“What car should I buy?” It’s a question consumers ask themselves every day, but what would features editor Christian Seabaugh drive? Keep reading for the answer, and see other editors’ picks here.
I’m fortunate enough at MotorTrend to not need to own a personal car, but if circumstances changed and I had to buy a car tomorrow, I’d buy a 2019 Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus.
An electric car may seem like a bit of an unconventional choice for me and my family. Although my wife and I fit the electric car mold—young, millennial, childless, California professionals—truthfully it would be a bit of an adjustment for us. One of our favorite things to do is escape Los Angeles with our two dogs and go exploring on off-road expeditions or just long road trips; an SUV arguably makes more sense for us.
That said, a couple major factors come into play when making my car choice. Despite our penchant for road trips, most of my family’s driving is in and around L.A., and electric cars such as the Model 3 shine in urban areas. Also, whether you want to believe it or not, the world’s climate is changing. If I want there to be an Earth for any future children I may or may not have, it’s going to involve a little self-sacrifice. If that means I have to change how I travel, so be it.
With an imaginary budget of around $40,000—it really doesn’t make sense to me to spend more given how quickly battery technology is changing—I considered a few electric cars before settling on the Model 3. My three front-runners were the Chevrolet Bolt EV, Hyundai Kona Electric, and Kia Niro EV. Each has an impressive amount of electric range, with the Kona’s 258 miles of range even beating out the Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus’ 240 mile EPA range by 18 miles, but one major factor put me in the Model 3 over the Bolt, Kona, and Niro: Tesla’s Supercharger network.
Simply put, Tesla’s Supercharger system is both fast and robust enough to allow me to drive nearly anywhere I’d want in the U.S. in a Model 3. No other network of electric car chargers yet exists in this country that can rival Tesla’s (though Volkswagen-backed Electrify America has grand ambitions to develop a nationwide fast-charging system for the rest of us). Although my fuel stops and road trips will certainly be longer versus a comparable gas-powered trip, by my math charging will add only two-and-a-half hours to a fairly regular 550-mile road trip my family does—I’m sure my pups will appreciate the extra time out of the car to mark new-found territory.
Aside from Tesla’s charging infrastructure, a few other factors drew me to the Model 3. The car is fun to drive, with a low center of gravity and BMW 3 Series-beating performance, and I like that when I don’t feel like driving, the Model 3 Standard Plus’ standard Autopilot can help lighten my workload on long trips. It’s also roomy for the segment, has a decent-sized trunk, and outfitted with one of the best in-car infotainment systems in the biz.
The Model 3 Standard Plus is well-equipped from the factory, so I’d skip everything on the option list. Bigger wheels will only hurt range, while philosophically, paying Tesla $6,000 for “Full-Self Driving Capability” that doesn’t exist yet strikes me as making as much financial sense as sending a Nigerian prince $6,000 on Venmo. I’d be tempted to opt for the Model 3 Long Range, which has 310 miles to the Standard’s 240, but not for $10,000 extra.
So where does that leave “my” Model 3? Well it’d be black—the only free color—and rocking the sweet aerodynamic stock wheels for $41,100. Not too shabby—there are definitely worse ways to welcome in our combustion-less future.
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