Pump the Brakes: Consumer Reports Dings Model 3 For Lackluster Stops

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
pump the brakes em consumer reports em dings model 3 for lackluster stops

“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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  • EBFlex EBFlex on May 22, 2018

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

  • Dukeisduke Dukeisduke on May 22, 2018

    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.

  • SCE to AUX Good summary, Matt.I like EVs, but not bans, subsidies, or carbon credits. Let them find their own level.PM Sunak has done a good thing, but I'm surprised at how sensibly early he made the call. Hopefully they'll ban the ban altogether.
  • SCE to AUX "Having spoken to plenty of suppliers over the years, many have told me they tried to adapt to EV production only to be confronted with inconsistent orders."Lofty sales predictions followed by reality.I once worked (very briefly) for a key supplier to Segway, back when "Ginger" was going to change the world. Many suppliers like us tooled up to support sales in the millions, only to sell thousands - and then went bankrupt.
  • SCE to AUX "all-electric vehicles, resulting in a scenario where automakers need fewer traditional suppliers"Is that really true? Fewer traditional suppliers, but they'll be replaced with other suppliers. You won't have the myriad of parts for an internal combustion engine and its accessories (exhaust, sensors), but you still have gear reducers (sometimes two or three), electric motors with lots of internal components, motor mounts, cooling systems, and switchgear.Battery packs aren't so simple, either, and the fire recalls show that quality control is paramount.The rest of the vehicle is pretty much the same - suspension, brakes, body, etc.
  • Theflyersfan As crazy as the NE/Mid-Atlantic I-95 corridor drivers can be, for the most part they pay attention and there aren't too many stupid games. I think at times it's just too crowded for that stuff. I've lived all over the US and the worst drivers are in parts of the Midwest. As I've mentioned before, Ohio drivers have ZERO lane discipline when it comes to cruising, merging, and exiting. And I've just seen it in this area (Louisville) where many drivers have literally no idea how to merge. I've never seen an area where drivers have no problems merging onto an interstate at 30 mph right in front of you. There are some gruesome wrecks at these merge points because it looks like drivers are just too timid to merge and speed up correctly. And the weaving and merging at cloverleaf exits (which in this day and age need to all go away) borders on comical in that no one has a bloody clue of let car merge in, you merge right to exit, and then someone repeats behind you. That way traffic moves. Not a chance here.And for all of the ragging LA drivers get, I found them just fine. It's actually kind of funny watching them rearrange themselves like after a NASCAR caution flag once traffic eases up and they line up, speed up to 80 mph for a few miles, only to come to a dead halt again. I think they are just so used to the mess of freeways and drivers that it's kind of a "we'll get there when we get there..." kind of attitude.
  • Analoggrotto I refuse to comment until Tassos comments.