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Should I Buy a Tesla? The Ultimate Guide to Tesla Vehicles

by Nick Versaw Updated March 4th, 2022

Should I buy a Tesla: Tesla Model 3 red

Of all the automakers, Tesla is the most strongly associated with the electric car — they’re the company that made this technology mainstream. So, anyone considering an electric car is likely asking themselves, “Should I buy a Tesla?”

Below, we’ll cover everything you need to know before buying a Tesla, from its upfront pricing to its industry-leading driving ranges. We’ll also help you figure out if you actually need that much range and if charging will fit comfortably into your routine.

What to Consider When You’re Asking Yourself, “Should I Buy a Tesla?”

When the thought of buying a Tesla crosses your mind, there are a few things to take under consideration, including price, range, charging times, charging station accessibility, and more. Let’s look at everything you need to consider before you decide on your answer to: “Should I buy a Tesla?”


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How Much Will it Cost?

Tesla models are not cheap — their MSRPs rival most luxury cars and even some supercars. While you’ll save on fuel costs throughout the year, you need to consider the upfront cost of a Tesla. 

Tesla Model 3

The least expensive Tesla car you can buy is the standard range Model 3, which starts at $44,990. If you need all-wheel drive (AWD), the Model 3 Long Range includes Tesla’s dual electric motor and starts at $50,990. The range-topping Model 3 Performance starts from $58,990.

Tesla Model Y

The Model Y is the next most affordable Tesla car. Its base model, the Long Range trim, comes standard with AWD and starts at $58,990. Choosing the Performance trim bumps the base price to $63,990. 

Tesla Model S

The Tesla Model S starts at $94,900 and includes AWD standard. The Plaid trim adds tri-motor AWD and pushes the base price to a hefty $129,990.

Tesla Model X

Finally, the Model X with standard AWD starts at $104,990 and jumps to $126,490 for the Plaid model with tri-motor AWD.

Federal Tax Credit

You may be wondering about the federal tax credit incentive often offered on electric cars. Unfortunately, Tesla vehicles no longer qualify for the up to $7,500 tax incentive because their sales have surpassed the government’s phase-out threshold. 

Optional AutoPilot

All four Tesla vehicles also have optional Autopilot Full Self-Driving (FSD) Capability. This feature handles all the basic driving functions on select highways and adds $12,000 onto the cost of each Tesla model.

How Much Driving Range Do I Need?

When you’re considering an electric car, driving range is generally one of the first things to think about. You’ll need to figure out if this car has enough charge to get you through your daily commute with enough juice leftover to handle your errands when you get home.

Fortunately, every new Tesla car and SUV on the market has plenty of range to meet most drivers’ daily needs. The ranges are: 

  • Tesla Model 3: 315 to 358 miles
  • Tesla Model Y: 303 to 330 miles
  • Tesla Model S: 348 to 405 miles
  • Tesla Model X: 311 to 348 miles

The average American commutes 16 miles to work, meaning the round trip is 32 miles. At this rate, you could drive to work and back all week and still have at least 143 miles of range left over. To drain even the lowest-range Tesla — the Model Y — during a workweek, you’d need a 30-mile one-way commute. 

And even if you do have this long of a commute, you can simply plug the Tesla in overnight at home and have a full battery the next day. 

The only time driving range may become an issue in a Tesla electric vehicle (EV) is if you frequently take long road trips that exceed the car’s driving range. Even then, Tesla has a solution for that, which we’ll cover next. 

You should also question if the huge range is worth the extra cost. For example, you can pick up a new Nissan LEAF for as low as $27,400 and get a 150-mile all-electric range. That’s plenty to cover your daily commute and evening errands at a savings of $17,590 compared to the base Model 3. Plus, the LEAF still qualifies for the up to $7,500 tax credit. 

Where Can I Charge it and How Long Will it Take?

Should I buy a Tesla: Tesla charging station

Charging your electric vehicle is another critical consideration when you’re debating on buying one. With their high-capacity battery packs, Tesla models can take days to recharge from 0% using a standard 120-volt household plug. However, if you’re only driving to work and back, and running a few errands at night, the 120-volt plug may be enough to top off your battery overnight. Here are your other charging options. 

Fast Charging at Home

For fast home charging, you can install a 240-volt outlet and get 30 miles of range per hour of charging. It costs about $300 to install this plug. You can also upgrade to the $550 Tesla Wall Connector and get 44 miles of range per hour of charging. You’ll have to pay an electrician to install the Wall Connector, though. 

Supercharger Network

When you’re on a long road trip, Tesla has a network of chargers just for you. The Tesla Supercharger network is a collection of over 30,000 DC fast chargers built specifically for Tesla models. These charging stations give you up to 200 miles of range in just 15 minutes of charging. 

Even better, Tesla has strategically placed Superchargers to allow for nationwide driving in any Tesla model. 

Third-Party DC Fast Chargers 

If you can’t locate a Supercharger in your area, there are also multiple companies offering DC fast-charging stations nationwide, including EVgo and ChargePoint. 

Tesla Destination Chargers

The final option for charging outside the home is Tesla’s Destination Charging. These are Wall Connector chargers installed in popular destinations where you’ll likely be staying for a while. Destinations include restaurants, hotels, amusement parks, and sports stadiums. These are generally free to use and give you 44 miles of range per hour charged. 

