Brock Herion
Does the Telsa Model 3 Really Live up to the Hype?

Does the Telsa Model 3 Really Live up to the Hype?

The Tesla Model 3 is one of the most iconic EVs on the road, but does it really live up the hype?

Brock Herion - December 4, 2022 - 17 minute read

I took delivery of my 2023 Tesla Model 3 on October 25th, 2022. To say that I was exicted for it would be an understatement. Ever since the Model 3 was first launched, I’d dreamed about owning one. And now that I’ve got my hands on one, I can honestly say that the wait was worth it. While the car does have some issues, it’s been everything I’d hoped for and more.

Today, I’ll be sharing my full thoughts on the Tesla Model 3. We’ll look at the ordering and delivery process, the day-to-day driving experience, charging, and more. There’s a lot to talk about here, so let’s get right into it!

Why we ordered a Tesla Model 3

For some time now, my wife and I had discussed purchasing an electric vehicle. My wife graduated from nursing school in May and started a new job in August, which she would have to commute to. Her total daily commute is about 36 miles, give or take. I work from home and only ever drive after she gets home to say, go to the gym or run to the store. A day of driving between us is usually between 40-50 miles in total. Gas prices are continuing to climb higher where we live and my little Honda Civic was starting to cost $50+ dollars to fill up every week to a week and a half. And filling up my wife’s car is even pricier, pushing upwards of $65.

With this in mind, we looked at EVs and how they could benefit us in our situation. We figured out that just plugging the car in overnight in our garage could give us most of our daily drive back. There’s also a bit of public charging in our area, so we could plug in elsewhere if needed.

On top of that, EVs are simply better for the environment. Yes, there are issues with mining raw materials and there are potentially added emissions when you are charging the car. But that’s miniscual compared to the pollution created by traditional ICE vehicles. We decided this car would be a long term investment for us, both for our wallets and for the planet.

The next step was deciding which car to get. As I stated earlier, I had wanted a Tesla Model 3 ever since they first came out. That did not stop us from looking at alternatives however. My top contenders were the Polestar 2, the Ford Mustang Mach-E, and the Hyaundi Ioniq 5. All these cars were really solid choices and any one of them would have fit our needs.

After some debate, we settled on the Tesla Model 3. What it came down to was ease of ownership. We know a few people who drive Model 3s and have only said great things about the car. As our first electric vehicle, we wanted a smooth transition from gas. With it’s great performance, solid range, and Tesla’s extensive Supercharging network, the Model 3 was the prefect first EV for us.

Ordering a Tesla Model 3

We ordered the Telsa Model 3 at the end of June in 2022. After doing some research on which configuration to get, we decided on the standard range in gray. While we originally wanted the long range model, we realized that we didn’t really have a need for it with our driving situation. Paying extra for long range didn’t really make sense if we rarely had a need for those extra miles.

Initally we wanted to buy a used one, thinking that it would be cheaper. Given today’s already absurd used car prices, buying used was not worth it. A similarly speced used Model 3 used would cost us a few thousand dollars more than ordering a new one and just waiting for delivery.

Once our order was placed, my wife and I both downloaded the Tesla app and began setting up what we could. We setup financing, decided we wouldn’t have a trade in, and filled out all the registration information. All we needed to do now was just wait for a VIN number so we could finish setting up things like insurance.

Our original delivery estimation was December of 2022 to January of 2023. As time went on, that window got smaller and closer. Eventually I getting a text that it was time to schedule delivery. We set our date for October 25th and setup a pickup time. Before taking delivery, we had to complete a few things in the app. We had to put down our downpayment and upload our insurance. The Tesla app made that really simple.

Taking delivery

On delivery day, we went over to the our local Tesla service center to pick the car up. We went into the building and were greeted by a fantastic Tesla representative. He showed us the car and helped us fill out the rest of our paperwork. Once that was done, he took us back to the car, hooked up our keys and phones, and showed us everything the car could do. He answered all of our questions and really put any nerves we had about the car at ease. He had even charged it to 90% for us for when we took delivery.

We did a quick run-down of the car to make sure there were no glaring issues with it. Telsa is nutorious for quality issues and we wanted to make sure that our car didn’t have any. To our delight, our Model 3 had no noticable body issues and no interior issues. We did have one problem with it that came up later that night, but I will talk about that in a little bit.

Driving experience

After getting all our questions answered and inspecting the car, we were finally able to take it home. I’ll be honest however, I was really nervous to take this car out of the lot. Both my wife and I owned and driven all kinds of different cars, but we can both honestly say the driving experience of a Tesla is like nothing we’ve driven before. Now that we’re both used to it, it’s hard going back and driving other cars.

