By on May 21, 2018

tesla-model-3

“Lackluster” may be an understatement. In its test of the Tesla Model 3 Long Range model, Consumer Reports discovered plenty of things to like about the California automaker’s smallest electric vehicle, but two large gripes kept the publication from bestowing a coveted “recommended” tag on the sedan.

We’ve complained before — and online videos have aptly demonstrated — about how the Model 3’s massive center screen diverts too much attention away from the road by consolidating simple tasks (like adjusting the dash vents) into the menus and submenus of the vehicle’s interface, and CR‘s opinion was no different. However, the largest issue seen while driving the Model 3 was its lengthy average stopping distance.

The publication went so far as to borrow a privately owned model just to make sure its observations were legit.

They were, though Tesla takes some issue with them. In its test of panic braking from 60 mph, CR recorded an average stopping distance of 152 feet — a result “far worse than any contemporary car we’ve tested and about 7 feet longer than the stopping distance of a Ford F-150 full-sized pickup.” It’s also 25 feet longer than that of the Tesla Model X SUV.

In a recent test of various 2018 F-150s, Motor Trend recorded a 129-foot stopping distance for the 3.3-liter XL Supercab model, while an upscale Lariat trim made the stop in 10 fewer feet. For comparison, a Chrysler 300S tested by the same publication made the stop in 109 feet.

When contacted, Tesla said its tests of the sedan — which weighs in at just over 3,800 pounds — returned an average of 133 feet while shod with the same tires. “The automaker noted that 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,” CR wrote.

The publication countered the statement by noting its braking test “is based on an industry-standard procedure designed by SAE International,” and that it uses a dedicated braking pad “monitored for consistent surface friction.” Between tests, CR testers drive the vehicle for about a mile to help cool the brakes.

Because the first test of the Model 3 yielded a result of 130 feet (a measurement never repeated, even after being parked overnight), CR picked up a Model 3 from a private owner. Those tests saw “almost identical results.”

We’ve seen brake fade complaints crop up from owners who took their Model 3s on the track (one owner destroyed his after 9 miles at Laguna Seca), but a panic stop in regular driving and a stock vehicle hitting a challenging race course are two different beasts. Issues encountered in the latter scenario are to be expected. The former, at least for Consumer Reports‘ purposes, isn’t forgivable. The braking issue, plus the distracting touchscreen and a few minor ride quality issues, kept a recommendation at bay, though the publication lauded the model’s lengthy driving range and acceleration.

While Tesla CEO Elon Musk didn’t detail what brakes we’ll find on the performance variant of the Model 3, an owner’s manual lists upsized front rotors for “plus” versions of the sedan. Those rotors, squeezed by new calipers, were spotted in a recent video released by Tesla.

[Image: Tesla]

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46 Comments on “Pump the Brakes: Consumer Reports Dings Model 3 For Lackluster Stops...”


  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Tesla Model 3 = Rolling dumpster fire built by monkeys using 1960’s era jigs and lathes.

    PT Musk is on the cusp on eliminating traffic congestion with The Boring Company’s Hyperloop – he posted about it on his Twitter handle.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    Perhaps its a good thing supply is/has been so constrained. Maybe they’ll get this figured out before they start earnestly producing them in the quantities they predicted.

  • avatar
    IBx1

    Ouch, I was thinking it may be bad with something like a 135-ish foot stopping distance, but 155 is on the dangerous side of laughable.

  • avatar
    incautious

    No worries. There’s plenty of fire trucks help stop these things

  • avatar
    tylanner

    I’d trust the concrete numbers from C&D/MT instrumented testing before a Consumer Reports editorial about a review.

    The total distance isn’t very shocking (only 5-feet longer than my 2012 GLI from 60-0) but the variation in distances is very concerning. If they recorded an honest 196ft stopping distance (80ft longer than MT) then something is wrong.

    This was with the base tires no doubt…get the optional Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires and lets see if it is an actual brake issue.

    • 0 avatar
      quaquaqua

      Do you have *any* idea how much more scientific CR’s testing methods are than the “instrumented” (i.e. we borrowed the car for a day) reviews in those let’s-never-say-anything-bad-about-our-sponsors magazines? No, clearly you don’t. So for the millionth time: CR is the only publication that puts all of its cars through MONTHS of testing. And those other magazines also would never go to the trouble of getting a second car for comparison when a potential manufacturing issue is to blame.

      • 0 avatar
        Kek

        “quaquaqua” –
        CR was using scientific method when they praised the S for its braking ability.
        Now that they ding the 3, they are not scientific / reliable / brake fade / blah blah.

        • 0 avatar
          jkross22

          Kek, you do know that the S and 3 are different cars, yes? Most people would expect braking performance to differ between the cars and since the S is more expensive and has been around for years, more kinks have been worked out.

