Is A Tesla Model 3 Worth The Hype?
This past weekend sent me down a road of firsts. I had never been to Napa, California before, and I certainly had not driven a Tesla there.
I will say after this experience, I have certainly changed my opinion on Tesla ownership.
A Weekend Like Never Before
If you have never been to Napa Valley in California, you are seriously missing out on life. My wife and I accompanied some friends down to wine country and see what it is all about.
Napa is nothing short of amazing, but what made the weekend better was driving a Tesla Model 3 Performance.
I hope to capture the true essence of the experience and portray how driving this machine changed my life forever.
The Tesla Owner
Even though I had driven this car several times before, I was guided patiently through the Tesla basics. Kevin was thorough in helping my wife, and I understand this is not a regular car but an expertly crafted land-based spaceship.
By no means was I upset; it shed new light on how involved Tesla owners know their vehicles. Just like the DIYer of old.
It reminded me of when vehicle ownership was a part of your daily life. Back when the owner needed to know how to do basic repairs and keep up on the maintenance.
Watching Kevin expertly walk us through how to drive the Model 3 was, in all honesty, a step-through time with some modern twists. I learned here that owning a Tesla is more than owning a car; owning one is an experience.
Are all Tesla owners like this, I wondered? I had to find out. Luckily the first stop on our journey was to the supercharger. I had never supercharged a Tesla before, but I was anxiously waiting to see what it was like.
Get To The Charger
My wife had ridden in a different model 3 once before, so she was not wholly flabbergasted when we started driving.
We found the closest supercharger to us and headed out. Cruising in the 3, like many times before, was an absolute dream.
The smooth, quiet, and silky ride made me feel like I had blended into the multi-million dollar lifestyle of the Napa Valley surrounding me.
Sitting behind the wheel and cruising down the highway allowed me to think about the practical application of a Tesla.
What worries did I have? What if something broke? What if the supercharger was full? How long will I have to charge?
I knew that the questions I asked myself would be answered as I continued to drive. So I sat back in the supple seats and soaked it all in.
It was then we pulled into the supercharger and went through that experience.
What It Is Like To Charge A Tesla Model 3
Kevin had told me how to hook up the charger, and it was effortless. What I found interesting was that on the way over, the car knew we were headed there and "prepped" the battery for charging.
The battery prepping was new to me. I get why Tesla does it, but I was not aware it was a thing. That alone shut off a big reservation about owning a Tesla.
Battery health and degradation are the hardest things for me to swallow, mainly because of my background. I am a technician and have been for years. If I cannot fix it, why should I own it?
Seeing that Tesla takes precautions like this is a massive assurance the car is built to last. What a relief it was to figure that out.
While we were charging (we spend 30 min for 225 miles of range), I got out to chat it up with the locals.
One older gentleman was kind enough to answer my questions about the ownership of his Model S 90D. He and his wife were previously Lexus owners and loved the Tesla.
After four years of ownership, he said the only thing he has ever had to do is buy tires. Again, I was blown away. Only tires? Really? But it made perfect sense. The motors can slow the car down, so brakes are there more of a novelty than anything.
As for the other parts, wipers, washer fluid, and an air freshener, those are all things anyone can do at their house. I quickly wrapped up my conversation with Gerald and hopped back into the 3.
We had a good range and needed to meet the party for dinner. We unplugged and took off.
In all reality, 30 minutes is not that bad to get 225 miles of range. We have two kids, and letting them sleep or get out and stretch is pretty practical when traveling.
Charging times will be reduced in the next five years significantly. If I can stand a 30 minute charge time now, the car is a total win.
The Drive To Dinner And Back
We were in to rush to get to Bottega. Last-minute plans had put us out on the reservation list, so we were waiting anyway.
Here is where I felt the car, and I connected the most. It was a real-life experience where the family was in the car, and we were driving somewhere to do something.
I turned on cruise control first and then FSD. The 3 seemed to take on an alternate identity as it became hyper-focused on the surroundings.
Watching the screen and seeing what the car was looking for, it became clear how tuned-in this machine is with the environment.
My wife is not one for horseplay, so I didn't hammer on it going to dinner, but after dinner, things got spicy.
Checking in with Kevin and assuring my wife it was ok, she slid behind the wheel for her first-ever Tesla experience.
She had me put it in "chill" mode and soften up the steering for her. Turning off sport mode was not a problem; a couple of taps on the screen and the Tesla was tamed.
We talked as we drove back, and I finally convinced her to give it a little nudge, in performance mode. I turned it on and had her nail the pedal.
Her sunglass all but flew off her head as she sunk deep into the driver's seat. She may not admit it, but I could see she was smiling the whole time. The instant acceleration sent her into another dimension, and I realized something too, this is a car everyone can enjoy.
We got back, she parked it perfectly with the aid of all the cameras, and we turned in for the night.
The Tesla Model 3 (performance or not), in my opinion, is very much worth the hype people give it. Every bit of it is, and if you are like me and doubted, ride in one; I promise it will change your mind.
I fit my family in it comfortably, my wife had fun driving it, and I do not worry about it breaking or losing battery life very fast.
The Tesla Model 3 altered my life so much that I have decided I will buy one, and the hunt is on for what one I want.
The car is practical in so many ways. Luxury, performance, and affordability are all there if you want it.
Even though this particular car has been into the shop a few times, overall, the addressed issues are minimal. We can nitpick anything, and Tesla still has a few things they need to work on, but what car company is perfect? None.
Thank you for reading. I sincerely hope that you get the opportunity to drive Tesla. A huge Thank You to my friend Kevin for allotting us time in your vehicle. I wish more Tesla owners can be like you.
Have a great start to your weekend, and if you can make it down to Napa, I hear it is a good time.
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Peter Neilson is an automotive consultant specializing in electric cars and hybrid battery technologies. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Automotive Service Technology from Weber State University. Peter can be reached on Linkedin and you can tweet him at The_hybrid_guy on Twitter. Find his page on Facebook at Certified Auto Consulting. Read more of Peter's stories at Toyota news coverage on Torque News. Search Toyota Prius Torque News for more in depth Prius coverage from our reporters.