Scratch that: Consumer Reports now recommends Tesla's Model 3

  • As recently as last week Consumer Reports said the Tesla Model 3 had some very troubling flaws. In a testament to the sophistication of Tesla's technology and the rapidly changing nature of car repair, Tesla fixed those flaws with an over-the-air update.

    As recently as last week Consumer Reports said the Tesla Model 3 had some very troubling flaws. In a testament to the sophistication of Tesla's technology and the rapidly changing nature of car repair, Tesla fixed those flaws with an over-the-air update. Bloomberg photo by Dania Maxwell

 
 
Posted6/2/2018 1:00 AM

Consumer Reports now recommends the Tesla Model 3.

Surprised?

 

As recently as last week the nonprofit product tester reported that Tesla's highly regarded mass-market sedan had some very troubling flaws.

"Big flaws" to be exact.

In a testament to the sophistication of Tesla's technology and the rapidly changing nature of car repair, Tesla fixed those flaws with an over-the-air update that improved the Model 3's "braking distance by almost 20 feet," according to the publication.

Consumer Reports admitted that its auto testers were shocked by the rapid improvement in the car's functionality and updated their review.

"I've been at CR for 19 years and tested more than 1,000 cars and I've never seen a car that could improve its track performance with an over-the-air update," said Jake Fisher, director of auto testing at Consumer Reports.

"Really appreciate the high quality critical feedback from @ConsumerReports. Road noise & ride comfort already addressed too. UI improvements coming via remote software update later this month," Tesla's Elon Musk tweeted.

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During their initial review of the Model 3, Consumer Reports found that the Model 3's stopping distance at 60 mph -- approximately 152 feet -- was "far worse" than any recent model they've tested and "about seven feet longer than the stopping distance of a Ford F-150 full-sized pickup."

The publication said their results weren't just bad, they were "21 feet longer than the class average of 131 feet for luxury compact sedans and 25 feet longer than the results for its much larger SUV sibling, the Model X."

Ouch.

"In retesting after the software update was downloaded, the sedan stopped in 133 feet from 60 mph, an improvement of 19 feet," Consumer Reports updated review said.

"The new shorter distance is typical for a compact luxury car and matches the 133 feet that Tesla claims its own testing found, using the same tires as those on our Model 3," the publication added.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

To perform the test, the Consumer Reports' testers slam on the vehicle's brakes when the car is traveling 60 mph and measure the distance the vehicle travels until it comes to a stop. The test is repeated multiple times with multiple cars, the publication claims, and the brakes are cooled between tests to ensure they don't overheat.

The updated brakes, while a large improvement, do not place the Model 3 at the top of its class, the publication said.

In their updated review, Consumer Report's still found flaws in the Model 3, such as wind noise, stiff ride, and an uncomfortable rear seat. Consumer Reports has also been sharply critical of an element of the Model 3's cabin that has previously received rave reviews: its controls. Those controls are embedded in the vehicle's touch-screen, which many reviewers have lauded for its sleek design and convenience. Consumer Reports, meanwhile, argued that the screen makes it more difficult for riders to accomplish "simple tasks," such as adjusting the air conditioning and the car's mirrors, especially while driving safely.

Consumer Reports said it appears that Tesla has already begun to make changes to the Model 3's controls with new OTA updates.

"Now, when drivers adjust their seat position using the power controls along the edge of the driver's seat, prompts to adjust the car's mirrors and steering-wheel position appear on the center touch screen," Consumer Reports said. "At first glance, these changes seem to be an improvement, but we need to spend more time evaluating them."

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