Categories Electric Vehicles

Best Tesla Model to Buy in 2021: Price & Specs Comparison

Tesla has been perfecting their craft over the past decade, and they never cease to impress with their new models. If you’re in the market for buying a Tesla in 2021, you may be overwhelmed by the choices available. This year, Tesla released updated cars in all four models, with upgrades and innovative changes.

This guide reviews all four Tesla models available for purchase, to help you decide which is most suitable for you. Although you can find each car’s specs on Tesla’s website, keep in mind that you need real reviews from car owners and experts in the field to get the full picture.

Which Tesla models are available in 2021?

There are currently four vehicles sold by Tesla, according to their official website. Each model has been upgraded this year, with changes varying between each model:

  • Model 3: The cheapest Tesla ever made. It is also the smallest. The Model 3 comes in three variants: Standard Plus, Long Range, and Performance. The starting price is $36,990 for the Standard Plus model.
  • Model Y: The newest addition to Tesla’s lineup seats 5 or 7 passengers. The Model Y is available in one of two options: Long Range and Performance, with a current starting price of $48,990.
  • Model S: A new take on the flagship vehicle that put Tesla Inc. on the map. The Model S comes in 3 versions: Long Range, Plaid, and Plaid+. The starting price as of this writing is $78,490. Note that the Plaid+ is not expected for delivery until the end of the year, but you can order one now anyway.
  • Model X: Tesla’s SUV with a design based on the Model S, with ample cargo space and more towing capacity. The Model X is available in two configurations: Long Range and Plaid. The starting price is currently set at $88,490.

Reasons To Buy A Tesla in 2021

Before comparing the Tesla models available this year, let’s consider whether Tesla vehicles are worth the hefty price tag associated with them in the first place.

Electric vehicles are the future

The first few advantages of Tesla vehicles are the same for all EVs. Even when compared to hybrid vehicles, electric cars have a drastically lower environmental impact. Owning an all-electric vehicle has several financial advantages, such as tax rebates, lower running costs (almost no maintenance). The technology is continuously updated, and these cars are undoubtedly built for the future.

Innovation and power

But why Tesla and not another all-electric vehicle? The answer is simple: Tesla is continuously innovative with its technology, and their electric vehicles perform close to (if not better than) conventional gas-powered cars. Driving a Tesla also feels “luxurious” in comparison with other EVs on the market. The instant, powerful acceleration and high torque of the silent single-gear motors that Tesla manufactures is the best driving experience anyone can hope for. But, many Tesla owners will tell you, owning it is a lifestyle and not an experience. Most features and specifications of a Tesla are easily customizable, which is a selling point for many.

Safety

All Tesla’s vehicles are built for safety, with high ratings from the NHTSA and other crash testing certifications. In fact, Model 3 and Y are rated so high that they are considered the safest vehicles that the NHTSA has ever tested. Furthermore, at no extra cost, Tesla adds safety features as part of their autopilot and driver assistance features. These include changing lanes for you, emergency braking (pedestrian crossing), semi-autonomous driving, and adaptive cruise control. Additionally, the cars all have sentry mode, allowing their cameras to record the surroundings when parked. This is extremely useful in cases of theft, vandalism, or accidents.

Issues Tesla Owners Might Face

There are a few reported issues by Tesla owners. For example, many new owners complained that vehicles are delivered to them with factory production issues. However, in every case we heard of this happening, Tesla fixes these issues as they are covered under warranty. Additionally, new Tesla owners may take some time to get used to driving the car. Especially non-tech-savvy drivers. In our opinion, these are minor issues as it doesn’t take long to get used to Tesla’s driving experience. Once you get used to one-pedal driving, you might not even like driving a regular car anymore. Another common reason people hesitate to get a Tesla is the cost. Even if you pay for the car up front, there are often monthly subscriptions or upgrades that you must pay for – most notably, connectivity. Nonetheless, the cost of these subscriptions is likely to still come out cheaper than the price of gas and the maintenance of a traditional petrol-powered car.

