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Tesla Model 3 Dual Motor vs. Single Motor

I spent a LOT of time thinking about this one. The speed and power of that Dual Motor, but the savings on the Single Motor and an extra $5000 from the government too. Why must I choose??? What does Dual motor even mean? Can I have it all? let me answer some questions for you.

So is the Tesla Dual Motor worth it? I think it is, but there is a great number of people that won’t even notice.

Let’s start with the specs on Tesla’s horsepower and torque numbers so we can compare the options.

Tesla Model 3
TrimStandard Range PlusDual Motor AWDPerformance
Horse Power221346450

If there was an example of good, better, best, I would say that’s it. The Model 3 Performance is in supercar territory!

Okay, I’ll try not to get too excited. I believe it’s a particular person that wants the performance. If that’s you, then nothing in this article is going to change your mind. Set it to track mode and go have fun. The rest of us will stay here and go over the other two.

Single vs. Dual Motor is the real question here and speed is only one of the considerations.

Tesla Single Motor or Dual Motor for cold climates

I think one of the biggest factors in deciding between the two options is where you live. I live in a place where the air hurts my face for a good 4 months out of the year. Dual Motor doesn’t just mean more power. One motor drives the back wheels and one motor drives the front wheels. Yes, Dual Motor AWD. As in All Wheel Drive.

This can add a lot of capability to your car when snow and ice are covering the roads. AWD isn’t a magic feature that insures you never crash in bad weather but it can help immensely when starting out on slippery surfaces or allow the front wheels to help pull you through a corner.

Conversely, the Standard Range Plus ( or older Long Range RWD ) models are rear-wheel drive only.

There was a time before snow tires, anti-lock brakes, and stability control when rear-wheel drive was considered dangerous. RWD used to be the de facto standard back in the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s. Front-wheel drive emerged after that as it was easier to build and drivers were less likely to spin themselves off the road. The reality in this day and age is that RWD is just as safe and solid on the road as a front-wheel drive car.

That said, I’d take AWD in winter climates any day.

Tesla Single Motor or Dual Motor for handling.

I wanted to touch on the handling between the Single Motor RWD and the Dual Motor AWD. Personally, as someone who has spent a lot of time on a race track, it’s RWD all day every day. The dynamics of the rear-wheel drive car are superior, certainly to FWD but even AWD as well. Being able to adjust the attitude and balance with the throttle is so much better when the back wheels are worrying about moving you and the front wheels are worrying about steering you.

There’s a but coming.. I had the chance to compare the Model 3 RWD against the Long Range AWD on a track. I was stunned at how composed the Dual Motor was. You can feel the weight of course, on both of them, but the AWD really impressed me. I was able to carry a lot of speed through the corners and after hitting the apex the extra power really hooks up and pulls you through.

I’ve driven other AWD models on the track, but the Tesla really gets it right. So for the enthusiast, if you want purity, go buy a Miata, otherwise, you will love what the Dual Motor brings to the table.

Tesla Single Motor or Dual Motor for range

This one is odd, so I thought it best to mention it if you are doing research. The Dual Motor has more range than the single motor.  No way you say!, well Tesla includes the long-range battery with the Dual Motor and a standard-range battery with the RWD car.

If comparing two gas cars the AWD drive version is going to get less mileage than its front or rear-wheel drive brother. Increased weight and drivetrain loss is going to stack up against you.

For an electric car, weight is the only issue. A bigger battery offsets that. On this category, there is no downside. Dual Motor wins.

Speaking of batteries, you double down when it comes to the cold. You will lose range when the temperature drops. The larger capacity battery helps to offset that on a cold day. It could very well mean you’re adding an extra supercharge stop to many trips throughout the winter.

Single Motor or Dual Motor for speed!

It’s no contest here, but don’t get carried away. The Standard Range Plus does 0-60 in 5.3 seconds. Do you know what else does 0-60 in 5.3 seconds?

  • An original Honda NSX
  • A 2000’s BMW M3
  • A Ferrari Testarossa
  • A Lamborghini Countach!

Some pretty cool cars to be sure but we all know that cars have gotten a lot faster in recent years. My point, the Single Motor is plenty fast. Fast enough for any daily need. This is why I said above, most people won’t even notice. In fact, that instant torque that EVs are known for will bring a smile to your face every time.

The Dual motor, on the other hand, it’s fast. Really fast. 0-60 in 4.2 Seconds. What does that compare to?

  • Faster than a Ferrari F360
  • Faster than an Aston Martin Vanquish.
  • As Fast as an Audi R8
  • and as fast as a 10-year-old Lamborghini Gallardo. A Diablo too for that matter!

If speed is even remotely on your radar the Dual Motor delivers and it’s addictive.  

Here’s a fun video of the 3 models racing head-to-head.

Tesla Single Motor or Dual Motor Which is a better Value?

If you’ve read this far, you can probably tell how I’m going to sum up this article. The Dual Motor is the choice for anyone that thinks of driving as anything more than getting from point A to point B.

The fly in that ointment though is value, or maybe more appropriately cost. I think both versions are excellent value. The Standard Range RWD is a fantastic car, the Dual Motor is all that and a bit more.

The Model 3 starts at $31,590. Step up to the Dual Motor and you are getting the full premium interior and the AWD. That is going to run you $40,490. $9,000 more. Now where I live, the SR+ is eligible for a $5000.00 Government rebate making the difference $14,000.00. That’s a LOT of money. Like picking up a used Miata for track days kinda money.

So you may be thinking the Dual is a ripoff and the SR+ is where it’s at.

For many potential customers that is probably true. For others, that lean towards a performance side or need AWD to help them over snowy roads, the Dual Motor version makes a very strong case for itself.


 If you were hoping I was going to just give you the answer, well.. Okay, get the Tesla Dual Motor. You won’t regret it. I’ve spoken to a few people that went with the Standard Range, and if for the only reason they wonder what they were missing, they wished they went with the LR AWD.  The extra range in cold climates makes a big difference. The car’s composure only adds to an already stable car.

but.. and you knew there was going to be a “but”, don’t overlook the single motor. It’s a fantastic car in its own right. If I lived in California for example, I really think I would have gone with a single-motor version and put that difference into Tesla stock. Truth be told, if I had, I would have gotten a free car out of it!

I wish I hadn’t thought of that.

Happy driving!

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