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Consumer Reports: Tesla’s Model 3 has ‘big flaws’

May 22, 2018 GMT

For much of the past year, Tesla’s Model 3 has been the darling of auto reviewers everywhere, with some comparing the mass market sedan to the iPhone and labeling it one of the greatest tech products ever created.

This week, Tesla’s string of good reviews came to a halt when Consumer Reports — a publication devoted to authoritative product testing — handed the Model 3 a crushing review.

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

“These problems keep the Model 3 from earning a Consumer Reports recommendation.”

The negative review arrives amid a blitz of negative Tesla headlines. Those headlines have raised questions about CEO Elon Musk’s behavior during a recent earnings call and the slow pace of Model 3 production, as well as several investigations into the performance of Tesla vehicles.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration launched an investigation last week into a crash involving a Tesla Model S that was reportedly in autopilot mode when the accident occurred, according to the agency. That crash is the third accident in recent months that has occurred when a Tesla was in the semiautonomous driving mode.

Consumer Reports’s review doesn’t mention any issues with the vehicle’s semiautonomous driving technology, but it does claim the Model 3’s stopping distance at 60 mph — approximately 152 feet — is “far worse” than any recent model they’ve tested and “about seven feet longer than the stopping distance of a Ford F-150 full-sized pickup.”

Asked to respond to Consumer Reports claims, Tesla said the company’s own tests have yielded far better results.

Consumer Reports was also sharply critical of an element of the Model 3’s cabin that has previously received rave reviews: its controls. Those controls are embedded in the vehicle’s touch-screen, which many reviewers have lauded for its sleek design and convenience. Consumer Reports, meanwhile, argued that the screen makes it more difficult for riders to accomplish “simple tasks,” such as adjusting the air conditioning and the car’s mirrors.

“These types of complex interactions with a touch screen can cause driver distraction because each act forces drivers to take their eyes off the road and a hand off the steering wheel,” Consumer Reports states.

The publication’s review wasn’t all bad, however. Consumer Reports labels the Model 3 an “impressive performance sedan” and notes that the car went from zero-to-60 mph in 5.3 seconds and offers drivers handling that is “reminiscent of a Porsche 917 Boxster.”

“In fact,” the publication adds, “our testers found the Model 3 thrilling to drive.”