo area of up to 66 cubic feet. Naturally, with a taller profile, the handling abilities of the Model Y are compromised slightly compared to those of the Model 3, but it's not excessively worse and can still handle better than most cars out there. A similar face adorns the front of the Model Y, but in our opinion, the Model 3 pulls it off better. These cars are very similar in many respects, but unless you need the space that a so-called active lifestyle demands, we'd opt for the cheaper and more fun Model 3.

See Tesla Model Y Review

Tesla Model 3 Popular Comparisons

2020 Tesla Model 3 Video Reviews

Check out some informative Tesla Model 3 video reviews below.

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Photos
$35,000 - $54,990
Price Range (MSRP)
Tesla Model 3