Tesla Model 3 vs. Toyota Camry: Ultimate Ownership Cost Analysis

Tesla Model 3 vs. Toyota Camry: Ultimate Ownership Cost Analysis


Usually, the Tesla Model 3 and the Toyota Camry aren’t really cars you’d compare. One is an EV, the other a gas-powered econobox. However, when you put things in terms of cost to own, the picture becomes a little clearer. In fact, you may just be surprised at the results. They’ll certainly highlight the advantages of EV ownership.


How much does a Tesla Model 3 cost per month?

So, let’s start with the most obvious number, as it is technically a monthly cost. Base MSRP for a Tesla Model 3, sans FSD, is $39,999. Obviously, that’s quite a lot more than the Toyota, at $25,000. Now, this is where things get interesting. If you take a look at Tesla’s 2020 Impact Report, you’ll see a direct comparison to the Camry.

In the report, Tesla points out that the Model 3, while initially more expensive, will become cheaper to own over 5 years/60,000 miles. According to them, that’s because of the lower maintenance and depreciation costs of a Tesla Model 3. In all, the brand says it costs about $0.55 per mile. So, in reality, your monthly costs will vary depending on how many miles you drive on average.


A new Toyota Camry costs more to own than you think

A dark blue 2021 Toyota Camry in a photo booth
You can’t argue with the looks of the Toyota Camry | Toyota

Luckily, that’s pretty simple math on your end. Let’s say you drive an average of 1,200 miles a month, roughly on par with the national average. That’s about $660 per month, on average. Of course, there will be months where that number is only the cost of charging. Keep in mind these are costs averaged across a calendar year. However, the Toytota, per Tesla, is still cheaper.

If we’re trusting Tesla here (don’t, do your own research), the Toyota Camry will cost you about $0.50 a mile. Or about $600 a month. Honestly, I kind of see the logic here. Tesla wants you to see this and say, “well if it’s only $0.05 a mile…” Frankly, I agree with that logic. Objectively, the Model 3 is a much, much nicer car than a Toyota Camry.


It’s all about choice at the end of the day

A side profile shot of a dark blue Toyota Camry
Turns out, even a car like the Toyota Camry can be expensive to own | Toyota

So, in plain black and white, the Toyota Camry will be the cheaper car to own over 5 years or 60,000 miles. However, these are both commuter cars. I’d rather take a Tesla onto the highway every day than a Camry. Having been in both, the Tesla, despite its flaws, is just nicer.

That said, it’s all about choice. You know that Toyota Camry will still be running on the day you die, and Tesla hasn’t been around enough for us to feel confident saying that about a Model 3. So, if you want the Tesla, lease it. If you want the Camry, buy it and it’ll become an ancestral family heirloom for generations to come.


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