CHATHAM, Mass – Thanks to a generous friend, I was able to explore the Mid and Outer Cape (Cod) in a 2022 Tesla Model 3 Dual Motor all-wheel-drive (AWD) sedan. And it was a very enjoyable experience.
Comfortable, quiet and powerful, the Tesla Model 3 is a wonderful driver’s car as being large enough to comfortably house four (or even five) occupants as well as their stuff.
The Tesla Model 3 was and is a revolutionary electric vehicle – there were EVs before Tesla and there are less expensive EVs than the Model 3, but the combination of the extensive Tesla charging network, the real-world size and the relative middle-class pricing of the Model 3 made it the EV which could become a mainstay vehicle for a large ownership population here and abroad.
All wheel drive thanks to motors fore and aft
The Dual Motor nomenclature means the Model 3 Long Range has all-wheel drive with one motor powering the rear wheels, one the fronts.
The front AC induction motor puts out 184 horsepower and 177 pounds-feet of torque while the rear permanent-magnet synchronous AC motor’s output is 241 hp and 298 lbs.-ft. (Tesla does not publish an overall horsepower/torque figure). As is typical in most EVs, the Model 3 uses a single-speed transmission.
An 82kWh battery provides the fuel and according to Tesla can motivate the Model 3 for up to 333 miles between charges. The company claims up to 147 miles of range can be added with a 20-minute fill up at one of its Superchargers (there are more than 50,000 Superchargers globally).
One automotive analyst attributed Tesla’s popularity to its vehicles’ performance characteristics and it does offer performance well beyond the traditional large sedan.
The Model 3, again like most EVs, produces on-road performance beyond expectations for a vehicle of its size — 184.8 inches long, 82.2 wide, 56.8 high, 4,034 pounds – able to go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 4.2 seconds according to the company; a number equaled by Car and Driver.
A chassis up to the task
The basic suspension consists of a double wishbone, coil spring/telescopic damper and sway bar setup at the front, with an independent, multi-link, coil spring/telescopic damper one at the rear. The electric-assisted rack-and-pinion steering system has 38-foot turning circle.
Model 3 drivers can avail themselves of one-pedal driving with regenerative braking capable of slowing and stopping the EV.
Braking system components include four-piston fixed calipers up front, with a sliding one integrating the electronic parking brake at the rear. The ventilated rotors are 12.6 inches in the front, 13.2 inches at the rear.
Wheels on the review vehicle were 19-inch alloy ones shod with 235/40R19 all-season tires.
The sum of the powertrain and suspension systems is a four-door which drives and feels like the most competent of sports sedans. The steering is heavy in a reassuring way – the Model 3 Long Range AWD goes where it is pointed when it is pointed in that direction.
Thanks to the low center of gravity (the large, heavy battery is beneath the floor), the car feels well planted, even when pushed on twisting, changing-elevation roads from the Atlantic Coast down into the town of Wellfleet (Mass.) and the shores of Cape Cod Bay.
I did not encounter any particularly rough roads during my time behind the Model 3’s wheel, so I cannot comment on its action under said conditions. Generally, the ride was comfortable, solid and very quiet.
A unique approach to ADAS
Tesla has been on the record as to relying on cameras (rather than other types of sensors), either eight or nine, for its advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) operation.
In addition, Tesla presents ADAS information a bit differently than other auto makers. For example, instead of a lit symbol in the rearview mirrors indicating a vehicle in the blind spot, the Model 3 shows an animated graphic of a road with a vehicle coming up on the blind side on the car’s center-of-dash 15-inch display. This unique-to-Tesla application works well, but, like many of the car’s systems, needs getting used to.
Other ADAS included with the model 3 include lane assist, speed assist and collision-avoidance assist.
A minimalist approach to interior function
The Model 3 provides its occupants with a comprehensive suite of technology, amenities and conveniences but does so in an uncluttered, minimalist environment.
At the heart of the dashboard, which does not have any form of an information/instrument cluster directly in front of the driver, is the 15-inch touch screen. Activating virtually all operations beyond opening the doors and lowering/raising the windows, is either through a very inclusive voice-activation system or the display in conjunction with two steering-wheel rotary/depressive/angle-push wheels and steering-wheel stalks.
Want to lower the interior temperature? Just say “I want the temperature lower” and the Model 3 reduces the automatic climate-control system by three degrees. And opening the glove box means saying “Open glove box” or surfing through screen menus to find the appropriate icon because there is no physical button to open it.
The learning curve is steep for the Model 3, but it will memorize your choices for seat position, climate controls, outside rearview mirrors and such.
Living with a Model 3
My friend loves his Model 3, his second one. He has a charger in his garage, so keeping the Tesla juiced is not an issue. He has taken it from Massachusetts to Florida for a spring vacation; to Atlanta for Thanksgiving, and numerous places in between without any charging issues.
As mentioned earlier, one industry analyst believes Tesla’s success, beginning with the more expensive Model S, was performance based; I believe the company owes much of its success in becoming the number one non-Chinese EV maker to providing peace of mind thanks to the extensive charging network. Buying a Tesla meant not having to worry about charging your EV, something no other vehicle maker could say.
Competition in the EV market has produced a change in Tesla’s pricing. In 2022, the Model 3 Dual Motor Long Range like we drove for a limited time had a base price of $55,990. A 2023 version of the same vehicle carries a $47,420 base price. The company says that after government tax incentives and fuel-cost savings for three years, the cost of ownership drops to $33,240, a nice number in today’s automotive world.
Regardless, if an EV sedan is in your future, the Telsa Model 3 requires consideration for its driving characteristics, charging network and reliability. Its design quirks – like the instrument-less-dash, reliance on a touch screen/voice activation system for many system operations, and sensor-less ADAS – have to be considered, so a test drive is highly recommended. If you like it, it would be a solid choice.