Comparing the different Tesla models of 2021

The following reviews should help you choose the most suitable Tesla vehicle to suit your needs in 2021.

Model 3

Tesla Model 3 2021

The Model 3 makes Tesla affordable for a larger portion of the population, making it possible for many middle-class drivers to own a fully electric vehicle. It is compact but offers more advanced technology and a higher driving range when compared to rivals from other manufacturers. The Model 3 Standard Plus has a relatively lower range and fewer features than all four Tesla models. However, that doesn’t mean it’s a bad car to own, as this is in comparison to the already powerful range Tesla has.

Some features come as a standard for all Model 3 options. For example, the interior is black with a wooden dashboard. However, you can opt for white in some parts of the interior and a silver dashboard for additional payment. The exterior doesn’t change between different versions of the Model 3 except the Performance model, which adds a spoiler and replaces the standard 18” wheels with 20” Uberturbine wheels.

The Standard Plus version only gets free premium connectivity for a month, whereas the other versions get a free year before a subscription is required. The connectivity features are needed for powering the navigation system, internet, and other parts of the infotainment system.

This Model 3 comes with decent range estimates (263 miles for the Standard Plus. The Long Range and Performance versions can run for 315 and 353 miles, respectively). Additionally, Tesla’s superchargers are available in most places in the US, making it easy to charge your vehicle wherever you are in the country. Still, if you want to skip paying the premium price of using superchargers, the Model 3 is the only Tesla vehicle that allows the use of public charging stations. This makes the car even more practical and affordable, as public charging stations are usually free.

The Model 3 Performance, optimized for speed and increased acceleration, is the best option if you’re looking for speed. It jumps from 0 to 60 mph in a mere 3.1 seconds (compared to 5.3 / 4.2 seconds of the Standard/Long Range Model 3). The top speeds that the Model 3 reaches are also impressive, with the Performance model going up to 162 mph and the Standard Range Plus running up to 140 mph. It may not be as impressive as other Teslas. Still, the Model 3 delivers a high speed for a lower price and a better driving experience when compared to other electric vehicles. However, you may feel that it is not as luxurious as other cars at the same price point – the Model 3 is cheap for a Tesla but still significantly more expensive than most other EVs available this year. Therefore, you should consider the Model 3 if you’re looking for the Tesla experience on a budget.

Model S

Tesla Model S 2021

The original Model S was the car that put Tesla on the map. This year’s Model S is no less innovative. If you’re looking for the full Tesla experience, this should be your go-to vehicle. The Model S Plaid+ can run for a record-breaking 520 miles (driving range) on a single battery charge, thanks to the innovative tri-motor. All Model S this year are all-wheel-drive vehicles. The Long Range version comes with a dual motor instead of the tri-motor installed in the Plaid and Plaid+ versions of the Model S. All models also come with the same 19” inch wheels but can be upgraded for an additional price.

Paint options are similar to the Model 3, albeit they are more expensive. The interior is black (matte) with different trim finishings for the Long Range (wood) and the Plaid versions (carbon fiber). You can pay for a white or cream interior as well. The Model S features an astounding 22-speaker sound system. It includes a second screen for rear passengers (aside from the main infotainment screen) and a small instrument cluster screen in front of the driver (behind the wheel). Everything in the vehicle is controlled via the infotainment dashboard. Although Tesla shows the yoke-style steering wheel in its advertisements for the Model S, we have not seen it in cars on the road so far. The Model S has a liftback trunk, offering massive cargo capacity.

The luxury sedan can also drive at decent speeds, with the Plaid versions both reaching 200 mph. The Long Range Model S also delivers in this aspect, with a top speed of 155 mph. The instant acceleration can reach 0-60 mph in an impressive 3 seconds, and Tesla claims that the Plaid versions will be able to do the same in under 2 seconds. The Model S is the perfect choice if you’re looking for luxury, cargo space, range, and speed all in one vehicle. It’s a well-rounded luxury electric vehicle with a wide range of features and advanced technology.

