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Considering 2021 Model 3 - Trade-offs to current cars on my mind

frontrangeM3

Member
Mar 1, 2021
32
16
Greater Denver Area
First new post here. Empty nesters, Denver Area. Have 2007 Z4 roadster (toy car), 2015 Q5 TDI (sporty camper tug) and 2019 Leaf SL+ (urban corridor runabout). Considering combining the Z4 and the Leaf+ into a Model 3 LR AWD. Have test driven before, briefly at least, have some understanding of the EV scene, but not of the Tesla twists to car ownership and travel. Been reading up here and chatting with the couple of owners I know.

The Leaf+ offers about 240 miles of real world range in town in the summer time, and roughly 200 in winter running snow tires in Denver, unless it's really cold. I don't drive it like a baby carriage either. We routinely see about 4.3 mi/kwh in summer and 3.5-3.9 in winter. Ours has every option available, including 2-tone leather, a decent sound system, LED lights all around, more than enough power for day-to-day, and a heat pump to help in winter (no fancy octovalve, but it does work to heat the cabin with minimal range impact, sometimes simpler isn't all bad...). Interior is an updated version of what we've always known. Apple Car Play and Andriod Auto standard. DCFC is Chademo of course. I've never used it. We charge at home 100% of the time (so far) using a 14-50 240v line on a dedicated 50 amp GFCI circuit.

NIssan's standard "Pro-Pilot" is comparable to Tesla's basic autopilot from what I gather, but does offer rear cross-traffic alert. It works well enough as long as the cameras are clean. I rarely use it, since we're not on the highway that often with this car. I've taken it as far as Ft Collins north of us to visit family, 135 miles round trip in summer, got home with 100 miles of range showing. For bopping around town, it's a great little FWD car. Not fancy, but it drives nice, handles nice, and is dead quiet. Under-appreciated overall, I think.

I expect the Leaf to depreciate pretty steeply in the next 12 months. So far it's holding value quite well after incentives. We all but stole it back in 2019. 40% off! But the lack of TMS on the battery and the newer cars coming out will not help its resale. It just isn't desirable enough on the market to hold its own.

The Z is a hoot to drive. 6 speed stick, short throw shifter to die for, silky smooth in-line 6, light-weight, goes exactly where you point it in the instant you do so. Loud on the highway. Not an over-the-road car in traffic. Mountain road, afternoon trip for lunch car seems to be the sweet spot. So it's a little limited. Once we sell it, there's no looking back though. We'll never again own anything quite like it. Still has low miles, so it's got a little value, but once we put another 5-10 thousand on it, that will evaporate.

Since I'm not patient with "twitchy" cars that can disappoint in a big way in a pinch, I'm a little gun-shy on the model 3. Not sure it's a good fit. Folks who've had a great experience sing its praises, others sing a decidedly different tune. Tesla has it's own way of doing things, and it's their way or the highway. I do appreciate fine engineering, and being in IT I for the last 20-some years, I have some understanding for how hard things are to get right.

Tomorrow I'm going for yet another test drive. We have a newer service center near us, so that helps, and the 2021 refresh has addressed some of our concerns from past test drives (heat pump, and wind noise, mostly). The interior takes some getting used to, but at least the UI is better now.

I'm on a Tesla board here, talking with enthusiasts. Given all that above, what should I be thinking about on this test drive? What kind of pros and cons have you run into in your transition from pre-Tesla to Tesla ownership?
 

dmurphy

Woof.
Dec 7, 2018
3,411
4,619
New Jersey - Morris County
Pros: driving is fun again.
Pros: lots of room for a small car
Pros: all the EV benefits
Pros: Supercharger network makes cross country tripping simple
Pros: heating in the winter is sublime. Heats fast, heats everything, really spectacular
pros: Never stopping at a gas station again.
pros: constant software updates keeps the car “fresh”

cons: my Cadillac had a “plusher” interior
Have to stream XM radio - no built in tuner
Cons: they tend to multiply in your driveway.

