Rental Car Review: 4 Days with a Tesla Model 3 Performance

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2,692
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San Rafael, CA
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com] Summary: Absolutely wonderful to drive, and a totally unique driving experience compared to a typical ICE (internal combustion engine) car, but it's still not a useful daily driver for most people. Driving experience, acceleration, and handling: 9/10. Wow. If you haven't at least ridden in one of these (but even better if you can drive it) you just won't understand. Even my mom, who drives a 95 Accord and doesn't care about cars, was impressed. I didn't push it hard with her in the car but I did floor it for a couple seconds and "it feels faster than an airplane" haha. I took a bunch of other people for rides too and every single one of them was amazed. The way it instantly and silently (well, a slight whir of the electric motors if you have the music off) and smoothly accelerates is just nuts. A regular car, even a performance car, you floor it, the engine revs up, it starts to go, it shifts, etc. Is not at all the same. And the dual motor AWD system just makes it so much better. You can put your foot down at any point in a curve and/or at any speed and there's no screeching of tires or drifting - ever. The center of gravity is very low since a massive heavy battery pack is basically the entire floor. Just can't achieve that with a regular gas car. If you love to drive, you'll love this car. Sure on a track it can beat out more expensive performance/exotic vehicles but that doesn't matter. What matters is how it feels to drive and I had a smile on my face the entire time. You will too. So, why did I not give it 10/10 in the driving category?After all, it feels like you're going 75 when you're going double that, it goes 0-60 in 2.9 seconds, surely that deserves a 10/10? Well, no. You have to remember that this car is a giant iPad on wheels. You're driving a computer which is driving the car. This is why it's so frustrating when once in a while the car decides what it's going to do, even though you're asking it to do something different. And even worse, that behavior can, and will, change over time with software updates. I got a little annoyed when I tried to enable the self-driving autosteer functionality at 90mph and it said "Autosteer disabled for the rest of this trip" basically if you try to engage it at 90+ you can't have it until you pull over, get out of the car, lock it, unlock it, get back in, etc. I totally understand not allowing autosteer to enable at 90+, but don't tell me what I can and can't do for the rest of my drive! That leads me to... Self-driving features 8/10. Except for auto-park which is super awesome and adaptive cruise control, the rest of the self-driving stuff is downright useless. Nice party trick and everyone oohs and ahhs when it steers itself and changes lanes by itself and it's fun to play with it in different situations... but it's not there yet. It gets confused easily and once I had to yank the steering wheel to the left because it got confused when one lane turned to two and it seemed like it was going to drive into parked cars on the right side of the street. Would it have? Probably not, but I wasn't going to take that risk. My point is, it's easier, smoother, and more relaxing to just drive the car manually vs letting the car drive and constantly keeping an eye on it. Ride quality, comfort, and interior: 10/10. They got it right. Even with super skinny tires this thing is so, so smooth. It just glides over minor imperfections in the road. The interior is a nice place to spend time. That said, it's very simplistic... you have regular power window switches, turn signal stalk, and column "shifter" but everything else. Yes, absolutely everything else is controlled by a massive touchscreen in the middle of the dash. That's why I call it the iPad on wheels. While this is super cool, even as someone who loves and understands technology (I'm a developer, I refurbished and repaired computers for 7 years, so I am no stranger to using different interfaces), it's just not really that intuitive sometimes. I found adjusting the mirrors to be annoying, for example. In my Escape and Suburban I can adjust them without taking my eyes off the road. WIth this, I have to tap a bunch of stuff on the tablet-like thing and look at exactly what I'm doing, then fiddle with the knob on the steering wheel, then tap Save. Really? But I can't really complain about this because you know before you buy the car how the interface works so it's not like you don't know what you're getting yourself into. The sound system is good. Not as good as I hoped it would be, but still, very good. Not great. I like that I could use Spotify directly within the car's computer vs connecting to my phone and Bluetooth streaming my music. It also has Hulu, Netflix, multi-player games, and a (slow) web browser. based on where in my area it lost signal, I suspect it uses AT&T cell service but don't quote me on that. Exterior design and build quality: 7/10. To me, it's a boring looking car. Really, I find all Teslas plain. At least on the Model 3 the proportions are right, unlike the gross Model X. I do prefer the look of the Model S personally even though it's an "old" design... And the "Cybertruck" they just announced? LOL. Anyway, I think that they could definitely have made the car more interesting looking. I also think it could be put together a bit better. Inconsistent body panel gaps on any modern car, especially one this expensive, with only 16K miles on it? Unacceptable IMO. I did find the door handles a bit annoying. I wish it had regular car door handles. The headlights are great and the automatic high beams work perfectly. Charging/range/etc 9/10. If you go to a Tesla Supercharger, it charges very quickly. You can get an almost full charge in about an hour. The charging speed does taper off as the battery gets closer to full charge... the last 10% takes a really long time. But getting it to like 80% is plenty good and gets you to like 250 miles. If you use a "universal" charging station (not a Tesla Supercharger) it charges much slower. I didn't get to try this because I didn't have the adapter so I had to go to a Tesla Supercharger to plug it in. You can also plug it in with a regular wall outlet, but that's really, really slow. I was told it takes about a week to charge on a standard 120V wall outlet. LOL. Therein lies the problem with this car. Unless you own your own home with a garage in which you can have a charging station powered by a dedicated 240V AC circuit (which can charge the car up overnight) you can't really own a Tesla. And, while there are plenty of Superchargers around here (I used the one in Corte Madera as well as the one in Petaluma) this is in the San Francisco Bay Area. In the most of the rest of the country, there are not Superchargers everywhere so you're stuck at universal charging stations at like Target or whatever... and heck, the only reason the Target here in town has one is because, well, it's Marin County! You can totally take a road trip in your Tesla... as long as you don't leave the SF Bay Area! I do think that electric cars have a future. They are superior to ICE cars in SO, SO many ways. They definitely have a use for commuters who are homeowners and/or can charge at work. But unless you're around here, good luck getting your employer to install EV charging stations! And for many businesses, EVs are perfect. For example, the parts store I work at? We have a Frontier, Ranger, and Versa. If we had three Chevy Bolts and charging stations, we'd end up saving a lot of money over the course of 5 years. Go on delivery (usually a few miles in stop and go traffic) then plug it in when you get back. Perfect!! No maintenance beyond tires, brakes, and wipers, and there are plenty of high mileage EVs of various brands (mostly Teslas because they're the most popular) so it seems EVs are pretty reliable. That said, I do understand that if something breaks after the warranty is over, it's going to be spendy to repair! Value: 8/10. The Model 3 starts at about $30K, the Model 3 Long Range starts at about $40K, and the Model 3 Performance starts at about $50K. The one I drove was fully loaded cost about $65K according to the Tesla website. While you do get a lot for your money, the "Full Self-Driving Computer" is a $7K option that I believe should be included for free. If I had to buy a Model 3 I'd buy a Model 3 Long Range, because that gets you the bigger battery and AWD - the Performance model is super fun but an extra $10K to get from 4.4s to 2.9s when it comes to the 0-60 just isn't worth it IMO. In conclusion, the Tesla Model 3 is a great car that's so, so, so fun to drive, but unless you live in the SF Bay Area and/or are quite well off and have a short commute, you'd always need at least one ICE car in addition to your Tesla.
 