Model Y

Tesla Model Y 2021

For SUV fans looking for a more environmentally friendly option and advanced technology, one of your best options this year is the Tesla Model Y. Considered an “SUV crossover”, the Model Y is relatively affordable, with the Model 3 being the only cheaper model. It’s worth noting that the Model Y was largely based on the Model 3’s design but with a more spacious interior. The paint options are the same as the Model 3. The car comes with five seats as a standard, but two additional seats can be added at the back. In addition, the Model Y has a vast cargo space – 68 cubic feet in total.

The interior is spacious and looks luxurious with the standard black color and wooden trim. Optionally, like the Model 3, you can pay to have a black and white interior instead. The Long Range model has a top speed of 135 mph, with the Performance model being 20 mph higher at 155mph. Both versions have a decent driving range, 326 miles (Long Range) and 303 miles (Performance). Both also provide great acceleration, going from 0 to 60 at 4.8 seconds and 3.5 seconds, respectively.

Bottom line is the Model Y is a great option for families that want to reduce their carbon footprint without compromising on their driving experience and cargo space. This is a crossover all-electric SUV with advanced technology and a sleek, button-free interior that also drives well.

Model X

Tesla Model X 2021

This is a taller, more spacious version of the Model S. The Model X is a luxury all-electric crossover vehicle with great options and advanced technology. As with the Model Y, it comes with five seats as a standard, but it can be configured (for a price) to be a 6 or 7 seat vehicle as well.

The Model X interior is very generous and offers a lot of cargo space. Additionally, the falcon-wing doors help with loading and unloading large cargo such as strollers or bikes. Like other models, the interior comes in a standard black with ash wood highlights, with the optional black and white customization.

The standard Model X comes with 20” wheels, but you can also upgrade to 22” wheels if you prefer. It runs on an all-wheel-drive engine, with a driving range higher than you’d think (given the size of the car). The Long Range Model X can reach a top speed of 155 mph, and its dual motor can go from 0-60mph in 3.8 seconds. It has an estimated driving range of 360 miles per charge. If you need more speed, the Plaid version can reach up to 163 mph, accelerating 0 to 60 mph in 2.5 seconds. Its trimotor AWD motor can take you 340 miles on a single charge, which is higher than many rival models from other manufacturers.

The Model X is an expensive car, but it is not just a luxury vehicle. Instead, it comes with many functional, futuristic tech features that make it a great option for many years to come.

Which model should I get?

The short answer is: it depends. Generally speaking, the Model 3 and Model Y are cheaper options, while the Model S and Y can be considered their more expensive counterparts. All four vehicles have different drivetrains and powertrains, varying driving ranges, top speeds, and accelerations. The following table is a direct comparison of their most important features and specifications:

Model 3
Model Y
Model S
Model X
Starting Price*
$36,990
$48,990
$78,490
$88,490
Engine Type
RWD/

2AWD

2AWD
2AWD/
3AWD
2AWD/
3AWD
Driving Range (miles)
263 / 353 /
315
326 / 303
412 /390 /
520
360/340
Top Speed (mph)
140 / 145 / 162
135 / 155
155 / 200/
200
155/163
0-60mph (sec) 
5.3 / 4.2 /
3.1
4.8 / 3.5
3.1 /1.99 /
<1.99
3.8/2.5
Cargo cu.ft.
15
68
28
91
Number of seats
5
5 / 7
5
5/6/7
Wheels
20 inch
19”
19 inch
20 inch

*Prices are correct as of writing, according to the official Tesla website.

Performance-wise, they are all exceptional. Regardless of which model, they all have access to Tesla’s massive Supercharger network (over 2000 stations worldwide). These stations can charge the cars significantly faster than public charging stations (or home charging), with plans on reducing charging time to under 15 minutes.

Conclusion

With the changes that Tesla has implemented in its 2021 lineups, all four options are great choices, especially compared to other EVs currently on the market. Their performance exceeds even many conventional gas-powered vehicles. However, choosing between the four Tesla models (3, Y, S, and X)  depends on several factors, including your budget, personal preferences, needs, and lifestyle.

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