Home Electric Vehicle Is Tesla Model 3 Better Than Model S?

Is Tesla Model 3 Better Than Model S?

is Model 3 better than Model S

The other day two of my friends were arguing about who made a better decision on their Tesla purchase. One of them bought a Tesla Model S, and my other friend bought a Model 3. When they finished, I realized the answer to this question — Is Tesla Model 3 Better Than Model S? — is not easy. That’s why I’ve decided to write this article. Here, I’m presenting you with all the facts and specs of Model 3 and Model S. I’m confident, after reading this article, you would easily be able to answer this question by yourself. 

Model 3 vs. Model S Price:

The price of Model 3 starts at $35,000. Yes, this $35,000 Model 3 exists. But you need to call Tesla to put an order for this model. There are three other models available. Their prices are

  • Standard Range Plus: $39,990
  • Long Range: $48,990
  • Performance: $56,990

The Model S has two variants. Their prices are

  • Long Range Plus: $79,990
  • Performance: $99,990

Pricewise, Model 3 is cheaper than a Model S. 

Model 3 vs. Model S Specifications:

The range, top speed and 0 to 60 mph time for different Model 3 are given in the following table.

VariantsRangeTop Speed 0-60 mph
Standard Range Plus250 miles140 mph5.3s
Long Range322 miles145 mph4.4s
Performance322 miles145 mph3.2s

The range, top speed and 0 to 60 mph time for Model S variants are given in the following table.

VariantsRangeTop Speed0-60 mph
Long Range Plus390 miles155 mph3.7s
Performance348 miles163 mph2.4s

From the above table, it is notable that every Model S has superior range, top speed, and 0 to 60 times than Model 3. Model 3 could be cheaper, but Model S crushes Model 3 in the performance category. 

Tesla Model 3

Total Cargo Space:

The total enclosed cargo volume of Model 3 is 15 cubic ft. (425 L). The total cargo volume of Model S is 28.4 cubic ft. (804.2 L). Moreover, with seats folded down, a Model S has 58.1 cubic ft. (1,645.2 L) rear cargo volume. 

ModelCargo Volume
Model 315 cu ft (425 L)
Model S28.4 cu ft (804.2 L)

Model S vs. Model 3 Suspension:

Every Model S comes with Adaptive Air Suspension (AAS). But a Model 3 only comes with coil suspension. When Model 3 first came out, everyone complained that Model 3 has inferior ride quality than Model S. However, they did not realize that Model 3 has coil suspension. Adaptive Air Suspension (AAS) in Model S offers a superior ride quality and also allows you to choose a firmer or softer ride based on your preference. It is also possible to raise or lower the Model S ride height. For example, when you need extra ground clearance — on a steep driveway, ramp, in deep snow, over large speed bumps, parking curbs — you can raise the Model S. No doubt, Model S has a superior suspension system than a Model 3. 

Ground Clearance:

Model 3 has 5.5 inches (140 mm) of ground clearance. In the previous paragraph, we have discussed that Model S has Adaptive Air Suspension, and we can raise or lower the ride height. That’s why Model S’s range of ground clearance is 4.6 to 6.3 inches (116.8 to 160 mm).

ModelGround Clearance
Model 35.5 inches
Model S4.6 – 6.3 inches

Sunroof and Roof Rack:

Model S has a glass sunroof. You can vent and close the sunroof remotely from the Tesla mobile app. However, Model 3 has a fixed glass roof. Moreover, only the Model S is compatible with a roof rack that can carry up to 165 lbs (75 kg) of loads.

Model 3 Interior

Rear Trunk:

Model S is equipped with powered liftgate. From your mobile phone, key fob, and vehicle touchscreen, you can open and close this liftgate. Model 3 does not have powered liftgate. The Model 3 and Model S both can carry 285 lbs (130 kg) in the lower trunk compartment. But Model S can carry 175 lbs (80 kg) above the lower trunk compartment, and Model 3 can carry 130 lbs (60 kg).

ModelStorage Above Lower Trunk Compartment
Model S175 lbs (80 kg)
Model 3130 lbs (60 kg)

Model S vs. Model 3 Dimensions and Curb Weight:

What is Curb Weight?

The curb weight is the weight of a vehicle without any passengers and cargo.

What is GVWR?

GVWR stands for Gross Vehicle Weight Rating. It’s the total weight — vehicle, passengers, and cargo — a vehicle safely can carry.

The following table shows the dimensions of Model 3 and Model S on a side by side comparison.

