Skip to main content

It is time to finally accept the reality that the Tesla Model 3 is an affordable vehicle. Yes, I understand that when most drivers hear the word, “Tesla,” their minds are stuck in 2012 when the Model S Signature started at over $90,000, but the EV landscape is much different over 10 years later.

Entry-level Teslas are on the more affordable end, and with the base Model 3 starting below $40,000 MSRP with a tax credit as of May 2023, it is hard to deny that a less expensive Tesla Model 3 is an excellent option for those drivers who have the means to maintain a charge conveniently. More savings can be found with the Tesla Model 3 Performance and Long Range Models, which are eligible for a $7,500 tax credit. If you need any more convincing, here are three vehicles that make the Tesla Model 3 look affordable in comparison.

The Toyota Crown is a bit bigger and not fully electric

A white 2023 Toyota Crown, one of the competitors to the Tesla Model 3, driving down a city street.
2023 Toyota Crown | Toyota

The Toyota Crown caught the automotive world by surprise when an American release was announced for this model that is typically only available overseas. The Crown offers intense styling and a dramatic style change for Toyota, a typically conservatively-run company. The Crown offers solid technology with a large touchscreen, wireless smartphone integration, and fantastic fuel economy for the base hybrid model, achieving around 42 mpg city and 41 mpg highway numbers.

Despite the Toyota Crown’s larger size, it is tough to ignore that the Crown is still a traditional hybrid vehicle that requires fuel. Even though the fuel economy numbers are solid, regular oil changes and other internal combustion engine maintenance charges will add up over time. Combine this with the fact that the Toyota Crown starts at $39,950 MSRP, according to Toyota, and you are paying thousands more for a Toyota than a Tesla, which has many more technological features and fewer maintenance costs.

The Nissan Maxima has a higher MSRP than the Tesla Model 3

Yes, the Nissan Maxima has a more expensive starting MSRP than the Tesla Model 3 after tax incentives. The base Nissan Maxima starts at $38,340 MSRP and comes with a standard list of solid safety features and a 3.5-liter V6 engine. With that V6 engine comes subpar fuel economy numbers at 20 mpg city and 30 mpg highway, according to Nissan.

While this V6 pumps out 300 hp, which is a little better than the 283 hp offered by the standard Tesla Model 3, the Model 3 offers more torque and isn’t stuck with an awkward CVT transmission like the Maxima. The Nissan Maxima offers a luxury car interior space, but the technology offerings leave much to be desired. With a small standard 8-inch touchscreen display found on the Nissan Maxima, the Tesla Model 3 performs and impresses on every level for a cheaper price and a lower cost of ownership.

The Subaru Legacy Touring XT is a surprise entry

The Subaru lineup is full of solid SUV offerings, including the much-anticipated refreshed Crosstrek. If you visit a Subaru dealer today, you might miss the Subaru Legacy, a sedan built on the Outback’s platform. An anemic base 182 hp engine is standard, with a 260-hp turbo four-cylinder available on the Touring XT model. All-wheel drive is standard, but that’s about where the good news ends.

The Subaru Legacy Touring XT offers a good amount of space in the cabin, and on the Touring XT model, leather is standard, but the technology offerings found with the Legacy still fall far short of the Model 3’s. Even worse is the fuel economy with the turbo four-cylinder model achieving around 27 mpg combined. For anemic power, a small number of tech features, and a price (around $38,000) higher than the base Model 3, it is tough to calculate how much you are getting with a Subaru Legacy XT over a Tesla Model 3. 


3 of the Best Cars to Buy New