Tesla Model 3 Reviews: What Are Critics Saying?

By: Ryan Gallagher August 14, 2017
Tesla's Model 3 has started rolling off assembly lines in California.
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Last month, the first of the much-anticipated Tesla Model 3 vehicles rolled out of the electric carmaker’s California factory and into the hands of its first 30 buyers. 

Tesla CEO Elon Musk had a “secret master plan” to show the world an affordable, well-made, and reliable electric vehicle. Model 3 will be the first mass-produced Tesla, starting at a base price of $35,000.

Musk thanked previous Model S and X buyers—Tesla’s original, high-end vehicles—for fueling the carmaker’s plan.

“With any new technology, it takes multiple iterations and economies of scale before you can make it affordable,” Musk said. A car for the masses “was only possible to do… after going through the prior steps.”

Now that said steps have been taken, the first buyers are starting to receive their Teslas, and several car critics have written reviews after tooling around in the new vehicle.

Their general verdict: the future of zero-emissions cars has arrived.

USA Today

The Model 3 was likened to its older Tesla Model S and X siblings, in a review by Marco della Cava.

“It's clear the Model 3 has inherited a lot of its family DNA from [previous models] while cutting back on enough bells and whistles to bring the starting price down to $35,000,” said della Cava.

However, the reporter saw issue with an aspect of the car’s exterior.

“There's something a bit off with the front grille. Whereas the S and X offer a serious and simple face, the Model 3's divoted front end seems to be trying to smile,” della Cava explained. “The car shouldn't try to be cute. It’s not its vibe.”

Motor Trend

The newest Tesla received very high praise from Motor Trend’s Kim Reynolds. Affordability and miles per charge range were two of the biggest factors for the reporter.

“The Tesla Model 3 is here, and it is the most important vehicle of the century. Yes, the hyperbole is necessary,” Reynolds wrote.

Tesla 3 is “light and airy” on the inside and similarly “firm” with a quick, “scalpel-like” steering ratio, says Reynolds.

While the reporter fawned over car’s affordability, the Model 3 he drove had extra features that base-price buyers won’t see.

“But of course, [the car we drove] isn’t $35,000. A quick summing of its features puts it at about $59,500,” admitted Reynolds. “And it’ll be a while before $35,000 versions are built.”


The Model 3 is monitored and controlled via a center panel.

For Fortune’s Kirsten Korosec, the vehicle’s new tech was front and center. The Model 3 is outfitted with a 15-inch visual console display where a normal vehicle would have a radio. This tablet-like screen holds all the car’s information, from the speedometer to the map. At the swipe of a finger, drivers will be able to control almost all the features and technology the car offers.

Along with the features and new technology in the car, Korosec also remarked upon the Tesla’s interior.

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

Much like previous reviewers, Korosec noted that many features customers will likely want will cost additional money.

“If you want any other color than black. . .it will cost you an extra $1,000,” she warns. “For buyers who chose to get every upgrade like a premium paint job, 19-inch wheels, and full self-driving capability… the price tag will be just shy of $60,000.”


The new Tesla received another (mostly) positive review from Jack Stewart of Wired.

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,” said Stewart.

While the review of the Model 3 specifically was very positive, the reporter wasn’t so sure about Tesla’s overall goal to produce 500,000 Model 3 vehicles next year.

“Time will tell whether Musk & Co. can hit their deadlines and keep production lines humming,” Stewart conjectured.


Model 3 is on a “diet” compared to the older Tesla models, yet better suits the everyday driver, according to Tom Randall for Bloomberg.

However, Randall did find issue with the storage availability in Model 3.

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

What’s Next?

Reviews are looking good for Musk and Tesla as a whole. Critics complimented the Model 3’s technology, features, the car’s handling, and overall aesthetic.

Yet, there were questions of production and price. Will Tesla hit the 500,000-car mark? And will there actually be anyone who gets a Tesla for just $35,000?

Whatever the case, Tesla’s future should be one to keep an eye on.

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