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Tesla Model 3: Top Alternatives for 2021/22

Tesla Model 3 Alternatives

Tesla Model 3 Alternatives

The Tesla Model 3 is a unique vehicle in many ways. This small/midsize sedan is battery-electric, meaning it is driven by an entirely electric powertrain.

The Model 3 is also a very high-performance vehicle in some trims, capable of a 0-60 MPH sprint in just 3.1 seconds, according to Tesla. It is available in either rear or all-wheel drive.

Unlike many vehicles sold today, there is no perfect copy of the Model 3 from any other manufacturer. Therefore, our alternatives will be selected based on what the shopper wants most from a vehicle “like the Model 3".

Read about how we rank our vehicles >>

Tesla Model 3 Weaknesses

The Takeaway: The Tesla Model 3 is a unique sedan that can be tricky to cross-shop.

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At the time of this story’s publication, Tesla is advising that new Model 3s ordered now will have a two to six month lead time before the owner picks it up at one of Tesla’s retail locations or has it delivered. It is understandable that shoppers may want some alternatives to consider on the outside chance that those options are more readily available. Also, Tesla has some quirks. There are states in which the company has almost no retail or repair footprint (New Hampshire, for example, where this story was written). Also, not everyone who tries a Tesla falls in love with its unique interior and controls scheme.

The Model 3 ranges in cost to the consumer from about $43K to about $70K. That is a massive price spread, so our alternatives will range wildly to cover the full scope of that budget. One model we opted not to include in this list is the Ford Mustang Mach-E. Ford is having an even harder time building this very popular model, so it would be unfair to pretend it is available to shoppers today. We also nixed the Honda Clarity because Honda has abandoned that model for 2022.

Tesla Model 3 vs. Competitors

Model Approximate Consumer Cost Range*EPA-Estimated Annual Energy CostPassenger VolumeJ.D. Power Vehicle Dependability Score (Lower Is Better)Range fully-energized (Miles)
Tesla Model 3
$43K - $70K
$450 - $600
97 cu ft
176
263-315
Honda Insight
$24K - $29K
$900
98 cu ft
145
551
Kia Niro EV
$33 - $38K
$600
97 cu ft
97
239
Lexus IS 500 FSPORT
$70K
~$3,000
91 cu ft
81
~331
Volkswagen ID.4
$34K - $44K
$650
100 cu ft
163
260
Jaguar I-PACE
~$70K
$850
Approx 100 cu ft
186
234

*Current federal tax incentive has been included in this cost.

J.D. Power & Associates VDS measures owner-reported problems with vehicles three years of age.

1.  Honda Insight

Honda-Insight-Alternatives-to-the-Tesla-Model-3-Battery-Electric-Vehicle

The Honda Insight is a hybrid-electric sedan about the size of the Model 3. The Insight would be an option for those shoppers who really just need a green vehicle roughly the size of the Model 3. The Insight would compare to the lowest-priced model of the Model 3, called the Standard Range Plus.

Honda’s Insight is surprisingly roomy inside. It also features a Top Safety Pick Plus score, matching the Tesla Model 3’s rating. For those who commute in inclement weather, the Insight is front-wheel drive, preferable to the rear-wheel drive offered by the Tesla SR+ trim.

Like every model on this list except the Tesla, your phone will work via either Android Auto or Apple CarPlay in the Insight.

The Takeaway: If you are looking for a green commuter car the size of the Model 3, the Insight can deliver the same result at a dramatically lower cost.

Current Honda Insight Deals & Incentives

YearMakeModelCash Incentives (up to)Best Avail. APRLease OffersExpiration
2021HondaInsight
2022HondaInsight1.90%1/3/2022

You may qualify for additional deals and incentives, check out this month's Honda deals and average prices paid.

2. Kia Niro EV

Kia-Niro-EV-Alternatives-to-the-Tesla-Model-3-Battery-Electric-Vehicle

The Kia Niro EV is a battery-electric five-door hatchback with the same interior passenger volume as the Model 3. However, instead of the 15 cubic feet of cargo offered by the Tesla, the Kia offers 22 cubic feet. Its front-wheel drive is also more practical than the real-wheel drive SR+ for those who drive in winter weather.

Setting aside the facts and figures of the Kia Niro EV and Model 3 for a moment, we should discuss driving satisfaction. We test drove a Kia Niro EV back to back with a Tesla Model 3 and found the Kia to be more to our liking. The real-world acceleration is similar, the instant torque of the EV powertrain is present in both vehicles, and we even found the Kia’s driver-assist technology was not far behind Tesla’s on the highway.

Those who prefer conventional controls and infotainment will find Kia’s are among the best in the business.

The Takeaway: The Kia Niro EV is a surprisingly comparable vehicle to the Tesla Model 3 SR+.

Current Kia Niro EV Deals & Incentives

YearMakeModelCash Incentives (up to)Best Avail. APRLease OffersExpiration
2020KiaNiro EV
2021KiaNiro EV0.90%$209/month for 36 months, $3,499 due at signing1/3/2022
2022KiaNiro EV0.00%$219/month for 36 months, $3,499 due at signing1/3/2022

You may qualify for additional deals and incentives, check out this month's Kia deals.

