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Home / Tips and Tricks / Tesla Buying Guide: How to choose between Model 3, Model S and Model X.

Tesla Buying Guide: How to choose between Model 3, Model S and Model X.

Tesla's range of electric vehicles now includes models S, 3 and X.


Since Tesla opened in 2003, the electric car company named after the inventor of the 19th and 20th century, Nikola Tesla, was a game changer for the automotive industry. In just 16 years, Tesla has become one of the most important automotive manufacturers in the industry.

Quite apart from the sale of electric vehicles, the Tesla Model 3 is now the best-selling luxury vehicle in the US The Model 3 helped the startup automaker, according to GoodCarBadCar, to reach a total revenue of 1

97,517 last year, bringing the total EV luxury automaker ranked 20th among the 35 best-selling car brands in America. This ranking means that Tesla's revenue in 2018 has surpassed brands such as Chrysler, Acura, Cadillac and Infiniti.

Tesla does not use a traditional franchise merchant's model, but has its own showrooms.

Saul Loeb / AFP / Getty

With increasing popularity of Tesla, some hurdles still need to be overcome, including problems with build quality and with reliability . For some customers, these problems have been exacerbated by the lack of a traditional service network by Tesla . There are also ongoing concerns about the financial situation of the company.

It's also a good idea to judge how your location and lifestyle mix with an electric vehicle. Living in a rural area away from the Tesla Supercharger network can seriously affect your owner experience. The answer, of course, is to make sure you have access to Level 2 (240 volt) charging. The latter can cost around $ 2,000 to $ 3,000 to be installed in your garage or car park. Yes, a standard level 1 (110 volt) connection to a regular household power outlet charges a Tesla, but charging rates are problematic slow – only about 8 km range per charge hour. This means that even a basic model 3 with the 220-mile battery can take more than 40 hours to recharge.

(Want to know more about charging your electric vehicle? Our Guide to Charging Electric Vehicles (19459013) has covered you.)

Tax credits and other incentives

Another important factor: Check your tax credit Situation – There are federal, state, regional and other tax credits for the purchase of electric cars, including those from your local power company. Examine these closely because they can affect your purchasing decision.

For example, Tesla vehicles may still receive a $ 3,750 tax credit for deliveries by June 30, 2019. For new vehicles delivered between July 1 and December 31, 2019, this incentive will decrease to $ 1,875. Tesla has an extensive website that deals with tax incentives (including solar products). It pays to study carefully as you can save so much money.

Tesla also regularly offers other short term sales incentives, including free supercharging and referral code based programs.

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, has been instrumental in the rise of the brand.

South China Morning Post / Getty

Tesla over the years

Originally founded in 2003 by the two engineers Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning, Tesla won in 2004 Elon Musk as lead investor and chairman.

In 2008, Musk became CEO of Tesla. In the same year, the company presented its first automobile: the Tesla Roadster. Although the fully electric Lotus Elise-based roadster was offered for over $ 100,000, it was remarkably advanced in its time, with a range of 400 kilometers and a time of less than 4 seconds between 0 and 60 on the way to a top speed of 200 km / h.

The Roadster would eventually pave the way for the Model S five-door 2012, followed by the Model S-based crossover SUV Model X in 2015 and the Model 3 compact luxury sedan in 2017.

Tesla Model 3

Today, Tesla's cheapest model is also the most popular. In fact so popular that Tesla received nearly 200,000 deposits for the car on the day the reservations were opened. This popularity was probably boosted by the promised $ 35,000 base price, but it took nearly three years for the Standard Range model to become available. In fact, Tesla removed the model after putting the $ 35,000 fabric-covered model into the configurator for a while although you still seem to be able to order it by phone or in person in a showroom. The network network? Almost all Model 3 sales were handled at much higher prices.

Assuming you do not want to go through this Rigamarol on a special order to save $ 4,900, today's de facto entry-level model 3 is the Standard Range Plus. It offers rear-wheel drive, a battery with a range of 240 miles (according to EPA estimates), a speed of 0 to 60 mph of 5.3 seconds and a top speed of 140 mph.

Tesla's Model 3 has a simplified cabin that defines the word "minimalism". It is not without advantages or disadvantages.

Nick Miotke / Roadshow

The next rung on the ladder, the Model 3 Long Range, raises the MSRP by $ 10,000, but includes 310 miles of range, a faster, 4.4 second dash from 0 to 60 miles per hour, and one Top speed faster 5 mph. More importantly, it may also incorporate dual-engine, four-wheel drive hardware, and a nicer premium interior with a 14-speaker audio system and premium connectivity. The latter includes satellite mapping with live traffic, audio streaming and an internet browser. This fairing also includes a nicer center console with additional charging and LED fog lights.

