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Wine Country Road Trip: 4 1/2 Year Old Tesla Model 3 Battery Range Test

My wife and I are taking a road trip to Walla Walla for some wicked fun in Washington wine country. We’re going all electric on this trip and meeting up with friends who are also driving their new EV for our first post-Covid getaway together. I’m intending to measure the real world, long distance freeway only range for my 4 and ½ year old EV.

We’re driving our 2018 Tesla Model 3 because we have made this same trip in it before, we know all the charging options and have even booked a hotel with free level 2 240V charging available to guests. The idea of going on this road trip with friends who are completely new to the experience of owning an EV and getting used to road tripping in it is also appealing to me as a sort of EV ambassador and journalist. This is the kind of scenario more and more of us will be in as EVs start becoming mainstream, which is starting to happen in the U.S. My friends, by the way, just bought a Kia EV6. I plan to do a little test drive and compare it to my Tesla in a follow up piece.

Our drive over is about 95% interstate or two lane state highway. Our Tesla said we had 286 miles of range on a 100% charge as we pulled out of the driveway, but of course that’s just an estimate. I drove no more than 3 MPH over the speed limit for all but about 20 mins of the first half of the drive (and in those 20 mins I was driving 5 to 10 MPH over the limit). Our original plan was to drive straight to the closest supercharger (about 40 miles away) to our first tasting destination, L’Ecole No 41, which is 256 miles from our house. We figured our real world range would be very close to 256 miles, so we planned to stop at the closest Supercharger in Kennewick, WA about 40 miles before the winery to get some extra charge.

We had a little too much coffee before we left though, and hit some construction related traffic too, so we drove a little harder to make up time over a steep pass and the estimated range to Kennewick felt a little short so we decided to stop at the Yakima, WA Supercharger to top off (nature was calling again too, so it was convenient). In about 6 mins we added 20% charge to the battery which was technically enough to get us all the way to our hotel, but just barely. To be safe, and to stretch our legs a little, we also stopped at the Kennewick Supercharger long enough to add a healthy buffer to our charge (we arrived with 25% charge and left with 60% after 11 mins of charging). This buffer gave us just enough range to get back to the supercharger in the event we couldn’t charge in Walla Walla for some reason. We also had one more winery stop before calling it a day, Long Shadows Vintners. If you’re ever in the area, or you just want to taste some of the best wines Washington State has to offer, these are just two of the many excellent choices.

At the end of the day, our stats for the drive were as follows: We drove a total of 281 miles; our average energy consumption was 3.7 miles per kWh; our full range at mostly freeway speed at up to 80 MPH and with an average a little over 65 MPH, was an estimated 265 miles. Clearly, 265 miles is not 300+ as was my estimated range when I was doing about half my daily driving on city streets, but driving freeway speeds nearly the entire distance with 2 mountain passes en route understandably reduces maximum range. If my Tesla’s battery was still “like new”, I estimate that I would have had 15-20+ more miles of range, based solely on my recollection of previous trips and adjusting for temperature and the different weight we were carrying. For reference, the temps on this trip were in the upper 60’s to upper 70’s Farenheight, my tires were at 43 PSI (when at speed and warmed up), and I only had about 400 pounds of people and stuff in the vehicle.

Are you a long term EV (and or PHEV) owner that takes long road trips? Have you experienced any significant loss of range over time? If so, for which vehicle(s) and how much loss? I am impressed with how little range my Tesla has lost in the time I have owned it, but I’ll keep testing it in different conditions to see if perhaps things change, depending.

Images courtesy of Justin Hart.

Justin Hart has owned and driven electric vehicles for over 14 years, including a first generation Nissan LEAF, second generation Chevy Volt, Tesla Model 3, an electric bicycle and most recently a Kia Sorento PHEV. He is also an avid SUP rider, poet, photographer and wine lover. He enjoys taking long EV and PHEV road trips to beautiful and serene places with the people he loves. Follow Justin on Twitter for daily KIA EV news coverage.


Ken G. (not verified)    October 2, 2022 - 8:57PM

I have a 2018 single motor long range Model 3 with 19" wheels. I took delivery Sep 14th 2018. Reported range at full charge is almost the same as yours, within a couple of miles. When delivered, a full charge was 310. There was a short period when a software update was supposed to have increased full charge range to 325, but that didn't last very long. I've always charged to 90% unless preparing for a long trip.

In addition to the small loss of range, I'm impressed with the energy efficiency of this car. A recent trip (using TeslaFi to collect data) of 200 miles, running 70MPH, charging at home, cost me 2.88 cents per mile. Amazingly cheap transportation!