2024 Tesla Model 3 Long Range First Drive : Finally Matured Into A True Premium Product - SUV VEHICLE

2024 Tesla Model 3 Long Range First Drive : Finally Matured Into A True Premium Product


Summary

  • Improved build quality and driving dynamics make the 2024 Tesla Model 3 a more refined premium sedan than its predecessor.
  • The car retains its fun-to-drive nature, with quick acceleration and smoother handling, providing a genuine sport sedan experience.
  • While lacking in physical controls and an opening glass roof, the Model 3 offers competitive cargo space and advanced technological features at an attainable price.



Whether you hated the first-generation Tesla Model 3 for its shady build quality or, you know, Elon Musk, or loved it for its handling dynamics, superior range and energy efficiency, I think we can all agree that the car made some serious ripples in the automotive industry. As I’m writing this, it’s still the best-selling electric car in the world, beaten only by a pair of crossovers, the BYD Song and its own twin brother, the Model Y.

The Model 3 was a bookend car for Tesla. It signaled the company’s do-or-die moment which, although it arrived with its share of headaches and frustrations, managed to pull the company out of startup status and into the large-scale automotive juggernaut it is today.


After selling several million Model 3s around the world, Tesla has given its popular little sedan a facelift for the 2024 model year, but not the traditional kind the automotive industry has gotten accustomed to. Rather, this new Model 3 aims at correcting some of the last car’s manufacturing and engineering faults, because yes, although it was a great electric vehicle (EV), it was far from perfect.

Have the changes allowed the Model 3 to grow into a more mature product? I’m here to tell you that, yes, Tesla’s entry level sedan can now finally be qualified as a true, premium vehicle.

2024 Tesla Model 3 Front Three Quarter-1
2024 Tesla Model 3 Long Range

For the 2024 model year, the Tesla Model 3 gets a full model overhaul by way of improved build quality, handling and general refinement. While essentially the same car as before from a technical standpoint, it’s still a highly competitive electric premium sedan, sold at an attainable price point.

Model
Long Range

Engine
Front Induction AC Motor/ Rear Permanent-Magnet Synchronous AC Motor

Horsepower
394 HP (Combined)

Torque
377 LB-FT (Combined)

Range
341 Miles

MSRP
$47,740

MSRP (As Tested)
$47,740

0-60 MPH
4.4 Seconds
Pros
  • Vastly improved build quality.
  • Generally more refined ride.
  • Quick off the line and always fun to drive.
Cons
  • Some commands deserve physical controls.
  • A heads-up display would have been nice.
  • Glass roof still doesn’t open.

Since Tesla press fleet access is very limited, the car pictured here belongs to a Model 3 owner. When I picked up the vehicle, it had an 80% charge. I spent an entire day with it instead of the usual full week with official press units. For detailed insight into testing procedures and data collection, please review our
methodology policy
.


2024 Tesla Model 3 First Impressions


I’ve personally always liked the way the last Model 3 looked, but the fact that there are now so many of them on the road – especially in my part of the world – has made the car become as generic as a lamp post.

This new model doesn’t do much to change that, as it’s essentially the same overall shape as before, albeit with revised front and rear fascias, mostly to help reduce the car’s drag coefficient. The latter is now down at an impressive 0.219 versus 0.225 in the old car. It also makes you wonder why Hyundai worked so hard at making its IONIQ 6 (Cd of 0.21) look like a banana.

2024 Tesla Model 3 Front Side


But at least, Hyundai is trying to make its EVs look fun and cool. I mean, check out the IONIQ 5. It reminds me of a Lancia Delta Integrale that’s been pixelated into the future. I do wish Tesla had that kind of fun with its designs. Then again, the Cybertruck proves that this may not be a good idea after all.

About the 2024 Model 3’s build quality: I’ve examined panel gaps, rubber moldings and the way the doors fit with their frames as they close shut (see photos above).

Honestly, at first glance, the car appears just as well put together as any other product from a big-name carmaker, and definitely a huge step forward in the right direction.


Exterior Dimensions

Length

185.8 in.

Width (including mirrors)

82.2 in.

Height

56.7 in.

Wheelbase

113.2 in.

Front Track

62.4 in.

Rear Track

62.4 in.

Curb Weight

4,066 lb

Driving Impressions And Performance

2024 Tesla Model 3 Front Three Quarter-1

Although the first-generation car always felt like it was made out of cardboard from its loud cabin rattles and poor noise insulation, it was always a tremendously fun car to drive. I’ve always said that this is what an electric BMW 3 Series should have felt like, although BMW’s own i4 does a pretty good job at doing that now.


