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Tesla Model 3 Renter's Review - Jan 2018

RayK

Safety Score 90 (Was 96!)
Apr 5, 2016
3,153
3,291
San Jose, CA
I am a Model 3 reservation holder (online 3/31/16). I live in San Jose, CA and neither work for Tesla or already own one. So basically the only thing going for me to get one ASAP is that I'm local to the factory. I recently had the chance to sit inside one at the Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto. After waiting about 90 minutes, I got maybe 4-5 minutes inside, enough time for asking a few basic questions. When I left, I thought it was time to see how well one drove. Since none of the stores are offering test drives yet, that led me to Turo.com. I looked around and found several 3s that were nearby. They averaged about $200 per day; a little steep but understand that it's a seller's market right now. I decided upon a 3-day rental period from Thursday night to Sunday night. That would give me one day to drive during commute time and the entire weekend to cruise around. The model that I had the chance to drive came with the Long Range Battery, Premium Upgrade Package, Pearl White paint, 18" wheels and Enhanced Autopilot.


Pros:

- Instant torque. I'm presuming that the majority of the forum readers already know what I'm talking about. For the people who have yet to drive or ride in a Tesla, that essentially means instant acceleration. No delay in putting your foot down and getting the car to respond. 0-60mph in a Model 3 is supposed to be around 5 seconds. I didn't do any full-throttle, standing start runs but I think that 0-60 time is justified. Of more importance to me in real-world conditions is the 45-65mph performance/time. Think of entering a highway from an on-ramp. Seeing a break in traffic and being able to put your car into that spot. This car had absolutely no problems in that regard. About a year ago I test drove an S P100D for around 40 minutes on both city streets and the highway. While the 3 obviously can't match the acceleration of the S, I think that the performance for the money, the so-called "bang-for-the-buck", is quite reasonable.

- Handling was great. My current ride is a 2000 BMW 323i. Bought new, I haven't changed any of the drivetrain or suspension components so far (besides tires). Which means I'm riding on an 18-year old platform so maybe my impressions are tainted. But my memory of how the Bimmer handled when new, is just like the Model 3 is now. Flat around corners, minimal body lean. Steering inputs were precise and quick. I left the steering option on the "Standard" setting while I had the car. When I returned the 3 and started driving my BMW again I noticed that the turning effort was a little harder than the Tesla. During the weekend I took the 3 over the hill to Santa Cruz. SF Bay residents know that means Highway 17. For those of you who are not familiar with this drive, it is a four-lane road that is designated as a highway (in most places). It's twisty, rises from Los Gatos (elevation is 344') up to the summit at 1808' in the distance of 7 miles and is great fun to drive in a car that was designed to be driven. The downward run from the summit to the Pacific Ocean in Santa Cruz is about twice as long but about as twisty in the first half. Here's a YouTube video that I found that shows the road:
The video starts out near Santa Clara University, on The Alameda near I-880 (which turns into Hwy 17). The route I took started from the junction of Highways 85 and 17.

- Headlights. I liked the fact that I could fiddle with the aiming of the headlights using the thumbwheels on the steering wheel. I know it said that factory technicians should only perform the adjustment but if there's an option displayed on the UI, then I'm going to take advantage of it. Headlights were bright and evenly lit across the field in front of the car. These LEDs appear to brighter than my Xenon lamps on the BMW (I've replaced one bulb, the other is still the original).


Honorable mention:

- Interior room and comfort. I'm 5-5 so there was nothing about the interior space that was a negative. Seating position in the driver's seat was completely adjustable to my satisfaction. I especially liked the way that the thumbwheels were used to control the position of the steering wheel. I drove from San Jose up towards San Francisco on I-280 twice to see how a (fairly) long highway drive would feel. Seat was comfortable, providing good support for my back and hips (I have a slight case of sciatica). I think I could see myself driving a 3 for several hours at a time without any problems. While I didn't get to ride around in the back seat, I did get a chance to sit in them. My only possible negative was that the seat is fairly low to the floor so that means if I put my feet flat on the floor, my upper leg (hip-to-knee) is at about a 40 degree angle. There didn't seem to be enough room to put my feet completely under the front seats but it did lessen the angle of my thighs. Headroom both front and back was good, but then again I'm short.

- Storage space. With the back seats down there is plenty of room. Can it carry an adult bicycle? I didn't try to put mine in there but it looks like it could fit. More importantly to me is that it seemed to have about as much room as my 323i (11 cubic feet). More, with the storage area under the floor panel. The frunk looked fine for carrying a couple of grocery bags. There were clips that could be used to wrap the handles of said grocery bags around so they won't go flying about.

