Polestar vs. Tesla: Which EV Is The Better Buy?

in Car Comparisons
Tesla parked in fall

Source: Pixabay

When it comes to electric vehicles or EVs, Tesla is undoubtedly the brand with the most recognition. However, as the EV market rapidly changes with more manufacturers making their electrified cars, trucks, and SUVs, Tesla’s dominance has recently been challenged, especially with the introduction of more affordable EV options. Having said that, one of the most promising contenders in the EV market is Polestar.

If you’ve been shopping for your next electric vehicle, there’s a good chance you’ve considered both Tesla and Polestar at one point. Therefore, many of our readers wonder which EV brand is better, Polestar vs. Tesla.

For this head-to-head comparison, we pick two EV models from Polestar and Tesla that are actually direct competitors, the Polestar 2 and Tesla Model 3. Which EV is superior? Let’s find out.

Polestar 2 vs. Tesla Model 3 Comparison

Launched in 2021, Polestar is a newer company and is actually Volvo’s EV segment, so you’re not dealing with a new startup company but an established luxury brand. The Polestar 2 is a luxury electric sedan with two engine options: the single-motor and dual-motor models. Like many luxury electric vehicles, the Polestar 2 promises cutting-edge tech, futuristic styling, and powerful motor options. With its place in the automotive segment, current price point, and features, the Polestar 2 directly competes with the Tesla Model 3.

On the other hand, the Tesla Model 3 is easily the most popular car in the company’s lineup. Widely considered to be Tesla’s bread and butter, the Model 3 boasts excellent range, dynamic performance and handling, and an attractive price point. While it’s easy to recommend the Tesla Model 3 to first-time EV buyers, it has a lot of competition now, including the BMW i4, Ford Mustang Mach-E, Hyundai Ioniq 5, and of course, the Polestar 2.

Moving on to the Polestar vs. Tesla comparison, let’s look at each vehicle’s design and build quality.


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Design, Interior, and Build Quality

When you put the Polestar 2 and Tesla Model 3 side by side, you’ll clearly see the styling difference between the two.

The Polestar 2 is going for a more conservative exterior design but is also sophisticated and modern. Volvo’s mastery of luxury vehicle design comes into play here. We can see some influence lifted from the XC40, but the Polestar 2 has a unique identity of its own. It is an eye-catching EV that warrants your attention while on the road.

Meanwhile, the Tesla Model 3 subscribes to a more Porsche-esque styling with a long body and striking curves. While the Model 3 does offer a bolder exterior, many would argue that it features a more “anonymous” styling which may not resonate with all buyers.

In terms of build quality, the Polestar 2 lives up to its Volvo heritage. All the exterior panels were appropriately fitted, and the panel gaps were consistent. The Polestar 2 features a solid build quality that buyers would expect in a luxury EV. On the other hand, the Model 3 has suffered from numerous lousy press regarding its build quality, such as egregious panel gaps and paint defects. However, many people also commented about their well-assembled Teslas, so your mileage may vary.

However, the Model 3 needs to improve in interior quality. We’ve seen countless reports of questionable interior quality issues like rattling, noises, and squeaks. It also doesn’t help that the Model 3’s interior design looks spartan by comparison. On the other hand, the Polestar 2 features a tight-looking cabin with no odd noises or rattles to be found. It also looks and feels like a traditional dashboard.


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Performance, Range, and Charging

When choosing between Polestar vs. Tesla, these are the categories that matter to most people.

Tesla is known for its sporty and engaging EVs; the Model 3 is no exception. Of course, the 

Model 3 offers strong acceleration, responsive steering, and agile handling. With the base model, it has an acceleration speed of 0 to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds, and that’s just with the single-motor version. The standard Model 3 also has an engine output of 271 hp with 310 lb-ft of torque.

On the other hand, the Polestar 2 comes up short versus the Tesla in terms of pure performance. With the base single-motor model, the Polestar 2 produces 231 hp and 243 lb-ft of torque. Acceleration is also lagging at 7.2 seconds to get from 0 to 60 mph, so there’s a lot of reason to be disappointed here, especially compared to the Model 3.

Range-wise, the Polestar 2 Long Range Single Motor has an EPA-estimated range of 270 miles. Meanwhile, the Tesla Model 3 is only slightly better, with an EPA-estimated range of 272 miles. The Model 3 gets an efficiency of 25 kWh of electricity for 100 miles, while the Polestar 2 has 31 kWh of electricity for every 100 miles.

For charging, the Polestar 2 uses the CCS charging standard, and the quality and availability of the charging stations can vary by location. CCS charging networks are generally more abundant than Tesla’s supercharging stations. In contrast, Tesla’s 70kW superchargers are fast and worth considering if you have a nearby charging station near your area. Otherwise, you may have to rely on the CCS adapter for the Tesla.


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Polestar vs. Tesla: Which is Better?

The 2023 Polestar 2 has an MSRP of $48,400, while the 2023 Tesla Model 3 starts at $42,990 – both prices are for standard models. In terms of performance and practicality, the Tesla wins hands down because the Model 3 offers a more robust and engaging driving experience. The Tesla Model 3 also wins in terms of technology and related features because Tesla simply shines in this category.

On the other hand, the Polestar 2 offers more solid build quality and a better interior. It’s clear that Volvo knows what it’s doing with its luxury electric sedan, and it’s showcased by the overall quality of the Polestar 2.

Regardless of your choice, both vehicles offer some of the best experiences from the blooming EV market.

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