The car is incredibly responsive, far more than responsive than any car we’ve driven up to this point. When you put your foot on the gas, it goes and does not let up. The closest thing I can describe it to is being on a launching roller coaster. It’s a feeling that I’ve never had in a car and puts a huge smile on my face every time I do it.

One thing that took a bit of getting used to is the regenerative braking. When you take your foot off the gas, the car will start braking and the energy generated from this is used to charge the battery. I won’t get into the nitty-gritty of it, but here’s an article from Tesla about how regenerative braking works. What this allows for one-peddle driving and, now that I’m used to it, I can’t help but miss it in other cars.

All in all, the best way to describe the driving experience in the Model 3 is that it makes driving easy and fun. Even little things like getting in and out of the car feel better in the Model 3 after getting used to them. When I drive my wife’s Acura TSX, I constantly find myself reaching for the unlatch button to click and realizing there’s an actual handle I need to pull to get out. It’s these kinds of things that make the Model 3 feel like a natural progression for cars and how they work.

Charging the Model 3

One of our biggest fears when gettig an electric car was running out of charge. Thankfully, not only is there decent public charging by us, Tesla also has a massive supercharging network that we can take advantage of. We also purchased the home charging kit to be able to charge in our garage.

For public charging, most places by us have a two to three hour charging limit. They’re not the fastest of chargers, but it’s really nice just being able to plug in when we’re at the mall or at the gym. If I go and workout for an hour and a half to two hours, I get about 20% charge back. As I mentioned earlier, this is what we usually drive in a day, so this is really handy. The only downside is actually getting a spot. Public charging is still super limited, with most lots or garages having between two to four stalls. On busy days these will mostly likely be taken, so it’s better to not rely on them as the only charging source. On top of that, their respective apps might not be accurate in telling you what chargers are working. Thankfully in our most recent election, our county voted to add more public charging. We’ll see how much gets added, but it is nice to see the support for EV’s and their infrastructure growing.

Supercharging is fantastic in a pinch. We can go from 20%-80% in about twenty minutes at the chargers near us. They’re also located in a strip mall, so we can grab a bite to eat at Panera while we wait. The issue with using these for primary charging is they’re expensive. Compared to the free public chargers we have aroud us and home charging, its about 4x the price to supercharge. Right now, it’s about $0.52/kWh to charge. I don’t mind paying $10-$15 to fill up if we need a quick charge, but using it as a main charging source adds up very quickly. Still, it makes me feel better having such an extensive network to fall back on if need be.

The best way to charge your EV is at home, without question. You pull into your garage, plug the car in, and walk away. A standard wall plug will charge the car about 15%-20% overnight for us, depending on the temperature. We’ve had no issues going from 60%-80% at the end of the day to 95% overnight. Electricity by us is about $0.11/kWh and the battery on the car is 50kW. To fully fill the car at home would cost us roughly $5-$6 in electricity. This is way more afforable and convinient than any other method of charging available to us.

According to the Tesla app, we’ve saved $65 in gas in a month of owning the car and have spent about $100 in charging. The bulk of our cost has been supercharging, which will go down drastically now that we’ve started home charging more regularly. We’ve also only had to buy gas once since we bought the Tesla, as now my wife’s Acura is our backup car. $65 is about what we spend to fill it up, so seeing that in savings makes us very happy.

Frustrations with the Tesla Model 3

No car is perfect, and the Tesla Model 3 is no exception. While we did have a smooth pickup and have found no body issues, we did have to take the car in for service that week. The night we picked it up, the car alerted us that we needed a steering aligment. Sure enough, we notcied the wheel was pulling to the left. Scheduling service was super easy though. I took the car to the Tesla service center and was out in about an hour. The technition was very friendly and the repair was free. My gripe here is not with the service, but rather with Tesla’s QA process. How it made it off the line with a steering aligment issue is beyond me. It’s not like a paint or panel issue where it could be super subtle and easily missed. The car actually told us this was an issue and needed to be fixed the day we picked it up. That kind of issue for this kind of car is unacceptable.

You can also tell that this car was designed for warmer climates, like Southern California. I live in the Chicago suburbs, and if you know anything about the Midwest, you know how notourious it’s weather is. It can go from very hot to freezing cold to pouring rain in a matter of days. I bought mud flaps to help keep the sides of the car nice, which have already started paying off. The main issue here is lack of floor mats included. This seems like a no-brainer to have in a car like this, but for whatever reason Tesla does not include any. I had to buy my own on Amazon.

