Hybrids & Electrics

The New 2021 Tesla Model 3 Refresh Adds More Range at No Extra Cost

Elon Musk first announced his Tesla Model 3 concept during an interview for Wired Science in 2006. At the time, Musk claimed that the Model 3 would be affordably priced and attainable by most consumers who could afford to buy a new car. Musk later stated in 2008 that the Model 3 would be a family car. Priced at $35,000 and capable of accelerating from 0 to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds and reaching a top speed of 162 mph, it’s quite the performance bargain.

The 2020 electric four-door fastback sedan delivers an EPA-rated all-electric range of 250 miles. The 2020 Tesla Model 3 Long Range has a current EPA of 322 miles. But both 2021 variants promise better exterior and interior quality and improved driving range on a single charge. Tesla also claims the Model 3 is equipped with “self-driving hardware” that receives intermittent software updates. These updates are supposed to gradually increase autonomous functionality. However, such claims should be taken with a grain of salt until such technology has been proven safe.

The complaints owners had about the existing Model 3

Tesla Model 3 reviews are varied, ranging from a meager three stars all the way up to four and a half stars. In mid-November 2019, Consumer Reports (CR) reported that it would no longer recommend the newest Tesla Model 3. According to the report, CR members identified several issues with their cars, most of which were exterior related. The most notable complaints involved body hardware, exterior paint, and exterior trim. The bulk of CR member complaints were brought to light in its annual reliability survey, which included data on approximately 470,000 vehicles.

According to an updated version of the CR report, the Tesla Model S and Model 3 “regained a Consumer Reports Recommendation.”

Tesla’s initial attempt at manufacturing the first truly mass-marketed electric vehicle (EV) technically began in 2017. It only manufactured 260 Model 3s with 222 released in 2017 Q3. The number manufactured for 2017 Q4 increased to 2,425 units with 1,542 units delivered. In essence, whoever purchased a Model 3 during that year was essentially buying a prototype.

Numerous hindrances resulted in frequent production delays. Customers who had preordered their Model 3 waited over a year for it to be delivered. Nevertheless, the first Model 3s were well-received by owners, earning it top marks in CR’s initial owner satisfaction survey. It also helped that Tesla lived up to its promise to produce a highly competitive sports sedan that could compete against brands like the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4.

What improvements to expect

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The 2021 entry-level Tesla Model 3 features a host of brand-new enhancements. Borrowing styling hints from Tesla’s Model S and Model X, the new Model 3 features a unique interior design and an all-glass roof. Most importantly, the automaker focused on correcting exterior styling elements. For example, Car and Driver reports that the bright chrome trim has been swapped out for an elegant satin black trim. The rolling stock has three new wheel designs, a new power-operated rear trunk lid, black satin door-sill protectors, and several other changes.

The interior has received some fairly nifty upgrades as well. The monolithic touchscreen in the center of the dashboard controls almost everything, which makes for a modest, clean looking cabin. The center console now accommodates two wireless charging pads; new metal finishes have been applied to the steering wheel-mounted infotainment controls as well as to the seat-adjustment controls.

How the 2021 Tesla Model 3 performs

The most beneficial improvement to the Model 3 is its driving range. The Standard Range Plus RWD now boasts a driving range of 263 miles per charge—13 more miles than the 2020 model year. The Model 3 Long Range boasts an even greater range increase of 353 miles. That’s around 31 miles more than the existing 2020 Long Range. Newly designed aluminum wheels are covered by plastic aerodynamic hubcaps — now a standard feature.

The rear-wheel-drive Long Range model can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in just 5.1 seconds. The Model 3 Performance is 0.5 seconds faster than the Model 3 Long Range, reportedly accelerating from zero to 60 in 3.5 seconds. Three versions of the 2021 Tesla Model 3 will be available, same as the current model year. You can expect between 113 MPGe and 141 MPGe, rated by the EPA. It should also be noted that some test drivers reported lower MPGe averages on test drives upwards of 200 miles or more.