SpecsModel SModel 3
Overall Length196 inches184.8 inches
Overall Width86.2 inches82.2 inches
Overall Height56.9 inches56.8 inches
Wheel Base116.5 inches113.2 inches
Front Head Room38.8 inches40.3 inches
Rear Head Room35.3 inches37.7 inches
Front Leg Room42.7 inches42.7 inches
Rear Leg Room35.4 inches35.2 inches
Front Shoulder Room57.7 inches56.3 inches
Rear Shoulder Room55 inches54 inches
Front Hip Room55 inches53.4 inches
Rear Hip Room54.7 inches52.4 inches
Curb Weight (approx)4,883 lbs (2,215 kg) [Long Range]3,552 lbs (1,611 kg) [Standard Range]
GVWR (approx)5,939 lbs (2,241 kg) [Long Range]4,542 lbs (2,060 kg) [Standard Range]
Vehicle Capacity Weight (Actual)954 lbs (433 kg)954 lbs (433 kg)

It is surprising to see that though Model 3 is smaller, it has better front headroom, rear headroom, front legroom, rear legroom than Model S. Furthermore, Model 3 and Model S has the same vehicle capacity weight.  

Model S Interior

Model 3 vs. Model S Displays:

Model 3 has a very minimalistic interior design. It has a 15-inch touchscreen display that controls everything in a Model 3. Except for the two scroll wheel button on the steering wheel, Model 3 has no other button on the dashboard. Car status, driving speed, windshield wiper blade control, airflow, and vent control, glovebox opening, seat heaters functionality, the opening of the front trunk, rear trunk, charge port, and media control, everything on Model 3 is controlled through this 15-inch touchscreen display. 

A Model S has two displays. One is a driver display or instrument panel; another one is a 17-inch touchscreen display — the driver display changes depending on whether the Model S is off, driving, or charging. When Model S is off, the driver display shows the status of doors, remaining estimated range, and outside temperature. While driving, the Model S instrument panel shows current diving speed, maps, speed limit, energy consumption, and real-time visualization of the road as detected by autopilot hardware. The 17-inch touchscreen in Model S controls many features that, in traditional cars, are controlled by physical buttons. 

Car Keys:

Model 3 supports three types of keys — Authenticated phone, Key card, and Key fob. Model S supports only two types of keys — Authenticated phone and Key fob. However, passive entry is possible with a Model S key fob, but it’s not possible for Model 3. Moreover, the Model 3 key fob does not come free. It’s available as an accessory to purchase from Tesla.

Insurance:

The price of the Model S is significantly higher than Model 3. Because of this reason alone, I’ve seen that the insurance cost of Model S is more than Model 3. 

Model S vs. Model 3 Depreciation:

Tesla vehicles depreciate very little. It is known that the moment you buy a new car and drive off the dealer’s lot, your new car instantly loses 20% of its value. But, A recent study from iSeeCars.com has shown that Model 3 depreciates only 5.5% after one year. Whereas BMW 7 Series depreciates 43.4%, BMW 3 series depreciates 38.2%, Audi A6 depreciates 41%, and Jaguar XE depreciates 40.9% after just one year. A similar study also found that Model S depreciates only 17.1% over three years of ownership. So, it is evident that Both Model 3 and Model S holds its value better than average cars. 

Safety:

Both Model S [Source] and Model 3 [Source 1][Source 2] has the highest safety ratings any car could achieve from different government agencies around the world. 

Tesla does not have any engine in the front, thus creates a bigger crumple zone in the front to absorb high-speed impact. Moreover, the battery pack in a Tesla is mounted below the floor pan. This provides a very low center of gravity that provides low rollover risk and ensures exceptional handling and safety.

Tesla Superchargers

Supercharging Cost:

Globally Tesla has built an extensive charging network — Tesla Supercharger. Only in Teslas, a cross country road trip is possible compared to other electric cars. To fully recharge a Tesla at a Supercharger takes less than an hour. 

Every Model S comes with complimentary unlimited Free Supercharging. But you need to pay to recharge your Model 3 at a supercharger. 

Over 5 to 6 years of ownership, a Model S would save you thousands of dollars. For example, if you drive 20,000 miles a year, then you would drive 120,000 miles over 6 years. As of writing this article, Model 3 can easily get 4 miles per 1 kWh of electricity. So, we need 120,000 / 4 = 30,000 kWh of electricity. Though supercharging cost varies depending on location, Tesla charges $0.28 per kWh at maximum. Therefore, the total charging cost for Model 3 over 6 years is 30,000 X $0.28 = $8,400. 