I’ll be honest. I’m coming up on 2 years with my Model 3 and with EVERY car I’ve ever owned, I’ve already started thinking about “what comes next” by now. This thing? No way. I’m driving it till the wheels come off and then some. Like I said though, they do multiply. Once you have a Model 3, that Q5 better watch its back. You’ll be daydreaming about replacing it with an X.
 

MXLRplus

Active Member
Mar 11, 2020
1,580
2,414
Eastvale, CA
At 5000'+ DA, the EVs are on their home turf. An EV accelerates the same regardless of altitude (ignore comments about air resistance).
Even the slowest Tesla sold is WAY quicker than the standard Z4 or the Leaf. Now the Turbo 6 Z4 is quicker on paper than the base Model 3, except in the real world of passing power on mountain roads.

Today's Z4 is 3,500lb. The base Model 3 is 3650lb. So weight is not as cut and dried as you might assume. The EVs carry their weight much lower to the ground.

The Leaf is perhaps the most practical. I had a hard time with the Pro-Pilot Autosteering, but that was my fault most likely. The lackluster performance, the CHAdeMO nonsense, the styling keep me away from the Leaf.
 

jjrandorin

Moderator, Model 3, Tesla Energy Forums
Nov 28, 2018
7,856
8,690
Riverside Co. CA
First new post here. Empty nesters, Denver Area. Have 2007 Z4 roadster (toy car), 2015 Q5 TDI (sporty camper tug) and 2019 Leaf SL+ (urban corridor runabout). Considering combining the Z4 and the Leaf+ into a Model 3 LR AWD. Have test driven before, briefly at least, have some understanding of the EV scene, but not of the Tesla twists to car ownership and travel. Been reading up here and chatting with the couple of owners I know.

The Leaf+ offers about 240 miles of real world range in town in the summer time, and roughly 200 in winter running snow tires in Denver, unless it's really cold. I don't drive it like a baby carriage either. We routinely see about 4.3 mi/kwh in summer and 3.5-3.9 in winter. Ours has every option available, including 2-tone leather, a decent sound system, LED lights all around, more than enough power for day-to-day, and a heat pump to help in winter (no fancy octovalve, but it does work to heat the cabin with minimal range impact, sometimes simpler isn't all bad...). Interior is an updated version of what we've always known. Apple Car Play and Andriod Auto standard. DCFC is Chademo of course. I've never used it. We charge at home 100% of the time (so far) using a 14-50 240v line on a dedicated 50 amp GFCI circuit.

NIssan's standard "Pro-Pilot" is comparable to Tesla's basic autopilot from what I gather, but does offer rear cross-traffic alert. It works well enough as long as the cameras are clean. I rarely use it, since we're not on the highway that often with this car. I've taken it as far as Ft Collins north of us to visit family, 135 miles round trip in summer, got home with 100 miles of range showing. For bopping around town, it's a great little FWD car. Not fancy, but it drives nice, handles nice, and is dead quiet. Under-appreciated overall, I think.

I expect the Leaf to depreciate pretty steeply in the next 12 months. So far it's holding value quite well after incentives. We all but stole it back in 2019. 40% off! But the lack of TMS on the battery and the newer cars coming out will not help its resale. It just isn't desirable enough on the market to hold its own.

The Z is a hoot to drive. 6 speed stick, short throw shifter to die for, silky smooth in-line 6, light-weight, goes exactly where you point it in the instant you do so. Loud on the highway. Not an over-the-road car in traffic. Mountain road, afternoon trip for lunch car seems to be the sweet spot. So it's a little limited. Once we sell it, there's no looking back though. We'll never again own anything quite like it. Still has low miles, so it's got a little value, but once we put another 5-10 thousand on it, that will evaporate.

