MPGe

Prius Prime

FWD

Electric Motor

145 city/121 hwy

Model 3

RWD

Long Range Motor

128 city/117 hwy

Mid Range Motor

136 city/123 hwy

AWD

Dual Motors

120 city/112 hwy

Performance

120 city/112 hwy

The Prius Prime’s maximum EPA estimated driving range on a full tank of fuel and a full charge is 652 miles, after which it can be refueled at any gas station in minutes. The Model 3’s range is only 220 to 310 miles, after which the minimum recharge time is 8 hours and 30 minutes for only a 45% charge at a specially configured quick charge station not available in most areas.

Brakes and Stopping

In an emergency stopping situation, many drivers don’t press the brakes with enough force to stop the vehicle in the shortest distance. The Prius Prime has a standard brake assist system to detect emergency braking situations (by how hard and how quickly the brake pedal is pressed) and then automatically apply maximum braking immediately in order to help prevent a collision. The Model 3 doesn’t offer a brake assist feature.

Suspension and Handling

For better maneuverability, the Prius Prime’s turning circle is 4.7 feet tighter than the Model 3’s (33.4 feet vs. 38.1 feet).

Chassis

The Toyota Prius Prime may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 300 to 750 pounds less than the Tesla Model 3.

The Prius Prime is 6.8 inches narrower than the Model 3, making the Prius Prime easier to handle and maneuver in traffic.

The front grille of the Prius Prime uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The Model 3 doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

As tested by Car and Driver, the interior of the Prius Prime Limited is quieter than the Model 3:

Prius

Model 3

At idle

27 dB

41 dB

Full-Throttle

71 dB

73 dB

70 MPH Cruising

67 dB

69 dB

Passenger Space

The Prius Prime has .5 inches more front legroom and .3 inches more front hip room than the Model 3.

Cargo Capacity

The Prius Prime has a much larger cargo volume than the Model 3 (19.8 vs. 15 cubic feet).

Ergonomics

The Prius Prime Limited has a standard heads-up display that projects speed and navigation instruction readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The Model 3 doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

The Prius Prime Limited’s standard wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically according to the amount of rainfall on the windshield. The Model 3’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

The Prius Prime’s standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Tesla charges extra for heated mirrors on the Model 3.

The Prius Prime’s power mirror controls are mounted on the armrest for easy access. The Model 3’s power mirror controls are embedded in the infotainment system, seriously distracting drivers who have to adjust them while driving.

On extremely cold winter days, the Prius Prime Limited’s standard heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the car heater warms up. The Model 3 doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

Economic Advantages

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Prius Prime is less expensive to operate than the Model 3 because it costs $145 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the Prius Prime than the Model 3, including $194 less for a water pump, $28 less for front brake pads and $621 less for a power steering pump.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports? recommends the Toyota Prius Prime, based on reliability, safety and performance. The Tesla Model 3 isn't recommended.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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