One of the hardest decisions we had to make when buying our Tesla Model 3 was which seats to get — the black or the white. Today, that would probably be the easiest decision — and I’m not using hyperbole here.
We already knew this, but we knew it much more so after one day last week. Or after a few minutes of one day last week. I took Moonhopper (our Model 3) to a Tesla service center last week for a couple of things (story coming), and we got a Model 3 loaner with black seats while Moonhopper was getting its special spa treatment. We were excited because we were curious how we’d like the black interior. The most popular hit was the cloth part of the doors (or whatever that’s called if it’s not called cloth). The wood trim was semi popular. However … that was about it.
No one was thrilled about the black seats. My wife, my daughters, and I all strongly preferred the white seats. Ironically, even though many people worry about white seats getting dirty, there are actually various smudges or marks that show up much more on black. They seem to get a dirty look more easily than the white seats. Also, as I noted back when we bought the car and chose the white seats, the white vegan leather is softer. When CleanTechnica toured Tesla’s seat factory in 2019, top managers there noted that the seat material actually came from different companies. They weren’t inclined to say one was better than the other, but Elon Musk has also recommended the white seats in the past when asked on Twitter or elsewhere. But all of the above are relatively little things compared to the point that made me write this article. …
The black seats GET FREAKIN’ HOT. And that is not pleasant. We left the car in the sun for a little while between getting home and going to pick up my older daughter from school. When we came back to it and got in the car, I was stunned at how hot the seats had gotten. Of course, that also leads to plenty of heat wafting into the air for a few minutes after you get in and get the AC going strong — which is totally bleh. Yes, I am from Florida and am familiar with this experience, but we never have anything like this happen with our Model 3 with white seats, so it completely caught me by surprise — like a slap in the face. I said something like, “Holy crap! Thank goodness we got the white seats!”
Yes, you can pre-cool the car, but 1) you have to remember to always do that (good luck), and 2) I don’t think that’s going to fully prevent the problem. Also, whether you pre-cool the car or have the setting checked to keep the car from getting blazing hot when you are not in it, the extra heat requires more electricity to cool. It’s not worth it. Just go with white!
Okay, I’m fine with your decision to go with black seats if you just really prefer black for aesthetic reasons, but otherwise, well, I recommend white more now than ever before.
We’re two years in, and for more details and nuance on how our seats have been holding up, you can watch the video above. They aren’t perfect. There are some issues I’d watch out for if I got a new car today, and there are also things that Tesla has improved regarding the white seats. The short story, though, is that choosing white seats over black seats would probably be the easiest decision of all if I was on the market for a new Tesla today.