Consumer Reports reversed its position and now recommends the Tesla Model 3, after the car company shipped an over-the-air update this week that improved the vehicle's braking distance by nearly 20 feet. The point of sale had previously said that braking the Model 3 was "much worse than any modern car we tested" in a report released on May 22.
While the publication still questions some aspects of Model 3's ride comfort and its dependence on a touchscreen interface, CR said that the better stopping distance was sufficient to justify the recommendation. "There are other bugs with the vehicle," said Jake Fisher, CR director of automotive testing, USA Today . "These were not necessarily addressed, it's not the top in its category, but it's certainly a vehicle high enough to recommend."
"I appreciate the high-quality, critical feedback from @ConsumerReports Tesla CEO Elon Musk wrote on Twitter. He added that "Road Noise & Ride Comfort [were] has already been addressed" in more recent versions of Model 3 than what CR tested, and that improvements to the model 3's touchscreen interface come later in this Month "(Although it's unclear whether he meant May or June.)
CR had tested two models 3 before the update and found that they needed on average 152 feet to stop at a speed of 60 miles Hour. That's seven feet more than a Ford F-150 to get out of the same speed, after CR and 25 feet more than the Tesla Model X.
Finally, the software update that Tesla's the model 3s on the road reduced the braking distance by 19 feet to a total of 133 feet, which is CR "typical of a compact luxury car". Tesla has apparently achieved the better stopping distance by adjusting the software controlling the Model 3 anti-lock braking system, according to CR .
The story between Tesla and CR is as long as checkered. The publication often praised the innovation of the automaker, but did not hesitate to criticize its shortcomings, because every decision made headlines. CR withdrew its Model S recommendation in 2015 due to reliability concerns, even after it had "broken" its own rating system to give the all-electric sedan 103 out of 100 points. CR later returned to the Model S recommendation, but it was also critical for the Model X SUV for similar reliability issues.
Tesla employs staff around the clock to send as many models out the door as possible, as evidenced by an email Musk sent to employees. By the middle of this year, the company plans to boost the car's performance to around 5-6,000 a week. Until that happens, Tesla says it loses money on every model.