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Model S vs Model 3 , personal experience

Model S vs Model 3 , personal experience

I had to turn in my Model 3 LR w/ EAP for some paint scratch repair (another story) and got a loaner Model S 75D while its in the shop. The following is based on my personal experience with driving the S for the past couple of weeks.

* Model S - 75D *
- Quieter, less road & wind noise
- Better seats
- More luxurious interior, better quality materials
- Powered trunk lid
- Far jerkier ride than 3
- Better audio system
- No front door pockets
- Higher res backup camera?

* Model 3 - LR RWD w/ EAP *
- Technologically more advanced
- Better UX, drive stem & autopilot integrated in to same stick
- Stronger re-gen, less need to brake
- Smoother deceleration, less manual braking needed in EAP
- Landscape monitor is better than portrait
- Minimalist interior is better
- Better center console design
- Better door release from inside
- Door pockets that can hold water bottles
- Inconspicuous air-vents
- Clean, minimalist interior
- Steering wheel material is inferior for an entry luxury car
- Significantly Longer range
- Phone key, no key fob, remote control
- More energy efficient

Based on the above, I dont really see the Model S to be worth the $35k premium. I like my M3 just fine thank you very much. It would be awesome if Tesla could just charge $500 more and improve the interior material quality and make M3 more luxurious.

Again, these are just my thoughts.

crmedved | 04. april 2019

You can always swap out things you don't like to improve the interior. People sell steering wheels for the m3. You can wrap the center console with vinyl patterns or ppf. You can swap the material of the dash bar if you're like me and hate the wood look (I got the white interior, so no problem). Performance pedals aren't too expensive and make it look pretty classy. Personally, I like rpmtesla's stuff, but there are other places that sell "mods" too.

Wilber | 04. april 2019

Prashan - I used to drive an S60. Now drive a LR AWD M3. I would add some more to the attributes to the MS list - 1. autopresenting and illuminated door handles. 2. You only need to have the key fob in your pocket for the doors to unlock and to start the car. 3. MS has smoother ride on the freeway. 4. MS has hatchback and can hold alot of stuff and large obects. 5. MS can carry 5 adults reasonably comfortably. 6. MS has lots of convenience litghts. 7 Two people can actually camp in the MS with the rear seats folded down. 8. MS doesnt rely quite so much for controls on the center screen, so can be more convenient. 9. MS can accommodate large or tall drivers better. Sizewise i kind of look at it as the difference between the BMW 7 series and 5 series. So, for folks who want a larger car, with the attributes i mention above the MS is worth it.

wiboater4 | 05. april 2019

Wilber +1

Hal Fisher | 05. april 2019

I came up on a model 3 that I thought was a S because it had the chrome trunk strip. Was that on older M3?

JAD | 05. april 2019

@hal, nope, all model 3's are identical.

ODWms | 05. april 2019

I have a chrome trunk strip that I’d purchased aftermarket. I was watching a video Bjorn had up on YouTube, and noticed his Model 3 Performance had the same.

jiman72 | 05. april 2019

Please provide a link for the chrome trunk strip.

jimglas | 05. april 2019

P3D has track mode

Rt002k | 05. april 2019

@Wilber - my wife and I camped quite easily in our 3. We are also vertically challenged, but that proved a plus in this situation!

Isn't this more like the difference between the BMW 7 series and 3 series?

I could see the S being a better choice for the trunk space. We have a little one coming along in a few months and the 3 may prove a challenge for the extra stuff. We shall see! If it doesn't work, well, then he stays home. It works for the dogs! :)

AWDTesla | 05. april 2019

I have 3 little ones, space is not an issue.

lbowroom | 05. april 2019

Model 3 seats fit a wider population more comfortably.
Model 3 also fits 5 people, likely more comfortably, and accommodates child seats better.

lbowroom | 05. april 2019

Wilber. MS absolutely does not accommodate taller driver better, don't know where you get that idea. The bottom of the headrest juts between your shoulders, the bolsters are restrictive, and the center console pushes into your shin/knee. M3 far more accommodating to tall driver.

