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Tesla Model 3 vs Model S

A collage of tesla model 3 and model S.

Tesla is the World’s Most Valuable Company, worth $208,000,000,000 (yep, you counted the zeros correctly, that’s 208 billion dollars), and for good reason. It is producing the most electric cars in the world, which is completely changing the automotive industry.

Now, consumers are able to charge their vehicles at home, for much cheaper than the price of fuel. These cars have the best acceleration on the market for drivers, are operated with one pedal, and rarely need to visit a repair shop. Tesla is incredible. The only question is, which of their EVs is best for you? 

Are you interested in the differences between the Tesla Model 3 and the Tesla Model S? You’ve come to the right place. Read on to learn about their pros, cons, similarities, and differences, including the price points. 

What is the Tesla Model 3?

A black car photographed on a mountain view.

The Tesla Model 3 was released in 2017 and is a smaller, more cost-effective electric sedan. It was the best-selling zero-emission vehicle in the world in 2021, with over half a million sales in that year.

You will find the Tesla Model 3 available in five colors: Pearl White (included in purchase price), Midnight Siver Metallic (included in purchase price), Deep Blue Metallic ($1,000 extra), Solid Black ($1,500 extra), and Red Multi-Coat ($2,000 extra). 

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The interior can be All Black (for no additional cost) or Black and White ($1,000 extra).

The full self-driving capability adds $12,000 to the purchase price. It has a self-driving computer with the ability to navigate on autopilot, change lanes, auto park, summon, and follow traffic lights, as well as stop signs. 

One of the primary reasons many people choose Tesla over other electric vehicles is its continuous software updates. Tesla can consistently add new features remotely to older cars without the drivers taking them to a dealership. 

The 2022 Model 3 seats four people, has a single-speed transmission and is available for purchase in three trim levels. 

Model 3

The base version (simply titled Model 3) is rear-wheel drive and costs $44,990. The top speed is 140mph, with a 5.8 second 0-60mph. 

This model boasts 267 miles of range per charge. 

Model 3 Long Range

The Model 3 Long Range offers longer-lasting batteries for a range of 334 miles. Its top speed is 145 mph, and a 4.2 second 0-60mph. You can find the 2022 version starting at $51,990. 

Unlike the Model 3 base trim, it is dual-motor and all-wheel-drive. 

Model 3 Performance

The Model 3 Performance is also dual-motor and all-wheel-drive and has a range of 315 miles. 

Its top speed is 162 mph, with a 3.1 second 0-60mph. 

The Tesla Model 3 Performance starts at $58,990 and has the following upgrades included in the price: 

  • 20-inch Überturbine wheels
  • Performance brakes
  • Carbon fiber spoiler
  • Aluminum alloy pedals

Related to: 15 Cars similar to the Tesla Model 3

What is the Tesla Model S?

A blue tesla car moving along the road with a sea view at the back.

The Tesla Model S first debuted in 2012 and is still Tesla’s flagship model, even now, ten years later. However, it had a light styling refresh in 2021- the body style and interior changed a little. I like the update, but I’m curious to hear your thoughts. 

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This five-door sedan was intended to change the auto industry, and it did in a big way. This is reflected in the price, which doubles the Tesla Model 3. 

The Tesla Model S is available in five exterior colors, Pearl White Multi-Coat (included in the price), Solid Black ($1,500 extra), Midnight Silver Metallic ($1,500 extra), Deep Blue Metallic ($1,500 extra), and Red Mult-Coat ($2,500 extra). 

The interior is available in three colors, All-Black (included in the price),  Black and White ($2,000 extra), and Cream ($2,000 extra).

Like the Model 3, You can add full Self-Driving Capability for $12,000.  

Model S

The 2022 Model S (base model) is a dual-motor, all-wheel-drive sedan with a 375-mile range, a 155 mph top speed, and a 3.1 second 0-60mph. 

This model starts at $94,990 before potential savings are factored in. 

The Model S has Walnut Decor to accent the interior color of your choosing. 

Model S Plaid

The 2022 Tesla Model S Plaid is a tri-motor, all-wheel-drive sedan with a base price of $129,990. 

The Plaid has a range of 348 miles, a top speed of 200 mph, and a 1.99 second 0-60 mph. It is the quickest accelerating car in production today. It can run a quarter-mile in 9.23 seconds. 