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4,708
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OK
You hit all the points. A friend of mine owns one and I would echo all your observations from having ridden in it numerous times. Until the charging infrastructure improves, these aren't viable for long trips, but they are literally perfect for the 99% of people who commute to work each day and maybe swing by the grocery store on the way home.
 
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1,315
Location
Elizabeth. Colorado
I travel for a living and there are a lot more Tesla Superchargers out there than you think. The whole I-5 corridor from LA to Seattle has them in regular spots. Many big cities have them around too. Kinda [censored] me off too, because they put 5 of them by the front door and call it reserved parking and they are never in use.
 
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35,252
Location
NY
When they can be recharged as fast as a car can be gassed up, they'll sell like hot cakes. Until then, at least for me ICE vehicles are still the way to go. Flame suit on.
 
Thanks for the excellent write up. The vast majority of these cars are going to be charged up at home, much as you would plug in your smart phone every night. The second tier would be folks who are beyond the range of the overnight charge but don't need a 100% charge to get home. They might just put on a 50% charge. With familiarity this would mean scheduling a coffee while charging up and be off in 20 minutes. I often drive from BC to Alberta in my gasoline powered car. Gas in my area of B.C. is $1.30 per liter. Gas in Alberta is $1.00 (CDN) per liter, all due to taxation. I prefer to leave home with a half tank and still comfortably make it to my destination. If I decide to gas up I can still do it in several Alberta locations. No reason to obsess with having a full tank of expensive gasoline. Same with charging. If you want to charge to 100 %, do it at home. Self test: Do you double click at the end of a fill to get the last drop in the tank? That's obsessive compulsive. Electric car owners will become familiar with how much of a charge is really required. Only the old farts will sit there charging their car to 100%. laugh
 
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35,252
Location
NY
Originally Posted by Snagglefoot
Thanks for the excellent write up. The vast majority of these cars are going to be charged up at home, much as you would plug in your smart phone every night. The second tier would be folks who are beyond the range of the overnight charge but don't need a 100% charge to get home. They might just put on a 50% charge. With familiarity this would mean scheduling a coffee while charging up and be off in 20 minutes. I often drive from BC to Alberta in my gasoline powered car. Gas in my area of B.C. is $1.30 per liter. Gas in Alberta is $1.00 (CDN) per liter, all due to taxation. I prefer to leave home with a half tank and still comfortably make it to my destination. If I decide to gas up I can still do it in several Alberta locations. No reason to obsess with having a full tank of expensive gasoline. Same with charging. If you want to charge to 100 %, do it at home. Self test: Do you double click at the end of a fill to get the last drop in the tank? That's obsessive compulsive. Electric car owners will become familiar with how much of a charge is really required. Only the old farts will sit there charging their car to 100%. laugh
I'm an old [censored], and very rarely fill my tank completely. I like the convince of spending 5 minutes or less at a gas station and have a cruising range of 300 miles or more depending on the vehicle I'm driving. I'm certain electric cars will offer that or more at some point, but until then I'll stick with ICE.
 
