Consumer Reports Withdraws Tesla Model 3 Recommendation

CR cited paint and trim issues, touchscreens going on the fritz, and glass defects from its owner survey.


The Tesla Model 3 received the top rating on Consumer Reports’ list of 10 most satisfying cars based on owner satisfaction. However, CR has rescinded its own recommendation for the Model 3 citing reliability issues. CR cited paint and trim issues, touchscreens going on the fritz, and glass defects from its owner survey. That dipped the Model 3 from an “average” to “below average” reliability rating.

Reliability issues don’t surprise given the reported problems with Model 3 production. The rush to meet Model 3 production targets led to Tesla manufacturing vehicles in tents, redesigning the vehicle mid-production, and overworked humans and robots. While we can kid about Tesla owners exhibiting a high level of self-satisfaction, Tesla owners loving a brilliant piece of paradigm-changing engineering and the car having a myriad of issues are not mutually exclusive.

The natural question, when CR doesn’t recommend a car, is what one should buy instead. That’s tough to answer. We’re approaching the tipping point with EVs. Nearly every manufacturer has an exciting EV planned if not an entire lineup. But, we haven’t tipped yet. There isn’t an exact parallel for the Model 3 in the luxury market.

Jaguar’s I-Pace, though maybe more of a rival for the Model X, would be the natural place to start. It’s a little more conventional looking than Tesla’s cars. But, it offers style, performance (4.5 seconds 0-60) and a claimed range over 200 miles which can compete with the Model 3. It is a bit more expensive than the Model 3, however, with a starting MSRP of $69,500. It also takes a long time to charge.

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Audi’s e-tron crossover is not quite as quick or stylish as the I-Pace but offers a similar range at the same slightly elevated price point. There are also concerns about how efficient the Jaguar and Audi are compared to Teslas.

A similarly budget-friendly, but still luxury option could be the BMW i3s. It definitely looks more like an early generation EV, like BMW tried to improve the Leaf. It’s under 200 horsepower. The 0-60mph times won’t astound anyone. But it can get 150 miles or so with the range extender and hits the $40,000 to $60,000 range of the Model 3.

Tesla should get ample competition with Polestar, Porsche, Mercedes, and others launching EVs over the next couple years. But, right now, competitors have not matched the Model 3’s combination of style, performance, and range at its price point. That’s why EV buyers will continue to take the risk with Tesla’s build quality over making sacrifices.

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