The Pros and Cons of Buying a Tesla Model 3 Over a Used Model S

The MSRP of a Tesla Model 3 has kept it in the luxury segment throughout 2018. | Tesla

Nearly everyone agreed that the “affordable, mass-market” electric vehicle that was supposed to be the Tesla Model 3 would be a great addition to the EV market. After all, the main barrier to the brand’s top-rated electric sedan was its high price.

But problems with production and company finances put the idea of a $35,000 Model 3 on hold until 2019. That leaves prospective Tesla buyers without six figures on their hands with the choice between a new Model 3 ($50,200 and up) and a used Model S ($43,300 and up).

If you’re looking to buy a electric car at the price point of a Mercedes-Benz sedan, these two models will rank at the top of the list for range. Here are the pros and cons of the two Tesla sedans on the market in 2018.

Tesla Model 3

  • Range: You will get a top driving range (310 miles) if you choose a Model 3. That figure tops most certified pre-owned Model S sedans under $60,000. (Most offer 265 miles on a full charge.)
  • Power and speed: This Model 3 peaks at 271 horsepower and hits 60 miles per hour in 4.5-5.0 seconds. Dual-motor models start at $55,200.
  • Passenger and cargo space: Model 3 seats five and offers 15 cubic feet of cargo space. It measures 184.8 inches (15.4 feet).
  • Supercharging: Other than a few free charges per year, Model 3 owners will have to pay as they go when traveling long distances.
  • Tech: 15-inch center touchscreen, option of AutoPilot and full self-driving equipment

Tesla Model S

2016 Tesla Model S
Tesla Model S | Tesla
  • Range: The Model S 85 and dual motor (all-wheel drive) 85D offer 265 miles of range. Some 60 kWh models (208 miles) are available as well.
  • Power and speed: Model S 85 delivers a whopping 380 horsepower, while the 85D offers 422 horses. These models hit 60 miles per hour from a stop in about 5.4 seconds.
  • Passenger and cargo space: Model S seats five and offers double the amount of cargo space (30 cubic feet) compared to Model 3 in its front and back trunks. You can also add rear-facing child seats for two. It measures 196 inches (16.33 feet).
  • Supercharging: Model S owners who buy a pre-owned model through Tesla or have a referral code will get access to free Supercharging for the life of the car.
  • Tech: 17-inch center touchscreen; most have AutoPilot, keyless entry, and ultra-high fidelity sound systems.


In terms of power, space, elegance, and charging costs, the Model S has a significant advantage. At about 1 foot longer, it’s more difficult to park, naturally, but that is a trade-off any family would take.

Meanwhile, the great thing about used electric cars is how little mileage you’ll find on the odometer. Most used Model S sedans on Tesla’s site have roughly 30,000-35,000 miles on them at this price point (below $60,000). Certified pre-owned models come with a four-year, 50,000 mile limited warranty.

Looking at reliability, the 2015 model year was when Tesla hit its stride in this department, and you’ll see a lot of inventory from that year on sale. So far, Model 3 has come up well short in this area, and you have to expect much of the same until Tesla works out the kinks over the coming year or two.

Overall, if you don’t mind a lightly used car, a Tesla Model S seems to be the far better option in 2018.