Legendisdope | 05. april 2019

I test drove a Model S before buying a Model 3 with no test drive. I really feel like the Model 3 is much more fun to drive, its lighter and nimble. I would of gave more thought to the Model S but my other car is a Dodge Charger SRT8 which is big already.

rsingh05 | 05. april 2019

The 3 series vs 5 series comparison would be accurate based driving dynamics (3 is superior) and exterior dimensions (S is bigger on the outside, also has more cargo room). However, the interior cabin volume on the 3 is actually higher (97 cu ft on the 3 vs 94 on the S). As @lbowroom said, the 3 also accommodates taller drivers better.

Also BMW holds the 3 series back in terms of comfort and tech, to justify the premium for 5 series. Tesla, thankfully does not do that. I like the material on my 3 (white interior) seats to be better quality than the model S P100D I drove.

Also I think the steering material on both cars is the best it can be without being real leather or alcantara. you can get better feel with leather and Tesla has moved away from that consciously.

Alcantara would be great for the steering - and I'm sure we will have aftermarket options soon enough.

rsingh05 | 05. april 2019

So I agree with the overall assessment that the S does not justify a premium, until the interior is redesigned. I suspect most people agree which is why the drop in model S sales. Hopefully Tesla gets to the S/X redesign soon.

Wilber | 05. april 2019

OK OK, maybe a 3 does fit tall drivers better. Now that i have had the 3 a month, it just feels to me, that the ceiling feels a little lower than the S. But, havent been in an S for a while, and i could be FOS. (Full of Shit). And, sure i suppose considering the 3 like a 3 series and the S like a 5 series may be more accurate. But, i do think the exterior dimensions of the 3 are larger than the 3 series, and similar for S compared to 5 series. AND, I am not disputing that the 3 is more fun to drive, and all the other advantages listed here. And i do like the 3 seats better. But kind of miss the hatchback and large cargo space (carries my bikes easily) of the S, and the nifty door handles and being able to use a key fob (not relying on a smartphone as much....).

RedShift | 05. april 2019

I have similar experience. I’d say the S is not as brittle as far as ride goes. However, the 3 steering is precise, handling is neutral until the limits, and very nimble.

Lastly, with the latest software 8.5 (?) the added 5% power is fairly noticeable. I love it.

2015P90DI | 05. april 2019

I've had 4 Model S cars and 6 Model 3's. Currently driving a 3 as my personal car, only because I know the S is due for an update VERY SOON and didn't want to by a 5th one that was mostly the same as my first one. As well as because of the inferior tech, battery and interface. As soon as Tesla releases a Model S that technologically equal or superior to the half price Model 3, I'll be right back in an S again.

Miss all the S has to offer, as was already stated here and many other places. Easily worth the extra money to me.

burdogg | 05. april 2019

I think we are kind of in a vacuum here...Most here own a Model 3 or traded in their S for a 3. It would be interesting to have this same conversation on the S side....I am sure it wouldn't be all pats on the back for the 3 over the S :)

I currently own BOTH and drive BOTH. I do not know which is better per se - each has their perks. I have stated though - seeing that I am a frugal person - had my first experience with Tesla been a choice between an S and a 3 - I would have chose a 3 for pure cost - and would have loved it. But since I didn't and had to get the S first...I am have been torn - as I could trade in my old Model S (70D, AP 1.0, 0-60 in 5.2 sec, 240 miles) for a new AWD 3 with autopilot (not FSD) for basically a wash after Fed and State credits. There are things I love about my S though that is keeping me back - even though the 3 would be faster, and more range.

But I would lose out on my pano roof (No one has mentioned that here) and the ride is still better in the S. Sure those that don't like big cars are going to disagree...but it is a smoother ride (and I don't even have air suspension).

