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Heart vs Head (S vs 3)

I know there are already a lot of threads about the S vs. the 3. I don't want to rehash all the differences. But I'm looking for opinions -- hopefully as objective as possible. My heart is telling me to get an S but my head is saying a 3 makes much more sense for my personal situation.

I like the 3, but I've fallen in love with the S. To me it looks much nicer, has a smoother ride (I tried both out), nicer interior, etc. I'm sure I don't have to convince the people on this forum that it's nice. On the other hand, the 3 looks fine to me and handles a little better around town.

I've highlighted a few questions below.

Pros (in favor of the S):
  • This is a long term decision for me. I run my cars into the ground. I'm still driving a 15 year old car now and had another for 13 years before that. So part of me thinks I should just get the S since it's not much more when amortized over many years.
  • I just like the S more.

Cons (against the S):
  • It's much more car than I need. I am a single person / no kids and I really don't need all the extra room of the S.
  • The S is smoother, but feels like a big cruiser/boat compared to the 3 (and my current car). Do you get used to the "bigness" of the S after driving it for a while or does it always feel big? I mostly drive around town (not a lot of road trips) with some tight parking spaces. The 3 would be easier to park. Is it a hassle to park / maneuver the S sometimes?
  • It's expensive. I can afford either, but I'm definitely not rich and the S would not be the best financial decision I've made. I know I can get a used S at a comparable price -- or at least at a big discount -- to make the financial aspect more even. But if I get an S I really want the latest MCU, tax credits, new car, etc., which basically means a new 100D or 75D. A new 75D (even without PUP, but with Enhanced A.P.) would set me back about 19K more than a pretty fully loaded Model 3 with the options I'd want (AWD when it comes out, nicer rims, PUP, etc.). I think it works out to about 61,500 vs 80,500 (excluding taxes, destination & doc fees, etc.).
  • I can live with the lower range of a new 75D. It would be fine for the vast majority of my trips. But I like the added range of the long-range 3.

Have any of you owned both? ... In any case, thanks in advance for any opinions, thoughts, advice.
By the way, have any of you experienced the S without the premium sound that comes with the PUP? I don't really need most of the things in the premium upgrade package, with the possible exception of the sound system. But I don't like too much bass in my sound system anyway, so I'm not sure I even need the extra subwoofer(s) you get with the PUP. Is the "standard" sound system ok if you're not a bass-head? Thanks.
The S and 3 are different cars and you should just take whichever feel right for you. The three things that make me think the S is better for me is the styling, IC and air suspension (dual motor too but the 3 is going to have that now). The lifetime free supercharging does not mean much to me as I like the convenience of charging at home and take road trip maybe once a year at most. If you can get the 3 now then it does not matter, but if you won't get it till end of the year or next year, the price difference maybe closer since you would get 7.5K fed credit and 2.5K state refund on the S now, and even closer if you get an inventory car. My wife liked the 3 from far away before but once she saw and experienced my daughter's 3, she is convinced we got the right car even though we do not really like big car.
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Well-Known Member
Mar 10, 2016
  • This is a long term decision for me. I run my cars into the ground.
Of all the things you said I think this is the most relevant. The cost of owning an out-of-warranty Tesla can be downright terrifying. The 8 year unlimited mile drive unit / battery warranty on the S offers a lot of peace of mind.

Also, if you’re gonna have it forever, get what you want.
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Thanks everyone... How about the size question? I've never owned a big car. Do you get used to it? When I test drove it just felt very large. Is it annoying trying to fit in tight parking spaces sometimes?

In a word, yes. The review camera helps u backup into spots. I typically look for wider spots away from the crowd.

On road trips the extra size is actually a big plus. Don't forget free supercharging with a referral code.

Have u considered a used or inventory S?


Active Member
Supporting Member
Aug 1, 2015
Although I agree that the Model S is a large car, there are many larger vehicles that people seem to manage just fine. It is not as if it is a larger car than every other one out there. There is no doubt I do not need a car as large as my S to run to the supermarket or the drug store. And it is true that it is a bit wide, and the front doors are a bit long. But I have managed to park it without any noticeable dings for three years now. I am careful most of the time, and try to park away from the cars that look really large or parked in such a way they present a risk, as long as I have a reasonable choice and have the time. But sometimes I just need to park and run in, especially if the weather is bad, and I take the risk, the same as every other car owner. So far, so good! That does not mean zero scratches but there are none I notice -- I have done worse to the car myself.
The hardest thing about parking the S is that the visibility of the car from the driver's seat does not provide you a sightline to any of the four corners. That was hard for me at first, because all my previous cars were boxy sedans that had a good view of all 4 corners. But I learned to rely very heavily on the rearview camera and on the parking sensors. When it gets dicey is in winter when one or both of those get blacked by snow or ice, Under those conditions, you have to rely more on your mirrors and just try not to hit the concrete or asphalt barrier at the end.
And -- don't forget, you have advantages you can rely on -- Summon will park your car for you, more precisely than you can (most of the time), and if someone come along after you parked and parks too close to you, you can Summon it out and avoid any door dings!

