2024 Tesla Model 3 (Highland): First Look Review

  • Facelifted Tesla Model 3 finally launched in the U.S.
  • Delivers a slightly higher EPA-est. range of up to 341 miles
  • Significantly slower than the old model with a top speed of 125 mph
  • Priced from USD 38,990 (excl. USD 1,390 destination fee and USD 250 order fee)

Six years after its launch in July 2017, the Tesla Model 3 received a facelift for the 2024 model year. The 2024 Tesla Model 3 has a refreshed design, new features, increased range, and several other changes that make it more attractive than the previous model, which was considered the best electric mid-size car globally.

Earlier this week, I saw a 2024 Tesla Model 3 on display, painted in the new ‘Ultra Red’ color that costs an additional USD 2,000. I took a good look at its exterior and sat in it to learn all about its improvements. Here are my first impressions of the Model 3 Highland:

Design

Front

The 2024 Tesla Model 3 has new, horizontal headlamps that are slim, shaped like those of the Model S. Looking closely at the facelifted car in person, I noticed that the new headlamp graphics have some next-gen Roadster cues. Moreover, I saw that unlike in the Euro-spec 2024 Model 3, the revised headlamps consist of orange reflectors inside the headlight assembly, which is required by local law.

A new, horizontal line at the top of the front-end and a more upswept horizontal line at the middle level, right above the air intake, provide the car with a more aerodynamic appearance. Tesla has skipped fog lights on the new car, ensuring a cleaner look. The new front bumper is simpler and more conventional.

2024 Tesla Model 3 front three quarter live image

In the Euro-spec 2024 Model 3, Tesla has used an active hood on the new Model 3 for enhanced pedestrian safety. In the event of an impact with a pedestrian from the front, if the speed of the car is about 30-52 km/h (19-32 mph), the rear portion of its hood is automatically raised by approximately 80 mm (3.1 inches). The increased space between the hood and the components under it lowers the chance of injury. Unfortunately, I’ve learned that this pedestrian safety feature is absent in the U.S.-spec 2024 Model 3.

Soon, Tesla is likely to introduce another new safety feature on the facelifted Model 3 in Europe – adaptive headlights. According to a report from autoevolution, the company recently received certification for the new feature in Europe and will enable it in the cars it has already delivered with an OTA software update. Automakers often come up with different terms for their version of headlamp technologies, and in this case, Tesla calls it ‘Adaptive Main Beam.’

I think Tesla may offer the Active Hood and Adaptive Main Beam features in the U.S.-spec 2024 Model 3 sometime in the future. I believe Adaptive Main Beam has a chance of making it much sooner than Active Hood.

Side profile

2024 Tesla Model 3 side profile live image

On the sides, Tesla has introduced new 18-inch ‘Photon’ wheels and 19-inch ‘Nova’ wheels. I like the 19-inch wheel more because of its sportier five-double-spoke design. However, I’d still pick the 18-inch wheels, as their more aerodynamic design leads to a significantly higher range.

The Model 3 Highland features elongated cutouts for the side Autopilot cameras extending back to the front doors. The housing of these cameras doesn’t look any different, though. Tesla offers new alloy wheels and tires for improved range and reduced driving noise on the new Model 3.

Rear

2024 Tesla Model 3 rear three quarter right side live image

At the rear, I like the 2024 Model 3’s revised, C-shaped lights that emphasize its sleek exterior. I think the block-lettered brand inscription instead of the “T” logo seen on the outgoing model exudes more class and elegance. A new bumper with relocated light reflectors, present on the black portion in the lower end instead of the body-colored area like on the outgoing model, helps the new car look cleaner.

Cameras & Sensors

In a series of X posts on June 23, 2023, Teslascope said that the new Model 3 will have Hardware 4 and a new Autopilot computer. Tesla will equip the car with upgraded cameras and even a new bumper camera, Teslascope added.

It was also reported that Tesla will remove the Model 3’s temperature sensor with the latest update. The updated car will display the exterior temperature based on the GPS location using weather data, reports said, indicating it won’t be possible to get a temperature reading of the exact location, say the garage where the car is parked. The company was reportedly going to improve the Model 3’s GPS module, which made us expect more accuracy.

Tesla hasn’t confirmed any of the camera or sensor changes that were being speculated.

Colors

The facelifted Model 3 is available in five colors, including two new paint options:

  1. Pearl White Multi-Coat
  2. Deep Blue Metallic
  3. Solid Black
  4. Ultra Red (new)
  5. Stealth Grey (new)

In the U.S., Tesla just started offering a wrap for the Model 3 for a price of USD 7,500 or USD 8,000, depending on the color. I think the company will offer color films for the new Model 3 as well. There are seven options for the outgoing model, and we think many of them will be available for the new car as well:

  1. Glacier Blue
  2. Forest Green
  3. Satin Rose Gold
  4. Slip Grey
  5. Satin Ceramic White
  6. Satin Stealth Black
  7. Crimson Red

Why did the Model 3 need a refresh?

