If you’re looking for a used car that cuts fuel costs without cutting performance, the 2020 Tesla Model 3 is a top pick. It’s ridiculously fast and sports agile handling, class-leading range, and fuel economy that beats most of its competition.
Teslahas been one of the leaders and biggest innovators in the electric vehicle (EV) industry. It shouldn’t be surprising that even the most accessible model, the Model 3, represents the Tesla ethos—just packed into a more compact and affordable package. With its minimalistic interior and sleek, streamlined exterior, stepping on the accelerator will leave most other EVs in its (hypothetical) fumes.
2020 Tesla Model 3 performance review
Just how good is the 2020 Tesla Model 3’s performance? Considering one of its three trim levels is called the Performance, you’d expect it to live up to expectations—and it does.
The 2020 Model 3 is available in four unique trim levels. The base, or entry-level trim, is available in two configurations—the Standard Range RWD and the Standard Range Plus RWD. In 2020, it started at an affordable $36,200 and $39,190, respectively.
The next model up, the Long Range AWD, climbed a bit in price with a starting MSRP of $48,190 brand new. And the top-of-the-line Performance AWD model—which is everything you’d want from a luxury EV—came with a starting price tag of $56,190 in 2020.
Regardless of which trim level you choose, the Model 3 offers all the prestige of a Tesla in a much more affordable package compared to the ultra-pricey
According to Forbes, the Model 3 is the 16th-best selling car worldwide, with a total of 439,760 units sold in 2020—an impressive number considering the car was unveiled in the U.S. in 2018. Even since, sales have ramped up, with over 800,000 units sold overall.
What really differentiates a Tesla from the crowd isn’t the prestige of the T on your vehicle—it’s the Model 3’s versatility. It effortlessly combines high-performance driving dynamics with real-world practicality and affordability to produce one of the market's most multifaceted midsize electric cars.
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Powertrain options and handling
Depending on what trim level you select, the Model 3 has three available powertrains. The Standard Range and Standard Range Plus are equipped with a single 271-horsepower electric motor and rear-wheel drive, while the Long Range AWD and the Performance AWD models pack a dual-motor setup (rear and center) with all-wheel drive. All Model 3 trim levels come with a single-speed automatic transmission.
Although there are definitely more powerful EVs on the market, the 2020 Model 3 packs a punch where speed and power are concerned. Plus, with intuitive and responsive steering and agile handling, you’d think you’re behind the wheel of a supercar.
Acceleration, 0 to 60, and top speed
Some falsely believe that EV cars aren’t as powerful as their gas-powered counterparts—and Tesla is here to set the record straight. The Model 3 is fast—like, really fast.
With natural athleticism and rapid acceleration, the Model 3 can blast down the street faster than most sedans. However, different powertrains come with varying levels of speed and power. Here’s how the zero-to-60 times for all three 2020 models compare:
- Standard Range Plus: 5.3 seconds
- Long Range: 5.1 seconds
- Performance: 3.5 seconds
The top speed for each model ranges from 140 or 145 mph for the Standard and Long Range trim to an almost face-melting 155 to 162 mph on the Performance model. Although it’s not likely you’ll be ripping down the highway maxing out your Tesla (can you say speeding ticket?), the thought of it can get the adrenaline rushing.
Let’s compare the Model 3’s top speeds to the top three fastest gas-powered luxury cars on the market:
Although the Model 3 may fall behind the Corvette Z06, the 30 mph top speed gap may be worth the roughly $30,000 price difference.
Fuel economy and range
Fuel economy and range are where Tesla excels. The automaker offers some of the longest ranges on the market and for a highly affordable price point.
The available AWD configuration combined with the Long Range dual motor offers drivers the
maximum Model 3 driving rangeof322 miles, compared to the Performance’s299 miles and the Standard Range Plus’250 miles.
But thanks to the addition of Tesla’s upgraded V3 Supercharger network, all Model 3s are equipped with an onboard charger that keeps your car running for as long as you do. But because 0-to-80% charging speed increases with higher trim levels, you may want to consider upgrading if you need a faster charge.
The range isn’t the only place the Model 3 shines—efficiency is also excellent. All trims of the Model 3 are rated between 113 MPGe and 141 MPGe by the EPA. However, real-world testing does deliver a lower efficiency.
But when you compare that to other cars in its class—like the Corvette’s 19 mpg combined or the Audi S8’s meager 16 mpg (even as a hybrid!)—even a lower efficiency would still look pretty appealing. And a slight drop in speed could be worth gold in fuel savings.
Although the Model 3 is minimal at first glance, technology is the basis of any Tesla EV—and these technological advances set them apart from their rivals.
The Model 3’s interior is, unsurprisingly, minimal and cutting-edge. But minimalistic doesn’t mean cheap. You’ll find many luxury features like perforated leather heated seats, a heated steering wheel, Bluetooth connectivity, and optional wireless charging.
What catches your eye is the single 15-inch touchscreen—the heart of the dashboard—which functions as the control center of your Model 3. You’ll find built-in navigation and other infotainment and entertainment features like Netflix, YouTube, and a host of arcade games, as well as an impressive list of driver-assist safety features called Autopilot. All Model 3s also come equipped with Tesla’s Full Self-Driving Capability option.
With a large selection of popular and safe features packed into a compact and affordable yet top-of-the-line package, the 2020 Model 3 earned a perfect five-star crash test score from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and was named a Top Safety Pick+ by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
How to save on Tesla Model 3 insurance
While the Tesla Model 3 might be a solid option for anyone looking to reduce fuel costs without spending an arm and a leg on an EV, there’s one sticking point with it:
car insurance. Although you may be saving on gas, car insurance costs for electric and hybrid vehicles are typically more expensive than gas-powered vehicles, thanks to higher-than-average parts and repair prices.
But there’s a simple solution: shop with
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