- I've tested both the Tesla Model 3 and the new Polestar 2. Both are five-seater luxury EVs.
- They largely drive the same; the big differences are in the packaging and user experiences.
- Though the Tesla performs better on paper, I liked the Polestar because it has a more usable interior.
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In terms of more compact, luxury EVs with decent range, the Tesla Model 3 and Polestar 2 are pretty evenly matched. Both offer five seats, all-electric driving, and quick acceleration, and both are fighting for a similar clientele.
But if I had to choose one, I'd easily go with the Polestar.
The Polestar 2 is the first all-electric car from the new Volvo- and Geely-backed brand officially unveiled in 2019, while the Model 3 is Tesla's first stab at a lower-cost EV for the masses. There were some production issues in the beginning, but soon after the car became the most popular EV in the US.
I've spent time in both the Polestar 2 and the Model 3 Long Range. Both have their strengths — but most importantly, both are solid EV choices for anyone looking to transition away from internal combustion engines. They don't rely on fossil fuels, but everything else about them basically feels like you're driving a normal car.
Here's how they compare.
Tesla Model 3
Also, the center console surface is covered with piano black trim — reflective, black plastic — which I hate because it gets grubby with fingerprints so quickly. Underneath all the piano-black trim, however, is a huge amount of very handy storage space.
The rest of the Model 3's interior is just as stark, but the leathers are soft and the wood inlaid in the dash is a nice touch. It seats five passengers and has a decent-sized trunk, as well as a front trunk. Tesla quotes the luggage capacity to be 15 cubic feet.
Interior materials were also nice to the touch, but Polestar's commitment to sustainability — seat fabrics made from recycled plastic bottles, interior plastics made from waste cork products, and floor mats made from recycled fishing nets — is cool. A leather interior is available upon request, though.
The 2 also has a front trunk in addition to its rear trunk. Polestar quotes the luggage capacity to be 15.5 cubic feet.
Tesla Model 3
The Long Range Model 3 is quick, but the Performance Model 3 feels like a rocket. The acceleration is so instant that it feels like being shot forward with the world's biggest cannon. It never got old. It was never not entertaining.
In my own evaluation, I found the Model 3's steering to be weighted very favorably, not too light and not too heavy. It felt quite natural.
Forward visibility out of the Model 3 was also phenomenal. The low, short hood gave a near-unencumbered view through the windshield.
The Model 3 also offers Autopilot capabilities — Tesla's advanced driver-assistance system, which does not allow for fully automated driving. In my own experience, Autopilot and General Motors' Super Cruise are among the best driver-assistance systems currently on the market.
However, Polestar will be able to rely on Volvo's established dealer network for service and will also offer a free pickup and delivery service anywhere within a 150-mile radius of a participating Polestar location.
Polestar will not operate with a direct-sales model, but because the company allows for extensive online ordering, the company spokesperson was confident that the buying experience will be simple and stress-free.
You can read about how Polestar sales and service will work here.
I also liked the feel of the interior materials. The "vegan" interior didn't appear any less premium even though it didn't use cowhide.
Overall, I thought the 2's fit and finish was nicer than the Tesla's, which apparently can vary depending on which car you get.
True, the Long Range most likely has a longer range than the 2, and Tesla's Supercharger network is far more extensive, but I wager most of an EV's charging takes place at home over the course of its ownership. The US charging infrastructure network is expanding, too, so it's not like there won't be anywhere to charge a Polestar.
I also think Polestar's free pickup and delivery service is pretty sweet. It's unfortunate for those who don't live near a Polestar location, but for those who do, it's very convenient. Should Polestar really catch on here and expand its locations, it also expands the area it can service — no local franchise laws to tangle with.
Yes, on paper, it seems like the Model 3 has the 2 beat. The Tesla is slightly cheaper, has a longer range, offers a Performance model, and can be optioned with the very capable Autopilot system. But choosing a car is rarely a logical act, and being in the Polestar just made me happier.
Sometimes it's not more complicated than that.
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