I was seriously considering buying a Tesla Model 3, but I ultimately decided against it — here's why

  • I recently bought a new car, but it wasn’t aTesla Model 3.
  • TheTesla Model 3 has wildly impressed me in the multiple times I’ve driven andtested it. But while I seriously considered buying one, I ultimately chose something closer to my old Toyota Prius.
  • I haven’t ruled out future Tesla ownership, of course. There’s a pretty good chance I’ll own one on the next decade.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

For various reasons, I had to buy a car recently. The details aren’t terribly important, but I ended up with a certified pre-owned Toyota RAV4 hybrid.

Of course, the vehicle that’s most influenced my thinking about cars in the past year or so has easily been the Tesla Model 3. I seriously considered ordering one, and for the record, I fully expect to own some sort of Tesla vehicle in the next 10 years.

I didn’t go for it this time around, however. And I had my reasons!

Here they are:

1. The Model 3 is a bit too new in the market. I’m no early adopter. I prefer to wait until something new has taken a few spins around the block. The Model 3 is sufficiently different from the Model S and Model X that I’d rather wait a few years while the kinks are ironed out.

2. I don’t have a charger at my house (yet). We don’t test enough electric and plug-in vehicles at Business Insider to justify a Level 2 home charger, so I usually just charge off a wall outlet and run the cable into my front yard.

Tesla can set you up with home charging, but it is an additional initial expense. And were I to go for it, I’d be limited to charging only my Tesla, as the company’s chargers aren’t compatible with other EVs.

3. The Model 3 is still more expensive than what I like in a car.

I’ve sampled several different versions of the Model 3, and while the current Standard Range Plus, rear-wheel-drive (single motor) trim level is priced under $40,000, I prefer to spend around $25,000 (or less) for my family’s basic transportation needs.

Some of this is because of my job. I test at least one new car each week, so we don’t require anything too fancy for getting around. Our “second car” can be fairly basic. We chose the RAV4 because I already had a relationship with a local dealer and because we figured a hybrid crossover with all-wheel-drive would would be a little bit better for us than the Prius we had been driving.

4. The Model 3 fits my lifestyle perfectly — but I still need an everyday gas-powered car.

I essentially use my car for local errands and ferrying my kids around, with an occasional longer trip thrown in.

On paper, I’m an ideal candidate for an EV. And in my estimation, if you’re going to buy an EV, you might as well make it a Tesla. (You can always get something else if you’re unhappy after a few years.)

A Model 3 would also be extremely cheap for me to operate, if somewhat more expensive to buy or lease. I’d end up recharging the cheapest Model 3, with its 240 miles of range, perhaps two or three times per month with my typical use pattern.

Still, having the ease of a gas-powered car remains something I need. It boils down to the longer trips and the need to avoid any sort of range anxiety, largely because we drive our car so infrequently that we gas up only about once a month. We forget about how much fuel is in the tank, and in that context, being able to fully refuel in five minutes makes a difference.

5. The sound system is magnificent.

The Model 3 is a darn good car, and even though I should buy one but haven’t, I must note that the Tesla-designed sound systems is incredible — among the best I’ve ever experienced. Just throwing that in because I’m somebody who likes a great audio setup in his ride.

6. I like hatchbacks. The Model 3 has a groovy fastback roofline, but it terminates in a trunk, not a hatch (there’s also a front trunk, or “frunk.”)

Cargo capacity is good, and the frunk helps. But for me, a proper hatchback better suits my needs.

7. The Model 3’s dashboard and touchscreen are cool — but I prefer knobs and buttons.

Testing the Model 3 in several configurations made me a believer in the ultra-minimalist dashboard, with the central touchscreen controlling almost all vehicle functions and providing crucial driving information, such as speed.

But in practice, I still prefer knobs and buttons. Being able to change the temperature, for example, is just easier with a knob. And truth be told, even though the Model 3’s voice-command system is superb, having to interact with a tablet all the time isn’t for me ideally. It’s often distracting.

8. The Model 3 wouldn’t be my first choice for a road-trip-mobile.

I usually arrange for test vehicles when I take road trips, but at least half a dozen times each year, we need to use our personal vehicle to cover a few hundred miles. The Model 3 can be had in a trim level that delivers 310 miles of range on a full charge, but that’s not quite enough to guarantee that you won’t have to hit a Supercharger at some point in a journey.

Supercharging is great, and Tesla has a passel of destination-charging partners that offer slower, Level 2 charging. So the abundance of re-juicing options isn’t the issue.

Rather, it’s the time required to recharge. While not at all slow when Supercharging, it’s much more time-consuming than simply stopping for gas. This is OK if you’re flying solo, but when I’ve taken Teslas on roads trips, the recharging stops have been met with protest from my family.

My kids made me promise to never line up a Tesla for a road trip ever again, in fact, after a jaunt to Maryland from New Jersey.

Faster charging times should eventually solve this problem, but for now, I need a car that fits into the old gas-and-go tradition.

Get the latest Tesla stock price here.

This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author(s).

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