- Sound system. I basically only listened to FM HD radio during my time with the car. I found the graphic equalizer controls to be handy but could barely discern the differences between the various "ambience" settings. Plenty of volume was available but I didn't try rolling down all of the windows during a highway drive.

- Autopilot. I enabled the Autopilot during my I-280 runs and found it to be quite adequate. It changed lanes when I activated the turn signals. It kept the car in the lane as it slowly curved and maintained a respectable following distance to the vehicle in front. All of those things said, I'm still not going to order it for my car. Sorry but I don't subscribe to the notion of autonomous vehicles quite yet. If it ever gets to the point where I need help driving my own car, I'll hang up the keys (smartphone?) and depend on Uber or Lyft or whatever service is around then.

- Voice control. I don't know the full capabilities of this function but I did try using the "Navigate to" command and it performed accurately. Beats having to type in addresses onto the touchscreen.


Cons:

- I'll start off with the biggest one on my list: the lack of support for CHAdeMO chargers. I work where there are several ChargePoint DC Fast stations installed in the parking garage, each with an attached CHAdeMO-to-Tesla adapter. Before renting the 3 I took a quick look around at work and saw that there were several Model S cars being charged at these stations. I thought, "Great, no problem with charging. I'll use the 75 free minutes employees are given and get close to a 'full tank'". Well, while the factory supports this adapter for the Model S, and I believe the X as well, it's AWOL for the moment for the Model 3.

- Rear view at night. Both looking out the back window and using the side mirrors. The rearward view is pretty narrow due to the high trunk lid. I think that this has been mentioned before in other reviews I've read. During the day it's not too bad and I could get used to not seeing the hood of the car behind me when stopped at a light. But at night, the view was "hazy". I think it was due to the tinting of the window. It was almost like looking out of a badly-applied window tint (film) that had air bubbles. An additional concern of mine is that the outside side mirrors are tinted at night with no apparent way to disable this function in the UI. I like being able to see minor variations in light during the night if/when a car is in my blind spots. Their headlights won't 'blind' me as I'm not looking directly into them ALL THE TIME. It's sufficient enough to see a light in my peripheral vision that tells me that there's something there. With auto dimming mirrors it cuts down the light so much that I'm constantly having to looking directly at the mirror and figure out if that's a headlight or merely a reflection in the passenger window. If this isn't fixed with an OTA update by the time I get my car, I'm probably going to trace the wire to the mirror that supplies the power and disconnect it.

- Windshield wiper control. As I arranged to have the car during mostly clear skies, I only had a couple of chances to use the wipers. I believe that there is an "automatic" mode but I didn't need to use it. For the times that I wanted the turn the wipers on manually, I found having to look at the screen and slide/tap a bit distracting. I later found out that the turn signal stalk had manual controls to activate the wipers and washer. But if I read correctly, only a single sweep is possible using the button on the stalk; noting to put the wipers on 'slow' or 'fast' speed permanently.

- The front windshield had a "ripple" on the passenger side. The imperfection was noticeable as a slight distortion when scanning the outside scene from side-to-side. My guess is that the moulding process was not entirely even. I understand that this is a common problem with automotive glass. I would have thought that this defect would have been caught at the factory, before delivery.

- Charging port cover. The several times that I was charging the car, I thought about the cover that was sitting up in the air, exposed. It's on the end of a curved plastic (?) arm that swings up from the tail light and it just seems to be an invitation for knocking it off the car.

- Fairly rough ride. This one is kind of a marginal 'con'. I enjoyed the handling of the car going around corners but it felt like every rock and pothole in the road was amplified onto my butt. Maybe the 45psi tire pressure has a something to do with it?

- No CD changer. Call me old-fashioned but I still like the idea of having a 6 (or 12) disc CD changer available. I guess I'll eventually get used to the idea of MP3 files on a USB thumbdrive (which is not susceptible to vibrations or heat) but for some of us "old-fogies" who have taken the time to burn compilations of favorite songs onto CD-R, I miss shuffling CDs around.

Overall I'm very happy with the car and can't wait to get my hands on my own.
 

bonnie

I play a nice person on twitter.
Feb 6, 2011
16,429
9,937
Columbia River Gorge
I am a Model 3 reservation holder (online 3/31/16).