Since I'm not patient with "twitchy" cars that can disappoint in a big way in a pinch, I'm a little gun-shy on the model 3. Not sure it's a good fit. Folks who've had a great experience sing its praises, others sing a decidedly different tune. Tesla has it's own way of doing things, and it's their way or the highway. I do appreciate fine engineering, and being in IT I for the last 20-some years, I have some understanding for how hard things are to get right.

Tomorrow I'm going for yet another test drive. We have a newer service center near us, so that helps, and the 2021 refresh has addressed some of our concerns from past test drives (heat pump, and wind noise, mostly). The interior takes some getting used to, but at least the UI is better now.

I'm on a Tesla board here, talking with enthusiasts. Given all that above, what should I be thinking about on this test drive? What kind of pros and cons have you run into in your transition from pre-Tesla to Tesla ownership?


Since you are thinking about the model 3 replacing both your in town car and your "fun" car, I would pay attention to the steering on the model 3. It doesnt bother me, but some complain its a bit "light". The model 3 is like driving a big go cart at someplace like k1 speed (local place that has indoor electric go cart tracks).

Also, your real world range is likely going to be similar to what you describe you are getting out of the leaf.
 
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frontrangeM3

Member
Mar 1, 2021
32
16
Greater Denver Area
Since you are thinking about the model 3 replacing both your in town car and your "fun" car, I would pay attention to the steering on the model 3. It doesnt bother me, but some complain its a bit "light". The model 3 is like driving a big go cart at someplace like k1 speed (local place that has indoor electric go cart tracks).

Also, your real world range is likely going to be similar to what you describe you are getting out of the leaf.

Wow. similar? When rated over 100 miles farther EPA? Dang. That would be a disappointment. Can you elaborate?
 

frontrangeM3

Member
Mar 1, 2021
32
16
Greater Denver Area
Pros: driving is fun again.
Pros: lots of room for a small car
Pros: all the EV benefits
Pros: Supercharger network makes cross country tripping simple
Pros: heating in the winter is sublime. Heats fast, heats everything, really spectacular
pros: Never stopping at a gas station again.
pros: constant software updates keeps the car “fresh”

cons: my Cadillac had a “plusher” interior
Have to stream XM radio - no built in tuner
Cons: they tend to multiply in your driveway.

I’ll be honest. I’m coming up on 2 years with my Model 3 and with EVERY car I’ve ever owned, I’ve already started thinking about “what comes next” by now. This thing? No way. I’m driving it till the wheels come off and then some. Like I said though, they do multiply. Once you have a Model 3, that Q5 better watch its back. You’ll be daydreaming about replacing it with an X.

LOL. I'm not sold on towing with any EV just yet. The Q has the equivalent of ~300 kwh battery on board, net net after efficiency adjustments, and "recharges" in small minutes. I can hook up and drive through the mountains over multiple high-altitude passes from home to Carbondale in 5 hours, never stop, and have plenty of diesel left for tooling around, picking up groceries and what not. The practical benefits of arriving and setting up in daylight are not to be underestimated.

And yes, I've topped Vail pass (north of 10k feet altitude) going 70 mph just to see if I could. I wasn't even all the way into it.

Our little camper is 7' feet wide and nearly 10' tall. That's a big box behind you. Color me skeptical on the towing thing for now. You certainly needed worry about the aero effects of your side mirrors... We like our Q.
 

dmurphy

Woof.
Dec 7, 2018
3,411
4,619
New Jersey - Morris County
LOL. I'm not sold on towing with any EV just yet. The Q has the equivalent of ~300 kwh battery on board, net net after efficiency adjustments, and "recharges" in small minutes. I can hook up and drive through the mountains over multiple high-altitude passes from home to Carbondale in 5 hours, never stop, and have plenty of diesel left for tooling around, picking up groceries and what not. The practical benefits of arriving and setting up in daylight are not to be underestimated.

And yes, I've topped Vail pass (north of 10k feet altitude) going 70 mph just to see if I could. I wasn't even all the way into it.