Anyway - I just have been following this thread as it is fun to see the vacuum echo chamber :) To each their own - I do think though that S sales are down due to price of the S vs the 3 - and yet the cars are very similar in driving fun, many wonder why pay more :)

EM34ME | 05. april 2019

My car was hit by someone else and was in a Tesla certified shop for a week. I got a new S75D as a loner for a week through Enterprise...............Never so happy in my life to get the 3 back. In my opinion, absolutely no comparison. I couldn't find one thing I liked better in the MS (and the MS I had was noisier than my 3 which is virtually silent) I do wish the 3 had air suspension option. It's not a deal breaker but nice to have occasionally.

burdogg | 05. april 2019

Oh and to the one who said they love the AP on the same stalk - I hate it :) Honestly - I LOVE having the separate stalk on the S for just AP functions.

First - it is easier for me to set - my left hand is the hand always on the wheel...the stalk to engage is right there where my left hand is to engage - no reaching up and bumping down on the stalk, just to gentle tugs towards me. To change speed by 5 - simply bump the stalk down, or up to increase. none of this scroll - and sometimes have to scroll a couple quick successions to get it to recognize I want to increase by 5. Just more of a pain.

Last - there is some concern on my part of the wear and tear on the single stalk, as it is used for everything now. Minor concern, but is there.

But ultimately - the placement and functions of the separate stalk on the S is better. And before someone goes all - less clutter on me....I can't even SEE the stalk on my S - so no, it is not "more" stuff cluttering up the interior - it is a little stalk :)

Em34ME - curious what kind of cars you have had in the past - as I find those that make statements like yours is purely that they hate big cars and like small sports cars - which is fine - but a little blind. There is one such on the forum that has admitted as much - that the S is just way too big so nothing about it is good. Maybe that is not your blinders on but I am just curious :)

ODWms | 05. april 2019

Its going to come own to, among other things, what your basic preference is in car types. Those who like big, luxury, floaty type cars will love the S. This who like handling/tossabiiity will probably like the 3. And that's not even getting into the tech differences.

There are a variety of pluses and minuses on both sides of the equation. Luckily for all of us there is a variety of choices available. For me, personally, I could never justify the price differential. If the S was 20% more, maybe. But, then, maybe not. I've just never been into big cars.

burdogg | 05. april 2019

ODWms - very well said :) Completely agree - which is my problem with deciding to trade in or not :) Get a newer car with several newer features (compared to my 2015 Model S) and more range...but I do give up some things from the S - hatchback - pano roof - two screens - smoother ride - free supercharging - a personal...looks better on exterior - open space between driver and passenger (what they called the yacht floor)...Tesla, why oh why did you make the 3 such a fantastic car! :)

kcheng | 05. april 2019

You can get the chrome trunk strip for the Model 3 on eBay, if my memory serves me.

EM34ME | 06. april 2019

"Em34ME - curious what kind of cars you have had in the past - as I find those that make statements like yours is purely that they hate big cars and like small sports cars - which is fine - but a little blind. There is one such on the forum that has admitted as much - that the S is just way too big so nothing about it is good. Maybe that is not your blinders on but I am just curious :)"

One doesn't have to be better than the other. This whole thread is about personal preferences. I preferred everything on my model 3 and I don't feel I have to justify that preference to anyone but myself. But everyone who prefers the MS for whatever reasons doesn't have to justify it to me either. In fact I think it is great because that means one less ICE on the roads.

burdogg | 06. april 2019

EM34ME - sorry - wasn't trying to have you "justify" - I was honestly just curious...because "absolutely no comparison" is pretty strong - as many that have had both say there are pluses and minuses to both cars...hence my question for you - as there has been someone else who has stated that it came down to purely the love of a smaller car so everything this person said was negative about the S (because his blinders of size were on).

Anyway - glad you love your 3 :)

TeslaMarque | 06. april 2019

The S is a sweet car, can’t wait to see what they do e the updated interior, and the announcement of the new motors. It has more range, air suspension, higher grade materials, larger battery pack. It’s less efficient and heavier.