          As we continue to see, Model 3 issues persist. I would think all Tesla fans would be grateful for any help in identifying this car’s ongoing problems.

          • 0 avatar
            tnk479

            It’s been my experience that Tesla fans on the Internet are definitely not grateful for Consumer Reports or anyone else who points out Tesla flaws.

          • 0 avatar

            Of all the things, brakes are a buy off the shelf item, for a small car company. “Hello, Brembo-yes, we know we’ll pay $5 per car for the name, but can you send a few guys over ?”

      • 0 avatar
        NG5

        While C&D and MotorTrend do thorough and interesting instrumented tests, I would never prioritize their data over CR, since CR buys actual production models which go out to the public.

        The skeptic in me always wonders how much those press vehicles get cooked. And I was disturbed to see a recent interview of a high profile magazine journalist talking blithely about how brazenly Ferrari cheated on their press models. I wouldn’t trust magazine data if I were evaluating whether a production car’s brakes would work in a roughly class-average way.

        • 0 avatar
          tnk479

          Also in this case, Tesla borrowed a privately owned Model 3 and were able to replicate the results. Most likely that means Tesla does have a problem that they need to address. I am sure they will because they cannot afford to let major flaws go unaddressed.

        • 0 avatar

          One may expect the tires to be perfectly balanced. Every bolt is properly torqued. Suspension will be perfect. I would also expect that the “tune” for the electronics and suspension might not be off the line….no one will catch a few pounds of boost.

          Performance car makers will lie sometimes in the other direction and under-rate for insurance reasons….

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Noted this below, but I’ll bring it up since tylanner mentioned the buff books…

      https://www.caranddriver.com/tesla/model-3

      C/D tested one that wasn’t a press fleet “ringer” – the car’s owner lent it to them for testing. C/D does a 70-0 stopping test versus 60-0, and the one they tested did it in 176 feet. That’s not anything to brag about, but it’s not out of line by any means.

      What this probably speaks to is highly inconsistent quality control. And that’s bad.

  • avatar
    JMII

    Brakes are not new tech, engineers should fully know how big of system is required to slow down the car down properly. If an F150 is out braking your standard sized (but heavy sedan) then something is wrong.

    I understand the brakes being destroyed at the track. Most factory systems are designed around eliminating noise and dust, they were never designed for multiple high speed stops.

    • 0 avatar
      tylanner

      Good Point. The comical CR 1-mile break between an indefinite number of panic stops is more arduous than any Brembo Racing brake bedding procedure I’ve ever seen…..

      Tesla has thousands of vehicles on the road with stellar braking performance.

      • 0 avatar
        Kek

        CR did praise the S on braking ability. Not the 3 though.
        150+ ft stopping distance from 60 mph is bad.

        Most eco brands having braking distances in the 120s
        Camry / CX5 are 125 ish for example. Also the 3 is much heavier – so the impact of a collision will be awful.
        Plus good a “What a 7000 dollar repair on model 3 looks like” – its a small scratch for hitting a stop sign or something. Not gonna look good if you hit a car at 20 mph – probably cost you 12K USD or more.

      • 0 avatar
        JMII

        I wonder if the regen system is to blame.

      • 0 avatar
        conundrum

        The “comical” CR procedure is probably over your head. But maybe not. Perhaps you could elaborate on what they do incorrectly, dear expert. If you can manage that with annotated links to acknowledged standards, great.

        If not, you will then stand proud next to the great horde of basement-occupying TTAC engine designers.

    • 0 avatar
      SD 328I

      Well to be fair, a current aluminum bodied F150 Supercab 2WD weighs in at about 3800 lbs, or similar to the Tesla 3.

      • 0 avatar
        MrIcky

        SD 328I, you read that wrong on the f150- A supercab is about 4500lbs in it’s lightest configuration. A regular cab is about 4100. I think you read the rear axle weight rating.

  • avatar
    DEVILLE88

    I will say this, i find the Tesla cars interesting and also see that they have taken electrical cars farther than most other companies have. the braking distance is laughable in todays day and age. a 1976 Cadillac Fleetwood stops better than that. I have no love for Mr Musk, respect…………..yes, admiration………no. This whole Tesla debacle reminds me of what Preston Tucker went through trying to sell what was arguably the most advanced,safest and an amazingly advanced automobile of it’s time. Mr musk should be trying to make sure that his cars are safe, reliable and solid. instead he’s showboating puting cars in space(stupid waste of money) and putting his name out there for all the world to see, unfortunately or fortunately your mistakes and shortcomings are put out there like a huge banner atop the Empire State building. fires,deaths, options that dont work like they are supposed to is unacceptable. meanwhile the other car companies will and are sit and sitting back watching this guy destroy his car company. that is sad.

