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Model 3 vs. Model S: Comparing Tesla’s Economy and Luxury Sedans

Model 3 vs. Model S: Comparing Tesla’s Economy and Luxury Sedans

Tesla currently produces two electric sedans: the Model 3 and the Model S. If you’re considering your first electric vehicle, you may not already be familiar with the differences between the two. The primary differences include each vehicle’s price point, different trim options and their eligibility for federal tax credits — among other differences, still.

Above: Two Model S vehicles and two Model 3 vehicles (Image: Casey Murphy / EVANNEX).

The Tesla Model 3 and Model S are the automaker’s two electric sedans, the former being more affordable and the latter being the company’s premium option. In a recent story comparing the two, Business Insider points out that the most obvious difference is in pricing, with the base Model 3 currently selling for $40,240, and the Model S price beginning at $88,490.

The Model S has two trim options, including the aforementioned base level, dual-motor version, and the upgraded Model S “Plaid,” which offers a tri-motor drivetrain for improved top speeds and other features for the price of $108,490. Alternatively, Tesla offers three trim options for the Model 3, including the base-level rear-wheel drive, the Model 3 “Long Range” ($47,240) and the Model 3 “Performance” ($53,240).

Crucially, all of the Tesla Model 3 trim options qualify for a $7,500 tax credit, bringing their prices down even more. Neither trim option for the Model S is eligible for the credit. So what features make the Model S so much more expensive?

The base Model S offers over 70 more miles of range than the Long Range Model 3, and about 90 miles more than the Performance trim. Tesla’s Model S also has about 28 cubic feet of storage space, while the Model 3 includes about 23. The Model S also lets users put the back seats down for an additional 40 or so cubic feet of storage.

The Tesla Model S Plaid, released in June 2021, offers 200 mph top speeds, over 1,000 horsepower and a 0-60 mph acceleration of just 1.99 seconds. Still, Model 3 Performance has a top speed of 162 mph, while the base-level Model S offers up to 149 mph. The Model S also has extra amenities like an additional rear-seat screen, the option for a yoke steering wheel and an alternative cream-colored interior option, among other differences still.

Simply put, the Model 3 can be categorized as Tesla’s economy-level sedan while the Model S is considered a part of the luxury vehicle segment.

You can compare the two vehicles and their trim options using the chart below. You can also see full breakdowns of options and pricing using Tesla’s Model 3 order configurator here, or its Model S order configurator here.

Model

Trim

Sticker Price

$7,500 Tax Credit Eligible?

EPA Range Estimate

Drivetrain

Top Speed

Tesla Model 3

Base-Level

$40,240

Yes

272 mi

RWD

140 mph

Long Range

$47,240

Yes

333 mi

Dual-Motor

AWD

145 mph

Performance

$53,240

Yes

315 mi

Dual-Motor

AWD

162 mph

Tesla Model S

Base-Level

$88,490

No

405 mi

Dual-Motor

AWD

149 mph

Plaid

$108,490

No

396 mi

Tri-Motor

AWD

200 mph


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Sources: Business Insider / Tesla / Tesla