Cons:

- I'll start off with the biggest one on my list: the lack of support for CHAdeMO chargers. I work where there are several ChargePoint DC Fast stations installed in the parking garage, each with an attached CHAdeMO-to-Tesla adapter. Before renting the 3 I took a quick look around at work and saw that there were several Model S cars being charged at these stations. I thought, "Great, no problem with charging. I'll use the 75 free minutes employees are given and get close to a 'full tank'". Well, while the factory supports this adapter for the Model S, and I believe the X as well, it's AWOL for the moment for the Model 3.
You're right regarding 'AWOL at the moment'. It will be supported. An OTA will cover it.

- Rear view at night. Both looking out the back window and using the side mirrors. The rearward view is pretty narrow due to the high trunk lid. I think that this has been mentioned before in other reviews I've read. During the day it's not too bad and I could get used to not seeing the hood of the car behind me when stopped at a light. But at night, the view was "hazy". I think it was due to the tinting of the window. It was almost like looking out of a badly-applied window tint (film) that had air bubbles. An additional concern of mine is that the outside side mirrors are tinted at night with no apparent way to disable this function in the UI. I like being able to see minor variations in light during the night if/when a car is in my blind spots. Their headlights won't 'blind' me as I'm not looking directly into them ALL THE TIME. It's sufficient enough to see a light in my peripheral vision that tells me that there's something there. With auto dimming mirrors it cuts down the light so much that I'm constantly having to looking directly at the mirror and figure out if that's a headlight or merely a reflection in the passenger window. If this isn't fixed with an OTA update by the time I get my car, I'm probably going to trace the wire to the mirror that supplies the power and disconnect it.

As already mentioned, OTA.

- Windshield wiper control. As I arranged to have the car during mostly clear skies, I only had a couple of chances to use the wipers. I believe that there is an "automatic" mode but I didn't need to use it. For the times that I wanted the turn the wipers on manually, I found having to look at the screen and slide/tap a bit distracting. I later found out that the turn signal stalk had manual controls to activate the wipers and washer. But if I read correctly, only a single sweep is possible using the button on the stalk; noting to put the wipers on 'slow' or 'fast' speed permanently.
This is why putting it on automatic is good to do - then you don't have to look for the control. If you want it to come on more quickly, you can use that 'one wipe' on the stalk.

The automatic wipers control is still improving. But when I was in a 3 for three days and we hit some rain, this worked great.

- Charging port cover. The several times that I was charging the car, I thought about the cover that was sitting up in the air, exposed. It's on the end of a curved plastic (?) arm that swings up from the tail light and it just seems to be an invitation for knocking it off the car.

The only time the cover is open is when there is a charging cable head right below it. The Roadster has a flip open cover (manual, to the right) and the S has a flip open cover (opens to the right). I've never heard of one of those being snapped off.

- Fairly rough ride. This one is kind of a marginal 'con'. I enjoyed the handling of the car going around corners but it felt like every rock and pothole in the road was amplified onto my butt. Maybe the 45psi tire pressure has a something to do with it?
Great handling comes with a price - you feel the road. I think the Model 3 strikes a good compromise (you still have power steering, for instance). Going from the Roadster (which had no power steering, felt every ripple in the road, and handled great) to a test drive in one of the first Model S, I was *slightly* disappointed. Great car, but I felt so disconnected from the driving experience. (Valuing handling over a smooth ride is purely subjective, I'm not saying one is preferable. Every one has different preferences.)
 
I know that bit of highway quite well - the Roadster loves it :) I hope to answer my own question this weekend but how did you feel on the quicker more aggressive turns? A friend of mine says the Roadster feels quick good but he felt a little side-ways push that when we have a loaner S felt more gentle. Perhaps I just didn't "enjoy" the road as much in the S as it feel quite huge especially compared to the Roadster...

Even with some of the issues you mentioned above - mostly immature software I hope - I am really enjoying our 'big' Tesla..
 
  • Love
Reactions: bonnie

MXWing

Well-Known Member
Oct 13, 2016
7,747
24,188
USA
What's more sophisticated than even MP3s on a thumb drive is streaming audio through your phone via Bluetooth.

You can do all the compilations you want through Playlists of all 20,000 or more songs you keep in your phone's memory.

and...

l_6c4ca400-b165-11e1-811c-2ffcf3600002.jpg
 

Zaphod

Galaxy President (former)
Dec 10, 2015
2,160
2,000
Austin, TX
But the 3 has a giant cover that screams "break me off".
Yes, the single arm offset to the one corner is just not a good design choice. I haven't touched the cover when open, so not sure how flexible it feels, but visually just looks fragile. Maybe there is metal reinforcing in the plastic, don't know.

