If you’re shopping for a luxury electric car, you’ll find several Tesla models worth considering. The world’s most disruptive automaker continues its bull run into 2021 with revamped versions of the Model S, Model 3, Model X, and Model Y.
Each offers various trims and features, so choosing the best of the above models isn’t easy. Let’s help you narrow the choices right away: The Model S boasts the longest range, highest speed, and best road test scores from Consumer Reports. And the Model 3 is Tesla’s best-selling model thanks to its affordable price. So let’s compare those two.
The Tesla Model S excels at performance
The Tesla Model S is an overachieving luxury sports sedan that doubles as an eco-conscious electric vehicle. It has maintained the same low-slung design since rewriting the EV playbook at its 2012 launch. However, much has changed since then, and the Model S continues to set the bar even higher. Its 2021 updates include upgraded Autopilot technology, greater battery capacity, and an updated powertrain, Tesla claims.
The most affordable Tesla Model S trim, the Long Range, can travel more than 400 miles on a single charge of its 100kWh battery, Consumer Reports says. And the Model S Plaid+ boasts an even farther 520-mile range.
The Model S Plaid is ferocious on the road. Throttling its electric motor gives it a surge of silent power. It can go from 0 to 60 mph in a blistering 1.99 seconds, Tesla claims. It also boasts accurate handling.
Consumer Reports named the Model S its top pick over its stablemates, calling it “the best car we’ve ever tested” after awarding the luxury EV an almost perfect road test score of 97. No other vehicle has ever come this close to a perfect score on the Consumer Reports road test.
However, along with its bona fides, the Tesla Model S carries a hefty price tag. Starting MSRPs range from $69,420 to $149,990, Consumer Reports shows.
The Tesla Model 3 is an affordable choice
The Model 3 is Tesla’s most affordable model. This eco-friendly and super-fun sedan is also an excellent daily driver.
Though the Model S excels at performance, the Model 3 remains a great luxury pick. Consumer Reports gave the Model S a road test score of 83, the lowest of the Tesla bunch, but that’s still miles ahead of the nearest rival brands.
And thanks to its reasonable price, the Model 3 is Tesla’s best-seller, with 206,500 units sold last year, GoodCarBadCar reports. It remains the world’s best-selling EV since 2018, and the winning streak continues.
The 2021 Model 3 is available in three trims to fit different budgets. It also comes with a host of enhancements. The Standard Plus is the least expensive, starting at $38,690, and provides a 263 miles driving range, up from 250, Tesla claims.
The Long Range trim carries a $47,690 price tag and provides a 353-mile range, up from 321. Performance is the highest-priced Model 3 trim, with a $57,190 price tag and a 315-mile range.
The Model 3 Performance also boasts smooth handling and quick acceleration. However, its 0-to-60 mph split of 3.1 seconds seems slow compared to the Model S Plaid.
Also, the Model 3’s interior is relatively basic, lowering its comfort level. The front seats are spacious and comfortable, but the rear row can’t seat adults comfortably. The cabin also isn’t soundproof and lets in wind and other noises at highway speeds.
So, which model is better?
The Model S, with its exceptional speed and handling, is clearly the superior car. So if you want to know which Tesla EV is the best overall, it’s the Model S. However, the Model 3’s wallet-friendly sticker price is the better pick if you’re looking for the most affordable Tesla.