Fancy more? Then you want the Model 3 Performance Trim with its 3.2-second time from 0 to 60 and 162 mph top speed for $ 59,900. However, at full load, the performance trim is within earshot of $ 70,000, making such Model 3 sedans a completely different vehicle class.



Range (Miles)

0-60 Acceleration. (Sec.)

Top speed (mph)

Base price

Model 3 Standard Range Plus

Single engine, rear wheel drive




39.900 USD [19659039] Model 3 with long range

twin engine, four-wheel drive




49.900 $

Model 3 Performance

Double engine, all-wheel drive [19659034] 310



$ 59,000

Recommended Configuration

In my reviews, I usually recommend adding as many options as possible, but my approach to the Model 3 is a somewhat more conservative. I think 240 miles of range are good enough for most people, so I would start with the Standard Range Plus car unless four-wheel drive is required.

Autopilot is now standard on all Model 3 panels. In addition to expected blind spot monitoring, automatic emergency braking, forward and side collision warning, Autopilot adds adaptive speed control with lane centering.

It is important to note that many people mistake autopilot for autonomous driving. They are not the same – there are no self-driving cars on the market yet. Autopilot is a practical SAE Level 2 system albeit a very good one with correct operation.

Tesla optional so-called full self-driving hardware is not without criticisms.


Next, if you can swing it, I'd consider spending another $ 6,000 on Tesla's "Full Self-Driving Capability," which also includes Navigate on Autopilot. With $ 6,000, you also get automated parallel parking and Tesla's Summon feature. According to Tesla, with Summon, "your parked car will find you everywhere in a parking lot, really." The site also states that during 2019 the system will detect and respond to "traffic lights and stop signs" while allowing "automatic driving on city streets".

A note on this last point: CEO Elon Musk has promised that this costly option for full self-drive will soon enable full autonomous radio-driving. However, most industry experts and critics make serious exceptions to this claim. This is mainly because the system uses no technologies such as lidar and extensive 3D mappings . Two features that almost all experts consider to be the cornerstones of future self-propelled technology. If you appreciate some of FSD's other features, including autopilot navigation and automatic parking, it's probably worth spending the extra $ 6,000. If you are looking for a truly autonomous driving style, the jury is still very concerned about the functionality of this system. So you should save your money.

Yes, the Model 3 has two suitcases!

Nick Miotke / Roadshow

If you go inside, the $ 1,000 black and white interior is beautiful, but the all-black cabin looks great, yet offers the same features as the multi-colored cockpit. It is also worth noting that the Long Range Model 3 is the cheapest option to offer the Premium Interior with the upscale 14-speaker audio system .

Next, I would jump for the 19-inch sport bikes. They are $ 1,500 more expensive than the 18-inch Aero wheels, but they make the Model 3 burst. Finally, I would order mine in black, since all four other available colors of the Model 3 cost a whopping $ 1,000 to $ 2,000 more.

Configured to hold a few thousand under my buyer's $ 50,000 remorse threshold. Taking into account the features and performance of the model 3 at a price of less than 50,000 US dollars, it also offers the coveted German luxury compact sedans such as the Audi A4 (19459013) 2017, the BMW 3 Series (19459007) and the Mercedes (19459013) – Benz C-Class a run for their money.

If you live in an area that has real winters, you should of course get one of the four-wheel trim that starts at $ 49,900.

Buy the Tesla Model 3 if:
You're looking for a groundbreaking, compact luxury sports saloon that's on everyone's lips and fun too.

Do not buy the Tesla Model 3 if:
you do not have easy access to Level 2 charging and do not live close to practical compressors.

Also note:

Tesla Model S

When the Tesla Model S 2012 arrived, the world's mid-size five-door hatchback signaled that Elon Musk and Tesla were not just flashing in the pan were here in the long run too. The Model S, which has been on the market for almost seven years, received an optical update in 2016, but is overdue for a full redesign. Of course, this will have to wait for the company to fix the kinks in the Model 3 production, let alone the introduction of the Model 3-based Model Y Crossover of the Tesla Semi and finally the second generation Tesla Roadster .

Last year Tesla discontinued the production of its lower priced S models with a smaller rechargeable battery and rear-wheel drive, leaving the product line with more air between itself and the model 3. In 2019, the S model continues with its simplified layout as a soldier, however, can continue to travel with a single charge than any currently commercially available electric vehicle.



Range (Miles)

0-60 Acceleration. (sec)

top speed (mph)

base price

model S standard range

twin engine, all-wheel drive




75.000 $ [19659039] model S with long range

twin engine, all-wheel drive




85.000 $

Model S Performance

Twin engine, all-wheel drive

] 345

3 ,


$ 96,000

Model S performance in ridiculous mode

Two-wheel drive with two engines




116,000 US $ Dollar [19659051] Recommended configuration

If I was reasonably conservative with the Model 3, I'm a lot trickier with the Model S, but that's really because the $ 79,000 base sedan offers the most, which is the average premium EV Buyers Needed at a Lower Price Monthly Payment.

