- Tesla's Model 3 starts at $35,000, but additional features could bump the final price up to $55,000.
- Some upgrades seem necessary, like the ability to automatically adjust seats.
- Other premium features, like self-driving software, may not be worth the additional costs.
Tesla's calling card for the Model 3 is that it's the company's first mass-market vehicle.
With the sedan's starting price of $35,000, Tesla isn't wrong to tout its affordability. But the car could cost a lot more by the time you get through the ordering process. Here's what you need to know.
The base Model 3 is pretty bare
Most will want to purchase the Model 3's Premium package, which includes features that are usually standard, like the ability to adjust the front seats automatically and a covered center console.
The Premium package costs $5,000 and includes things like LED fog lamps, two rear USB ports, and a tinted glass roof with ultraviolet and infrared protection.
With that package, you're looking at $40,000 all in.
Enhanced Autopilot costs extra
The Model 3 comes equipped with the necessary hardware to support Tesla's second-generation Autopilot system, but you need to pay an extra $5,000 to activate it.
According to Tesla, Enhanced Autopilot will eventually allow the car to match its speed to traffic conditions, automatically change lanes without driver input, merge on and off highways, and park itself. The summon feature will also work in more-complex environments, like parking garages.
Tesla is pushing out the features over time. Those who have paid for the system on the Model S and Model X have access to first-generation features like active cruise control, forward collision warning, and Autosteer.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has also said the hardware will eventually allow the cars to fully drive themselves. Those who purchase a Model 3 can pay for future access for an additional $3,000 on top of Enhanced Autopilot.
It may be worth holding off, though.
Musk said earlier this month that Tesla may delay its big demonstration of the technology. Additionally, the federal government has yet to finalize regulations for self-driving cars. You might as well save a couple thousand dollars until there is a more concrete rollout plan.
At the very least, if you want the true Tesla Autopilot experience, you're looking at $45,000 for the Model 3.
This is standard across the auto industry, but a paint job other than black will cost an extra $1,000. You can also elect to get 19-inch Sport wheels for an additional $1,500.
The base Model 3 can drive 220 miles on a single charge and accelerate to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds. For $9,000, buyers can get a Premium Model 3: a sedan with a bigger battery that will bump the range to 310 miles and improve acceleration to 5.1 seconds.
Tesla will first produce Premium Model 3 cars, so those who want to stick with the base price have a longer wait ahead of them.
It's also worth noting that access to Tesla's massive Supercharger network, a huge perk of owning the vehicle, now costs a small fee.
Tack on those features, and the Model 3 hovers in the mid-$50,000 range.
So what's standard?
As is the case when purchasing a car from any dealer, any additional features are entirely up to the customer.
Tesla's base price is high for its segment. Most mass-market sedans hit about $30,000 after they are fully optioned. In fact, a base Model 3 costs more than a base BMW 3 Series.
Still, you're not going to get the Tesla experience anywhere else. The budget-conscious could always choose to hold off on luxe features like Enhanced Autopilot until they feel a bit more secure. Tesla offers standard safety features, like emergency braking, for free.
Other standard features include keyless entry, Wi-Fi and LTE connectivity, voice-activated controls, onboard maps and navigation, and a 12-volt power outlet.
None of this factors in deductions from federal and state tax incentives. Keep in mind that the $7,500 federal tax incentive starts to phase out once an automaker sells 200,000 vehicles domestically — a target Tesla is approaching.
"You may be eligible for local or federal tax incentives when you purchase your Model 3," Tesla writes on its webpage. "We recommend speaking with a tax professional for guidance, as some incentives may depend on your personal tax situation."