First drive of the 2024 Tesla Model 3 Highland: Real improvements have been made
The new Model 3 addresses almost every complaint we had about the old car, even if it’s not perfect.
Tesla doesn’t have a formal communications department, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t listen to its customers, reviewers, and customers.2024 Tesla Model 3 Explain that the company pays close attention to what people say about its cars, takes feedback seriously and gets to work.
Take the high ground
Tesla prefers to make constant changes, even big ones, rather than update its cars through traditional model years and official updates, butYou can still classify the new Model 3 as a refresh. The car’s internal codename is “Highland” and the battery and motor are unaffected. What’s even more surprising is that it doesn’t have the Model Y’s one-piece “Gigacasting” rear chassis. On a mechanical level, it’s basically the same car.
You would be forgiven for thinking that the same applies abroad, but that is not the case. According to Tesla, everything is new except for the doors and rear fenders. Some changes are obvious. The new nose has better accuracy than before and looks more like a Tesla Roadster than a Spider-Man mask. The fog lights are gone and cool air is flowing through the doorway. At the back, Tesla missed the memo about the aging of the crab-claw taillights. However, moving it entirely to the trunk lid solves one of Tesla’s biggest build quality issues: inconsistent panel gaps that create a negative perception of the car’s build quality.
Oh yeah, Tesla knows about gaps in panels. Despite all previous evidence, they care about this persistent problem, and solving it involves more than just silencing us. Smaller gaps between panels are better for aerodynamics, so not only does the new Model 3 look like it was carefully crafted by a company, it has the lowest drag coefficient among Tesla vehicles at 0.219, down from 0.225.
Better aerodynamics and greater efficiency provided by software updates are why Tesla claims range has improved. We say “mentioned” because at the time of publication, official EPA classifications had not yet been released. Tesla didn’t provide exact numbers, but we expect the rear-wheel-drive Model 3 (seen in the show in the new Stealth Gray paint) to match the current EPA estimate of 272 miles and 333 miles with all-wheel drive. There will be subtle changes compared to the long-term twin-engined car (pictured below, also in the new Super Red paint). In other markets, Tesla reported improvements of about 10%.
Interior changes are a little less subtle. The “wood” trim that was added to the dash and door panels a few years ago is gone, replaced by a nicely textured cloth on the dash that looks richer. An adjustable ambient lighting strip extends above and wraps around the doors, adding visual interest and helping to break up the all-black interior. The black-and-white interior, available in the spring, is so popular that the white now runs along the door panels and on the dashboard, instead of being limited to the seats as before. Everything is still very simple, but now it has some magic.
The rest of the interface looks familiar until you take a closer look at the steering wheel. The shift and turn signal stalks are gone, and new touch-sensitive buttons appear on the left and right spokes. Shifting is accomplished by hoping the car correctly guesses which direction you want to go (which rarely happens), swiping up or down on the far left side of a single screen, or by toggling the touch-sensitive assist on the roof between lights upper. device to complete.
Normally, we would be upset to remove the touch-sensitive buttons and physical controls on the steering wheel, but we reluctantly give them up. Ferrari and Lamborghini put their turn signals on the steering wheel (although they don’t use capacitive buttons), so why can’t Tesla? Swiping across the screen to change gears isn’t much different from pressing buttons on the dashboard in an Aston Martin. Tesla’s new controls work great and we have nothing to complain about. The turn signals take a lot of getting used to, but they still cancel automatically (most of the time). Button presses are confirmed by vibrations in the panel itself, not by vibrations all over the steering wheel like the S and X models’ joysticks.
Once again, Tesla’s ability to disguise cost-cutting measures as innovation is unparalleled. Physical buttons, switches and levers are expensive to design. Non-moving parts are much cheaper, and the software code costs less. Every automaker in the world has engineers who do their best to get customer recognition and even praise for their cost-cutting measures.
Aside from the transmission, the display looks and operates as it did before thanks to Tesla’s constant over-the-air (OTA) software updates, making older cars look brand new. There’s a little more space now due to the thinner bezels, so you won’t lose as much with the shift lever. The new processor makes the screen faster, but not enough for you to really notice it. Look closely and you’ll notice the new front-seat cooler controls, a much-needed addition for anyone living in a hot climate.
The back seat is a real workplace. It wasn’t a place you wanted to spend a lot of time, so he got a complete makeover. The seat cushion itself is softer, and the bottom cushion height and backrest angle have been adjusted to make the seat more comfortable and allow a little more headroom. There’s ambient lighting and two-tone door panels (optional), and there’s an 8-inch screen between the front seats.
Standard on all models, the screen can control rear as well as front air vents, change entertainment sources and tracks, and take over controls from the front passenger seat to create a driving experience, and it’s basically Roku, too. You can stream Netflix, Disney+, YouTube, Twitch, and Hulu from your account and play audio through your speaker (now optional 17 instead of 14) or through paired wireless headphones. Most importantly, you can use them while the car is moving, unlike the same features on the head-up display that only work when the car is stationary. Sometime after the car goes on sale, Tesla will roll out an over-the-air update that allows for playing from the rear screen, just like you can already do with the front screen.
Using the same motor and battery as before, you won’t notice the actual driving experience once you ditch the predictive shifting and let the car drive itself. When I first got into the car, I noticed the door was closing hard. Not the hollow thud of a Toyota, but the sound of a real luxury car’s door: powerful. The most noticeable thing when you start driving is the sound you can’t hear. The new 2024 Tesla Model 3 is quieter inside than the old car. Road noise, tire noise and wind noise are all minimal. You can have a normal conversation without having to raise your voice to be heard – it makes a huge difference.