Ultimately I agree with those in here that compare the 3 and S to BMW 3 and 5 series. I used to own a 3 series (E90), and other than my P3D, it’s the next favorite car I’ve ever had. I had zero interest in the 5 series, I don’t have children and don’t need extra room, so this could change when and if I do. But for this reason alone I would never be interested in an S nor a 5 series, as they’re just too big.

I’m also not a fan of air suspensions. I just don’t like the floaty feel of them, and it’s always more parts and components that need maintenance and have a chance of failure. I am one of those that would not buy an air suspension package if ever offered on a Model 3. I am very happy Tesla offers the top of the line P3D without an air suspension. But YMMV.

TeslaMarque | 06. april 2019

The S is a sweet car, can’t wait to see what they do e the updated interior, and the announcement of the new motors. It has more range, air suspension, higher grade materials, larger battery pack. It’s less efficient and heavier.

Ultimately I agree with those in here that compare the 3 and S to BMW 3 and 5 series. I used to own a 3 series (E90), and other than my P3D, it’s the next favorite car I’ve ever had. I had zero interest in the 5 series, I don’t have children and don’t need extra room, so this could change when and if I do. But for this reason alone I would never be interested in an S nor a 5 series, as they’re just too big.

I’m also not a fan of air suspensions. I just don’t like the floaty feel of them, and it’s always more parts and components that need maintenance and have a chance of failure. I am one of those that would not buy an air suspension package if ever offered on a Model 3. I am very happy Tesla offers the top of the line P3D without an air suspension. But YMMV.

vmulla | 06. april 2019

What drive characteristics? To me it's all about Autopilot. When the system is doing most of the driving it hardly matters. I just bought the the most affordable Tesla that has Autopilot. It was S60 then, LR RWD later. I'd probably buy the MR RWD if I had to purchase a car today.

Point being, there are a few of us in the mix that care little for the car - it's a box on wheels that gets you places - the cheapest solution that allows us to enjoy AP wins!

ODWms | 06. april 2019

Yeah, I don't feel that way, at all. Its about the driving experience for me. Otherwise,w hat would be the point of buying a P3D+? On long, interstate trips, maybe I'd be interested in true full self driving. But around town? No, I'd rather drive.

The good thing is that Tesla gives us all the ability to purchase what we want. Now, with the announcement of the Model Y, there are even more people who will be buying Tesla who probably wouldn't have before. Its all about choices.

I really don't see the reason for people to approach this with an "I'm right, your wrong" attitude. There is no wrong, only what's right for "me."

Carl Thompson | 06. april 2019

@jiman72:
"Please provide a link for the chrome trunk strip."

This one from Evannex is the best looking but it is a little pricy.

https://evannex.com/collections/model-3/products/chrome-trunk-molding-fo...

Tesla-David | 07. april 2019

You can purchase chrome trunk molding at Evannex (link below) for $129. We added to our M3 and it looks great!

https://evannex.com/products/chrome-trunk-molding-for-tesla-model-3

TeslaTap.com | 07. april 2019

I suspect many comparisons are somewhat flawed. Are the cars being compared the same age? Same tire wear? For example, if you have a new 3 and compare it with a tired 3 year old S with worn tires, the 3 is going to appear better from noise and likely handling. Switch that to a 18 month old 3 with worn tires and a brand new S, and those attributes are likely to switch. Are both cars being compared AWD or RWD - it has a big factor too.

The S has also improved a lot over the years. New ones are a lot quieter than those a few years ago. Now I'm not saying the S or 3 is better than the other - they are different vehicles in totally different classes filling different needs. If one works better for you, great. If that's the 3, even better (i.e. saving money).

My point is, don't be too quick to judge one or the other unless they are really similar in age, type and wear.

