Consumer Reports Recommends ‘Buy’ for Tesla Model 3

Model 3, Tesla
2018 Model 3’s at a Tesla dealership. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

A wireless update of antilock braking software improved the stopping distance of Tesla’s electric Model 3, prompting Consumer Reports to reverse course and give the car its “Recommended Buy” rating.

The magazine said Wednesday that the update cut 19 feet off the car’s stopping distance from 60 miles per hour. A previous test — the results of which were released a little more than a week ago — found that it took 152 feet for the Model S compact car to stop from 60, the longest braking distance of any modern car the magazine has tested.

The improved braking raised the car’s score high enough for it to receive the coveted recommendation. But Consumer Reports still has concerns over wind noise, a stiff ride and the touch-screen controls that could distract a driver.

After the first round of testing was made public, Tesla CEO Elon Musk promised to fix the problem within days. Consumer Reports says it was told by Tesla that the software helps the brakes adapt to variations in how they are used and how they respond in different environmental conditions.

On Twitter Wednesday, Musk wrote that he appreciates the “high-quality critical feedback” from Consumer Reports and said that noise and ride comfort already had been addressed. He didn’t say how. Another software update will address the controls, he wrote.

The software update was done either via the car’s cellular connection or a wireless internet link, depending on how the owner configures the car, according to Tesla.

Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports’ director of auto testing, said that in 19 years of work for the magazine he has not seen a car’s track performance improve with a wireless update.

Musk pledged in a tweet last week that the braking improvements would make the Model 3 best in its class. But Consumer Reports said the stopping distance was not class-leading and the further updates may be necessary.

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