In my opinion it should have had another arm on the opposite corner as well. That one wouldn't even need to be motorized, just spring loaded and there to give more support to the cover. Guess time will tell how it holds up.
 

RayK

Safety Score 90 (Was 96!)
Apr 5, 2016
3,153
3,291
San Jose, CA
@bonnie: Thanks for those OTA confirmations.

I know that bit of highway quite well - the Roadster loves it :) I hope to answer my own question this weekend but how did you feel on the quicker more aggressive turns?
Unfortunately I had the wife in the car with me so I couldn't go all-out "Mario" on her. (Andretti, for you younger folk - Google him :) ). As it was a loaner, I also didn't want to risk doing something foolish my first time on that road with this car. Going around the sweepers, especially "Valley Surprise" and "Laurel Curve", the 3 feels like it's on rails. The road was completely dry last weekend so I don't know how the car and tires (18" Michelin all-weathers, I believe) handle in the wet. I commuted on that road for a year back in the mid-'80s in a pair of Mazdas; an 1980 RX7 with an aftermarket turbo and a 1984 626 hatchback. The RX7 was fun; the 626 much less so. When my 3 arrives, I'm going to be going up-and-down Hwy 17, as well as Hicks Road in Los Gatos, to see how well it drives.

Hey, careful. Some of us are old enough to remember 8 trak! ;)
I recently trashed my old Pioneer 8-track deck while cleaning out my parent's house, along with a case of tapes. Kept "Jethro Tull - Aqualung" as a memento. Even older, I used to have a home-built 4-track deck that I inherited from my brother.

Yes, the single arm offset to the one corner is just not a good design choice. I haven't touched the cover when open, so not sure how flexible it feels, but visually just looks fragile. Maybe there is metal reinforcing in the plastic, don't know..
The cover can be deflected quite a bit (IMO) if you put pressure on it. It could be easily hit if you're not careful. Your idea of a second arm would take care of that issue. I also wondered what would happen if somebody is not familiar with how the port cover opens under computer control; in other words, trying to lift it up with your fingers. I was greeted with a loud "grrr... grrr...." sound as it felt like the motor powering the cover was fighting with me trying to keep it closed.

You lost me at CD changer.
Well, at least 'thank you' for reading my entire post!
 
Cons:

- I'll start off with the biggest one on my list: the lack of support for CHAdeMO chargers.
Supposedly, this is coming. As I mentioned in another thread response from Sales Advisor:
Not enabled (Will be enabled soon via over the air updates)

• WIFI
• CALENDAR
• AUTOMATIC EMERGENCY BRAKING
• AUTOMATIC HIGH BEAM HEADLIGHTS
• AUTOMATIC WINDSHIELD WIPERS
• SUMMON
• ON-SCREEN OWNERS MANUAL
• SOFTWARE UPDATE RELEASE NOTES
• REAR HEATED SEAT CONTROLS
• CHAdeMO COMPATIBILITY
 

RayK

Safety Score 90 (Was 96!)
Apr 5, 2016
3,153
3,291
San Jose, CA
The left thumbwheel controls volume (dial up-down) and station (push left-right). Took a little bit of fiddling with the audio UI to figure out the way to change from streaming to FM. At first I thought the car didn't have FM as I had read that early builds were without it but my (26 y.o.) daughter found it. I don't mind the lack of AM as I'm not into talk radio or much sports. San Jose Sharks are on the local FM classic rock station; that's the only pro sport I follow. I much prefer local terrestrial radio over streaming as I have a good record of winning stuff from them.

edit: I think I have a photo of the firmware version at home. I'll check tonight and update this post later if I find it.
 

woof

Fluffy Member
Supporting Member
Apr 30, 2009
1,602
2,060
One can continuously hold the "wipe" button on the left hand stalk, and it'll keep on wiping. One press is "single wipe", hold down is "keep wiping". That should be enough to cover the time it takes to use the screen, or hopefully voice command "wipers on slow" if auto wipe doesn't kick on.
 

TEG

Teslafanatic
Moderator
Aug 20, 2006
22,074
9,429
When I tried the FM tuner on my friend's Model 3 it was still on 2017.50.11 13d4a04 firmware... Maybe that is why the FM tuner didn't seem to work right.

It updated to your version during the time I had it. I neglected to try the FM again after the update.
 

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