I drove the $58,000 Tesla Model 3 to see if it lives up to the hype — here’s the verdict

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You already knew that I was impressed with the earliest drive I had in the Model 3 and that getting to spend a few hours zipping around New York City and the New Jersey suburbs only enhanced my positive opinion.

You also knew that after I drove the Model 3 Performance, I was further dazzled by what the Model 3 is all about.

But you didn’t know what I thought it was like to live with the Model 3 for any length of time.

A week is obviously not a comprehensive test, but I’ve gotta tell you: The Model 3 isn’t just my new favorite Tesla — it’s my new favorite car.

There is no better vehicle of this type at this price that I believe I could currently buy. I literally craved looking at and driving the Model 3. But beyond that, I now count it among the small cadre of vehicles I’ve driven in my life that I have felt fit me absolutely perfectly and satisfied my every desire.

I’ve driven many, many vehicles, from small economy cars to wildly luxurious road-going hotel suites to some of the fastest sports cars and supercars on the planet. Throw in a bunch of minivans, SUVs, pickup trucks and pretty much every all-electric vehicle on the market. But three cars dramatically stand out for me.

They’re the Porsche 911, the Mazda MX-5 Miata, and the Tesla Model 3. I feel at home in these cars, relaxed and fully self-actualized. I understand them in an immediate way. If you want to get dreamy, I bond with them, effortlessly.

The 911 and the Miata are both rear-wheel-drive, perfectly balanced driver’s machines, so it makes sense I’d love ’em. Interestingly, the rear-wheel-drive Model 3 inspires something similar when it comes to driving confidence, more so than in any other Tesla I’ve piloted — and I’ve piloted them all, right back to the intense original Roadster.

But what’s really so hypnotically and addictively compelling about the Model 3 is how many great ideas have been crammed into one automobile. This is a car that’s absolutely bursting with thought, about the present and the future — and the distant future. Those ideas are overwhelmingly optimistic. Clearly, because it creates no tailpipe emissions, you can buy a Model 3 to feel better about yourself and your life on the environmentally embattled Earth.

But you can also feel better about yourself because the Model 3 by its nature makes you feel better about yourself. It is intellectually stimulating, a mood-improvement machine. I perked up every time I slipped behind the wheel, and most days I had to deal with rainy Northeast gloom. Gray skies weren’t going to clear up, but it didn’t matter, because the Model 3 helped me put on a happy face.

The Model 3 impresses on all fronts.

It can blast to 60 mph in five seconds, it can drive itself under some conditions, and it has a five-star safety rating from the government. What’s more, it’s a California-made, all-electric car from the first new American car company in decades.

But the truly astounding thing is that Tesla, in only about five years of seriously manufacturing automobiles, could build a car this good. That’s a staggering achievement.

Wait, did I say good? I meant great.

Hold on, did I say great? Sorry, I meant greatest.

Say hello to the best car money can currently buy.

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