@burdogg - I appreciate your real-world comparison too of living with both!

carlk | 07. april 2019

"It would be awesome if Tesla could just charge $500 more and improve the interior material quality and make M3 more luxurious."

On the contrary Tesla "should" dumb down the M3 a little more so it will not affect S sales much. No Tesla will not do that even every other auto company would. Tesla will always make the best car it could with resources it has.

bj | 07. april 2019

@2015P90DI - “I've had 4 Model S cars and 6 Model 3's.”

You’re joking, right? Or do you go through cars like packs of chewing gum?

burdogg | 07. april 2019

The great thing about this...if someone was to buy a 3 and that is all they ever knew - they would be ecstatic with their purchase.

If someone bought a 3 and drove an S later - they very easily could still be ecstatic with their 3 and glad they didn't spend the price on an S.

Or, they could feel that yes, an S is slightly better and would upgrade.

But Tesla made an amazing car in the 3 for the price compared to the S - I don't know many that really are going to regret paying less and getting a 3. As I have said - I have been torn - but there are things that the S does offer that the 3 does not - and I agree with TeslaTap - you do have to be comparing a 2019 Model S with a 2019 Model 3 to be fair. My comparison is a 2015 70D S to a 2018 RWD long range 3. Tech on the S is definitely dated - which is what has worked on me to trade it in for a new 3...but there are just things that I love about the S that I can't get myself to give it up :)

Oh Tesla - why oh why do you make such amazing cars :)

ODWms | 07. april 2019

I ordered and installed this one, I believe from RPM Tesla, and it was about $29.

ODWms | 07. april 2019
nwfan | 08. april 2019

Like Burdogg I currently own a Model 3 and S. I drive both.
I think the best value for your dollar is the Model 3 LR (AWD or RWD depending on need).

If the Model 3 was available when I purchased my 1st Tesla I would of went with the 3.
I have S100D and the LR RWD Model 3. Both have AP and FSD.

My S is enjoyable on road trips (free supercharging) and 3 in city traffic.
Sound system goes to 3. Performance to S. Ride quality to S.
I have sunroof on my S which I love to open for the fresh air.
Also have air suspension on the S.

3 is easy to park and get around in the city. Range goes to my S.
A/C (needed in TX) goes to 3. Cost? S about twice as much as the 3.
I'm 6'4", comfort? I've made long trips in both. Have to give it to my S.
My S is quieter. I drive with 18 and 19" wheels on 3, 19" on my S.

Hate to say. But I would go with the 3 over the S.

burdogg | 08. april 2019

Well said nwfan.

I agree with pretty much everything you said. Your last statement for me, I would add to it...due to the cost difference :)

sbeggs | 08. april 2019

Oh @burdogg...slippery slope...!

Daryl | 08. april 2019

I own a 3 and had an S as a loaner for a couple of days. I definitely felt the S was too big. The 3 is perfect size for me. Easier to park and drive in the city.

bobpaule | 05. juni 2019

As a strictly one car per driver family this is why I extended the warranty for another 4 years on my 2015 D85S:

1. Fits family of five plus luggage well.
2. Laid a tarp with seats folded and carried 50 bags of mini lava rocks in one trip.
3. Confident highway mile eater.
4. Glues to road with soft (high treadwear $$$$ tires, who gives a xxxx, mine last two summer sesons, dedicated winters). Mandatory alignment yearly. I do drive this car, the joy of crossing the opposite white line before traffic even moves on green is too great to pass up.
5. Unlike VAG cars the steering and suspension remain tight and confident four years later.
6. Ease of use and painless service, petty issues always fixed rapidly.
7. Will never rust, unlike Model 3.
8. Survivability of high speed impact.

I agree that Model 3 is also a great choice, and wholeheartedly agree that MS is PIA to park and take over steep driveways or parking lot entrances, but this just adds to the fun. Fortunately I live away from the insanity and poor QOL of big cities.

lbowroom | 05. juni 2019

Bob, have you driven a 3?

