Influential U.S. magazine Consumer Reports said on Wednesday it was recommending Tesla Inc's Model 3 sedan after its latest tests showed that a firmware update improved the car's braking distance by almost 20 feet.
In a tweet about the new recommendation, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that the braking and user-interface improvements will roll out to all Model 3s, and that the company is working to improve the ride and wind noise. Later, the vehicle was re-instated by Consumer Reports as a top-rated ultra-luxury sedan after consumers said its reliability had improved, and it updated its software to include automatic emergency braking at highway speeds. But Consumer Reports said the stopping distance was not class leading and the further updates may be necessary.
In retesting after the software update was downloaded, the Model 3 sedan stopped in 133 feet from 60 miles per hour, an improvement of 19 feet. The new software addressed variations in braking styles and environmental conditions, a company spokeswoman told Consumer Reports.
Thanks to the improved braking, Consumer Reports raised its overall score for the Tesla Model 3.
Tesla's Model 3 has earned a recommendation from Consumer Reports. As to CR's complaints over wind and road noise, Musk apparently told CR that fixes for those concerns have already been made on the Model 3 production line. Musk also suggested the car's 15-inch touchscreen display could receive an over-the-air update to make it easier to use.
"I've been at CR for 19 years and tested more than 1,000 cars", says Jake Fisher, the magazine's director of auto testing, "and I've never seen a vehicle that could improve its track performance with an over-the-air update". Another software update will address the controls, he wrote. He has played down a report identifying "big flaws" in its Model 3 sedan, admitting there is a braking issue with the vehicle but saying it will be fixed within days. The test is repeated multiple times with multiple cars, the publication says, and the brakes are cooled between tests to ensure they don't overheat.
Also mentioned in CR's updated Model 3 ratings were the difficulties associated with the car's 15-inch center-mounted touchscreen, which handles nearly all of the vehicle's controls. The groups Center for Auto Safety and Consumer Watchdog say Tesla is billing its vehicles as autonomous - when they clearly are not.