2023 Tesla Model 3 Review
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2023 Tesla Model 3 Review

An all-new LFP battery allows the 2023 Tesla Model 3 to be both cleaner to build and more efficient to drive. Canada Drives drove the compact electric sedan during a tough Canadian blizzard to sample its efficiency. So, with its cheaper price point, is the Model 3 now worth buying?

Key Features:

  • The most energy efficient EV on the market
  • Witty app-based remote features
  • Quick and reliable Supercharger network

Direct Competitors:

  • Polestar 2
  • BMW i4
  • Hyundai IONIQ 6

If you’ve driven around any crowded Canadian city lately, chances are you’ve spotted at least more than one Tesla Model 3. Venture out to provinces where electric car sales are at their highest, like Quebec and British Columbia, and you’ll see as many Model 3s as Honda Civics. Indeed, Tesla’s entry level premium sedan is a popular one, albeit coming with a bit of controversy from Tesla CEO Elon Musk. 

Say what you will about Tesla’s unusual way of doing business, the company is now selling a lot of cars. And with significant upgrades done to the Model 3’s battery in 2022, as well as a significant price drop for all its vehicles, we might see Tesla beat yet another sales record this year. 

2023 Tesla Model 3 | Photo: William Clavey 

Take a quick look at all our used Tesla EVs here, including several Model 3s for sale. Every model comes with a 7 day return policy, and is fully certified passing a minimum 150 point inspection before arriving at your door. 

Curious to see how its new LFP battery performs in the cold, we took the 2023 Tesla Model 3 out for a drive during winter. Here’s our full review. 

Tesla Model 3 price drop is significant in addition to Canadian EV rebates

While the Model 3 was alone on its rock when it arrived here in 2018, it now faces some fresh new rivals in the form of the BMW i4, the Hyundai IONIQ 6, and the Polestar 2 which we compared to the Model 3. To better compete against these newfound competitors, Tesla sliced the price off its entire lineup of vehicles.

For instance, the Model 3 now kicks off at $54,990 (down from $59,990) before options. This makes it eligible for the federal $5,000 rebate for electric cars. If you live in a highly incentivized province like Quebec, you can get up to $12,000 off the purchase of a new Model 3. And while the Performance model isn’t eligible for any rebates, it sees an even bigger price drop, down from over $80,000 to $72,990. 

If you are looking to buy a Tesla, here are 7 things to keep in mind – from understanding the two Tesla price brackets to being prepared for the unconventional servicing process. 

Some improvements inside the 2023 Model 3 interior

2023 Tesla Model 3 | Photo: Tesla 

The Tesla Model 3’s interior is just as quirky and minimalistic as when it was released five years ago. But while the overall Model 3 interior layout hasn’t changed, Tesla did spruce up some cabin materials all while improving fit and finish. For instance, the centre console is now covered with a more enjoyable soft touch material. 

It also doesn’t feel as flimsy and cheaply installed as in the earlier cars. The wood trim on the dashboard continues to be a pleasing touch, while the front seats are of utmost comfort. Forward visibility in a Model 3 remains second to none thanks to the absence of a dashboard. It's also a very airy feeling cabin thanks to the glass-covered roof.

Improved interior build quality but fit and finish can still be better

Overall, build quality was vastly improved, but in some areas, fit and finish is unacceptable by today’s manufacturing standards. The example we were driving was, however, absent of the unwanted rattles we’ve sampled in older models. We did find irritating the excessive wind noise coming from the passenger side window. Rear visibility is also still a problem in the Model 3 due to its high beltline. 

2023 Tesla Model 3 | Photo: Tesla 

Where this car still hits the mark is in the overall user experience of its infotainment system. Essentially a large tablet that protrudes from the centre of the dashboard, it’s where everything is controlled in the car, from headlights to even steering wheel adjustments. While we do believe that some of the car’s controls still deserve physical buttons, we must admit that Tesla’s system is hands down one of the best in the industry. 

For instance, there’s no need for Android Auto or Apple Carplay as Tesla’s interface takes care of all that for you. The navigation map is both clear and quick to operate, and finding nearby charging stations takes only a few seconds.