With so many charging options and the blazing-fast Supercharger network, most buyers will have no problem keeping their Tesla batteries topped up.

Apartment Complexes

The only time charging a Tesla will become difficult is if you live in an apartment complex. Most apartments lack an EV charging infrastructure (though it is becoming more popular), and it’s not a good idea to run an extension cord from your apartment to the vehicle because it can be a fire hazard. 

So, think about where you live or will potentially live in the future to decide if you can charge your Tesla vehicle there. 

How Efficient Are Tesla Cars?

Unlike cars with an internal combustion engine (ICE) the EPA cannot assign EVs a true miles-per-gallon rating. However, the EPA created a new rating, miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe), the distance a car can travel on 33.7 kWh of electricity, equivalent to the energy one gallon of gasoline creates. 

Tesla Model 3

The Tesla Model 3 base model delivers 138 MPGe city, 126 highway, and 132 combined. The Long Range AWD model’s fuel economy falls to 134 MPGe city, 126 highway, and 131 combined. Finally, the Performance variant drops to 118 MPGe city, 107 highway, and 113 combined. The EPA estimates the base and Long Range models will cost you $500 per year to charge, and the Performance model will cost $600.

Tesla Model Y

The Tesla Model Y Long Range offers 140 MPGe city, 119 highway, and 129 combined. The Performance model’s fuel economy falls to 115 MPGe city, 117 highway, and 111 combined. The EPA estimates the Long Range model will cost $550 per year to charge, and the Performance model will cost $600.

Tesla Model Y

The Tesla Model S base model gets 124 MPGe city, 115 highway, and 120 combined. The Plaid model’s fuel economy checks in at 119 MPGe city, 112 highway, and 116 combined with the 19-inch wheels, and 102 MPGe city, 99 highway, and 101 combined with the 21-inch wheels. The EPA estimates the base model and Plaid trim with the 19-inch wheels will cost you $550 per year to charge. The Plaid trim with 21-inch wheels will cost you an estimated $650 per year to charge. 

Tesla Model X

The Tesla Model X base model gets 107 MPGe city, 97 highway, and 102 combined. The Plaid model’s fuel economy rings in at 103 MPGe city, 93 highway, and 98 combined with the 20-inch wheels, and 94 MPGe city, 88 highway, and 91 combined with the 22-inch wheels. The EPA estimates the base model and Plaid trim with the 20-inch wheels will cost you $650 per year to charge. The Plaid trim with 22-inch wheels will cost you an estimated $700 per year to charge. 

Are Tesla Vehicles Family-Friendly?

Tesla's interior

Tesla’s lineup is filled with family-friendly cars — from its entry-level Model 3 to its range-topping Model X crossover. At each point in the lineup, Tesla offers plenty of room for passengers and cargo, making their EVs great options for families. 

Tesla Model 3

The Tesla Model 3 may be the smallest of the brand’s offerings, but it’s plenty spacious for families with small children. However, older children may find its rear seats a little tight. Its interior dimensions are as follows:

  • Front legroom: 42.7 in.
  • Front shoulder room: 56.3 in.
  • Front headroom: 40.3 in.
  • Rear legroom: 35.2 in.
  • Rear shoulder room: 54 in.
  • Rear headroom: 37.7 in.
  • Trunk volume: 19.8 cubic feet

Tesla Model Y

The Model Y is Tesla’s entry-level electric crossover, and it delivers a nice bump in cargo room relative to the Model 3. It also offers tons more rear legroom, making it more appropriate for families with older children. Its interior dimensions are: 

  • Front legroom: 41.8 in.
  • Front shoulder room: 56.4 in.
  • Front headroom: 41 in.
  • Rear legroom: 40.5 in.
  • Rear shoulder room: 54 in.
  • Rear headroom: 39.4 in.
  • Standard cargo volume: 30.2 cubic feet
  • Maximum cargo volume: 76.2 cubic feet 

Tesla Model S

The Model S is Tesla’s full-size sedan, offering a roomier interior and crossover-rivaling cargo room. It’s interior measurements are: 

  • Front legroom: 41.8 in.
  • Front shoulder room: 56.4 in.
  • Front headroom: 41 in.
  • Rear legroom: 40.5 in.
  • Rear shoulder room: 54 in.
  • Rear headroom: 39.4 in.
  • Standard cargo volume: 30.2 cubic feet
  • Maximum cargo volume: 76.2 cubic feet 

Tesla Model X

Tesla’s largest SUV, the Model X is roomy for kids and adults alike, all while offering great cargo space. You can choose from a five-, six-, or seven-passenger layout. Its interior dimensions are: 

  • Front legroom: 41.2 in.
  • Front shoulder room: 60.7 in.
  • Front headroom: 41.7 in.
  • Rear legroom: 38.4 in.
  • Rear shoulder room: 56.8 in.
  • Rear headroom: 40.9 in.
  • Maximum cargo volume: 87.8 cubic feet

Let Compare.com Help You Find the Right EV

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Whether a Tesla vehicle is right for you or not, Compare.com can help you find the perfect EV with our electric car search tool

But before you get too deep into your search, use our electric car buying guide to get a better understanding of what an EV is, how they work, and what benefits they can offer you.


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