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228
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NY
Interesting write up. I feel that electric cars will someday be the mainstream but not for quite some time because of the long charging time. I would like to drive one though just to get the experience of it. What company rents out Tesla cars?
 
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2,397
Location
Pennsylvania
I have been writing to my local state reps and senators about taxing electric cars for their use of the roads. I pay a lot of taxes (through gas purchases) to use the roads. It seems to me that it is only fair that e-car users get an annual bill for road taxes of several hundred dollars to make them comparable to gas cars. Nobody should be able to use a taxpayer supported road system with out paying for the privelege.
 
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2,397
Location
Pennsylvania
I have been writing to my local state reps and senators about taxing electric cars for their use of the roads. I pay a lot of taxes (through gas purchases) to use the roads. It seems to me that it is only fair that e-car users get an annual bill for road taxes of several hundred dollars to make them comparable to gas cars. Nobody should be able to use a taxpayer supported road system with out paying for the privelege.
 
First things first. The whole idea is to get the charge infrastructure in place and get people to adopt electric cars. The taxes will come later. I take a look at the charge stations at the Petrocan in Canmore as I drive by about four times per month. Nope, no cars charging there when I happen to drive by. Less than 2 % of the cars in America are electric. There's not much road tax being missed at this point.
 
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In the Garage...
There are so many Teslas in the greater Seattle area I have lost count. Having said that I have driven a few and really like them. I also like how they look. Not interested in the truck though. Around her there are TONS of charging stations so not a real issue. I could have one as my commute is about 25 miles round trip. I am just not ready for an electric car yet. I like my gassers. The acceleration in these things is pretty cool. I would agree with you on comfort.
 
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33,971
Location
Southern NJ
Quote
Less than 2 % of the cars in America are electric. There's not much road tax being missed at this point.
I'm all for EV's replacing ICE's. I'm not sure if the hydrogen fuel cell or EV will eventually replace it, but in due time the ICE will be replaced. Looking forward to keeping the air clean too.
 
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15,352
Location
NE,Ohio
First thing around here is terrible roads.. those big wheels/low profile tires are probably $1000 each to replace if you need a new wheel and tire from a <span style="text-decoration: line-through">bomb crater</span> normal winter road in Ohio.
 
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5,551
Location
Los Gatos, CA
Dodgememe lives just north of the SF Goldengate Bridge; I live in the South Bay. We both pay a lot for petrol and get a lotta sunshine (solar panels are a natural fit). There are a lotta places to charge; many companies offer free or subsidized charging. The tech nature and climate of the Bay Area makes owning an EV somewhat of a no brainer. Teslas are a status symbol to some... I also wanted a Tesla because they employ so many at the old NUMMI plant in Fremont. A huge tax base and great for the surrounding area. Musk built and continues to expand Tesla's charging network; this is a huge undertaking and cost. But a requirement for product acceptance. In my neighborhood, charging stations are everywhere; I understand we are pretty unique. Perhaps stores are marketing themselves are a shop and charge draw. If you wanna drive a Model 3, go to a Tesla store. They used to let you take one home overnight; not sure if they still do. Dodgememe said the Model 3 will put a smile on your face. I can tell you that after a year it still does for Sue and I. Tesla sells every Model 3 they can make; delivery lead times are getting longer... There is a reason for it.
 

dogememe

Thread starter
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2,692
Location
San Rafael, CA
Originally Posted by diyjake
How much did it cost to rent the tesla?
I rented it on Turo. I had $1100 of account credit that was going to expire at the end of the year. The car cost $135/day + insurance, Turo fees, and young driver fee meant I burned up a total of $971 of account credit. My only out of pocket cost was a $30 Uber to go pick up the car.
 

CKN

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5,912
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Utah
Originally Posted by Boomer
I have been writing to my local state reps and senators about taxing electric cars for their use of the roads. I pay a lot of taxes (through gas purchases) to use the roads. It seems to me that it is only fair that e-car users get an annual bill for road taxes of several hundred dollars to make them comparable to gas cars. Nobody should be able to use a taxpayer supported road system with out paying for the privelege.
Then you are going to have a millage based system for road use. That's opening a can of worms......
 
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OK
Originally Posted by dogememe
Originally Posted by diyjake
How much did it cost to rent the tesla?
I rented it on Turo. I had $1100 of account credit that was going to expire at the end of the year.
I'm more interested in how you got so much of an account credit! LOL
 
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