Hey friends, hope you’re well!
I’ve now had the 2023 Tesla Model 3 Long Range for over a month, and I both do and do not regret purchasing the Model 3, especially with the new Model 3 refresh on the horizon.
The refresh will most likely include exterior changes, drive unit optimizations, and the introduction of Hardware 4. However, some components are said to be completely eliminated, including the driver stalks, in-house made seats, and ultrasonic and temperature sensors.
So the 2023 Model 3 may be one-of-a-kind before a facelift, so here’s my honest review as a first-time Tesla owner and why you should consider purchasing a Tesla Model 3 as soon as possible!
What I Don’t Like
Let’s start with what I don’t like because while there’s a lot to love about the Model 3 we’re all familiar with, there are a few things I don’t like, beginning with the process of taking delivery.
After ordering online in January, the entire 6-month period leading up to taking delivery of the car was a “figure it out yourself” situation – the things you’d expect to be guided through with traditional automakers are missing. In my experience, things like being given your car registration number, insurance, and the next steps after the deposit was missing.
Some people may enjoy the minimalist experience, but be prepared to dig around for a lot of information prior to delivery, such as making sure you’ve purchased a charging adapter because they’re no longer included.
Then there are Tesla’s infamous quality issues, such as panel gaps, paint imperfections, and broken trim pieces. It appears to be a long-standing issue, particularly at the Fremont factory.
According to my sources, Tesla’s gigafactory in Shanghai currently produces the highest quality Teslas, so if you take delivery from that region, you should be fine.
I brushed the car with a fine tooth comb before signing for it, as almost everyone suggests online, and I made a comprehensive Notion checklist that I had ready on the day so I didn’t miss anything. Fortunately, I found no problems, and it’s still perfect a month later.
Another strange thing that puzzled me as an EV newbie was this loud whirring and popping sound in cold or hot temperatures. EVs are extremely quiet, so I assumed it was a flaw, but after some research, I discovered that it was the battery expanding and pre-heating. Things I haven’t seen mentioned in other reviews, but I think it’s important to mention so you don’t get caught off guard!
Bumpy Stiff Ride & Handling
Driving it over the last month, the ride comfort is fantastic – it’s as comfortable on short drives as it is on long road trips. Much of this is due to Tesla’s legendary in-house-made seats that feel like cloud foam, which will likely be phased out in favor of cost-cutting.
It’s comfortable, but I can’t help but notice how stiff the suspension is; it’s definitely sporty, and it’s a big difference from the silky smooth suspension of the Mercedes A-Class I previously drove. I’ve noticed bumps, potholes, and imperfections in the roads that I didn’t notice in the Mercedes. If you’re coming from a high-performance vehicle, however, it won’t be an issue.
The seats help to compensate for the stiff ride, and the Model 3’s handling is excellent – it corners well, has plenty of grip with little body roll, feels incredibly planted, and inspires confidence despite its quick acceleration.
Full Driving Mode
The other point of contention is FSD – Full Self Driving – which Tesla has labeled a failure (their words, not mine!).
Tesla’s original promise was pretty clear: every Tesla sold since 2016 could drive entirely on its own, essentially Level 5 full automotive autonomy.
To this day, no Tesla on the road is capable of what was promised, and in fact, they’ve recently removed their Ultrasonic Sensors.
They are now relying on Tesla Vision for FSD, which is primarily camera-based. I didn’t get it, and my personal recommendation is to wait until it’s been proven to work safely before purchasing it. It’s available as a software upgrade anytime, and there aren’t many reasons to pay the upfront cost right now.
Basic Autopilot is standard on all Model 3s, which is better than I expected and eliminates a lot of mental effort required on longer drives. A simple double press on the drive stalk lets the car control acceleration, braking, lane keeping, and vehicle and object monitoring.
Moving on to charging, depending on your setup and where you live, this can be either amazing or a potential pain point.
I don’t currently have access to a home setup, so I have to make trips to the local supercharger or car park chargers. They’re both close to me, and it’s only a one-minute drive over to charge, so it hasn’t been too difficult.
The car park chargers are also completely free in my area, which is a huge benefit that has helped me save a lot of money on fuel, and the potential average savings are even tracked in-app. After one month, I’ve saved $200-300 per month on gasoline, which is nothing to scoff at.
But, as Teslas have become more accessible and popular, there have been numerous occasions when I’ve arrived at charging stations to find them all occupied, so what I’ve saved in dollars, I’ve given up in time looking for chargers.
I intend to install an at-home charger for convenience, but be aware that if you don’t have access to a charger nearby, such as if you live in an apartment complex, charging your Tesla can be a hassle.
Things I Love
Despite my complaints, after one month with my 2023 Model 3, I can honestly say it is the best car I’ve ever owned for various reasons.
For starters, I think it looks fantastic.
I like the car’s simple design; I often find myself looking back at it after I’ve parked it. It’s all subjective, but I like the look, especially in this blackout aesthetic.
Some say it looks like a frog, while others say it looks like a Porsche, but whatever it is, it’s pretty clean and timeless.
There are a few things I’ve changed aesthetically, so let’s go over those first.
To begin, I replaced the Aero V2 covers with aftermarket Uberturbine covers. I’m not trying to make it look like a Performance when it isn’t. I adore the look of the Uberturbine covers. Compared to the aero covers, it has a more aggressive and mean appearance, and it’s super easy to install and matches the black-on-black well. The range hasn’t suffered at all, which is a huge plus!
