New 2024 Tesla Model 3 Highland Upgrades vs Old Model 3

It is said that one should not fix something that is not broken. Tesla definitely adheres to these principles, as the company left the Model 3's batteries and electric motors alone when it rolled out the vehicle's Model 3 Project Highland update. And while one can argue that there wasn't really anything to fix with the original Model 3's exterior and interior, Tesla has opted to update and improve several of the vehicle's characteristics anyway. 

Here then is a quick look at the key improvements that were implemented for the Model 3 Highland. 

Exterior 

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Tesla implemented a comprehensive but subtle exterior redesign for the upgraded Tesla Model 3. These changes are evident in the use of all-new sheet metal that are designed to minimize body panel gaps, tighten seals, and optimize airflow. These refinements result in a drag coefficient of 0.219, making the new Model 3 the most aerodynamic vehicle in Tesla's current lineup.

The new Model 3 also leaves behind the "frog-esque" appearance of its predecessor with its sleeker headlights, its absence of foglights, and its central cooling inlet. Apart from this, the new Model 3's hood features a top edge with a more pronounced upward curve, which guides air more effectively for reduced wind noise. 

The rear end of the new Model 3 received a subtle update as well. Gone are the split taillights in the previous generation Model 3. The upgraded Model 3 boasts fully integrated taillights within the powered liftgate and a more aggressively diffused rear bumper that's designed to minimize rear-end lift at high speeds. Rounding out the exterior updates are new 18-inch and 19-inch wheels, as well as two new paint colors: Stealth Grey and Ultra Red.

Interior 

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The interior of the original Model 3 is minimalist. The upgraded Model 3, even more so. Building on the minimalist ethos of the previous generation Model 3, Project Highland elevates the interior experience with subtle changes. Acoustic glass now extends to the rear windows, significantly reducing cabin noise and creating a more peaceful environment during driving. The traditional wood trim on the dashboard has been replaced with a blend of textures and colors as well, and it is complemented by a fully adjustable wraparound ambient lighting feature. 

Seats 

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The previous generation Model 3 had great seats, but they still had areas for improvement, especially in the rear. Addressing previous criticisms, Tesla then improved rear seat comfort for the upgraded Model 3. For one, the rear seat cushion has been strategically raised, alleviating some of the awkward "knees in the air" posture experienced by some passengers in the previous generation Model 3. 

Additionally, the backrest seat cushions have received a firmness adjustment, offering enhanced support and minimizing the sinking-in feeling often associated with less-structured seating. Coupled with ventilated seats, these refinements contribute to a more comfortable experience for the new Model 3's passengers.

Infotainment

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The Model 3's iconic center screen remains intact, though Project Highland's main display features a slimmer bezel and improved brightness and responsiveness. Just like the Model S and Model X, the upgraded Model 3 now has a rear display as well, which allows passengers in the rear seats to view media and control functions like climate control. The rear display is absent in the previous generation Model 3.

Gear Selector 

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Unlike the previous generation Model 3, which features dedicated gear stalks, the new Model 3 uses a touchscreen-based gear selector. Functions like turn signals, lighting, wipers, and cruise control are now seamlessly integrated into haptic feedback buttons on the steering wheel itself. Gear selection is now done through the infotainment system, with redundant manual controls near the hazard lights as a fail-safe. The new Model 3 also features Auto Shift Out of Park, which anticipates driver intent based on vehicle entry and initial movement.