We drove an $87,000 Jaguar I-PACE to see how it compares to a $57,500 Tesla Model 3 and a $150,000 Model X. Here's the verdict.

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Jaguar I PACE 3Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

  • I've driven the Tesla Model 3 sedan, the Jaguar I-PACE compact crossover, and the Tesla Model X three-row SUV.
  • The vehicles vary quite a bit in capabilities, appointments, and price.
  • But in the end, I think the Tesla Model 3 is the best car.


This is going to be a slightly unusual comparison, but it isn't my fault.

As I've noted before, Tesla has a segmentation problem. Here at Business Insider, when we want to match up compact crossover SUVs, we can find two similar vehicles from different brands. But when it comes to all-electric cars, it's a different story.

The Tesla Model 3, for example, could take on the Chevy Bolt - and I have compared the vehicles. But the Bolt is currently the only true long-range EV on the market that sells for under $40,000. Tesla isn't yet making the $35,000 version of the Model 3, so you have to point out that the available Model 3 is a premium/luxury car, while the Bolt is a mass-market offering.

A larger issue is that because Tesla is only selling three vehicles and has to tweak them in various ways - amenities, self-driving system, total range - to serve buyers at different economic levels, it's challenging to manage good direct comparisons with anybody else's cars.

Making matters even trickier is the arrival of a bunch of EVs from luxury automakers over the next few years: the Porsche Taycan, the Audi eTron, the Mercedes EQC, and so on. Everybody is kind of doing their own thing.

The Jaguar I-PACE is a case in point. We sampled it last year. The Tesla vehicle it should match up against is the forthcoming Model Y crossover, but the Model Y isn't yet being produced. Still, the I-PACE is on sale, so if you're shopping electric, chances are you'll give it a look.

So here's the idea: I'll compare the Jag against the Model 3, which is cheaper, and the Model X, which is pricier. I know which vehicle I like best, but I'll try to set it up so you can make the best choice for your needs.

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First up, the 2019 Jaguar I-PACE EV400 HSE in "Corris Gray." The 2019 Jaguar I-PACE starts at $69,500 while the top-spec HSE variant starts at $80,500. With options and fees, our test car came to $86,720.

First up, the 2019 Jaguar I-PACE EV400 HSE in "Corris Gray." The 2019 Jaguar I-PACE starts at $69,500 while the top-spec HSE variant starts at $80,500. With options and fees, our test car came to $86,720.

Read the review.

Jaguars are supposed to be beautiful cars. The I-PACE looks nice. But beautiful? Not in my book. However, it is poised, powerful, and sleek.

Jaguars are supposed to be beautiful cars. The I-PACE looks nice. But beautiful? Not in my book. However, it is poised, powerful, and sleek.

"The I-PACE utilizes a design principle called cab forward, which pushes the cabin towards the front of the car while moving the wheels to the far corners," Ben Zhang pointed out when he reviewed the vehicle.

The leaping car is front and center.

The leaping car is front and center.

MEOW!!!

MEOW!!!

"Unlike most EVs, the I-PACE retains a traditional front grille," Ben Zhang noted in his review. "However, it's not merely for show. The grille houses radiators that are sued to cool components like its massive battery pack."

Aerodynamics, to a large degree, dictated the I-PACE's shape. Designer Ian Callum has certainly created a crisp flow with this vehicle, which after all is a versatile hatchback, not a sports car.

Aerodynamics, to a large degree, dictated the I-PACE's shape. Designer Ian Callum has certainly created a crisp flow with this vehicle, which after all is a versatile hatchback, not a sports car.

The "chiseled look to help optimize aerodynamics," Ben wrote in his review.

The cargo area, however, could be better. And while there is a front trunk or "frunk," it's so small that it isn't terribly useful.

The cargo area, however, could be better. And while there is a front trunk or "frunk," it's so small that it isn't terribly useful.

"Open up the rear hatch and you'll find 25 cubic feet of storage space behind the rear seats," Ben wrote.

"Cargo capacity expands to 51 cubic feet if you fold the rear seats down. Cargo space is only adequate and puts the compact I-PACE on par with sub-compact crossovers like the Honda HR-V and Nissan Rogue Sport/Qashqai."

We'll see why this matter when we get to the Teslas.

Using a 100-kilowatt DC fast charger, Jaguar says the I-PACE can be recharged from dead to 80% in just 40 minutes. You use this Mode 2 universal charger cable.

Using a 100-kilowatt DC fast charger, Jaguar says the I-PACE can be recharged from dead to 80% in just 40 minutes. You use this Mode 2 universal charger cable.

"The I-PACE is powered by a pair of permanent magnet synchronous electric motors located on each of the car's axles," Ben wrote.

