Hybrids & Electrics

The 2021 Tesla Model 3 Offers 90 Percent of the Model S at a Lower Price

Tesla offers two different luxury electric sedans, the Model S and Model 3. The Model S has been around longer and plays the part of the older sibling. The two have different price points and sizes, but those aren’t their only differences. Here’s a look at how the two Tesla sedans compare and whether the Model 3 or Model S is right for you.

The advantages of the Tesla Model 3

The Tesla Model 3 is much less expensive than the Model S and gives buyers the most affordable way to own a Tesla, says MotorTrend. The Model 3 Standard Range Plus single-motor RWD starts at $39,190. The Model 3 Long Range dual-motor AWD starts at $48,190, and the Model 3 Performance starts at $56,190 and also has two motors.

The Model 3 offers Track Mode, which MotorTrend enthuses “makes the Model 3 Performance one of the best-handling sport sedans you can buy.” This feature, tuned by race car driver and MotorTrend journalist Randy Pobst, changes the performance of the car and makes it able to drift.

The Model 3 is smaller than the Model S, although it has nearly as much legroom for the rear seats. The difference is just 0.2 inches. It has a shorter wheelbase, shorter length, and lighter weight. The difference makes the Model 3 easier to drive plus quicker and more nimble.

The advantages of the Tesla Model S

The Tesla Model S does cost more than the Tesla Model 3, with a starting price of $79,990. However, the Model S shines in overall performance. The new Model S Plaid model is able to rocket from zero to 60 MPH in under two seconds. MotorTrend found the fastest Model 3 was able to hit 60 MPH in 3.2 seconds. The Model S Plaid+ model has a top speed of 200 MPH, compared to the Model 3’s maximum speed of 162 MPH. Both Plaid versions do have starting prices above $100,000. The Model S Plaid and Plaid+ are expected to arrive toward the end of 2021.

Despite their different prices (or perhaps because of them), the Model S has a better value over time than the Model 3. MotorTrend used data from IntelliChoice, which looked at five-year ownership costs. That included data on “depreciation, insurance, financing, fuel, maintenance, state fees, and repairs.” IntelliChoice rated the Model S the highest rating of Excellent and gave the Model 3 the rating of Good.

The Model S also beats the Model 3 in range. The dual-motor Model S Long Range can go a distance of 412 miles on one charge. The tri-motor Model S Plaid and Plaid+ travel about 390 miles and 520 miles. That definitely tops the Model 3’s range of 263 to 353 miles.

The Model S provides more cargo room than the smaller Model 3. Both have small front trunks. Hatchback cargo spaces are measured differently from other trunks, but the Model S has 26.6 cubic feet behind the rear seats, which increases to 58.1 cubic feet with the seat folded down. The Model 3 has just 15.0 cubic feet.

How the two compare

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The Tesla Model S is the electric vehicle that Tesla has been producing the longest. The Model 3, though, is presently the best-selling all-electric vehicle from any brand. The Model 3 is less expensive and smaller than the Model S, and it offers Track Mode on the Model 3 Performance. The Model S stands out for its performance, long-term value, longer range, and larger cargo room.

While the Model 3 and Model S are both sedans, they are actually more similar to SUV counterparts, says Electrek. Along with their different sizes, the two cars have different wheel options. The larger Model S has either 19-inch or 21-inch performance wheels. The Model 3 has 18-inch or 19-inch wheels. The Model S has a larger touchscreen at 17 inches than the Model 3, which has a 15-inch screen. The Model S also includes a HEPA air filtration system.

The Tesla Model S is the winner, but the Tesla Model 3 is a fraction of the price

MotorTrend declares the Tesla Model S the winner over the Tesla Model 3. However, it does point out that the Model 3 offers 90 percent of the features in the Model S at a much lower price. While all the features of the Model S might be desirable, the price of the Model 3 will be attractive to many buyers.