1st Drive of the Updated 2024 Tesla Model 3 Long Range

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Tesla continues to hype up the updated 2024 Tesla Model 3, which emerged out of the project code named “Highland.” It launched in China first, with Europe not far behind, and only recently found its way into Tesla’s home market here in the US.

We hopped onto Tesla’s website and booked a test drive online for the following day. It was a painless process and only took a few seconds. The next morning, we headed to our local Tesla showroom, and within a few minutes, we were behind the wheel of a brand new updated Tesla Model 3.

The updated Tesla Model 3 Long Range. Image credit: Kyle Field, CleanTechnica

Having owned a 2018 Tesla Model 3 for 4 years, the new Tesla Model 3 is a fully refined version of its predecessor from top to bottom. It is clearly from the same family but brings an entirely new level of luxury, refinement, and power to the game, and all that at a lower price point. Let’s jump in.

From the front seats, the lower hood lines slope down faster than the original, tucking neatly out of view with the exception of the two small flares that bump up over each of the wheels. That translates to a feeling of openness and provides fantastic visibility out front of the vehicle. The handling is extremely precise and feels like you’re in a performance-tuned sports car. The suspension is significantly improved with more comfort and performance than the sloppy suspension on the previous version. This translates to better handling in tight areas like parking lots and city streets.

When it’s time to crank the speed up to 11, it’s almost like the suspension gets excited, tightening up and ready to lurch at a moment’s notice. And boy is this car ready to launch. Driving the Tesla Model 3 Long Range feels like a performance build already. It’s hard to imagine what Tesla has in store for us with the actual Performance version.

Image credit: Kyle Field, CleanTechnica

The slim tires on the four corners of the vehicle push a bit of road noise into the car, which is especially pronounced when going over bumps or when flying along at highway speed. It’s unfortunate but seems to be an unavoidable trade-off for the performance-tuned sedan and the low-profile tires it’s kitted out with.

Inside the car, the new display brings roughly the same user experience forward. Tesla is always updating its software, so this will naturally feel incremental even though there are some step change improvements in the updated Model 3. It features a slightly smaller bezel that frames up the slightly larger display area. Tesla controversially eliminated the stalks behind the steering wheel, which makes the overall experience more seamless and requires the addition of a shifting column to the display.

At the left hand side of the display, it’s easy to move the car into Park or Neutral at the touch of a button. Shifting into Drive or Reverse is done by flicking the car icon up or down. Tesla is also working on an automatic shifting solution that, while currently in beta, will decide which direction you want to go based on where you’re navigating.

Image credit: Kyle Field, CleanTechnica

Another pillar framing up the changes Tesla brought with the updated Model 3 is the quieter cabin. They clearly put a ton of work in to reduce noise, vibration, and harshness in the new Model 3. With the exception of the road noise coming from the tires, the new Model 3 is significantly quieter than its predecessor.

The quieter cabin is noticeable from the minute you close the door. When sitting in the car in a parking lot, the improved sound dampening in the doors, body panels, and dual pane, laminated windows filter out city noise, leaving a feeling of zen in the cabin.

The stockless shifting takes a minute to get used to, but after a few quick drives, it was already becoming a habit. Similarly, turn signals have moved from stalks to buttons on the steering wheel. It was extremely counterintuitive the first three times using it, but after that, it started to click. Signaling the intent to turn with a quick flick of a thumb versus having to move the entire hand to flick a stock attached awkwardly to the back of the steering wheel feels more intuitive and I imagine will become a thoughtless part of the brain training associated with driving. It’s a small but positive improvement.

The interior of the updated Tesla Model 3 features an LED light bar that sweeps around the entire cabin and a floating, trim piece that looks sharp and modern. Image credit: Kyle Field, CleanTechnica

Importantly, eliminating the stalks is also a small step towards Tesla’s vision of the car completely handling the driving experience. First they get rid of the stalks, then the brake pedal, and eventually the steering wheel will follow. Of course, all of that requires Tesla’s perpetually delayed Full Self Driving solution to actually take over the task of driving.

This new Model 3 is an absolute rocket and a pleasure to drive — the combination of increased performance, better handling from the renewed suspension, the small refinements in the cabin that work together to provide an overall improved experience. Compared to the 2018 Tesla Model 3 I drove on the daily for the better part of 4 and 1/2 years, the updated 2024 Tesla Model Y feels like a completely different vehicle. It’s exciting again, bringing that very same joy of instant torque that electric vehicles are known for right to the forefront.

The improved audio system also shines and continues to push the envelope on OEM sound systems. Tesla has really raised the bar here and the new Model 3 is even better than the last. The sound stage offers more clarity, depth, and range than the previous system, which was already fantastic.

The interior fabrics of the updated Model 3 have also been improved. The new front seats are ventilated, which is a significant improvement over the heated seats in the original Tesla Model 3. In the Long Range version, the door cards have a nice Alcantara insert, whereas the rear-wheel drive version features a fabric door card insert. Just above that, the new LED accent lighting trim strip is ready to liven up an evening or make you feel like you’re flying in a starship if that’s your jam.

The new doors have a much more pleasant thud to them when they close and make it feel like a much higher quality vehicle. According to Tesla’s president of engineering Lars Moravy, the new Tesla Model 3 also features dual microphones to improve call quality as well as improved rear passenger space and trunk space.

The wide array of small improvements make the updated Model 3 feel like it’s actually a luxury vehicle for the very first time. Pairing the lengthy list of upgrades with Tesla’s extremely competitive — if not class leading — pricing and you have a vehicle that just seems like it’s set to dominate.

The new headlights and tail lights on the updated Model 3 really stand out. Image credit: Kyle Field, CleanTechnica

It’s by far the best vehicle I’ve driven at this price point regardless of engine type, power, range, features, and technology. The real question is whether or not Tesla is going to be able to get the word out about the car and all of the updates that have transpired? And if the company does, will potential customers be able to get over their dislike of Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk for long enough to buy the best sedan money can buy at this price point?

For more information about the updated 2024 Tesla Model 3, head over Tesla’s website. If you are going to buy a Tesla car or solar system, be sure to find someone’s referral code before you do so, as you’ll get additional rewards for test driving and purchasing a new vehicle or solar system.

Disclaimer: The author owns a long term activist position in Tesla stock and has for many years.

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Kyle Field

I'm a tech geek passionately in search of actionable ways to reduce the negative impact my life has on the planet, save money and reduce stress. Live intentionally, make conscious decisions, love more, act responsibly, play. The more you know, the less you need. As an activist investor, Kyle owns long term holdings in Tesla, Lightning eMotors, Arcimoto, and SolarEdge.

Kyle Field has 1657 posts and counting. See all posts by Kyle Field