Yes, it can be done. While the back seat of a Model 3 isn’t the largest, at least not compared to our other car, a three row Buick Enclave, it' still a usable option with all three kids in car seats while we run some errands, like picking up our Christmas Tree. While I’m excited for a few more inches of width, especially in the middle seat in the back with our upcoming Model Y, for the next six months while we wait for it to get delivered, we’ll be using the Model 3 more and more for our activities and weekend trips.
That’s mostly because I’m way below the mileage for our lease. Two years of no regular commute, reduced outings and activities, and fewer trips to visit friends and family have meant far fewer miles driven overall. With only six months left in the lease, I want to use up more of the miles we technically paid for. So for the last few weeks, we’ve been using the Tesla more as a daily driver and cramming all three boys in more often.
Even though the daycare all three boys went to is just around the corner, and we’ve even walked a few times for pickup, we normally drive there each morning and evening and it’s become the main source of mileage for the car. When the older boys started public school this year, we no longer needed the space for three kids, so we started taking the youngest to school in the Tesla. But in the past month or so, we’ve started picking up the number of drives we’re doing with the Tesla.
Even though I chose the standard range (~200 miles) version of the Model 3 for my first electric car, we’re able to make it most places we’d want to go on a single charge. That includes all of our family, as long as we do a full charge beforehand, which thanks to at home charging is actually easier than filling up with gas on a trip. For our next car, I decided to go for the long range (~300 miles) for more flexibility, especially for road trips. But in reality, we have used the car a ton and have only needed to charge somewhere four total times now, once on my trip up to Vermont, once in upstate New York for a wedding, and twice on the way back from the Hamptons. Thanks to the supercharging network of Tesla and more fast chargers, each of those got progressively easier and faster.
For trips around town, it’s never an issue though and being able to charge overnight means I’ve actually spent far less time charging or even thinking about it than I would have with filling up with gas. With chargers at places like the zoo, my wife’s office, and in more and more parking lots and garages, I often actually come home with more charge than I left with.
We’re able to fit the three boys and their seats in the back with pretty much no room to spare. The twins are in booster seats now which are easier to fit in on the sides with the youngest’s rear-facing seat in the middle. Now, the middle seat doesn’t actually have latch mounting points, but the ones on the two sides actually line up perfectly, so he’s well secured. When he turns around in a little while, it will actually probably fit a little more easily. The biggest challenge is buckling the seat belts over the two booster seats as the buckles end up right under the infant seat, though after some practice I’ve found a way to do it with less hassle and losing my watch less often. Even though it’s an exercise in wrist gymnastics, the boys are all safely secured back there. The biggest problem is that they’re much closer to us than in the SUV, and so more irritating.
Thankfully the Tesla has a few tricks to make it more enjoyable for us. The boys think that the little Easter Eggs like the Rainbow Road and Santa modes are awesome and often request this the second we get on the highway. They also don’t really understand the whoopie cushion thing and think that there is a farting rat running around the car which puts them into absolute hysterics. For me, having the Autopilot to steer for me briefly if I need to grab something from them or off the floor is hugely helpful. I can also get the heat going from the app when we’re leaving a place so that they don’t complain about being cold when we get in. The games and streaming video also help entertain them and myself on the times we’re waiting in the car.
The only time we haven’t been using the Tesla is when there’s simply too much to bring along. With the three of them, we still need to bring a stroller and pack and play any time we’re going away for a night, and the two of those together won’t fit in the trunk. If we only need on though, there’s plenty of other storage room with the front trunk and in the compartment underneath the trunk area. We’ll have quite a bit more with the Y, so we may even end up bringing it for longer trips again.
This year, unfortunately we were not able to actually pick up our Christmas tree with the Tesla. We managed to do it last year and the car performed great. So this year, we headed out in Santa Mode, where the self-view of the car on the screen becomes Santa’s sleigh, and the turn signal sound becomes jingling bells, cranked some Christmas music on the awesome stereo, and drove out into Western New Jersey to a Christmas tree farm. Unfortunately, we were living a bit too much in the future and forgot to bring any cash, so had to head to another farm. The second one took credit card, and even turned out to be an actual farm where you pick and cut your own tree with a bow saw. We excitedly grabbed the tools and went out to the field in search of the perfect tree, and couldn’t find it. The farm only had trees under five feet tall, so back into the Tesla we headed and decided to cut our losses and just go out for dinner. On the way back it even snowed a little bit, adding to our holiday vibes, and not worrying me at all as the car does great in the snow thanks to the low center of gravity from the batteries.
So even though we weren’t able to get our tree in the Tesla - we ended up getting one right near our house from a community run lot - we had a fun family outing again in the car. More and more, I’m finding that it’s the perfect car for our family and the conveniences far outweigh any concerns about having to charge it up or any of the other quirks of driving an electric car. Two and a half years into driving it, I’m still thrilled by the driving performance and love the convenience of it. Let’s see where we end up driving it this winter!