    • 0 avatar
      tnk479

      One cannot help but wonder, if Musk would set investor and consumer expectations a bit more modestly, could they perhaps more steadily achieve their goals without all of the drama and consequences?

  • avatar
    phila_DLJ

    Can the functions hidden in the megascreen’s menus simply be voice-activated? That would make a big difference in the general usability of the car’s features, not to mention safety.

  • avatar
    hirostates12

    Found this on the interweb.

    From Motor Trend issue (Jan., 1964)

    Braking, 60-0 mph

    1964
    Plymouth Sport Fury————– 134 feet
    Chevelle Malibu SS—————- 162.5
    Ford Fairlane Sports Coupe——– 158.5
    Mercedes 300-SE—————– 142.5

  • avatar
    Ermel

    They won’t be updating that one over the wireless.

  • avatar
    NG5

    The fact that Consumer Reports is the first institution to draw significant attention to this issue, despite the fact that it has been noticed by other publications, underscores how essential they are.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    For a scathing Model 3 report, just read Edmunds’ latest monthly update on their car:

    https://www.edmunds.com/tesla/model-3/2017/long-term-road-test/2017-tesla-model-3-monthly-update-for-april-2018.html

    As for braking, Edmund’s got “a longish 133 ft”: https://www.edmunds.com/tesla/model-3/2017/review/

  • avatar
    Carroll Prescott

    To give you a shock, a 1950 Nash was tested 60-0 at 166 feet. That means the Tesla 3 is closer to the stopping effectiveness of a nearly 70 Nash than it is with a 2018 Ford truck. OMG.

  • avatar
    mcs

    They definitely need to do some serious work on the interior and the controls. Mercedes won’t make those mistakes with the EQC. At the high-end it’s in Mission E range price range. I’m planning on a Mission E and there is no friggin way I’d ever consider a Model 3 for the same price. No way.

    Also, on the charging front, Tesla is saying they are going to max out at 250 kW. Just had our first 350 kW charger for Porsche get installed in Massachusetts with a second one on the way. Both installed at gas stations. Porsche probably has the durability issues solved and will have a big advantage over Tesla on charging speed if that’s the case. Plus an amazing interior.

    I want Tesla to succeed, but they need to start getting their act together cuz the competition is coming.

  • avatar

    I find this after reading a thread about how some of the aluminium suspension arms are failing, and wheels flop off. Appears you can’t say this on lots of Tesla Forums.

    We love to lambaste the automakers, but they do have some sort of knowledge base. There’s a reason GM, etc aren’t really pushing self drive….they know how stupid WE are…..they probably have equal or better tech to Tesla, but they also weren’t surprised when the guy in England sat in the passenger seat while th car “drove itself”

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    OK, then there’s this: C/D’s test of a Model 3 showed a 70-0 stop of 176 feet. Not stellar by any means, but far from bad – a recently tested BMW 330i returned a 167-foot stop.

    And that vehicle wasn’t a press fleet ringer – it was a privately owned example that got lent out to the magazine for testing.

    Seems like there is obviously some kind of problem with at least some of these cars, but it may not be all of them.

    Still, that seems to speak to the possiblity that this model’s quality control is less-than-ideal.

  • avatar
    Tstag

    Tesla should ask Jaguar for advice on how to build a reliable electric car. Yes I really did just say that!

    Fact is Jaguar are now showing Tesla what premium really means.

    • 0 avatar
      Kek

      Which world are you living in? Have you never heard of
      Model S roof leaking
      Model X issues with its falcon wing doors
      Model S turning on automatic wipers and dumping water on windshield on the driver
      Model 3 rear mirror falling off
      Panel gaps on model 3 through which most of commercial oil shipping can flow if we go to war with Iran

      A Jaguar of 2002 will show more luxury than a fresh from the factory model 3.

      • 0 avatar
        Tstag

        ..er the same world as you? Read my post again.

        This is exactly my point. A Jaguar built in the 1970’s might have had these issues but even a Jaguar built in the 80’s would have had relatively good brakes. It goes to show that if Jaguar is considered to be near the lower end of the table for build quality that cars are better made than ever, unless you buy a Tesla. If you buy a Jaguar now then maybe it will come with a dodgy fuel sensor or something like that. But if you buy a Tesla you’ll need to start a document in word to list all its problems.

        As a consumer if I like a car I’m prepared to suffer a little inconvience and an unscheduled trip to the dealer. But frankly not lots of trips. Consumer reports and its ilk must have been waiting years for a story like this. Not even Fiat make cars this bad! Not by a mile!

  • avatar
    EBFlex

    152 feet. Is that with hitting traffic at a red light or without?

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    They’re gonna need good brakes when they’re fiddling with the screen to adjust the a/c vents, as they’re rapidly closing on a stopped, lifted F-350 Super Duty with a receiver hitch and triple ball mount on the back.

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