Over the years, Tesla has played a pivotal role in making electric vehicles (EVs) mainstream. According to Statista, Tesla sold 368,000 EVs in 2019, which is more than any other automaker. That same year, the Tesla Model 3 was the best-selling plug-in electric vehicle in the United States, moving nearly 10 times more units than the non-Tesla runner-up, the Chevy Bolt.
Yet despite all of Tesla’s achievements, the automaker has continuously experienced quality issues. In fact, the company ranked the lowest on the 2020 J.D. Power quality study, suffering an average of 250 problems per 100 cars.
Still, many buyers choose to overlook these issues for the chance to own a cutting-edge EV. If you’re one such individual, you might want to consider the strengths and weaknesses of each Tesla model before making your purchase.
Tesla’s Vehicles Ranked From Best to Worst
Although each vehicle in Tesla’s lineup boasts advanced technology and an impressive driving range, some models are better than others. Here is every vehicle in Tesla’s current portfolio, ranked from best to worst.
1st Place: Tesla Model 3
In 2017, Tesla introduced the Model 3 as a more affordable alternative to the larger Model S. But due to production delays, the compact car didn’t reach consumers until 2018.
The current 2020 Model 3 features an EPA-estimated driving range of up to 353 miles (for the Long Range model), instantaneous torque, and the Autopilot bundle of advanced driver assistance (ADAS) features. Buyers can choose either a rear-wheel drive or an all-wheel drive layout on their Model 3.
Even though the Model 3 is a great vehicle overall, it’s not necessarily perfect. In 2019, Consumer Reports revoked the car’s “recommended” rating due to numerous owner complaints of problems with the paint, trim, and electronics.
By 2020, Consumer Reports had changed its tune, though. The publication named the Model 3 one of its top-10 picks of the year, alongside reputably dependable vehicles, such as the Lexus RX and Toyota Supra.
2nd Place: Tesla Model S
Even though Tesla’s first car, the Roadster, debuted in 2008, it was based on a Lotus-built chassis. The Model S was the first clean-slate build from Tesla when it rolled out in 2012.
As Tesla’s flagship sedan, the 2020 Model S flaunts an EPA-estimated range of up to 402 miles (for the Long Range variant), standard electric all-wheel drive, and an abundance of advanced technologies. There’s also an insanely powerful Plaid model—with an estimated 1,100 horsepower and a 520-mile range—slated for release in 2020.
Many owners, however, complain that the Model S suffers from quality issues, primarily with the suspension, electronics, and body components. Because of these alleged issues, Consumer Reports does not recommend the current Model S.
3rd Place: Tesla Model Y
In 2019, Tesla filled a noticeable void in its product lineup by introducing the Model Y mid-size crossover SUV.
The 2020 Model Y has an EPA-estimated driving range of up to 326 miles when fitted with the Long Range package. Additional highlights include standard electric all-wheel drive, a panoramic glass roof, and advanced technology throughout.
Much like Tesla’s other offerings, there have been reports of quality issues with the Model Y. According to MotorTrend Magazine, some consumers complain of uneven body panels, paint defects, water leaks, and misaligned trim. There have also been accounts of seats (and seatbelts) that weren’t properly attached—and one report of a glass roof that blew off on the freeway.
It may not come as a surprise, then, that Consumer Reports gave the Model Y a “Not Recommended” rating. The SUV’s defects largely contributed to Tesla becoming one of the publication’s lowest-ranking brands.
4th Place: Tesla Model X
Tesla revealed the Model X as a prototype in 2012. Three years later, in 2015, the Model X finally debuted as Tesla’s first SUV.
The 2020 Model X has a long list of impressive features, including available seven-passenger seating, standard all-wheel drive capability, and an EPA-estimated driving range of up to 371 miles for the Long Range model. Of course, the SUV’s most noticeable quality has to be the crazy-looking “Falcon Wing” doors in the rear.
But the Model X isn’t without flaws. There have been owner complaints of fit and finish problems, along with onboard electronic issues. For some, the Falcon Wing doors have also been a major pain point.
Because of these supposed issues, Consumer Reports gave the SUV a dismal 1-out-of-5 rating for reliability.
Other Tesla Vehicles
There are two other Tesla models—the Roadster and the Cybertruck—that are worth checking out, even though they’re not currently in production.
The Tesla Roadster
The Roadster debuted in 2008 as Tesla’s very first vehicle. Although the car was built on a Lotus Elise chassis, the powertrain was developed primarily by Tesla.
The first-generation Roadster was produced until 2012. During that time, Tesla sold 2,450 units with an MSRP of $109,000 each.
There’s no disputing the fact that the first-generation Roadster was a revolutionary machine. The two-seat car had a range of 244 miles on a full charge (an incredible feat for the time) and could sprint from 0-60 mph in just 4.6 seconds.
But when Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson reviewed the Roadster back in 2008, he portrayed it as a barely-running science experiment. Elon Musk admitted years later that Clarkson was right.
Owners of the original Tesla Roadster reported premature battery failure, issues with the tire pressure monitoring system, moisture in the headlamps, and an abnormal amount of road noise.
The good news is, a brand-new, second-generation Tesla Roadster is in the works. Tesla claims it will be “the quickest car in the world, with record-setting acceleration, range, and performance.”
And the car won’t be built on a Lotus Elise chassis.
The Tesla Cybertruck
Nearly everyone has heard of the Tesla Cybertruck. Elon Musk made headlines around the world when he revealed the slab-sided beast in 2019.
According to Car and Driver Magazine, the Tesla truck will have a towing capacity of 14,000 pounds and an estimated driving range of 500-plus miles. Those figures are impressive, to say the least.
Production of the Cybertruck is expected to begin in late 2021. Even if the truck suffers from build quality problems like other Tesla models, it might be worth ignoring those issues to own a piece of the future.