This is a comprehensive effort. Now, every window is made of soundproof glass, not just the windshield. Tighter panel gaps and better sealing reduce wind noise. A new panel under the trunk lid reduces wind noise, while new suspension bushings and brake mounts reduce road noise transmitted into the cabin. Soft-touch materials throughout the interior absorb noise, as do the thick cushions behind it. Shout it loud enough on the current Model 3 and you can almost hear the echo. Not in this new one.
The cabin is also better insulated from road bumps. New frequency-adaptive passive dampers significantly improve ride quality over the old car, although they remain firm. In particular, head vibration and bowel vibration are greatly reduced. The rear still suffers from bumps – a faint sound when one or both shock absorbers are out – although this now only occurs over the worst bumps. Rear-wheel drive cars are worse than twin-engined cars, perhaps because the inherited suspension design doesn’t have enough rear travel to begin with.
Handling is virtually unchanged, with the Model 3 still featuring a very quick steering rack and soft anti-roll bars, which, combined with a lower center of gravity, make the car feel a little over-the-top in corners. When Tesla decides to build a new performance model, minimizing body roll goes a long way. Tesla engineers say the new steering knuckle and front suspension geometry should make the front end feel more precise, more responsive and less prone to trolling, but we didn’t feel much of a difference. If you’re looking for a rear-wheel drive car, you’ll definitely get more steering feel. The dual-motor steering, with all torque sent to the front axle, feels a bit disjointed.
Something is missing
For all the upgrades Tesla is making for the 2024 Model 3, we want to see more. We’re still not fans of a single central display, and would rather have a small instrument cluster or head-up display so that something as simple as checking your speed doesn’t require taking your eyes too far off the road. Tesla tells us this isn’t something current owners are highly asking for, but we think it should be asked of potential customers.
We were also disappointed to see that the sunroof cover is still not standard. Yes, the tint on the roof glass is dark, but it’s not enough. After leaving the car in the sun for forty-five minutes, the center console armrest was still too hot to support our elbows, and the air around our heads was still noticeably warmer than the air around our torsos. At $145 (plus shipping) for a pair of mesh screens held in place by plastic sheets, this is a very small and expensive solution.
TeslaIt was decided to cancel all sensors in cars except cameras It also requires rethinking. Something as innocuous as morning dew can obscure cameras, impair or disable parking sensors, and some self-driving features like blind spot monitoring and autopilot. At a minimum, they require self-cleaning systems, but a better solution includes redundant overlapping sensors with different failure modes that can be compensated for.
The elephant in the room
You can’t drive a Tesla without talking about Autopilot and Full Self-Driving (FSD Beta), so let’s get started. The former is actually quite good, while the latter isn’t ready for prime time and is a waste of $12,000.
Go to the highway and turn on Autopilot, which is a very good adaptive cruise control system. It maintains a good distance from other vehicles, although we wish it could accelerate faster when pulling off from behind slower vehicles. As long as none of the cameras are obscured by morning dew or worse, autonomous driving can keep the car centered in its lane.
The enhanced autopilot costs $6,000, which is a more difficult proposition. Automatic lane changes usually work well, but you’d better be prepared to cancel them quickly if you don’t need them, because the car won’t give you much time to think about it. We appreciate that he keeps an eye on us and avoids faster traffic. We also liked the navigation feature on autopilot, which navigates bridge ramps and exit ramps. We found some other features to be less useful. The recall setup that brings your car to you in the parking lot still doesn’t work well and mostly looks like new. The self-parking feature works well, but we don’t think anyone is actually using this technology in any car, let alone a Tesla.
Meanwhile, FSD Beta is not acceptable. We found him to be completely untrustworthy and encountered several instances of him performing dangerous acts. From trying to turn left at a T intersection where there is not only a road but a sidewalk, to needlessly turning onto other streets with no specific destination, to cars changing their expected path to follow the path of the crosswalk ahead, we found it completely unfit for public consumption. Even more frustrating is that the steering force required to regain control when using FSD Beta is much higher than when using standard autopilot, making it unnecessarily difficult to correct a faulty computer. Spending $12,000 to test incomplete software (beta has been going on for three years and counting) without any compensation or legal protection if something goes wrong is ridiculous on its face and makes the end user experience worse.
Going for a long time
Although the Model 3 is one of the cheapest electric cars on the market, it’s still not a cheap car, so we’d be hesitant to recommend it to you.Go buy the more expensive remote version Just because it’s faster. Instead, we recommend you consider it for its range and charging speed.
The current Tesla Model 3 has a range of 272 miles, which is competitive but nothing special. On a road trip, you can only charge up to 80%, or 216 miles, anyway. If your car charges super fast, this may be a worthwhile trade-off. Unfortunately, the LFP cells manufactured by CATL are rated at 170 kilowatts, which puts them at the lower end of the competition. The Model 3 Long Range features a Tesla-made lithium-ion battery with a range of up to 333 miles (267 miles on 80% charge) and 250 kilowatts of charging power.
Standard range cars are fast enough and probably much cheaper, but you should check your driving behavior before overtaking a long range car. If you can’t charge at home, or you take frequent road trips, the extra range and charging speed may be worth it. If you’re just looking for a commuter car that’s cheaper to own and operate, the base car should suit you well.
Every major change and minor update in the new 2024 Tesla Model 3 tells the same story: The company listened to owner feedback and fixed what needed to be fixed. There are some items on the wish list that the company hasn’t implemented yet — and perhaps doesn’t intend to — but their absence may just be keeping the retail price down. On the other hand, this is Tesla we’re talking about, so it could suddenly introduce more changes at any time. Regardless, the new Model 3 is much better than the already good outgoing model, but let’s hope the price doesn’t rise too much, which is exciting.