Not long after the Tesla Model 3 went on sale in earnest in 2018, something funny happened.
Not only did the small electric sedan quickly outsell every other electric car available for that year, it also outsold nearly every luxury car on the road. Almost overnight, "Tesla" became the byword for electric and luxury in the same way Kleenex means facial tissue or Coke means soft drink. That's despite the fact that by many usual luxury yardsticks, the Model 3 isn't a luxury car at all.
This year, Model 3 means our Best Electric Car To Buy for 2020.
The Model 3's popularity shouldn't be a surprise. Not only does it offer more range and more performance than every other competitor for its price, the Model 3's spacious interior and tech-heavy looks are still years ahead of rivals. Routing most controls and instruments through the central 15-inch touchscreen takes some getting used to in the Model 3, but we've acclimated in just a few hours and confidently say that owners won't have many issues either.
More than 300 miles of electric range has resonated with many shoppers as a threshold for an acceptable substitute to a gas-powered car. Only the Model 3 offers that for now, and Tesla's battery management looks better every day. Not only that, but the Model 3 offers access to Tesla's vast network of chargers (even though they won't be free for many owners) and that makes the Model 3 a viable, long-distance car.
Our recommendation isn't without qualification. The Tesla Model 3 does not drive itself, no matter what others or even the company's CEO may say. The Model 3's build quality is consistently better than when it first arrived more than two years ago, but Tesla is relatively new to carmaking and it still shows. Buying a Model 3 is still a bet on an automaker standing on shaky financial ground, but we're confident that Tesla—in some form or another—will be around for several years.
More electric cars are hitting the streets today and even more will arrive in the next five years. That'll be good news for shoppers and better news for electric cars; competition breeds a better product. For now, the Tesla Model 3 is our Best Electric Car To Buy for 2020 because it's the best of what's around.