Our little camper is 7' feet wide and nearly 10' tall. That's a big box behind you. Color me skeptical on the towing thing for now. You certainly needed worry about the aero effects of your side mirrors... We like our Q.

There are some folks in the Model X forum here at TMC that can tell you everything you want to know about towing with the X. It's definitely capable - just a matter of range. Real world, with the size camper we have coming in 2 weeks (Surveyor 19BHLE) will be about 150 miles between stops. Then about 1/2 hour to charge and keep going. Given that I don't plan on going more than 60mph, that's a stop every 2 1/2 hours or so. I'm totally fine with that. But that's me - I'm not in a rush, I don't travel outside that radius too often with the camper, and I enjoy the journey as much as the destination. Totally understand that's not for everyone!

(And that's no knock on the Q, by the way. We had a Buick Enclave before the X, and there's a few things about it that I miss, too. I know, "it's a Buick" but really -- well done vehicle.)
 

stopcrazypp

Well-Known Member
Dec 8, 2007
9,955
4,864
Wow. similar? When rated over 100 miles farther EPA? Dang. That would be a disappointment. Can you elaborate?
I'm guessing talking mostly about highway driving, but given you are driving mostly in town, I doubt it'll necessarily apply to you. Depends on what wheels/tires you are getting and your driving style, but it's not hard to find people getting 230-260 Wh/mi from their LR AWDs in mixed driving. With roughly 75kWh usable works out to be around 300 miles of range (288-326 miles). You may do better if you almost always exclusively drive in town. I'm sure if you have compared our consumption of the Leaf for highway (especially higher speed) travel vs in town travel, you won't be a stranger to this difference.
Overall Wh/mi
Real world ranges
 

theothertom

Member
May 9, 2020
266
157
South Carolina
I made fun of a friend who owned a 325i. He asked me if I had ever driven one. I said no. He said then don't or you'll be buying one. About a year later I test drove one and he was right.
I got that same feeling when I drove a model 3. What to do on a test drive? Punch it. Then you'll know.
Real world mileage ? Yesterday we drove 100 miles at 70-75 mph and got 4.2 miles per kWh (236 Wh/mile as Tesla measures it). Outside temp around 70F. That translates into 315 miles of range if we drove it down to zero. EPA range for my car is 322 but Tesla upped it to 352 for 2021 (larger battery).
 

XPsionic

Member
Jan 20, 2021
59
87
los angeles
Your choice is yours, I've got a Boxster S manual and I'd never sell it for a Model 3. Totally different experience. I love my Model 3 for day to day around town or trips that doesn't involve more than 1 supercharger stop, but on a good day, going out to the mountains, driving for fun? Model 3 just doesn't provide the same sort of experience. It's fun certainly, but very different. But if you're not the type who loves the top down vroom vroom experience that much, then the Model 3 would definitely count as a fun car, great acceleration, great handling, just quite inert and almost completely silent and not very involving.

Replacing the leaf tho? Now that's an easy call. Model 3's so much better than any FWD EVs to drive.
 

jrweiss98020

Tessa's Tesla
Jan 9, 2020
414
291
Edmonds, WA
I think you'll be happy with the Model 3, UNLESS you really like shifting. You essentially get the EV advantage of the Leaf and [most of] the performance of the Z4, significant load-carrying capacity, and relative quiet on the road all rolled into one. I can't speak to the wind noise problems, as my 2019 version has none to speak of in normal driving - the tire noise is the loudest thing I can hear. I get a real 300+ mi range in the summer, and 225 in the winter, and the 2021 model should outdo that by a bit. I drove it through snow (~4-6" remaining; mix of compacted, slush over compacted, wet uncompacted) for the first time a couple weeks ago on the OEM 4-season tires, and it did fine. I had to get used to the rear-drive bias in the AWD, since I've been driving FWD (Saab) and front-biased AWD (VW) cars for 45+ years. However, it handled solidly with no unexpected behaviors.
 

frontrangeM3

Member
Mar 1, 2021
32
16
Greater Denver Area
Cool. Thanks everyone.