3. Lexus IS 500

Lexus-IS-500-Alternatives-to-the-Tesla-Model-3-Battery-Electric-Vehicle

The Tesla Model 3 Performance is a small sedan with few rivals - on paper. However, on a racetrack or on a lonely stretch of mountain roadway there are a lot of vehicles that scratch the same itch. One of those is the Lexus IS 500 FSPORT Performance.

Lexus’ IS line is a rear-drive sports sedan. The 500 FSPORT Performance is the top dog of the line and sports a modern V8 powertrain with real gears that you yourself can control. We have driven all of the Lexus V8-powered sports sedans on and off track, including the precursor of the IS 500, the IS F. All of them are a blast to drive.

We find the Lexus rear-drive sports models to be easy to control with the throttle. You can drift them a bit, and they can be very neutral when you pass the limits of adhesion. On normal roads, there is almost no place where anyone can put to use the low-four-second 0-60 MPH times offered by such a vehicle. In the real world, and on the track, the Lexus IS 500 will offer owners a very exciting vehicle to be behind the wheel of.

Why Lexus when many other brands offer similar or greater performance? One reason is that the Lexus owners experience half the problems that Tesla vehicles do over the first three years of ownership according to the J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability Study.

The Takeaway: If you are buying a Tesla Model 3 Performance and want an alternative, Lexus offers one that doesn’t break.

Current Lexus IS 500 Deals & Incentives

You may qualify for deals and incentives, check out this month's Lexus deals.

4. Volkswagen ID.4

Volkswagen-ID.4-Alternatives-to-the-Tesla-Model-3-Battery-Electric-Vehicle

The new Volkswagen ID.4 is a crossover with an attractive cost of ownership. With a cost that undercuts the Tesla Model 3 SR+, and an optional AWD trim now arriving, the ID.4 offers shoppers who primarily want an affordable BEV a great choice.

Even better, VW’s deliveries seem to be among the highest in the American market right now for vehicles of this type. A new factory in Tennessee will help keep that the case.

The ID.4 is not a sedan, but other than that, the car matches up well with more affordable Tesla Model 3 trims. The range is nearly identical to the Model 3 SR+, and we expect its annual and long-term cost of ownership to be lower.

The Takeaway: VW has a BEV crossover alternative to the Tesla Model SR+ with better availability and a lower cost of ownership.

Current Volkswagen ID.4 Deals & Incentives

YearMakeModelCash Incentives (up to)Best Avail. APRLease OffersExpiration
2021VolkswagenID.4$379/month for 36 months, $3,573 due at signing11/30/2021

You may qualify for additional deals and incentives, check out this month's Volkswagen deals.

5. Jaguar I-PACE

Jaguar-I-PACE-Alternatives-to-the-Tesla-Model-3-Battery-Electric-Vehicle

The Jaguar I-PACE is not a head-to head competitor to the Tesla Model 3, but rather, the Model Y. In fact, the Model Y is a close copy in many ways of the Jaguar I-PACE which appeared years ahead of Tesla’s crossover. So why are we suggesting the Jaguar to Model 3 shoppers?

Simply because the thrill of driving the I-PACE is exactly what many high-end Model 3 shoppers are seeking. The I-PACE is a rocket on normal roads, with performance far in excess of what anyone can legally enjoy.

The I-PACE also offers something original Tesla shoppers enjoyed - exclusivity. In California, Tesla’s are on every corner. Jaguars remain special.

Give the I-PACE a try at a dealership and you will be pleased to find out that the vehicle comes with a longer warranty than Tesla offers and that for the first five years maintenance is included. Yes, including tire rotations.

The Takeaway: If you are shopping Tesla because it bucks the trend and offers a thrilling driving experience, Jaguar offers both.

Current Jaguar I-PACE Deals & Incentives

YearMakeModelCash Incentives (up to)Best Avail. APRLease OffersExpiration
2022JaguarI-Pace0.90%$839/month for 36 months, $5,995 due at signing11/30/2021

You may qualify for additional deals and incentives, check out this month's Jaguar deals.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can I buy instead of a Tesla Model 3?

While no other car copies Tesla’s secret sauce perfectly, the Volkswagen ID.4, Kia Niro EV, and Honda Insight offer SR+ shoppers an alternative. The Performance trim of the Model 3 has a lot in common with the Jaguar I-PACE and Lexus IS 500.

What is a more reliable brand than Tesla?

Generally speaking, Toyota’s green hybrids and plug-in hybrids top the charts for reliability. The Prius is one of the top-scoring vehicles for reliability according to Consumer Reports.

How big is a Tesla Model 3?

Tesla Model 3 is the same size inside as many compact and midsize sedans. The Model 3 has 97 cubic feet of passenger volume and 15 cubic feet of cargo volume. Honda’s Civic and the Hyundai Elantra offer similar specs.

Should I buy a Tesla Model 3?

Yes, but…The Tesla Model 3 is a fantastic vehicle. Owners report chart-topping satisfaction. However, the vehicle costs twice what many combustion-powered vehicles its size do, and the affordable SR+ trim has a six-month wait for delivery (as of October 2021).