When the Testa Model 3 was first announced, much of the excitement around it stemmed from a promised $35,000 base price. But that entry-level Model 3 remains an automotive unicorn.
In fact, to get a $35,000 Model 3, you have to order off-menu.
Tesla doesn't advertise the $35,000 Model 3; the cheapest version shown on the automaker's website at the time of publication is the Standard Range Plus, which carries a $39,990 base price. Prior to that, the lowest-price on-menu Model 3 was the $41,950 Mid Range model.
But Edmunds not only found that the $35,000 Model 3 still exists, but actually bought one.
Getting the car—called Standard Range—required contacting Tesla representatives directly and asking for one.
The Model 3 Standard Range actually starts out as a Standard Range Plus, then gets software changes to reduce range and remove certain features, as well as a de-contented interior, according to Edmunds. This streamlines production, as Tesla has one less build combination to worry about on the assembly line.
The automaker did something similar with certain previous versions of the Model S. Tesla would create shorter-range models by using software to limit how much battery capacity could be used.
2020 Tesla Model 3
This was also initially the case with Autopilot. Tesla started building all cars with the necessary hardware, but at first charged customers extra for the software to enable the system.
Opting for the cheapest Model 3 means an EPA-rated range of 220 miles, versus 250 miles for the Standard Range Plus, and 322 miles for the Long Range and Performance versions.
The Standard Range looks similar to a Standard Range Plus model, but the price difference between the two variants is evident in the details. On the Standard Range, trim pieces replace the fog lights used on other models, and the car has rear speaker grilles, but no speakers.
The base Model 3 also lacks floor mats. They're even an optional extra on the Standard Range Plus, according to Edmunds.
Autopilot is standard equipment on other Model 3 variants, but it's a $3,000 option on the Standard Range version. "Full Self-Driving" (which, despite the name, still requires an attentive human driver at the wheel) is a $7,000 option on all Model 3 trim levels.
Edmunds noted a delay in taking delivery of its Model 3, indicating delivery timeliness is still an issue for Tesla. That's something to keep in mind when ordering your own Model 3.