2023 Tesla Model 3 | Photo: William Clavey 

Lastly, while this sedan qualifies as compact, it remains remarkably spacious and practical. Tall passengers might need to duck their head when entering out the rear, but once seated inside, leg and head clearance is acceptable. Combined, the Model 3’s front and rear trunks total 649 litres of cargo space. That’s huge for a sedan of this size.

2023 Tesla Model 3 performance and driving impressions

The biggest change from the 2022 model year was the addition of an all-new LFP (lithium ferro-phosphate or lithium iron phosphate) battery. It’s said to completely eliminate the use of precious metals such as cobalt and nickel. 

Iron-based batteries are also much cleaner to produce, don’t come with the ethical problems associated with cobalt and nickel mining and are much easier to recycle. This type of battery is also more robust and resists degradation better due to overcharging. In other words, charging these batteries to 100% doesn’t harm them as much as it would the old nickel-based batteries.

Even more range up from 400 to 438 kilometers

2023 Tesla Model 3 | Photo: William Clavey 

On the downside, an LFP battery is considerably less energy dense. This means that at equal capacity, it can’t store the same amount of energy. That’s why Tesla went with a larger capacity battery for the LFP, from 53 to 60 kWh. It also utilized its experience in software engineering to extract a maximum amount of efficiency. The result is even more range than before, up from 400 to 438 kilometers.

In this configuration, the Model 3 is still a rear-wheel drive car thanks to a single electric motor that pumps out 271 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque. Yearning for more gusto, like 1,020 horsepower? You’ll want the Tesla Model S Plaid sedan for that

Driving impressions: can Tesla’s compact sedan handle a tough Canadian blizzard?

Our time with the Model 3 took place in the province of Quebec during a tough winter blizzard at the end of January. When we unplugged the car from a home 240-volt level 2 charger at an outdoor temperature of -8 degrees Celsius, its onboard computer displayed a range estimate of 330 km available range. 

Here’s our closer look at Tesla charging times and expected costs.

2023 Tesla Model 3 | Photo: William Clavey 

Out there in the open, during a 180-km road trip through a violent snowstorm, the Model 3 displayed incredible energy efficiency. Even with the heater and window defrosters on full blast, we averaged an energy consumption of 20.3 kWh/100 km. That translates to an impressive real-world range of 295 kilometers. 

The Model 3 drives like a sports sedan. Its small diameter steering wheel is enjoyable to grasp, quick to react and incredibly precise. There’s also noticeable chassis tuning, allowing the car to enter a corner with agility. 

Punch the accelerator pedal, and power isn’t as instant as in the older cars due to the new battery, but it’s still quick enough to surprise that BMW 328i driver behind you. In the snow, traction was at times an issue, but Tesla has a handy feature that allows more wheelspin freedom, which helped us get out of tricky spaces.

Verdict: is the 2023 Tesla Model 3 worth it?

The Tesla Model 3 is indeed a car with many qualities. It’s hands down the most energy efficient electric car currently on sale, its pricing is now rather attractive and the entire ownership experience is like nothing else out there. We’ll add that Tesla’s Supercharger network of public chargers is both easy to use and incredibly effective at quickly getting you back on the road with a fresh set of electrons.

We therefore say that yes, the 2023 Tesla Model 3 is a car that’s worth buying. However, be aware of its inconsistent build quality. Our advice is to carefully inspect the car upon delivery. Check for wider than usual panel gaps and general fit and finish that doesn’t align properly. If you notice anything fishy, don’t accept delivery. If after inspecting it, the car seems fine, then you might enjoy your Model 3 for a very long time.

Ready to buy a used Tesla Model 3?

Fortunately, any Tesla you buy from us will have passed a minimum 150 point inspection, so your Model 3 is fully certified before you even get behind the wheel. Plus, you have a 7 day return guarantee, just in case this isn’t the right EV for you.

Check out all our used Tesla and Model 3 vehicles here

Thinking of buying new instead? Here’s our guide to Tesla financing and how their car loans work in Canada.

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