Tesla Model 3 falls short of Consumer Reports recommendation

Key Points
  • Consumer Reports did not recommend the Tesla Model 3 sedan, due in part to what is says is a far longer stopping distance than the car's peers, including a full-size pickup truck.
  • The publication has had a rocky relationship with Tesla.
Tesla Model 3 falls short of Consumer Reports endorsement

Tesla's Model 3 sedan fell short of a recommendation from Consumer Reports on Monday.

The vehicle has many attributes that could make it a competitor to the Audi A4 or the BMW 3 Series, but there are some traits that kept the group from giving the car a full-throated endorsement, Consumer Reports said.

"Our testers also found flaws—big flaws—such as long stopping distances in our emergency braking test and difficult-to-use controls," said a review in the publication.

In particular, the car's stopping distance of 152 feet from a speed of 60 miles per hour was slower than any of its contemporaries, including the Ford F-150, a full-size pickup. The location of almost all of Tesla's controls on a touchscreen and the vehicle's ride quality were also factors in the group's decision.

However, Consumer Reports did praise the Model 3's agile handling and the range of the battery.

The Model 3, which starts at $35,000 but can cost as much as $78,000, is Tesla's attempt at a mass market car. But it has been plagued by production issues. Tesla originally wanted to produce 5,000 Model 3 cars per week by the end of 2017, but still has not hit that target.

"Tesla's own testing has found braking distances with an average of 133 feet when conducting the 60-0 mph stops using the 18" Michelin all season tire and as low as 126 feet with all tires currently available," the automaker said in a statement sent to CNBC. "Stopping distance results are affected by variables such as road surface, weather conditions, tire temperature, brake conditioning, outside temperature, and past driving behavior that may have affected the brake system. Unlike other vehicles, Tesla is uniquely positioned to address more corner cases over time through over-the-air software updates, and it continually does so to improve factors such as stopping distance."

Tesla has had a rocky relationship with Consumer Reports, which is an influential outlet for automotive reviews. The automaker bashed the CR automotive team in October after it predicted the Model 3 would have "average reliability." The group has also criticized the Model X's falcon-wing doors.

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