However, a Model S owner would save this $8,400 over 6 years. 

Supercharging Speed:

We can charge a Model S on a supercharger at 200kW max speed. However, Model 3 can take a charge rate of up to 250kW. So, Model 3 would charge itself faster than a Model S. 

Model 3 vs. Model S Cold Weather Features:

The cold weather features in Model S includes heated seats for every passenger, heated steering wheel, washer nozzle heaters, and wiper blade defrosters. But in a Model 3, only front seats and side mirrors are heated. You need to pay to turn on all seat heaters feature in Model 3. 

Model S vs. Model 3 Cabin Air Filter:

Every Model S has a HEPA air filtration system. A HEPA air filter can trap 99.97% of particles that are 0.3 microns. Though the Model 3 cabin air filter can effectively prevent pollen, industrial fallout, road dust, and other particles. But Model 3 does not have a HEPA air filter that is superior and can prevent viruses, bacteria, and offensive odors from entering the cabin.

Adaptive Front Lighting System (AFS):

Every Tesla Model S comes equipped with an Adaptive Front Lighting System, whereas a Model 3 does not. Electronic sensors in the Model S measures the driving speed, steering wheel angle, and rotation of the car. Based on these measurements, AFS automatically adjusts the headlight beam. For example, at night, while driving in a winding road, AFS casts the beam in the direction of the curve. At night, this remarkably improves the driving view. Model 3 does not have an Adaptive Front Lighting System. Even it is not available as an optional package. 

A Tesla Charging at Supercharger

Premium Connectivity:

Tesla has the world’s most advanced infotainment system in their cars. Premium connectivity includes satellite maps with live traffic visualization, video streaming from YouTube, Hulu, Netflix, DisneyPlus, Caraoke (Karaoke in cars), in-car internet streaming music from Spotify, and internet browser.  

A Model S has 1-year free premium connectivity, but a Model 3 has only 1-month of free premium connectivity (Standard Range). After this free period, you need to pay $10 per month to get all these premium features. 

Wireless Phone Charging:

You can charge your phone wirelessly in the center console of Model S. Whereas; Model 3 does not come with any wireless phone charging options. 

Model 3 vs. Model S Warranty:

Model 3 and Model S both have 50,000 miles or 4 years of basic vehicle warranty. However, Model S has 150,000 miles battery and drive unit warranty, but Model 3 has a warranty for only 120,000 miles. 

Conclusion:

Here is the comparison table between the Long Range Plus Model S and Standard Range Plus Model 3. 

Specs CategoryModel SModel 3
Price$79,990$39,990 
Range390 miles250 miles
Top Speed155 mph140 mph
0 to 60 mph3.7s5.3s
Cargo Volume28.4 cu ft (804.2 L)15 cu ft (425 L)
SuspensionAdaptive Air SuspensionCoil Suspension
Ground Clearance4.6 – 6.3 inches5.5 inches
Cabin Air FilterHEPARegular
Free Premium Connectivity1 Year1 Month
SunroofYesNo.
Roof Rack CompatibleYesNo.
Charging Speed200 kW max250 kW max.
DisplayDriver Display + 17-inch Touchscreen15-inch Touchscreen
Lower Trunk Load Capacity175 lbs (80 kg)130 lbs (60 kg)
Front and Rear Heated seatsYesOnly front heated seats.

Here is the comparison table between the Performance Model S and Performance Model 3. 

Specs CategoryPerformance Model SPerformance Model 3
Price$99,990$56,990 
Range348 miles322 miles
Top Speed163 mph145 mph
0 to 60 mph2.4s3.2s
Cargo Volume28.4 cu ft (804.2 L)15 cu ft (425 L)
SuspensionAdaptive Air SuspensionCoil Suspension
Ground Clearance4.6 – 6.3 inches5.5 inches
Cabin Air FilterHEPARegular
Free Premium Connectivity1 Year1 Year
SunroofYesNo.
Roof Rack CompatibleYesNo.
Charging Speed200 kW max250 kW max.
DisplayDriver Display + 17-inch Touchscreen15-inch Touchscreen
Lower Trunk Load Capacity175 lbs (80 kg)130 lbs (60 kg)
Front and Rear Heated SeatsYes Yes

In conclusion, Both the Model S and Model 3 is an excellent vehicle. But, I believe the performance Model 3 provides the best value for the money. For more information please visit Tesla.com.