The Model S Plaid has a Carbon Fiber Decor to accent the interior color of your choosing.

The Model S Plaid has the following upgrades already included in the purchase price: 

  • 1,020 horsepower
  • Torque vectoring
  • High-performance motors fitted with carbon-sleeved rotors.

 

How Are They Different?

Features

Model 3 offers Track Mode. Track Mode features a front/rear torque split that loosens the stability control system and has improved power train cooling. The handling of the 3 is objectively better, but it is undeniable that the Model S is faster and more firmly set in super sports car territory. 

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The Model 3 has a range of 267 to 334 miles per charge. Meanwhile, the Model S has a range of 396 to 405 miles per charge. 

Materials

The Model 3 can be a single or dual-motor, while the S is a tri-motor. 

The Model 3 can be delivered with wheels up to 19-inches, while the S offers up to 21-inch wheels straight from the factory. 

Design Features

The Model 3 is also lightweight at 4,100 pounds (dual motor version) and cheaper to maintain because of it. Tires, brakes, brake pads, etc., are worn down slower in the 3 than the S. Most drivers find the Model 3 easier to maneuver because of the shorter wheelbase. 

The Model S is heavier at 4,800 pounds but offers impressive performance, more headspace, and more legroom. The S has a roof-hinged hatchback that measures an impressive twenty-six cubic feet with the back seats upright and fifty-eight cubic feet with the seats folded down. The 3 has a fifteen cubic foot storage space behind the back seats. 

The Model 3 does not offer AM radio, Sirius XM, Android Auto, or Apple Carplay. Fortunately, it does have YouTube, Netflix, and arcade games to entertain you while charging. Model S offers AM radio, Sirius XM, Android Auto, Apple Carplay, Netflix, YouTube, and Arcade games. 

The Model S also has a monitor that is three inches larger than the one featured in the Model 3. 

Durability

The Model S has better long-term value, better range per charge, and higher quality motors. The Model S offers a tri-motor, while the Model 3 offers a single or dual-motor. 

As expected, the Model S suffers less wear and tear on the motor, but the Model 3 goes through fewer consumables (tires, brakes, etc.) because of its lighter weight. 

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Cost Differences

Tesla Model 3 Price

The Tesla Model 3 is half the price of the Model S. 

The 2022 Tesla Model 3 starts at $44,990. 

The first Tesla 3 was released in 2017, and those started at $35,000 (brand new, before tax and fuel incentives). 

Tesla Model S Price

The Tesla Model S is double the price of the Model 3. 

The 2022 Tesla Model S starts at $94,990. 

The first Tesla Model S was released in 2012 and started at $57,400 (brand new, before tax and fuel incentives). 

Benefits

The Model S is a status symbol with long-term value, supercar speeds, and performance, unbeatable electric range, double (or more) the cargo space of the Model 3, and offers more comfort options, such as larger screens and better materials used. 

The Model 3 is an economical version of the Model S that has almost all of the S’s features, benefits, and luxuries, but for half of the price. The 3 is easier to maneuver, more lightweight, and most notably, has the coveted “Track Mode” feature. 

History

The Model S was a groundbreaking, flagship car that completely changed the automotive Industry. 

It was named Motor Trend’s Car of the Year, and Consumer Reports said, “This car performs better than anything we’ve ever tested before. Let me repeat that: Not just the best electric car, but the best car. It does just about everything really, really well”. 

The Model 3 was not as shocking of an unveiling but impressive nonetheless. 

Edmunds ranked the Model 3 as the best electric vehicle of 2022, a challenging recognition to receive. USA Today called it “derivative, in a good way.”  It is the best-selling personal electric vehicle from 2018 to 2021.  In 2021, approximately 501,000 Tesla Model 3 cars were sold. 

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Conclusion

It’s undeniable that the Tesla Model S, especially the Model S Plaid, is the better car. It has a more extended range, more space, and it is impressively fast, with 1.99 seconds to go 0 to 60 mph. 

Still, it is impossible to ignore that the Model 3 is just as beautiful, with nearly the same range, still lots of space, and still impressive speeds of 3.1 seconds to go 0 to 60 mph at half the price of the Model S.

With the Model 3, you’re getting nearly 85% of the luxury, speed, range, and beauty of the S for 50% of the price tag. Now the question is, which one would you choose?