The used car market right now is, in a word, wild. People who recently picked up a new car are finding themselves beset on all sides by buyers who want to pay top dollar — even above sticker price. Such was the situation with one Tesla Model 3 owner in Connecticut, who was given an offer he couldn’t refuse for his 2021 Model 3 Long Range. He replaced it with a 2022 Model 3 Performance, but now feels the quality has sharply dropped from his old car.
It’s unusual to have two near-identical cars from different model years to compare between, but YouTuber Legend17 had just that. He had agreed to sell his 2021 Model 3 Long Range already, but the company that agreed to buy it hadn’t yet picked it up by the time he bought his new 2022 Model 3 Performance. With both cars sitting in his driveway, he decided to make some comparisons on fit and finish. Now, he might be wishing he hadn’t looked so closely.
Legend17 begins with the exteriors of both cars, pointing out the differences that come with the Performance trim level compared to the Long Range. Then, he goes into the panel gaps, and things start to get interesting. Gaps on the red 2022 are clearly larger and less consistent than the white 2021, though panel alignment and color matching seem to have been improved.
This begets a question that no one should really have to ask, but Tesla has forced into our collective minds: Which exterior build quality issues are livable, and which aren’t? By my own tastes, the red car’s exterior seems more competently assembled — I’d rather live with panel gaps than entire panels of mismatched paint.
Fortunately, the interior is a much more cut-and-dry downgrade. The white leather door card inserts on Legend17's 2021 Model 3 (no longer an option in Tesla’s online configurator) are gone, replaced with a soft suede or synthetic suede insert. The 2022's doors also have new materials along the bottom; a large expanse surrounding the storage pocket that was soft-touch on the 2021 is now hard-wearing plastic.
The interior is also home to some concerning usability and build quality issues. The driver’s-side sun visor doesn’t stay attached to its magnetic holder when folded down; its hinged side seems to be improperly mounted in such a way that the magnet just can’t hold. Similarly, the Model 3's center console doesn’t latch unless slammed — not exactly what you’re looking for in a $60,000 car.
Over all, while some improvements have been made with regard to paint, it appears that quality over all has taken a hit from the 2021 Model 3 to the 2022. This is likely less the fault of the model-year change, and more due to Tesla’s spotty quality control — some cars simply come out sloppy. At least, for Elon, this is the worst news to come out today for Tesla. Definitely nothing else.