Test drove the M3 again over the weekend. Nice car. No surprises there.

The one we drove had one significant build issue, in that the forward roof glass was clearly shifted too far forward and to the driver's side, to the point where the seals didn't contact the sheet metal on the passenger side, and had slid up above the top of the sheet metal on the driver's side. Otherwise, it looked good. The seal position would worry me. I would not accept one that way.

There was an older X P90D on the lot that was..., well frankly, there isn't anything nice you can say about it. I've never seen such shoddy workmanship. Ever. I mean, dang! Unbelievable. But I digress...

The Model 3 LR AWD impresses in lots of ways. Drives nice, handles nice, not too loud, terrific power, super responsive. Nice interior too. Have some concerns about my wife getting used to the interface. I'd like it a lot more if it had a HUD. Our grown son really didn't like the regen modes - driving the Leaf in "e-pedal" (one-pedal) gives him a headache from concentrating on his foot position too much, and he felt the model 3 even in "Roll" would still cause him discomfort. But I thought it was fine, and I'd be the primary driver.

We also had the roadster out, top-down (beautiful day!), same day, and took the Leaf up to Tesla. So all 3 cars basically in a row, basically back-to-back.

When we got home, we looked over our Audi and the Z4. In terms of build quality, they're both impeccable. There is just flat nothing out of place. Anywhere.

The roadster definitely has its charms. And the new Leaf+ is not some gloried golf cart, or tree-hugger-mobile. It's a car. Just in a different class altogether, and priced accordingly. They're all paid off. So we have some decisions to make.

Thanks for the input. If you think of anything else, by all means, please share.
 

T3SLAROD

Member
May 14, 2019
615
530
SoCal
Keep the Z4, once in a while you'll get the itch to put the top down and shift your own gears. While the Tesla Model 3 is great to drive it doesn't have what the Z4 has. If anything get rid of the TDI for a Model Y. Once you get a Model 3 you probably won't want to take the Audi anywhere unless you absolutely have to.
 

amorris

Member
Nov 8, 2020
108
60
Vancouver, WA
I sold my 2014 BRZ 6 speed manual for a Model 3 SR+. I absolutely love it. Yeah it’s not quite as go-kart-like but it handles extremely well and the torque/power is just so great. I plan on autocrossing my model 3 like I did the BRZ. At this point I really don’t miss the BRZ.
Even though we have a forester we use the Model 3 for hauling our 3 year old most everywhere for preschool etc. saves a ton on gas.

I just put $2500 worth of audio gear on it and now it really rocks.
 

bjrosen

Member
Apr 19, 2019
66
65
Westford MA
You already know that EVs are great on mountain roads because you have the leaf. The M3 AWD will give you the performance of the the BMW and the efficiency of the Leaf and it will also give you the ability to do road trips in an EV. The Leaf is strictly a commuting car because CHADeMO is so slow but the Model 3 has the Supercharger network which can get you anywhere. The Supercharger network is reliable, fast, and trivial to use because it's plug and play.
 

Apprunner

Member
Jul 2, 2019
460
534
So-cal
Cool. Thanks everyone.

Test drove the M3 again over the weekend. Nice car. No surprises there.

The one we drove had one significant build issue, in that the forward roof glass was clearly shifted too far forward and to the driver's side, to the point where the seals didn't contact the sheet metal on the passenger side, and had slid up above the top of the sheet metal on the driver's side. Otherwise, it looked good. The seal position would worry me. I would not accept one that way.

There was an older X P90D on the lot that was..., well frankly, there isn't anything nice you can say about it. I've never seen such shoddy workmanship. Ever. I mean, dang! Unbelievable. But I digress...