"They draw power from a 90-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack. Together, they produce 394 horsepower and 512 pound-feet of torque. According to Jaguar, the I-PACE can sprint from 0-60 mph in 4.5 seconds and reach a top speed of 124 mph."

Ben wasn't impressed with the charging options.

"Jaguar, like the rest of the mainstream auto industry, depends on third-party firms to provide charging infrastructure," he remarked.

"In this case, it's Charge Point. While Charge Point does have a fair number of charging locations, few of them are Tesla Supercharger-style fast chargers. In addition, the ChargePoint app proved to unintuitive with poor functionality."

The interior is where the I-PACE truly shines. As we''ll see, the Teslas are nice. But the I-PACE's interior — our test car came in glorious ivory — is simply stunning, the best we've experienced in an electric vehicle.

The interior is where the I-PACE truly shines. As we''ll see, the Teslas are nice. But the I-PACE's interior — our test car came in glorious ivory — is simply stunning, the best we've experienced in an electric vehicle.

The instruments are not an essay in minimalism, but they are smartly laid out and accented beautifully with brushed metal, carbon fiber, and wood.

The instruments are not an essay in minimalism, but they are smartly laid out and accented beautifully with brushed metal, carbon fiber, and wood.

The weak spot here is Jaguar Land Rover's InControl Touch Pro infotainment system, it has never been one of our favorites.

The weak spot here is Jaguar Land Rover's InControl Touch Pro infotainment system, it has never been one of our favorites.

"We find the user interface to be a bit too complex and not nearly as easy to use as we'd like," Ben wrote. "This is in spite of the fact that it's very crisply rendered and attractively designed."

It does get done all the jobs it needs to get done, from navigation to audio to Bluetooth device pairing, alongside USB/AUX inputs.

On to the Tesla Model 3, is brilliant "Red Multi-Coat." We've sampled the car in two versions: the $57,500 Model 3 Long Range in Premium trim, with rear-wheel-drive; and the $78,000 Performance trim, with all-wheel-drive.

On to the Tesla Model 3, is brilliant "Red Multi-Coat." We've sampled the car in two versions: the $57,500 Model 3 Long Range in Premium trim, with rear-wheel-drive; and the $78,000 Performance trim, with all-wheel-drive.

Read the review of the long-range RWD Model 3.

The Model 3 is a sharp set of wheels, designed by Tesla's Franz von Holzhausen to embody forward thinking without taking any wild and crazy chances.

The Model 3 is a sharp set of wheels, designed by Tesla's Franz von Holzhausen to embody forward thinking without taking any wild and crazy chances.

Unlike the I-PACE, there's no grille, just a smooth nose-cone.

Unlike the I-PACE, there's no grille, just a smooth nose-cone.

The Tesla logo is among the auto world's newest. It has a ways to go before it can challenge the leaping cat.

The Tesla logo is among the auto world's newest. It has a ways to go before it can challenge the leaping cat.

The roof is a continuous curve of glass, with a fastback rear hatch/trunk culminating in a crisp spoiler. The recessed door handles and the window trim are the only significant chrome on the Model 3.

The roof is a continuous curve of glass, with a fastback rear hatch/trunk culminating in a crisp spoiler. The recessed door handles and the window trim are the only significant chrome on the Model 3.

If you combine the rear cargo area ...

If you combine the rear cargo area ...

... and the Model 3's frunk, you get 15 cubic feet of space. Not grand, but fairly good for a sedan.

... and the Model 3's frunk, you get 15 cubic feet of space. Not grand, but fairly good for a sedan.

The Model 3 stores its juice in a 75-kilowatt-hour battery pack — and has access to Tesla's Supercharger DC fast-charging network. A full recharge consumers about an hour, and the long-range Model 3 is good for 31 miles.

The Model 3 stores its juice in a 75-kilowatt-hour battery pack — and has access to Tesla's Supercharger DC fast-charging network. A full recharge consumers about an hour, and the long-range Model 3 is good for 31 miles.

The Model 3 also has regenerative braking, which can be customized to be heavy or light. Heavy acts almost like an engine brake and permits the driver to actively brake much less frequently than with a gas vehicle, while recharging the battery. Light mitigates the sense that the Model 3 is tugging when coasting.

For what it's worth, the Model 3 I tested lacked a Ludicrous or Insane mode — the default is quick acceleration. But you can switch that to Chill Mode, which dials it back. And I did. Chill is considerably easier to live with.

But if you must step on it, the 0-60 mph dash happens in about five seconds.

You have to be a minimalist to love the Model 3's interior. The leatherette upholstery is animal-free, and the flash is ... well, there isn't any.

You have to be a minimalist to love the Model 3's interior. The leatherette upholstery is animal-free, and the flash is ... well, there isn't any.