Then I got a graphene coat applied by the guys over at Schmicko.
I would go with standard ceramic coating, but they suggested a graphene coat, which is apparently more resistant to scratches, and water spotting and better repel dust and dirt.
The process is fairly simple; there’s a handwash, an initial buff, and then a graphene coating from G-Fusion, which I believe was done by hand over a three-hour period.
The end result is an incredible shine and depth to the Model 3, particularly in black. It has that “wet, straight out of the showroom” look that never fades; I think it looks great.
If you want real protection from chipping and scratches, especially if you take your Tesla off-road, it’s worth applying a clear PPF coating.
Then I changed the wood trims to carbon fiber to match the black aesthetic; these are Hillsmade kits.
When it comes to the interior, you either love it or hate it. Some may think it’s overrated and overly minimalist, but it appeals to me.
The clean dash, lack of driver instruments, and concealed air vents all contribute to a modern yet simple interior that feels homey.
The soundproofing in the 2023 Tesla Model 3 appears to have improved over previous years – it’s dead quiet in it with little road noise and less internal squeaks and vibrations, and I believe this is a result of the manufacturing process maturing and testament to the quality coming out of the Shanghai Gigafactory.
If there were two things on my wishlist, they would be tactile buttons for everyday uses like air conditioning and a Heads Up Display that displayed the speed. Looking down at small text on display is far more distracting than looking down at a HUD or even the driver’s dash, but you adapt and eventually get used to it.
I was concerned that the Model 3 would lack Apple CarPlay, which I use on a regular basis. It’s unfortunate that the car lacks Android Auto and CarPlay, but the software in this vehicle is second to none.
Its map navigation system is probably the best on the road, and the overall tech in this car is incredible when paired with the snappy 15-inch touchscreen and the MCU 3 units introduced about a year ago, which contain the same CPU and dedicated GPU as the Model S.
I haven’t seen it stutter once in the last month, and it’s powerful enough to support Steam gaming, as seen on the Tesla X and S.
And the infotainment display and user interface were class-leading at launch and continue to be one of the best to this day; it takes some getting used to, but it works really well.
Basically, the technology is a big selling point for the Model 3: from small benefits like being able to pre-heat or cool down the car before you start driving to full software upgrades that have enabled more range or even faster acceleration over the years. But, as you may know, I’m a sucker for good technology.
We all know that acceleration is epic so that I won’t dwell on it too long, but it must be mentioned.
0-60 in the Long Range variant takes only 4.2 seconds; I can tell you, it never gets old.
Not only does it feel like a rollercoaster of fun, but its instant torque makes merging and overtaking a breeze.
The long-range variant includes the optional $2000 acceleration boost software upgrade, which reduces the 0-60 time to 3.7 seconds, bringing it close to the Model 3 Performance.
I’ve even seen it compete head-to-head with the M3P in drag races on YouTube. The upgraded suspension, brakes, and track mode don’t bother me; the Long Range with acceleration boost makes up for it with top-end acceleration.
I’d like to get the upgrade, but almost everyone I’ve taken in this car finds the acceleration too quick, so we’ll see.
Range anxiety has never been an issue for me.
Although the EPA’s range estimates are, in my opinion, quite generous, the Long Range Model 3 has a long range. I’ve easily gotten over 300 miles on a single charge when the weather is relatively stable and neither too hot nor too cold.
However, it’s worth noting that the Model 3 or any EV is inverse to internal combustion vehicles in that you’ll lose a lot more range if you’re driving 60 miles or 100 kilometers on highways, so I’ve had to charge more frequently on road trips.
But the Tesla is also very good at assisting you in planning your journey; simply enter your destination, and the car will tell you exactly where you need to stop and how long you need to charge to get there.
The most important aspect of any car is its safety, and it’s one of the main reasons I chose the Model 3.
The car has passed all international safety tests with flying colors – the roof can withstand over 20,000 pounds of crushing force!
And there’s a simple reason why it’s one of the safest cars on the market: it lacks an engine. As a result of the lack of engine components, the car structure can deflect energy away from the passengers far more efficiently than ICE vehicles.
And if it’s a matter of life and death, that’s possibly the most important consideration for almost any car and something that deserves to be praised.
When you combine this with the ability to help reduce urban pollution, particularly in large cities where it is a genuine issue, there’s no denying this is a brilliant and beyond-its-time car, even if it has remained largely unchanged.
Despite my reservations, the Tesla Model 3 is already my favorite car I’ve ever driven.
I say it’s overrated because there’s so much hype, perhaps a little too much, surrounding Tesla. However, it is underrated because I don’t believe all of its features and offerings can be fully appreciated until you get behind the wheel. In that sense, I understand why the hype exists in the first place.
Personally, I’m more of an EV fan than a Tesla fan. If another manufacturer can offer an EV that outperforms the Model 3 at a comparable price and with Tesla’s charging infrastructure, I’d be willing to switch. However, that does not appear to be the case anytime soon.
Even with the updated 2024 Tesla Model 3 around the corner, I have no regrets about getting the 2023 Tesla Model 3 – even though it’s an outgoing generation, it’s built on a foundation that has proven safe and reliable. I personally appreciate my car stalks, extra sensors, and in-house Model 3 seats.
Here’s a link to my day in the life video if you’re interested in what I do daily, back when I drove the Mercedes A-Class around. Also, sharing links to the Notion checklist and a referral link if you’re looking to buy a Tesla yourself to get a discount and free charging miles.