For a car from $ 75,000 (plus $ 1,200 delivery), the aging Model S has an interior space equivalent to a car with a cost of over $ 40,000. Therefore, I think it's worth $ 1,500 to upgrade to the slightly more expensive interiors in black and white or cream. But even if you want to save $ 1,500, you get the same features as upgrading the interiors.

These features include HEPA air filtration, which can block environmental viruses, activated carbon filters that, according to Tesla's website, "block unpleasant odors, nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbon emissions from the polluting cabin air", a premium audio system with satellite radio. Seat heating for all occupants and a heated steering wheel.

Tesla's mainstay Model S was visually refreshed in 2016 without a grid.

Manuel Carrillo III / Roadshow

Standard advanced driver assistance features include autopilot automatic emergency braking and forward and side collision warning. However, I would still consider using the $ 6,000 "Full Self-Driving Capability" option, which includes: Navigating with Autopilot – automatic lane change, automatic parking, and semi-automatic switching from the driveway to the exit driving. This handy driver assistance system can accept wireless updates to further enhance these systems as the technology progresses.

That's a total of $ 83,700. If you want to put the Model S options to the test, it will cost you almost $ 130,000 MSRP. A note of caution: Although the Model S has been in production for a long time, it is still a start-up automaker. As with the Model 3, reliability and build quality are usually not nearly the typical level of Honda or Toyota. Last June, I tested a fully loaded Model S and after just three days, the electronically retractable and extendable driver's door handle decided to stay in its extended position.

Buy the Tesla Model S if:
They value high performance and environmental friendliness.

Do not buy the Tesla Model S if:
You are demanding a high-quality interior with a $ 100,000 comfort for cars such as ventilated and massaging seats.

Also note:

Tesla Model X

In 2015, Tesla entered the premium crossover segment with its Model X. It's not just an ordinary electrified crossover. It has distinctive features such as Hawkwing doors, and You can even get it to dance for you . While the Model X does not offer the same level of off-road ease as three-row crossover SUVs of similar size, this 5,000-pound trailer can easily compete with most of these soft-road vehicles. .. at least for a short time (towing has a disproportionately harmful effect on the electric range).

Like Model S, on which Model X is based, Tesla only sells dual-engine versions of the higher-range crossover. Despite the resulting increased initial EIA, the overall price of the Model X has dropped in recent years. Already in 2017, a fully equipped Tesla Model X had a staggering $ 177,000. With all the bells and whistles you see today $ 142,000 – a savings of $ 35,000. The Tesla Model S and Model 3 have also seen similar price reductions .



Range (miles)

0-60 acceleration. (Sec.)

Top speed (mph)


Model X Standard Range

Twin engine, all-wheel drive




$ 81,000

Model X with long range

twin engine, four-wheel drive




$ 91.000

Model X Performance

Dual engine, four-wheel drive

305 [19659034] 3,4


$ 102,000

Model X performance with ridiculous mode

twin-engine, all-wheel drive




$ 122,000

Recommended configuration

Now that we know you can easily blow over $ 140,000 for a Model X, let's choose an option with the material you want, but at a price that does not contribute to myocardial infarction " leads. First, we start with the base model X at 81,000 USD. The standard version still has plenty of range and power to impress you and all your friends.

The higher quality black and white or cream interiors are comparable to $ 1,500. I would choose black and white, but even if you want to save money with the standard black cab, you still get the same features as upgrading the interiors. That means the self-presenting front door, HEPA and carbon filters, premium audio system with satellite radio, heated seats for all occupants and a heated steering wheel.

The X model optionally has a third row of seats.


A five-seat interior is standard, while the seven-seater cabin costs $ 3,000. That's a lot for a third row, but this row with the seating configuration offers a lot of options, so yes. Funnily, the six-seater equipment with captain's chairs from the second row costs double! No, no, no!

If you wish, you can add $ 6,000 to the Full Self-Driving Capability package discussed earlier. If you want, look at $ 91,500 to be a cool kid in a Tesla Model X while you're still holding on to the money.

Buy the Tesla Model X if:
You want it The first and fastest all-electric crossover with seven seats you can buy.

Do not buy the Tesla Model X if:
You do not need extra space for the Model S. Falcon gull-wing doors are cool too, as they all get off (excuse the pun) but you were also a big security hole and proved to be difficult to open in the event of a power failure as .

Also note:

Still at the fence about buying a Tesla? Another nugget: unlike almost every other automaker, Tesla gives unsatisfied customers the opportunity to return their new cars within seven days (or 1,000 miles) for a full refund. That's a pretty comforting offer.

With a contribution by Steven Ewing.

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