The Model 3 still feels light on its feet, agile, precise and, thanks to the absence of an actual dashboard (more on that later), yields fabulous forward visibility. I also love the small, direct steering wheel, allowing you to really place the car where you want it. And although I’ve always preferred single-motor, rear-wheel drive cars for their playfulness, this all-wheel drive model still feels like Tesla’s engineers have baked genuine driving dynamics into it. It drives like a true sport sedan.

2024 Tesla Model 3 Rear

One of the big changes this year is a heavily redesigned front and rear suspension. The new components aim at creating a more controlled ride and preventing excessive bouncing over rough roads, which was an apparent problem in the old car. The Model 3 also got new bushings and subframes.


I confirm that these alterations have helped the Model 3’s overall behavior. The car now drives smoother, is more grown-up in the way it deals with road imperfections, and is at least 50% more comfortable on rough roads over the old car.

Tesla also improved the cabin’s overall sound deadening, claiming that the car is now 20% quieter. One gripe I had with two of the three last-generation cars I reviewed, was sound infiltration from the pillar-less doors at high speeds. That’s now gone as this new car is definitely quieter inside, feeling as vault-like as a Mercedes.

Performance Specifications

Battery Type

Liquid-Cooled Lithium-Ion

Usable Battery Capacity

84.6 KWH

Level Two Home Charging Rate

11.5 KW

Fast Charging Rate

250 KW

Electric Motor Type

Front: Induction AC Motor/ Rear: Permanent-Magnet Synchronous AC Motor

Combined Horsepower

394 HP

Combined Torque

377 LB-FT

Transmission

1-Speed Direct Drive

0-60 MPH

4.4 Seconds

Top Speed

125 MPH


2024 Tesla Model 3 Long Range Energy Consumption, Range And Charging

2024 Tesla Model 3 Logo

Since I only had the car for a day, I couldn’t properly evaluate its energy efficiency and range. I’ll need to book the car on a car sharing platform – or, if I’m lucky, through Tesla – for a longer run so I can properly test it out.

Over the span of roughly 70 miles, with outdoor temperatures hanging around 41 degrees Farenheit (5 degrees Celsius), the onboard computer displayed an average energy consumption rating of 104.7 MPGe, a number that’s above Tesla’s claims. When I ended my run, I connected it to a Tesla Supercharger where the owner was waiting for her car. See the table below for official numbers from the EPA and Natural Resources Canada.


Energy Consumption Data

City

Highway

Combined

EPA Rated Energy Consumption

138.4 MPGe

123.8 MPGe

130.7 MPGe

Energy Consumption As Tested

104.7 MPGe

Interior Design And Comfort

The new Model 3 carries over a similar cabin design theme as the previous car, in the sense that it makes do without a traditional dashboard and a very minimalist approach. Again, the changes are found in the fine details here, such as general cabin materials, fit and finish and cabin lighting.


For instance, gone is the old wood trim the previous cars had on their dashboard. It’s been replaced by a more welcoming wool-like material. There’s now suede-like surfaces inside the door cards, as well as a new LED strip that spans the dashboard below the windshield and stretches all the way to the rear doors. The color of the strip can be tailored to the driver’s profile.

2024 Tesla Model 3 Full Dashboard

The center console – which contains a massive storage compartment – no longer feels like a wobbly afterthought, but rather a rigid, solid piece. All touch-points are now met with a feeling of quality and longevity. I worked overtime to find trim pieces that didn’t intersect well with one another. I didn’t find any.


But while the glass roof does allow the Model 3’s cabin to always remain well lit up, it would have been nice if it actually opened this time around.

If you’re a tall person, the rather small Model 3 never feels cramped inside. Once that front seat is set up accordingly, leg and headroom and never an issue. And it’s the same story in the rear, where more than ample head and legroom allowed a tall individual such as myself to find comfort with ease.

Interior Dimensions

Front

Rear

Headroom

40.3 in.

37.8 in.

Shoulder Room

56.7 in.

54.2 in.

Hip Room

53 in.

52.3 in.

Legroom

42.7 in.

34.5 in.


Technology And Ease Of Use

Technology is obviously where the Model 3 flexes its biggest muscles. You don’t operate this car the same way you would any other vehicle on the market, for better or for worse.

In typical Tesla fashion, the car can be unlocked and activated using the Tesla app on your phone, or in my case, the guest key card. You simply place it on the phone charging tray for the car to detect it.

As part of Tesla’s obsession with cost-cutting and Elon’s – ahem – Asperger’s syndrome, the new Model 3 gets rid of all stalks, including its drive selector and wiper/blinker branches. To put the car into the D position, one therefore needs to press the brake pedal and slide a slider on the car’s main command screen, or, touch a haptic feedback button located on the car’s ceiling. Yes, the ceiling.