Tesla’s designs are beginning to age, and concurrently, Hyundai, Volkswagen, Polestar, and Chinese competitors are unveiling EVs with refreshing designs, some of which break ground in their segments. Just look at Hyundai’s Ioniq 6, Volkswagen’s ID.7, Polestar’s 4, Nio’s ET5, or BYD’s Seal, all of which have unique proportions and feel. This is also only the beginning of the onslaught as Mercedes, Audi, Lexus, Infiniti, and other brands will soon enter the segment and add more flavors. For Tesla, facelifts and periodic updates would be a proactive measure in the face of rising competition from all parts of the world.

Interior

Dashboard

Inside, the 2024 Tesla Model 3 has subtle visual revisions. When I sat in it, I saw that its dashboard is a new, sleeker panel, and its upper part blends more consistently with the doors, wrapping around the occupants like a cocoon. These areas of the new car’s dashboard and doors that are in a continuum are accented by an ambient lighting system, a feature that wasn’t present in the old car. Unlike the old Model 3, the Model 3 Highland doesn’t have wood trim, and I think it’s better off without that aesthetically.

Touchscreen

2024 Tesla Model 3 infotainment system

Instead of the old 15-inch central touchscreen, the 2024 Model 3 features a 15.4-inch display. However, both look identical, so maybe it’s just Tesla stating a more precise measurement instead of a rounded-up number, not a change in the panel size.

Sound system & rear touchscreen

2024 Tesla Model 3 rear display live image

As an audiophile, I find the new, 17-speaker sound system with two subwoofers and two amplifiers to be my favorite upgrade in the 2024 Model 3. It replaces the old model’s 14-speaker sound system with one subwoofer and two amplifiers. Another noteworthy tech upgrade is an 8-inch touchscreen on the back of the center console for the rear passengers, who can use it for entertainment and climate functions.

Seats & glazing

Tesla has used softer, more refined materials with increased precision in the 2024 Model 3. The updated model has new, ventilated front seats, which can be pre-cooled via smartphone. The company has installed improved microphones in the car for enhanced phone calls. It says the new model has a quieter interior, thanks to 360º acoustic glazing.

Lars Moravy, VP of Vehicle Engineering, has said in an official video (uploaded on Weibo, now on X), that the dual-pane glass that is installed on the front windshield and driver-side window, is now extended to the rear windows and windshield to create a cabin isolation feeling. Additionally, there are rumors now of a ‘Sport’ trim in the Model 3 Highland for the U.S. with bolstered seats that could succeed the Performance trim.

Steering wheel

Tesla has changed the steering wheel of the Model 3 with the mid-cycle refresh. I find the rim of the steering wheel similar to the Tesla Semi‘s steering wheel, but the center pad, spokes, buttons, and scrollers are similar to the Tesla Cybertruck‘s squircle-shaped steering. Unlike the old Model 3, the new one doesn’t have steering stalks. Turn signals can be activated using touch-control buttons in the left spoke of the new steering wheel.

2024 Tesla Model 3 dashboard driver side

Specifications

The facelifted Tesla Model 3 measures 185.8 in. in length, 72.8 in. in width, and 56.7 in. in height. Thus, it is 1.0 in. longer and 0.1 in. lower than the outgoing model but just as wide. It has 5.4 in. of ground clearance, 0.1 in. less than the old model. It offers 24.1 cu. ft. of cargo space, which marks an improvement of 1.2 cu. ft.

The 2024 Tesla Model 3 has been launched in Standard Range RWD and Long Range AWD variants. As I stated earlier, I expect a Performance AWD variant to follow later. Recently, evidence has surfaced online (via X) to suggest that a Ludicruous AWD variant could be in the pipeline, possibly as a replacement for or an upgrade over the Performance AWD variant. This variant will likely be differentiated by sports suspension, upgraded brakes, 19-inch ‘Helix’ alloy wheels, and a Plaid graphics badge-like emblem on the trunk lid. Like the Long Range AWD variant, I think it will have a dual-motor powertrain.

2024 Tesla Model 3 trunk live image

Standard Range RWD

The 2024 Model 3 Standard Range RWD can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds, which is no different from the old model. However, its top speed is 125 mph, not 140 mph like that of the latter.

The new car supports charging at up to 170 kW, which is no different from the old model. The EPA-est. range is the same – 272 miles, but only if configured with the 18-inch wheels. If specified with the 19-inch wheels, the range (not EPA-est.) falls to 248 miles, which is 19 miles less than the old model.

Long Range AWD

2024 Tesla Model 3 rear live image

The 2024 Model 3 Long Range AWD also has the same 0-60 mph acceleration time as the old model – 4.2 seconds. However, this variant’s top speed is also 125 mph, which is an even bigger downgrade from the old model, which can do 145 mph.

