As popular as the Tesla Model 3 has become since its release, it’s far from being the only EV sedan out there worth considering. Even as Tesla has truly played a role in ushering in the (hopeful) era of the electric vehicle, this doesn’t mean it should be your default purchase. In fact, the Tesla Model 3 may not be the best vehicle for most people, many of whom are being swayed by the lure of Tesla’s self-driving technology and passionate fanbase.
From concerns over build quality to its minimalist dashboard as well as a host of issues rolling out Autopilot, the Tesla Model 3 has found itself in a position where the competition can slip by. While it may well be the best-selling EV of all time (as of April 2023), this does not mean you shouldn’t look closely at some of the best reasons to avoid the Tesla Model 3.
Quick Facts: Tesla Model 3
|Price||Starting at $39,990 MSRP|
|Charging Speed||Up to 44 miles per hour on Level 2 charger, up to 200 miles in 15 minutes on Supercharger network|
|Top Speed||140-162 mph|
|0-60 speed||3.1 seconds (Performance)|
|Cargo Volume||19.8 cubic feet|
|Federal Tax Credit||$3,750 for RWD, $7,500 for Performance|
|Seating||Up to 5 passengers|
|Features||Enhanced Autopilot, Full Self-Driving Capability|
The Minimalist Interior
Tesla took a chance with the Model 3 (and Model Y) interiors by going ultra-minimalist, and many people love it. However, the focus on performing just about every vehicle task on a single 15-inch touchscreen is a far cry from the types of infotainment systems we have grown used to. This makes the minimalist interior one of the reasons to avoid the Tesla Model 3 as well. There are only a few physical buttons in the car and that’s a stark change from what many vehicle owners, electric or otherwise, are used to.
At least for now, there are many EV shoppers, not yet ready to convert to Tesla’s way of thinking around a single screen and would prefer a more familiar vehicle layout with a driver-specific gauge cluster, dedicated infotainment screen, physical climate controls, etc. Right or wrong, Tesla’s attempt to change the idea that a layout can be both minimalist and functional is noble but also something that requires a certain level of comfort that not everyone is willing to come to terms with.
As popular as the Tesla Model 3 is, the company is working fast and furious to produce as many vehicles as it can, and that can often lead to inferior build quality. The internet is littered with pictures and videos of new Tesla Model 3 owners receiving their vehicles only to immediately point out poor paint jobs, misaligned vehicle panels, upholstery issues, and more.
Even the most dedicated Tesla fan forums are subject to these types of complaints, which indicates just how widespread they have become. None of this is to say that every Tesla Model 3 has an issue but enough that it’s become something of a concern when you order.
Tesla certainly wants to produce the best quality car possible, but when compared to the likes of Kia or Hyundai who have more experience producing high volumes of automobiles, Tesla falters in quality. There’s much less risk when buying a Kia that you are going to find some type of build quality issue than there is with a Tesla. At least for now, this risk is another good reason why you may want to avoid the Model 3.
Tesla has done a fabulous job of simplifying the vehicle purchasing experience, and it’s something every automobile manufacturer should adopt in the future. You order online without any worries over negotiations, you pay, and then you wait for your vehicle to arrive. It’s what happens after your vehicle arrives that has bubbled to the top as a primary reason to avoid the Tesla Model 3.
Reddit and other social media forums are full of people who have had trouble with Tesla purchases, from being unable to connect with customer service or being locked out of their Model 3 and Tesla customer support cannot assist. There are also stories online of Tesla Model 3 owners who need their cars towed and, because electric cars need a special kind of tow (flatbed), they could be stuck waiting hours for customer support to assign a tow truck driver.
This may be the biggest reason of all to avoid the Tesla Model 3 as its competitors have gotten a lot better over the last few years. The BMW i4, the Polestar 2, the Volvo C40, the Kia EV6, and the Hyundai Ioniq 5 are just a few of the competitors that are standing up to the Tesla Model 3 in a big way.
While they don’t all offer the same amount of range, what they do offer is more reliable build quality, a more tried and true customer service and dealership experience, as well as an equally large charging network.