The Model 3 LR AWD impresses in lots of ways. Drives nice, handles nice, not too loud, terrific power, super responsive. Nice interior too. Have some concerns about my wife getting used to the interface. I'd like it a lot more if it had a HUD. Our grown son really didn't like the regen modes - driving the Leaf in "e-pedal" (one-pedal) gives him a headache from concentrating on his foot position too much, and he felt the model 3 even in "Roll" would still cause him discomfort. But I thought it was fine, and I'd be the primary driver.

We also had the roadster out, top-down (beautiful day!), same day, and took the Leaf up to Tesla. So all 3 cars basically in a row, basically back-to-back.

When we got home, we looked over our Audi and the Z4. In terms of build quality, they're both impeccable. There is just flat nothing out of place. Anywhere.

The roadster definitely has its charms. And the new Leaf+ is not some gloried golf cart, or tree-hugger-mobile. It's a car. Just in a different class altogether, and priced accordingly. They're all paid off. So we have some decisions to make.

Thanks for the input. If you think of anything else, by all means, please share.
You really never know what you are going to get until the car is ready for inspection and delivery. I find that their demo cars are a bit worse than actual cars as I think they use the customer rejected ones for test drives and such. Mine was really great with minimal panel issues but my buddy had to take his in 3 times for panel realignment. In the end, his looks really great now so they are fixable for sure (just a slight pain) :D

If you want sporty, you should have tried the Performance version. The AWD version will feel slow afterwards :D
 

frontrangeM3

Member
Mar 1, 2021
32
16
Greater Denver Area
Keep the Z4, once in a while you'll get the itch to put the top down and shift your own gears. While the Tesla Model 3 is great to drive it doesn't have what the Z4 has. If anything get rid of the TDI for a Model Y. Once you get a Model 3 you probably won't want to take the Audi anywhere unless you absolutely have to.

As I noted above, no EV is going to fit the bill appropriately for towing a tall camper through the Rockies any time soon. Plenty of power, good stability, not nearly enough towing range. The Q can go ~400 miles towing on a single tank. (We average about 20 mpg towing at 65 mph through the mountains, - 18 up, 22 down.)

I think we're at least one, possibly several battery generations removed from that future world. I don't doubt we'll get there, but not in the next 4-5 years. The energy demands are just too high.

There are practical, infrastructure related issues, too. How many Superchargers have pull-through stalls? Not many as I understand things. So drop the camper every 150 miles to recharge, then hook back up? No, thank you.

Perhaps with the Cybertruck and other electric trucks hitting the market, we'll see that change. But these things take time. And I'm not convinced they're the best use case for current or even next gen tech. Same with over the road vs short haul heavy trucks. Short haul in town might make sense. Over the road? Color me skeptical.

I'd be happy to be proven wrong.
 

frontrangeM3

Member
Mar 1, 2021
32
16
Greater Denver Area
There are some folks in the Model X forum here at TMC that can tell you everything you want to know about towing with the X. It's definitely capable - just a matter of range. Real world, with the size camper we have coming in 2 weeks (Surveyor 19BHLE) will be about 150 miles between stops. Then about 1/2 hour to charge and keep going. Given that I don't plan on going more than 60mph, that's a stop every 2 1/2 hours or so. I'm totally fine with that. But that's me - I'm not in a rush, I don't travel outside that radius too often with the camper, and I enjoy the journey as much as the destination. Totally understand that's not for everyone!

(And that's no knock on the Q, by the way. We had a Buick Enclave before the X, and there's a few things about it that I miss, too. I know, "it's a Buick" but really -- well done vehicle.)

Just checked out your Surveyor. Nice rig! Way roomier with the slide out than our little Lance. Quite a bit heavier. If we had younger kids or grandkids, might be an interesting camper for us, but as things stand, we'll stand pat.

Thanks for sharing.

Where we live, the best camping is a bit removed, and several thousand feet in elevation higher. This ain't the flatlands...
 
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