Unless you opt for the white interior, which I sampled on the performance version of the Model 3. It's impressive.

Unless you opt for the white interior, which I sampled on the performance version of the Model 3. It's impressive.

Almost all Model 3 functions are controlled using this central touchscreen and a pair of trackballs on the steering wheel. This takes some getting used to, but once you do, the Model 3, with no instrument panel, provides a serene driving experience.

Almost all Model 3 functions are controlled using this central touchscreen and a pair of trackballs on the steering wheel. This takes some getting used to, but once you do, the Model 3, with no instrument panel, provides a serene driving experience.

The Model 3 is also fully equipped to provide the lastest version of Autopilot, Tesla's semi-self-driving technology. Autopilot is superb — it's only real challenger for consumer autonomy is Cadillac's superior highway-only hand-free system, Super Cruise. But I must admit that I like driving Teslas so much that I under-use Autopilot.

For what it's worth, Tesla's in-house audio system is marvelous.

Finally, the Model X, a glossy black. Our fully loaded loaner was a P100D version — largest battery pack, all-wheel-drive, and a third row of seats. It tipped the cost scales at around $150,000.

Finally, the Model X, a glossy black. Our fully loaded loaner was a P100D version — largest battery pack, all-wheel-drive, and a third row of seats. It tipped the cost scales at around $150,000.

We've taken the Model X on two roads trips. Read about them here and here.

The showstopper with the Model X is, of course, those falcon-wing doors.

The showstopper with the Model X is, of course, those falcon-wing doors.

The Model X is my least favorite Tesla, design-wise. That said, it's also Tesla's most futuristic vehicle. It looks like a spacecraft for the road.

The Model X is my least favorite Tesla, design-wise. That said, it's also Tesla's most futuristic vehicle. It looks like a spacecraft for the road.

"P100D" signifies a Performance variant of the Model X, with a 100 kWh battery pack, and a "Dual" motor all-wheel-drive setup. In "Ludicrous Mode," the 0-60 mph time is supposed to be about three blistering seconds.

"P100D" signifies a Performance variant of the Model X, with a 100 kWh battery pack, and a "Dual" motor all-wheel-drive setup. In "Ludicrous Mode," the 0-60 mph time is supposed to be about three blistering seconds.

Overall, the Model X has almost 90 cubic feet of available cargo space.

Overall, the Model X has almost 90 cubic feet of available cargo space.

The frunk is big — the Model X swallowed up everything five people and dog needed for a weekend on the road.

The frunk is big — the Model X swallowed up everything five people and dog needed for a weekend on the road.

The 100-kilowatt-hour battery pack is Tesla's largest. It serves up 290 miles of range, and like the Model 3, the Model X can use the Supercharger network.

The 100-kilowatt-hour battery pack is Tesla's largest. It serves up 290 miles of range, and like the Model 3, the Model X can use the Supercharger network.

According to Tesla, Model S and Model X owners receive 400 kWh of complimentary Supercharger credits every year, which equates to roughly 1,000 miles of driving. If an owner uses up the free allotment, additional credits can be purchased.

Model 3 owners do not receive free Supercharger credits and must pay to use the network. Prices for Supercharger use are set based on the state or country where the station is located.

The huge central touchscreen doesn't control as much as the Model 3's screen, but it is the Model X's nerve center.

The huge central touchscreen doesn't control as much as the Model 3's screen, but it is the Model X's nerve center.

The navigation system integrates with the charging algorithms, so you can sort of hop from Supercharger to Supercharger and let the Model X tell you how long to recharge.

Verdict? For me, the best of the three is ... the Model 3! But it can't be all things to all people.

Verdict? For me, the best of the three is ... the Model 3! But it can't be all things to all people.

However, I have to give it to the Jaguar I-PACE, which is my runner-up — and a better vehicle in many respects: more luxurious, more suave, lots of fun to drive.

The Model X is kind of sui generis — on paper, it's the winner. But on paper, it also cost MUCH more.

Now, the Model 3. "There is no better vehicle of this type at this price that I believe I could currently buy," I said in my review.

"What's really so hypnotically and addictively compelling about the Model 3 is how many great ideas have been crammed into one automobile. This is a car that's absolutely bursting with thought, about the present and the future — and the distant future. Those ideas are overwhelmingly optimistic."

The Jag has ideas, but there aren't as many as there are in the Model 3 (even though the Jag, in the end, drives better). And while the Model X has plenty of ideas, they aren't as good as the Model 3's.

But, if you need space for a family, the Model X is a better choice. Although, clearly, you have to be prepared to take out a second mortgage.

The I-PACE is far more traditionally luxurious than then Model 3, and it's a proper crossover. If a premium vibe matters to you, the Jag is absolutely worth it.

But for me, the best of these all-electric trendsetters is the Model 3.

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