Choosing Between Tesla Model 3 and Model S: Which Electric Sedan Is Right for You?

For years after its debut in 2012, the Tesla Model S utterly dominated the electric luxury car market, largely due to the fact that there were no viable competitors of note, something that has changed since. Then in 2017 Tesla released its second sedan, the Model 3 , providing buyers with a smaller, less expensive entry point to Tesla ownership and EV ownership in general.

Don’t go thinking price is the Model 3’s only advantage, though; even if money is no object, there are several compelling reasons to opt for the little sibling of the Model S, including the huge recent Highland update . Keep reading to get the lowdown on the differences between these two electric sedans from Tesla to find out which EV would potentially fit you best.

Advantage Model 3: The Cheapest Tesla

As previously mentioned, the Model 3’s most obvious advantage over the Model S is its price. At an estimated $39,000 to start, the single-motor Model 3 Standard Range is the least expensive Tesla you can buy. Long Range dual-motor AWD examples should set you back around $50,000, and we anticipate the updated Model 3 Performance will cost somewhere in the $60,000 range. At present, the cheapest Model S starts at a much steeper $76,630; you could nearly buy two Model 3s for that price.

Advantage Model 3: Highland Update

For the first time since its 2017 introduction, the Model 3 gets a huge revision for 2024, which is known internally as the Highland update . The exterior facelift, featuring nipped and tucked body panels and a new taillight design, are obvious, but the changes beneath the skin are more important.

The Model 3’s cabin feels less stark with textile details instead of cheap-looking wood , and a dramatically overhauled rear seat means one day we won’t be subjected to unpleasantly stiff and loud Model 3 Uber rides. Adjustable ambient lighting gives the entry-level Tesla a feature even the Model S doesn’t have (yet), and a new rear touch display narrows the gap between the two rear seat experiences. Tesla has also dramatically improved the build quality of the Model 3.

The 2024 changes make the Model 3 feel like a thoroughly modern product again , and for now, we’re still waiting for some of those changes to arrive on the Model S.

Advantage Model 3: Size and Weight

A lighter car is quicker, more agile, and goes through fewer consumables (tires, brake pads, etc.) than an otherwise comparable, heavier one. The dual-motor Model 3s we’ve tested have all weighed in at around 4,100 pounds, whereas the Model S Plaid tipped our scales at slightly more than 4,800 pounds .

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