BREAKING NEWS West Virginia man indicted for traveling to Madison County for sex with minor, child pornography Full Story
SEVERE WX : Flood Watch - Flash Flood Watch - Flood Advisory View Alerts

I drove the Tesla Model 3 and it's not 'mainstream'

People often say that the Tesla Model 3 is aimed at "mainstream" car buyers. If that's true, then Tesla has terrible ...

Posted: Jan 11, 2018 10:48 PM
Updated: Jan 11, 2018 10:48 PM

People often say that the Tesla Model 3 is aimed at "mainstream" car buyers. If that's true, then Tesla has terrible aim.

I spent a day or so driving a Model 3 rented through Turo, the peer-to-peer car rental company. It's a handsome car that's fun to drive, but the Model 3 is definitely not mainstream. It feels like a Silicon Valley car designed for Silicon Valley people. You know, the sort of people who use the word "disrupt," but not to describe what their kids do at dinner.

The car I drove had a sticker price of $56,000, far above the $35,000 base price. For that price, it had a larger, more powerful battery giving it an estimated 310 miles of range rather than 220 miles, as well as faster acceleration. It also had Tesla's semi-autonomous "Enhanced AutoPilot" system and a number of other premium features like blue paint. Only black is available at the base price.

Tesla still struggling with Model 3 production

When the older and more expensive Tesla Model S first debuted, it was simply the best car you could buy at its admittedly high price -- gasoline or electric.

I can't say the same for the Model 3. It's a fun car to drive and it looks upscale, but I can think of cars I'd rather have for $56,000.

As I drove, I went through the mental exercise of subtracting out $21,000 in options to get down to the base car. Then I considered how that would hold up in the universe of $35,000 cars. Stripped of options and features, the Model 3 would still be a pretty good car, but I can think of other vehicles that would offer more for that money.

There is one major, and potentially dangerous, flaw. There are no gauges in front of the driver -- but that's not the problem, exactly. There's a big touchscreen to my right, and I had no problem at all glancing over to check my speed and other data. Lots of cars these days have center-mounted computer screens so moving that screen up, making it bigger and just putting everything you want to see there made complete sense to me.

What doesn't work so well is putting so many controls there, too. To do almost anything, from adjusting the mirrors to tweaking the car's speed while driving in Autopilot, I had to use the screen. There are two unmarked knobs on the steering that are involved in various functions but, before you can use the knobs, you have to poke around on the big screen first. It's annoying and most people will hate it. More importantly, it's terribly distracting.

Tesla Roadster might fly

Electric cars are marketed as being good for for the environment, but here's something you may not be aware of -- they're a lot of fun to drive. With instant power from electric motors, and no transmission gear-shifts to wait for, electric cars respond instantly when you press on the accelerator. They can also respond quickly as you raise your foot and the car slows as it draws power back from the wheels. This way, you can drive along twisting roads while rarely ever touching the brake pedal.

Chevrolet Bolt EV: Ready to take on Tesla

In the Model 3, highway on-ramps became thrill rides. Squeezing down on the accelerator pedal brought a rush of speed usually associated with roaring V8 engines. Instead of roaring, there was the barely audible whine of a spinning electric motor as the merge lane came rushing towards me.

It wasn't the cannon-like shock of "Ludicrous Mode" -- that's not available on the Model 3 yet. Still, this car's power was plenty for daily use. (Really, "Ludricous Mode" is ludicrous, anyway.) And the Model 3 rips through curves thanks to a battery pack that holds its weight down low. But I did wish for a more finely tuned suspension that could have swallowed bumps more nicely while still providing that sort of handling, though.

If Tesla could somehow bring back a few old-switches and knobs, I'd like this car much better. As it is, lots of people will buy the Model 3 and lots of them will love it. If I wanted to give someone their first taste of electric driving, though, it's not the car I'd put them in. Unless I really wanted to annoy them.

Huntsville
Overcast
64° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 64°
Florence
Overcast
66° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 66°
Fayetteville
Scattered Clouds
64° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 64°
Decatur
Overcast
64° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 64°
Scottsboro
Broken Clouds
63° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 63°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 133433

Reported Deaths: 2349
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson19306349
Mobile13233291
Montgomery8748177
Madison770978
Tuscaloosa7418116
Lee579261
Shelby578750
Baldwin514149
Marshall389244
Etowah340247
Calhoun340140
Morgan323926
Houston276423
Elmore259647
DeKalb237519
St. Clair226337
Walker225383
Talladega210628
Limestone203319
Cullman186818
Dallas175926
Franklin175229
Russell17322
Autauga171525
Lauderdale167333
Colbert162926
Blount158015
Escambia157725
Jackson154011
Chilton152431
Dale134644
Covington133427
Coffee12988
Pike11799
Chambers114442
Tallapoosa113885
Clarke107017
Marion95429
Butler91139
Barbour8517
Winston71812
Marengo70519
Lowndes65227
Pickens64514
Bibb63810
Randolph62713
Hale61928
Lawrence60522
Bullock59714
Geneva5864
Cherokee58315
Monroe5808
Clay5547
Washington55113
Perry5396
Conecuh53011
Wilcox53011
Crenshaw52732
Henry4835
Macon47920
Fayette4358
Sumter43219
Lamar3572
Choctaw34412
Cleburne3356
Greene30315
Coosa1673
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 186798

Reported Deaths: 2277
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby30397449
Davidson26194297
Hamilton926392
Knox911575
Rutherford911388
Williamson513936
Sumner475093
Wilson341243
Putnam317038
Montgomery301543
Out of TN296825
Unassigned29046
Bradley288317
Madison278060
Sevier255315
Blount246123
Maury228923
Washington223234
Robertson218835
Sullivan209332
Hamblen187325
Tipton176617
Trousdale16517
Gibson158620
Hardeman154625
Wayne14896
Bedford131717
Dyer131413
Dickson123014
Cumberland116918
Fayette116718
Coffee115612
Anderson115311
Henderson115121
Weakley114519
Carter114128
Loudon11316
Greene111839
Obion11129
McMinn109424
Jefferson108514
Macon103320
Warren10197
Monroe101017
Lawrence100311
Hardin99115
Lauderdale94915
Franklin9458
Haywood93316
Lake9192
Roane8643
Carroll84918
Bledsoe8484
McNairy82418
White8069
Cheatham80510
Rhea79111
Hawkins78016
Cocke7379
Marshall7335
Overton7085
Smith69710
Johnson6622
Henry6129
Chester60510
Lincoln5961
Giles57617
Hickman5535
DeKalb55013
Crockett52919
Marion5167
Decatur4956
Fentress4623
Claiborne4384
Campbell4243
Polk38010
Grainger3603
Union3451
Benton3349
Jackson3145
Morgan3103
Cannon2810
Unicoi2811
Grundy2635
Humphreys2433
Sequatchie2262
Meigs2213
Clay2155
Scott2082
Houston1981
Stewart1822
Lewis1791
Moore1611
Van Buren1590
Perry1490
Hancock1073
Pickett1072

Community Events