The peak charging input of the new Model 3 Long Range AWD is the same as the old model – 250 kW. However, it delivers an EPA-est. range of 341 miles, 8 miles more than the old model. Upgrading to the 19-inch wheels, as seen in the Standard Range RWD variant’s case, results in an even lower range (not EPA-est.) than the old model – 305 miles. To be specific, that’s a 10-mile drop from the latter.

Aspect\Specification2024 Tesla Model 3 Standard Range RWD2024 Tesla Model 3 Long Range AWD
Length185.8 in.185.8 in.
Width (excl. ORVMs)72.8 in.72.8 in.
Height56.7 in.56.7 in.
Ground Clearance5.4 in.5.4 in.
Curb Weight3,891 lbs.4,030 lbs.
Cargo Space24 cu. ft.24 cu. ft.
Drivetrain LayoutRWDAWD
No. of MotorsOneTwo
0-60 mph Acceleration Time5.8 seconds4.2 seconds
Top Speed125 mph125 mph
Max. Charging Power170 kW250 kW
EPA-est. Range With 18-inch wheels)272 miles341 miles
Tesla-est. Range With 19-inch wheels)248 miles305 miles
2024 Tesla Model 3 specifications for the U.S. (Source: Tesla)

New shock absorbers

Moravy, in the video cited earlier in this article, also confirms the inclusion of “Frequency Selective Damping,” as part of the new shock absorbing technology, which the engineer claims improves the ride while maintaining the handling of the new Model 3.

First impressions

Gauging from the first reviews, the new Tesla Model 3 offers a better ride than the outgoing car. It feels quieter and more relaxing, too, which is because of improved sound-deadening measures. Tesla revised the Model 3’s hood with the facelift, and that change has led to reduced wind noise. There is some tire noise on rough roads, but it feels less than before.

The Model 3 Highland has a firm chassis like the outgoing model, which means it feels fun to drive, but it tackles bumps and irregular road surfaces slightly better. Performance-wise, the reviewers feel that it’s the same, although the reduced top speed might feel like a bummer to some customers, especially those in Germany.

2024 Tesla Model 3 rear three quarter live image

The absence of steering stalks makes signaling turns a bit tricky at first, but the touch-control indicator buttons function better than in most cars, offering good haptic feedback (on that particular button) and not engaging by accident. It’ll take some time to get used to, and while we’d still prefer steering stalks, driving without them won’t be as difficult as most people imagine.

In a nutshell, our take is that the new Model 3 is just as dynamic as the car it replaces but more comfortable, which makes it feel more luxurious and closer to the BMW i4, which is still the benchmark for refinement in the mid-size segment.

Price

The 2024 Tesla Model 3 retails at USD 38,990 in the Standard Range RWD variant and USD 45,990 in the Long Range AWD variant. Both prices exclude a USD 1,390 destination fee and a USD 250 order fee. Customer deliveries of the facelifted model will begin by the end of January 2024.

On May 16, 2023, during Tesla’s annual shareholder meeting, Elon Musk, the company’s co-founder and CEO, said the Model 3’s total ownership cost – USD 0.49/mi – is now comparable to that of a Toyota Corolla (USD 0.46/mi).

Federal Tax Credit

Customers purchasing the facelifted Model 3 can’t benefit from the Federal Tax Credit of up to USD 7,500 available on plug-in vehicles under America’s Clean Vehicle Program. The new car is eligible for maximum savings on lease, though.

The maximum USD 7,500 federal tax credit under America’s Clean Vehicle Program is the sum of two equal amounts: the critical mineral amount and the battery component amount. Maybe Tesla doesn’t meet either of these two requirements, and I think it could be the former.

The critical mineral amount requirement states that at least 50% of the value of the battery’s applicable critical minerals must have been extracted or processed in the U.S. or in a country with which the U.S. has an FTA or recycled in North America. The battery component amount requirement states no less than 60% of the value of the battery’s components must have been manufactured or assembled in North America.

TopElectricSUV says

The Tesla Model 3 is already the best-selling electric car in its segment, and with updates, it has become more appealing. Set to rival the Hyundai Ioniq 6 and VW ID.7 as well as the upcoming Mercedes CLA Electric and the U.S.-made 2025 Nissan EV, the new Tesla Model 3 looks like a truly unique proposition in its segment. Featuring a sharper design, new electronics, improved quality, and an enhanced powertrain, the refreshed Model 3 is a slightly more upmarket product and even more efficient.

2024 Tesla Model 3 FAQs

What is the 2024 Tesla Model 3 release date?

Customer deliveries of the 2024 Tesla Model 3 will commence in January 2024.

What is the 2024 Tesla Model 3 price?

The 2024 Tesla Model 3’s prices start at USD 38,990 (excl. USD 1,390 destination fee and USD 250 order fee).

Which cars are the 2024 Tesla Model 3 rivals?

The new Model 3 rivals the Polestar 2 & Hyundai Ioniq 6.