While buying one of the Tesla Model 3 competitors will be more traditional in that you have to go to a dealer, negotiate, and hope you can come to terms, when you do, it’s a much different experience. Buying from a dealership provides you with an immediate point of contact should something go wrong, you need support, or even for basic questions about vehicle operation. As a lot of these vehicles offer pricing that isn’t too far out of the Model 3 realm as well as having their own unique technology features, the idea the Tesla Model 3 is the only EV worth purchasing no longer holds true.
As fun as it is to play games or have fart noises in your Tesla Model 3, those are all niceties, and what you really want the most is reliable software. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case as, like customer service, Tesla forums and social media are full of pictures of Model 3 owners posting glitchy software. Everything from showing how their wipers won’t turn on or that the car is detecting a pedestrian in front of them while in the middle of the highway.
None of this is to say that any other EV is better or perfect, but Tesla’s buggy software in the Model 3 has been well-documented. While its software may never be bulletproof, it might be worth holding off until many of these issues are ironed out.
This reason for avoiding the Tesla Model 3 may not always be top of mind, but it’s an important consideration nonetheless. Are you someone that takes and enjoys frequent road trips? If so, you may want to avoid the Tesla Model 3 (and EVs in general) as there is significantly more planning and time spent while driving an EV on a road trip. As strong as Tesla’s range is with the Model 3, it’s still not as strong as a gas-powered car or as quick to fill up as a gas-powered vehicle.
Given that, you have to account for the extra charging time it would traditionally take you to go from point A to point B on a road trip. Range may not be something you strongly worry about if you are more of a local commuter, but for anyone who enjoys traveling around, picking up a Tesla Model 3 may provide you with more headaches than it’s worth. Travelers often just want to get up and go and not carefully plan out how to drive one state over, never mind cross-country.
Self Driving is a No-Go
As much as Tesla’s CEO may want you to believe that self-driving is the way of the future (and it likely is), it is most definitely not ready yet. With endless promises over the last few years, there is still no real evidence to show that the Tesla Model 3 is ready with its Full Self-Driving Capability. In fact, for anyone looking to buy the Tesla Model 3, you may as well hold off on this additional $15,000 purchase altogether until it’s more than just a beta test.
There are still numerous issues with the software and it’s far from being able to help avoid keeping your eyes on the road even for a split second. Given that, you are better off not worrying about self-driving at all and instead picking up a vehicle that doesn’t try and make you believe that the future is already here.
Other electric vehicles like the Hyundai Ioniq 5 or Kia EV6 provide plenty of similar safety features that provide driver assistance without making it sound like the Tesla Model 3 is ready to emanate the self-driving experience seen in the movies.
The Body Style Hasn’t Changed
This may be on the lower end of the reasons not to buy a Tesla Model 3, but whereas many car manufacturers are taking the time to update their cars year after year, the Tesla Model 3 hasn’t changed since its release in July 2018. Five years of the exact same body style with really minor exceptions has started to wear on buyers who are hoping for something more stylish or exciting. As fun as the technology for the Tesla Model 3 might be when it works well, almost no one is ever going to say that the current body style of the Tesla Model 3 is exciting.
This is definitely going to be controversial, but as Elon Musk is often a controversial figure in his own right, you may want to avoid his vehicles if you are concerned about his role as a CEO and public figure. His hot takes on many important topics have elevated ever since he took over Twitter and has resulted in lots of public conversation about whether a Tesla purchase is now no longer a consideration in an effort to talk with our wallets. None of this is to say that you can’t find a moral middle ground in that, by purchasing an EV, you are doing something better for the environment while still not agreeing with Elon’s aggressive positions on important conversations.
At the end of the day, if you can overlook any of the nine reasons laid out here as to why you should not purchase a Tesla Model 3, then more power to you. It’s definitely competitive in price and has among the longest range in the space and the technology can be pretty fun to use. However, as this list indicates, there is still plenty of work Tesla has to do in order for the Model 3 to truly be competitive in an ever-increasing competitive market.