Hybrids & Electrics

Is the Tesla Model 3 Any Good for Road Trips?

Teslas have been turning heads ever since Elon Musk started producing them. From the partially automated driving system to the impressive battery run times, these electric cars have put to the test. One such test, which was actually unintentional, was a road trip that was over 2,000 miles long. An author at MotorTrend purchased a Tesla Model 3 last year in Chicago and drove it back to his home in Los Angeles. He wrote about his journey home and how he felt about it.

The Tesla Model 3 the author drove

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The author of the MotorTrend article was looking to own a Tesla Model 3 with the Autopilot feature. But, at that time, he wasn’t willing to spend too much money on it. From advice he got from a friend, he used a Tesla sales adviser to find him one offered at a discounted price.

One in Chicago popped up, and he jumped on the chance by placing a down payment for it. After using its financing department, they found him a lender and drew up the paperwork for him to sign. He flew out to Chicago to pick up the car and decided he would drive it back home to save himself a little money. 

The Tesla Model 3 he bought is a white one with 2,875 miles on it. He originally purchased it for $59,000, but because of pricing restructure, his Tesla went down to $55,600. But if you factor in the $3,700 tax credit, he actually got it for $51,000. Once he picked up the Tesla, he took off for the long drive home.

How well did it fare on the long road trip?

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There were two things that made the 2,200-mile trip easier for the author. The first one is the Autopilot feature that Tesla made popular. Since he drove thousands of miles, with most of them coming on highways and freeways, Autopilot proved to be invaluable.

The lengthy drive was less stressful because Tesla did most of the driving. The author mainly spent his time overseeing the road and checking for any hazards along the way. 

The second useful feature was the cost of traveling. Vehicles with gasoline-powered engines would’ve cost anywhere from $20-$30 to fill up the tank in a similar-sized car. On a 2,200-mile trip, fuel could’ve cost him around $200-$300 if he’d been driving a regular car. 

The author’s Tesla only cost him $146 for supercharger usage on the trip. But, some of that includes one particular incident where he fell asleep in his car and didn’t wake up to unplug it when it was fully charged. He ended up with a $30 bill charging him for the time he ultimately used there. 

An overview of the 2020 Tesla Model 3

When Tesla first hit the market, prices were always in the high range. Many people were interested in buying one but just couldn’t afford to finance it. It wasn’t until the Model 3 Performance sedan came out that people took notice. It was the automaker’s first electric tech vehicle offered at a more affordable price. 

The cheapest Tesla you can buy nowadays is a Standard Range Model that you can special order at a Tesla store for $36,200. You can also purchase a Standard Range Plus model for $39,190 online. If you opt for the Standard Range Model, you can expect that it can get up to 250 miles before needing its next charge. 

For an electric car, the Tesla Model 3s are pretty fast. The more expensive Performance Model can get an acceleration time of 3.5 seconds for a 0 to 60 mph run. The long-range battery trim is slower but can still squeeze out a run of 5.1 seconds. 

The NHTSA crash-tested the Tesla Model 3 and ended up giving it a perfect score of five stars. The standard safety features on this model are the adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and the automated emergency braking system. 

The Tesla Model 3 fared pretty well during the long road trip the MotorTrend author took back in 2019. What made the trip less maddening was the Autopilot feature. Without it, he says, he couldn’t possibly have made it that far by himself.