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The 2021 Tesla Model 3 received a few updates this year and is better than ever. Maybe now is the time to go green?

What’s New for the 2021 Tesla Model 3?

The 2021 Tesla Model 3 receives its first mid-life refresh with a host of minor updates all the way around. The exterior chrome trim accents are now black, and some optional wheels get added to the lineup. In addition, the interior receives some appearance upgrades along with wireless charging and USB-C connectivity.

However, the most notable improvements come to the Standard Range and Long Range Plus by way of larger battery packs which up the ranges by 13 and 31 miles, respectively. At the same time, rolling updates have added more features to Tesla’s Full Self-Driving Capability, and there are rumors it will gain vehicle, street sign, and traffic light recognition in the near future.

2021 Tesla Model 3 - tesla.com

2021 Tesla Model 3 – tesla.com |  Shop 2021 Tesla Model 3 on Carsforsale.com

Body Style

Starting Price

MSRP $38,190

Drivetrain

Drivetrain

RWD or AWD

Drivetrain

Fuel Economy

150 City / 133 Hwy (MPGe)

Number of Seats

Seating

Seats 5

The Breakdown

Full charge range is improved

Self-driving is among the industry’s best

Excellent safety score

Rear seats could be better

Giant touchscreen can be a distraction

No free access to Tesla’s Supercharging stations

The Tesla Model 3 keeps getting better

2021 Model 3 Specs

Trims & Pricing

Standard Range Plus - $38,690
Long Range - $47,690
Performance - $57,190

2021 Tesla Model 3 Powertrain

2021 Tesla Model 3 - Munro Live on youtube.com
2021 Tesla Model 3 - Munro Live on youtube.com

The 2021 Tesla Model 3 isn’t your typical daily driver. Like all electric vehicles, put the pedal down of the Model 3 and you’re sent forward with instant power. Needless to say, the experience behind the wheel of a Model 3 is exhilarating, as even the base Standard Range Plus is no slouch. This base model Tesla can sprint from 0-60 in 5.3 seconds, with the next level Long Range model shaving a full second off that time thanks to an additional electric motor. If that’s still not enough, you can step up to the 2021 Tesla Model 3 Performance, which can accelerate to 60 mph in an astonishing 3.2 seconds. Sounds like a sleeper candidate to me.

That acceleration is impressive for any car, let alone an electric one, but the Model 3 is more than just made for straightaways. This EV sedan is more agile than it looks, even with it weighing in at nearly two tons. The 2021 Tesla Model 3 actually benefits from the excessive weight its heavy batteries create, as their under the floor position helps create a low center of gravity. As such, it makes the Model 3 handle more like a sports car than an unwieldy tank like its weight suggests. The Performance version further makes a case for the Tesla Model 3 as a track car as it bundles some ludicrous speed with a tuned suspension and some better tires.

2021 Tesla Model 3 - tesla.com
2021 Tesla Model 3 - tesla.com

When it comes to EV’s, the Tesla Model 3 has made itself the benchmark by which other EV’s are measured. At $60,000, the Performance can be considered a bargain for what you get out of it. While other manufacturers have started to join the party and offer sportier EVs, a lot of them still are lagging behind when it comes to comparing with Tesla.

2021 Tesla Model 3 Battery Charging & Range

Tesla charging station - tesla.com
Tesla charging station - tesla.com

The 2021 Tesla Model 3 offers some of the longest ranges among electric vehicles today. The EPA rated the Model 3 between 118 to 150 MPGe in the city and 107 to 133 MPGe on the highway depending on trim level. Likewise, all Model 3s received a mild boost in range this year, with the Standard Range Plus being rated at 263 miles on a single charge and the Long Range raising that to 353 miles.

When buying an EV, it is important to take into account the availability of charging stations and recharge rates. As for Tesla, they operate an extensive network of Supercharger stations that can add up to 200 miles of range in 15 minutes for a modest fee. However, if that is not an option, available destination or home chargers can replenish the Model 3’s battery at a rate of 44 miles of range per hour. As a last resort, you can plug into a conventional 120-volt wall outlet, although the recharge rate is significantly lower at 2-3 miles of range per hour.

Interior, Comfort, & Cargo Space

On the inside, the 2021 Tesla Model 3 receives a few subtle updates. The few buttons and switches that do exist, such as the power seats and the steering wheel-mounted scroll wheel for the infotainment system, get a new finish. In addition, the door sills get a matte black treatment that matches the exterior. Likewise, the center console gets an appropriate 2021 upgrade with wireless charging capability for two phones along with multiple USB-C ports. Lastly, the USB thumb drive for Tesla’s Sentry Mode (basically a dashcam with parking surveillance features) has been moved to the glove box. While not an upgrade, relocating it to a locked compartment helps deter thieves from stealing it.