One issue we’ve both had is connecting our phones to play music. The Model 3 has two Bluetooth emitters, one for the radio and one for using your phone as a key. My wife has her phone set as the priority device in the car, so when we both get in it connects to her phone first. Problem is is when I get in on my own and she’s in the house, the car still connects to her phone. Even if I connect to my phone manually, the car will disconnect and go back to hers. Driving away doesn’t fix it either, as Bluetooth then gets stuck in some kind of loop where it won’t let me connect to any devices. After 5-10 minutes it resolves itself, but this is incredibly frustrating. And one issue we’ve both had is the car will randomly drop our phones and reconnect a few minutes later. I hope this is something that can be fixed through a software update, but this is by far the most annoying thing with our Model 3.

These last issues are mostly small complaints I with the car. The first thing is that the car comes with no rear lisence plate holder. This is something that Tesla recently removed from their cars that, to me, makes no sense not to include. Like with the floor mats, I had to purchase one on Amazon. The other thing that used to be included was a mobile charging unit. Paying an extra $230 for something that used to be included is not ideal to say the least. It is nice that they included an adapter to use at public chargers, but I dislike that I can’t home charge without this unit.

What I love in the Tesla Model 3

The complaints I have with this car are small compared to the things I love about it. For one, it’s got a lot of storage space for a sedan. The trunk itself is roomy on it’s own, but you can get more rear storage if you fold the backseats down. On top of that, there’s a hidden compartment in the truck with even more storage space in it. And who can forget about the iconic frunk? While it’s not nearly as large as the rear trunk, it’s more than enough for storing all our charging gear and equipment.

Another great thing with the car is it’s software. The center display has a ton of functionality built into it. The navigation system works really well and the estimated trip range is mostly accurate. The climate controls are pretty extensive as well, giving you fine control over the airflow in the vehicle. The built in suite of games is a ton fun, especially while charging. We both love playing Fallout Shelter and are planning on picking up a controller so we can play Stardew Valley and Cuphead. And all of this is incredibly fast and responsive thanks to an AMD Ryzen CPU.

Aside from how great the software is, one of the things both my wife and I love is how safe the car is. The Tesla Model 3 is one of the safest vehicles on the road, scoring a “good” rating in nearly every category from the IIHS. And that’s to say nothing of the side and rear cameras on the car. They’re really nice and make us feel a lot safe when doing things like changing lanes or backing out. One thing that’s been controversial with the 2023 models is the removal of the ultra-sonic senors for detecting objects and instead relying on the cameras and Tesla Vision for it. While it’s not great at picking up objects yet, it does pretty accurately detect cars, trucks, bikes, and things like that. It does a nice job at showing us our surroundings at all times.

Here’s a quick rundown a few other things I really like in the Model 3:

  • Green light alert
  • Being able to do climate controls from my phone
  • Autopilot
  • Auto wipers (great for when it’s raining)
  • Over the air updates
  • Walk up unlock/walk away locking
  • Hold mode
  • All the fun gimick modes and apps (fireplace, Mars, beat maker, etc.)
  • Driver profile and glovebox PINs
  • Dashcam recording and sentry mode
  • The various Easter Eggs (Rainbow Road mode, Rick and Morty voice commands, etc.)

Of course there’s more things that I really like in the car or find convenient, but these were the things I could think off the top of my head.

Final thoughts

At this point, the future of cars is undoubtedly electric. Tesla lead the charge in making EV’s mainstream and now we’re seeing a wide range of new vehicles hit the road from legacy automakers and startups alike. It’s a really exciting time in the history of automobiles.

As for the Model 3, it is in my opinion one of best first EV’s you can buy. It gets great range, drives wonderfully, has a vast and extensive charging network, and continues to get better with software updates. And while it is more expensive than similar offerings, it offers so much and makes owning an EV really simple.

That being said, Tesla does still have quality control issues and some of the choices they’ve made with this car is pretty baffling. The exclusion of things like floor mats and charging equipment is something that really doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. The minimal interior and having all the controls be on a touch screen is likely something that will throw most people off, especially coming a normal gas car.

I love my Model 3 and I’m planning on keeping this car around for a very long time. It’s met every expection I’ve had for it and has spoiled me for driving anything else. It’s a solid daily driver that’s not only incredibly fun to drive, but better for the planet. To me, this car absolutely lives up to the hype. It’s not just a great electric car, but a great car in general. I could not be happier with it.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go back to scheming how I’m going get rid of my wife’s car and replace it with a Model Y.

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