2024 Tesla Model 3 Drive Selector

You’ll need to repeat the same sort of ridiculous wizardry to activate the car’s blinkers, as they’re now buttons on the steering wheel, like on some motorcycles. And I tell you, that’s incredibly unpleasant to operate. Some will tell you that you’ll get used to it. I say that’s rubbish, as we’ve been accustomed to operating a stalk for almost a full century now. This is a classic case of not needing to reinvent the wheel.

That all being said, Tesla still masters the software user experience as the Model 3’s central command screen is always pleasing to look at, easy to comprehend and responds with the same fluidity as an iPhone. Everything is controlled via this screen, from steering wheel adjustments to climate control settings.


But I do still wish Tesla had given us some physical buttons to operate some of these commands. The speedometer is also on that screen, and annoyingly blends too easily with the interface. This is something that could have easily been fixed by fitting the car with a heads-up display.

2024 Tesla Model 3 Infotainment 3

I could write a full review of that screen alone as it encapsulates a full plethora of features, options and apps, some more useful than others. Users can then download additional apps and, of course, the entire system is compatible with over-the-air (OTA) updates, so it’ll always stay fresh with the latest toys.


2024 Tesla Model 3 Rear Screen 2

Finally, there’s a second, smaller screen in the rear to keep rear passengers busy through various apps, such as audio/video players, as well as video games.

Cargo And Storage Space

Interestingly enough, although the Model 3 is essentially the same car as before in terms of its exterior dimensions, Tesla has managed to extract 1.2 cubic-feet of additional cargo space over the old car. The Model 3 is also equipped with a frunk (front trunk). Now while it’s still not as practical as some of its hatchback competitors like the BMW i4 and the Polestar 2, it still remains competitive in its respective segment. See the table below for reference.


Minimum Cargo Capacity (Rear Seat In Place)

21 cu-ft

Front Trunk (Frunk) Cargo Space

3.1 cu-ft

Total Cargo Space

24.1 cu-ft

How The 2024 Tesla Model 3 Compares To Its Competition

2024 Tesla Model 3 Front

Since it is considered a premium product, the Tesla Model 3 faces stiff competition from Europe, notably from the Polestar 2 and BMW i4. However, it sits at a much lower price point than those cars, clearly showcasing Tesla’s ability to offer consumers a lot of value for the price.

I would therefore rather pit the 2024 Hyundai IONIQ 6 as the 2024 Tesla Model 3’s true direct rival, as both cars offer similar characteristics, performance, and range, all at a similar price point.


2024 Tesla Model 3 Long Range Versus 2024 Hyundai IONIQ 6 Dual-Motor All-Wheel Drive

Front 3/4 view of a 2024 Hyundai Ioniq 6 SE
Hyundai

While Tesla sells dual-motor all-wheel drive as a complete package with the Long Range model, Hyundai offers you the option of opting for it or not as an option, even on the base SE trim level.

When equipped with it, the Hyundai kicks off at an MSRP of $47,065 versus $47,740 for the Tesla. These prices do not take into account available government incentives for the purchase of an EV.

2024 Hyundai Ioniq 6
Hyundai


Out of the box, you’re getting a bit more advertised range from the Tesla; 341 miles versus 316. Both cars can fast charge to a similar rate; 240 kW for the Hyundai and 250 kW for the Tesla. It’s the same story for their level 2 home charging onboard chargers. They are almost identical at 10.9 kW for the Hyundai and 11.5 for the Tesla. Their 0-60 MPH are also about the same, both a hair under 4.5 seconds.

2024 Tesla Model 3 Headlights

Overall cargo space, however, is where the Model 3 beats the IONIQ 6, which doesn’t have a frunk. You only get 11.2 cu-ft of total cargo space in the Hyundai, versus 24.1 in the Tesla. Finally, while Hyundai EVs are now compatible with Tesla’s Supercharger network, Tesla owners will still have access to more chargers, as well as receiving the latest, state-of-the art features and units before other brands.


Related
2024 Hyundai Ioniq 6: A Comprehensive Guide On Features, Specs, And Pricing

The Hyundai Ioniq 6 is an all-electric sedan straight out of a science fiction movie, and this guide will tell you everything you need to know.

One Of The Best Values In The Electric Sedan Space

2024 Tesla Model 3 Rear Three Quarter

Thanks to a much improved build quality and interior refinement, as well as significantly more grown-up driving dynamics, the arguments for not choosing a 2024 Tesla Model 3 over one of its competitors are now running thin. Sure, the car has some weird ergonomic quirks inside, and I do wish Tesla did like Hyundai by returning to physical buttons, but it’s honestly very hard to fault this car.

Of course, I’ll need to spend more time with it during a longer, more thorough review, but I think it’s fair to say that the Model 3 is finally a fully grown-up product that’s poised to continue giving its latest competition a serious run for its money.




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