in short, the Model S is manageable despite its size. I have parked it in all sorts of lots and garages, with no meaningful dings. (Full disclosure -- I did scratch up two of my rims when parallel parking, but you can do that with any size car!) If you are a fanatic about parking lot damage on an expensive car, you probably will use similar techniques for the S and the Model 3.

I have driven the Model 3 but i have not parked it in a parking lot, so I cannot make a comparison between the two.

Bottom line -- I would not let parking be the major determinant of what car to get.
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Supporting Member
Nov 5, 2016
Alberta, Canada
Why don't you rent an S and a 3 for a few days each off of Turo. I'd say it takes living with the vehicles 2-3 days to get over the initial wow and start to realize what they'd be like to live with long term. I also own a Gen1 Volt so am already accustomed to the EV driving feel (i.e. regen, instant torque, etc.).

I've rented both. I need long range (385 km (240 mi) trip, one way, to visit family, especially aging parents, no SuperChargers, in fact only two L2 chargers en route about 45 km from either end & Northern Canadian winters) so for me it's a comparison between the S100D and 3LR. Now we're talking double the price. Is the S100D worth double to me? Not after one week with my family in a Model S and 4 days in a 3. I preferred the 3 in most ways to the S, the two exceptions being trunk vs. hatch and the low seat height for the rear seat - good thing my kids are short!

As for the sound, I'm moderately fussy about sound. I was okay with the S, it was the base sound system and it would pass my minimum standards, but nothing to get excited about. I quite liked the 3's sound. I'm NOT a bass head - occasionally it's fun, but mostly I prefer bass that doesn't call attention to itself, although I do miss it if it isn't present (if that makes sense).

Either way it's a fair bit of money, even if you can afford either car. You owe it to yourself to spend some time with them first if you're on the fence. Try renting a 3 on Turo and go for a test drive in an S and see what you think after you've experienced them both. Either way, you'll be getting an awesome car!
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Either way it's a fair bit of money, even if you can afford either car. You owe it to yourself to spend some time with them first if you're on the fence.

Thanks again to everyone. I think this is probably the best advice for me. I did test drive the S and rented a 3 through Turo for one day. But I think it would probably help me if I had a few days with each, as bpjod said, instead of a couple of quick experiences.


Sep 6, 2014
Model S is the nicer car, no question. But I find myself not missing it all that much. Other friends are also considering going from S to 3. "Follow your heart" is a nice concept, but won't pay your bills - so if the S sounds expensive to you, go with the 3 - you will not be disappointed. After 3 years with a P85D and 3 months with the 3, I can no longer justify the price difference between them. Unless there is a substantial improvement in model S interior quality, I am staying with the 3. And yes, the model S felt large (but not unmanageable).
The biggest factor in your story is that you keep cars and run them into the ground. You are going to feel all phases of the depreciation curve. It's quite a bit of downward slope for the Model S, as its tech will become outdated over the next 5-10 years. OTOH, if there's a chance you could get married and have a family during that time period, you should take the extra space and storage of the MS into account as well.


Supporting Member
Sep 16, 2016
San Jose
The standard audio in my S is quite ordinary. When I sat and drove in the Model3, the premium audio was - wow!! I have since upgraded my standard speakers with BA Audio’s speakers and they have improved - but still not like the Model3 premium audio.

The S is so strikingly beautiful - I am quite sure it will retain its beauty throughout the 15yrs you want to keep it. Also the tech has matured a lot in S than 3. Early Ss had reliability issues and I am sure 3 will go through it’s maturity cycle. If you want to keep the car for a long time, I think you will be better off with a matured S build (current S) than a hurriedly built 1st-gen Model3.

Parking wise - quite sure S will give you more concerns than M3, everyday. But we all get used to that.
Thanks everyone... How about the size question? I've never owned a big car. Do you get used to it? When I test drove it just felt very large. Is it annoying trying to fit in tight parking spaces sometimes?

This depends on whether you’re generally a good driver or not. I grew up driving a ‘79 Bonneville, and own a full size pickup in addition to my S. The S is much easier to maneuver than the pickup. That said, my wife has BWM 3 series and one of the things she doesn’t like about the S is the size. I think you’d get used to it.

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