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In terms of comfort, the Model 3’s front seats are supportive with ample leg and headroom. The rear seats are manageable for adults for shorter trips, although legroom comes at a premium. No matter your spot in the vehicle, all occupants will appreciate the double-paned windows that reduce wind and road noise at highway speeds. While rear cargo capacity is unchanged, a power trunk lid makes loading easier. Up front, the frunk (the storage area under the hood) is smaller due to the heat pump system.

Entertainment & Technology

2021 Tesla Model 3 - tesla.com
2021 Tesla Model 3 - tesla.com

The 2021 Tesla Model 3 is one of the most technologically advanced vehicles on the road today. For starters, there is no instrument cluster and no buttons for the stereo or climate control – everything is done (or displayed) on the gigantic 15-inch touchscreen infotainment screen. Likewise, that unit doubles as a detailed GPS unit with Google Maps integration.

Also new for the Tesla Model 3 is a heat pump. Without getting technical, this system works like an A/C in reverse as it blows hot instead of cold air. The main benefit is efficiency, and it uses about half the electricity as the resistance-based heating system it replaced. Suffice to say, a bonus for a vehicle that runs on batteries.

Tesla's Autopilot - tesla.com
Tesla's Autopilot - tesla.com

The real tech highlight is Tesla’s Autopilot and Full-Self Driving (FSD) Capability. While the naming suggests you can relax and take your eyes off the road, it should be noted, both systems are semi-autonomous and require human intervention still. However, FSD can operate the brakes, change lanes, and even steer the vehicle towards an exit. Likewise, there are planned updates for additional features like autosteering in the city along with vehicle, road sign, and traffic light recognition. While it is far from perfect, Tesla’s FSD is one of the most advanced semi-autonomous systems out there, rivaled only by GM’s coming Super Cruise.

Safety Features

The 2021 Tesla Model 3 receives an excellent five-star NHTSA safety score in all categories it was tested in. In addition, it comes with a comprehensive set of standard safety features such as automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, and adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, and sensors on all sides of the car. Tesla isn’t just setting the bar in terms of EV standards, its helping force the hand of other manufacturers to further their safety equipment and features.

2021 Tesla Model 3 Trims & Pricing

2021 Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus - carsforsale.com
2021 Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus - carsforsale.com

Standard Range Plus – $38,690

The 2021 Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus comes in RWD and has a range of 263 miles. This version is capable of a recharge at a rate of 170-kW when connected to a Supercharger. Among the features for the entry-level Model 3 are simulated leather heated and power seats, a panoramic glass sunroof, and a 15-inch touchscreen display. Also new for this year is wireless charging and several USB-C ports.

All 2021 Tesla Model 3s come equipped with Tesla’s Autopilot, and it includes the following driver’s assistance and safety features: automatic external cameras on all sides of the vehicle, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and assisted steering.

2021 Tesla Model 3 Long Range - carsforsale.com
2021 Tesla Model 3 Long Range - carsforsale.com

Long Range – $47,690

Stepping up to the Long Range adds larger battery packs, dual electric motors, and AWD. As the name implies, the range is bumped up to 353 miles, and it can recharge at a rate of 250-kW when connected to a Supercharger. Noteworthy standard features are a 15-speaker premium audio package and heated rear seats.

2021 Tesla Model 3 Performance - carsforsale.com
2021 Tesla Model 3 Performance - carsforsale.com

Performance – $57,190

The top-of-the-line Performance model utilizes the same batteries and motors from the Long Range, just with some performance tuning (hence the name). Offered in AWD, this model has a range of 315 miles, although it comes with a few performance-oriented upgrades like better brakes, a tuned suspension, larger 20-inch wheels, a carbon fiber spoiler, and a track driving mode.

Warranties

The 2021 Tesla Model 3 is covered by a 4-year/50,000-mile limited warranty and 8-years/100,000 miles of powertrain coverage. That powertrain coverage is bumped up to 120,000 miles for the Long Range models. Tesla does not offer any complimentary scheduled maintenance unfortunately.

What we think

2021 Tesla Model 3 - What Car? on youtube.com

2021 Tesla Model 3 – What Car? on youtube.com |  Shop 2021 Tesla Model 3 on Carsforsale.com

Tesla has been doing it right, and the 2021 Tesla Model 3 once again provides a well-rounded package that has only gotten better. Now with extra range and a more capable semi-autonomous driving system, Tesla has raised the bar again. If you are still on the fence about going electric and don’t want to miss out on spin tire performance, the Model 3 will alleviate those problems once you’re behind the wheel. And if that EV still isn’t enough, take a look at its Model S sibling for an even more hair-raising driving experience.

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Andrew Pecquex

Andrew Pecquex's interest in cars ignited the moment he turned the key of his first vehicle. Since then, he's navigated tracks through auto-X and drag racing. As a researcher, Andrew used his master’s degree in international commerce and policy from George Mason University to write business reports and country studies. Now he writes cost-benefits analysis of buying and selling cars. Andrew’s work as a mechanic gave him a strong knowledge of auto parts and repairs, allowing him to upkeep and upgrade his own vehicles in his spare time.

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