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I drove the new 2024 Tesla Model 3. I liked it, but I wouldn't buy it.

Andrew Lambrecht   

I drove the new 2024 Tesla Model 3. I liked it, but I wouldn't buy it.
  • Andrew Lambrecht, who owns a 2019 Tesla Model 3, test drove the new 2024 Model 3.
  • While the new Model 3 comes with better materials and a fresh interior, it lost its tax credit.

The 2017 Tesla Model 3 changed the EV game. Offering rapid acceleration, plenty of range, and a somewhat affordable price, the Model 3 squashed most preconceived notions about what electric cars should be.

But the original one didn't come without flaws. From noisy cabins to build quality woes, the early Model 3s excelled in some areas but lacked in others.

Despite its shortcomings, I was allured by the Model 3. Last year, I picked up a used 2019 model for around $26,000 and have enjoyed my time with it.

Given the Model 3's relatively long lifecycle without any significant updates, the refreshed 2024 Model 3 has been long-awaited. The day Tesla Charlotte began demo drives of the new Model 3, I signed up for a slot to see if it was different enough from the outgoing one to warrant an upgrade.

Tesla's approach to vehicle production

The average consumer probably couldn't tell the difference between a 2017 and a 2023 Model 3. Tesla's upgrade approach involves tiny alterations — like making the trunk power-operated, installing beefier computers, and implementing features like a heated steering wheel — on a frequent but non-set basis.

Not all the changes were improvements, though. One controversial revision was removing the ultrasonic parking sensors, which many owners disliked.

The 2024 Model 3 got more of a facelift than previous versions. It offers a new front and rear appearance, though the side-view is largely the same.

The Model 3's new look

The new Model 3 is a much more eye-catching car than the outgoing one. It offers sharper headlights, a chiseled front nose, and aggressive split-cut rear taillights that alert other motorists you're merging left with authority.

The door handles are the same, but now the doors carry a heft that pre-2021 examples could only dream of. When you close the doors, you hear a confident thud. Is it like the Audi e-tron, where closing the door feels like you're sealing off a bank vault? No, but it's a great improvement for Tesla's entry-level vehicle.

A common theme in the new Model 3 is better-quality materials, both for feel and sound. The rear trunk insert and door sill pockets are made of carpeting, as opposed to plastic in older versions. Not only does it feel better but softer and squishier materials also help reduce rattling and vibrations.

All the windows are now composed of acoustic glass, which is two layers of glass laminated together with a membrane in the middle that helps absorb sound waves, minimizing the 3's once echo-ey cabin.

Inside the fresh interior

The first thing that sticks out when you sit in the driver's seat is the lack of any stalks. The previous Model 3 had two stalks behind the steering wheel — one for turn signals and the other for selecting drive, reverse, or park.

The blinkers have been moved to haptic steering wheel buttons. The drive selector is now a vertical strip on the left side of the screen. When you've stopped, you simply press the park icon to put the car in park. I thought the blinker buttons were cool, but others may not.

Tesla made some overwhelmingly positive changes to the rest of the interior. The base version has a nine-speaker audio system, and the Long Range features a 17-speaker system with two subwoofers. The nine-speaker version is an improvement from the old base system, which was already pleasant to listen to.

The 2024 Model 3 comes with heated and ventilated front seats as standard. Complementing the new seats is a sharp and distinctive ambient light strip that encircles the driver and passenger and extends to the rear.

Backseat occupants get an 8-inch center display, which allows them to play games and activate the seat heaters. Tesla also reworked the rear air vents, so the direction and speed are now controlled through the screen.

Improved ride quality

The outgoing Model 3 drove well, though it lagged in the noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH) category. Excessive road noise, vibrations on certain road surfaces, and occasional creaks and rattles impeded the Model 3's otherwise silent driving experience.

The 2024 Model 3 felt quieter on the road, and the updated suspension soaked up road imperfections more eloquently. Whenever I drove over a bump, the shock no longer permeated throughout the entirety of the cabin.

The comfort-tuned suspension resulted in more body roll when pushed through corners, though. Moreover, when you floor the accelerator, the car's nose now lifts upwards. Overall, the ride felt substantially more refined.

Zero to 60 in 5.8 Seconds

Even the base rear-wheel drive (RWD) version I tested had plenty of power to accelerate. Tesla says it should go from zero to 60 in 5.8 seconds.

If you crave the sensation of accelerative force, Tesla offers a Dual Motor version with a larger battery and an additional motor up front. This one is much quicker, offering a zero-to-60 time of 4.2 seconds.

Pricing and range

The 2024 Model 3 RWD starts at $40,630 with a 272-mile range. The Long Range Dual Motor version costs $8,000 more, running $48,630 with 341 miles of EPA-estimated range.

The 2024 Tesla Model 3's sticker price didn't increase with the updates, but it no longer qualifies for the federal tax credit due to battery mineral sourcing requirements courtesy of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). Last year's version was effectively $7,500 less expensive.

The more spacious Model Y still gets the credit, so it's actually less expensive than the Model 3. The 2024 Tesla Model Y RWD, which offers some 260 miles of range, starts at $45,630, meaning it'll run $38,130 when the credit is applied. While it doesn't have ventilated seats or a rear screen, I would take the Model Y over the 3 for the practicality and cost savings.


The 2024 Tesla Model 3 is a massive improvement over the outgoing one. Its new luxury features and improved build quality make Tesla's compact sedan a worthy opponent of higher-end luxury cars.

After leaving the driver's seat, I quite liked the new Model 3's feature list, but I think the less refined but more spacious Model Y is the better buy.

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