The new Tesla Model 3 Highland is here at last. Rumored to be in the works for a loooooooong time, it was finally introduced today — sort of. Does it live up to expectations? It depends on what you expected from Tesla’s first thorough Model 3 refresh. Let’s stroll through what’s new to see if it’s better or worse than what you anticipated.
First of all, note that I’m getting all of this info from a new carwow video published just two hours ago. At the time that I am writing this, Tesla doesn’t have the refreshed Model 3 Highland featured on its website and there’s no announcement on its blog. (In fact, there hasn’t been a new Tesla blog since May.)
Exterior Design: Naturally, the Model 3 Highland has a new look on the outside. It’s got sharper lines on the frontend/nose, which helps with aerodynamics and wind noise (wind noise has been the #1 complaint about the Model 3 for many owners and non-owners, but I’ll come back to that). The headlight design has also changed a bit, there are no longer fog lights down on their own in the front, and there are new hubcaps (naturally). There’s a new red and a new “stealth grey” in the color options, but they seem to be quite similar to the previous red and grey — especially the grey.
New Seats: Tesla is finally providing perforated/ventilated seats in the Model 3! Woohoo! That’s in the front and the rear. In the rear, Tesla has also shifted the seats into a little more of a reclining position.
Less Noise: From better materials to more materials, Tesla has worked hard to lessen wind noise in the new, refreshed Tesla Model 3. Whether the company has had internal survey data, anecdotal experience, or some other information telling it that wind noise is one of the largest drawbacks of a Model 3, it seems that Tesla figured it out and improved on this weakness. Of course, without experiencing the new Tesla Model 3 Highland ourselves, we can’t listen to try to hear and judge the change compared to previous years. But the carwow host talks at length about these improvements.
Dash & Steering Wheel: There’s also a new dashboard design in the Model 3 Highland. And there’s ambient LED lighting up high next to the windshield as well as underneath the windows. The long horizontal element of the dash can come in different colors or materials. And then there’s the steering wheel. The new steering wheel looks a bit different, and it doesn’t come with any typical stalks for windshield wipers, signaling a left or right turn, etc. Those are now buttons on the steering wheel. … A lot of people won’t be happy with that change.
Air Conditioner: At long last, Tesla has fully split up the air conditioning vents in the front. If the front passenger doesn’t want the AC vent blowing on them, they can simply turn it off, even while the driver can keep the AC on (or vice versa)! I know — this is normal in every other car, but it wasn’t the case in the Tesla Model 3 (and Model Y).
Touchscreen & Sound System: Both the touchscreen and sound system have been upgraded. The former is now more responsive and brighter, while the latter includes 17 speakers instead of 13 now. Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity have also been improved.
Rear-Seat Screen: There’s now a screen for certain controls and features in the backseat. It appears to be an easy way for backseat passengers to change the airflow, music, etc. You can even choose from the infotainment entertainment back there — Netflix, YouTube, Twitch, or Disney+.
Center Console: The front center console has been redesigned slightly, and that includes adding some aluminum to the trim to make it a bit classier.
New Suspension: The suspension has been changed in several ways. Reportedly, the focus was on reducing noise, but it is better in general and one would think these changes will help with longevity of the parts as well.
Overall Change: For those who this this is mostly superficial changes, think again. Tesla reportedly changed ~50% of the Model 3’s parts for this new Model 3 Highlander. The car is up to 8% more efficient thanks to now having the best aerodynamics among the hyper-efficient Tesla fleet (Cd of 0.219, compared to its previous 0.225 Cd).
The improved range on a full charge comes out to 554 km (346 miles) or 678 km (423 miles), depending on whether you get the standard single-motor option or the long-range dual-motor option.
The new Tesla Model 3 Highland goes on sale in the US in about a month.
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