Manny13z | 05. juni 2019

I just recently went from a MS to a M3. I really don't miss the S and it's due to the extra tech in the M3. My S didn't have things like Sentry mode which I enjoy using. I also love the interior design of the M3 much better. I had both cars for a couple of weeks and when I got into the MS it seemed dated by comparison. The ride on the S is smoother, but I prefer the sportier driving feel of the M3, even if you are giving up a little comfort. I do agree that the seats on the MS are more comfortable. I liked the door handles on the MS but I always felt they were a little complicated and I worried about them failing. I prefer the interior easy button push to open the doors in the M3. I do miss the hatchback power liftgate, the cargo space on the MS was phenomenal, although the M3 is no slouch in that department compared to other cars in its category. The last thing I probably miss from the MS is the sunroof, I always enjoyed opening that up. Overall I don't regret going to the M3, it's a fantastic car and in many ways better than the MS IMO, especially taking into account that I am saving about $450 a month on the payment.

ODWms | 06. juni 2019

The interior in the S always seemed a little “aftermarket” looking to me, especially in the lighter colors. I’d hope that’s changed in the newer iterations of the car. But I admit when I test drove an S last year before ordering my 3, I noted it was like that. Was so happy to see the 3 had a completely different looking interior. Either way, I’d have had a Tesla years ago if they had the option of a smaller sedan at the time. The S is huge to me, without the benefit of any real interior space benefit.

Madatgascar | 06. juni 2019

I have both, and I’m going with the 3 as my daily driver. I deal with tight city parking and traffic on a daily basis. The 3 is just incredibly nimble and visibility over the front end is great, so you feel very confident zig zagging around obstacles. The S is for longer trips with the family now.

I am 6’-4” and have plenty of room, except my right knee feels too close to the corner of the touch screen for comfort. Feels like it could be a problem in an accident.

Both cars are great overall. I am also puzzled by Tesla’s use of cheap materials (like the scratch prone piano black plastic) precisely in the most high touch areas of the car, with no available upgrade options. Hoping the S refresh fixes this.

jim0266 | 06. juni 2019

Given a white 2015 P85D with 25k miles for a day as a loaner for my LR RWD. Fun experience as I've never driven an S. With the sunroof the S felt more cramped than the 3.

Others mentioned lower regen on the S. I thought I felt this too and later thought they were about equal. Perhaps the 3 kicks in strong from higher speeds where the S feathers it out? In city driving they seemed comparable. Confirmed on I was on standard regen.

Did I miss how to open the center console? The padding slid back to reveal cupholders. Big plus to the 3 for useable storage.

I was given the car in ludicrous mode. From a start....OMG.... But on the highway my LR RWD holds it own when punching it.

Wind noise seemed about the same.

S motor noise very audible when punching it.

The S seemed to take much longer to boot up and be ready to drive.

My loaner had a few rattles, an annoying one coming from the Alcantara dash. Squeaky track wheel on the sunroof. Even the model S driver mirror can adjust far enough like in the 3.

The 3 feels like the future. The S now feels dated. But for a long trip the S would be a sweet ride.

Considering the S I drove cost more used than my 3, it underscores the great value of the 3.

While cruising home on AP I looked left as a younger guy in a Nissan Maxima with a few kids in the car was passing me. He caught my eye and gave me a thumbs up. ;)

jim0266 | 06. juni 2019

Edit: S driver mirror cannot adjust far enough out to the left. Same flaw as in the Model 3.

Ich123 | 23. juli 2019

As there is much discussion regarding which model fits tall people better. I am over 6,7 feet (2m) tall and have no whatsoever preference towards any model, so FACTS are:
- the smallest is the model X ! No way to fit in the front seat due to headroom
- model S with no sunroof, or with glass roof has enough space for tall people
- model S with panoramic roof is a no-go for tall people (due to the construction / rails bulit in the roof itself)
- model 3 is ok for tall people, but smaller than model S with glass roof

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