The Model 3 represents Tesla's foray into the realm of relative affordability. So far, it's been a successful experiment – the Model 3 led the compact luxury market for 2018, outselling such stalwarts as the BMW 3-Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. A newly expanded range of models means the 2019 Tesla Model 3 intends to continue pressuring the traditional segment leaders.
What's New for 2019
As Tesla eschews model years for periodic updates, nothing has been introduced specifically for cars built in 2019. The marque does, however, perform routine running changes, software updates, and hardware enhancements. With Tesla, it's more a matter of continuous evolution than year-to-year refreshes.
All that said, the biggest recent news with the Model 3 lineup is the arrival of the much-ballyhooed $35,000 entry-level variant. Though it has less features and range than its upmarket siblings, the introduction of the base Model 3 means there's finally a Tesla with a price that lies squarely in the heart of the overall car market.
Prices have been also been lowered by about $2,000 for all variants as the $7,500 federal tax credit gets slashed in half for the new year. This is due to the brand now having sold more than 200,000 electric cars; once an automaker reaches that threshold, the tax credit begins to get phased out. By 2020, Tesla buyers will no longer be rewarded with any amount of federal tax credit.
Choosing Your Tesla Model 3
Few cars are as straightforward as the Model 3 when it comes time to build your own. Options are almost nonexistent, and the dizzying array of equipment differences between trims has been largely kept at bay. The various trims of the Model 3 are instead primarily determined by range and performance.
The two options that are available regard technology and can be had across all trims. The $3,000 Autopilot option bundles lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, and pedestrian detection – enough to let the car shuffle itself down the highway with nary an input from the driver.
For another $5,000 on top of that (for a total of $8,000), you can opt for "full self-driving capability" that imbues the Model 3 with ambitious autonomous abilities. These include an autopark feature that lets the car park itself in any space and a summon feature that brings it to you in a parking lot. It also gives the Model 3 the self-sufficiency to handle all aspects of highway driving, including lane changes and passing as well navigating on- and off-ramps.
Charging time is largely the same across all models. Plug a Standard Range or Mid Range model into one of Tesla's supercharger stations, and a depleted battery will gain back 150 miles of range in 30 minutes; that same amount of time gives a Long Range car 170 miles to play with. At home on a 240-volt outlet (Level 2), 37 miles of range is regained for every hour plugged in, regardless of model or battery size.
Every Model 3 comes with a 120-volt adapter (Level 1), 240-volt adapter, a public charging adapter, and a 20-foot cable connector with a carrying bag. A charging station can be installed in your garage by Tesla; check the right box on their website and they'll come out to give you an installation estimate.
While the Performance model is enticing, the better buy in the 2019 Tesla Model 3 lineup is the dual-motor Long Range variant. The 310 miles of total range should quell any range anxiety, and the extra motor and all-wheel drive improve performance in both dry and inclement weather.