This year, Tesla gives us their luxury SUV line, the model Y. It looks very much like the model 3 (albeit bigger) because the compact SUV actually builds upon the same chassis and powertrain. The Model Y adds an optional third-row seat and a new version with RWD and standard (lower) range. The taller roof and larger cabin make this model a more practical car than the Model 3, but how does it compare in specs? Let’s take a deep look at the Model Y and what Tesla has to offer this year.
Before we dive into the review, these are the current options that Tesla offers for the Model Y:
- Long Range AWD
- Performance Upgrade Package (PUP)
Note that any Model Y can be configured to add third-row seating, but this option may not always be available.
The Tesla Model Y is a stylish crossover vehicle, not too large compared to its predecessor, the Model 3. But they both have the same distinct headlights and other similarities. There are differences, although not clearly visible at first – the Model Y comes with a taller roof, muscular lines, and a hatch design with Tesla tail lights.
With utilitarian matte black, the car is distinguishable when lined up next to other Teslas. Many Model 3 owners paid to get rid of the Chrome finish on their cars, so Tesla got rid of it on the Model Y. Crossover design features like refined character lines and higher beltline also set it apart. It has a panoramic all-glass roof that extends to the back seats, which looks great both on the outside and inside the car. It’s tinted with UV protection to keep everything heat/light at a comfortable level. We expected a touchless way to open the hatch but were disappointed. Nonetheless, the hatch opens up with a push button to expose a flat trunk at a height that makes loading and unloading cargo easy.
The Model Y Long Range and Model Y Performance also differ slightly, with the latter installing red calipers for the larger brake system, Pirelli P Zero tires, and a ducktail.
As expected, the interior is button-free and completely dependent on the large (15.5 inches) infotainment touch screen. Even though it’s ‘cool’ and futuristic, we felt that it was distracting to use while driving and would have preferred tactile buttons or knobs for some of the controls, at the very least. The center console looks good, but the piano plastic is a fingerprint magnet, which really takes away from the seamless, clean look of the car. As previously mentioned, the third row of seats can optionally be ordered from Tesla (not always available). We preferred the car without the third row because we felt it looked crowded with so many seats, although it is a convenient option for some families, so we consider it advantageous.
The passengers (and driver) can stretch out their legs in the spacious cabin that also offers a lot of headroom. The dashboard is unobtrusive, and the forward visibility is superb, as the windshield is wider than we’d expected. Contrarily, rear visibility is somewhat limited and reminded us of looking through the rear of a sports car.
Engine and Performance
Going from 0 to 60 in under 5 seconds (4.4, to be exact), the Model Y shows that it can rival the Model 3 in performance, despite its higher center of gravity. The Model Y Performance is even better, with higher acceleration (0-60 mph in 3.8 seconds.) However, it doesn’t have as smooth a ride as we’d have preferred, nor the satisfaction of sharp turns when driving. The Long Range produces 384 hp with 376 lb-ft torque. The Model Y Performance increases that further by creating 456 hp and 497 lb-ft torque.
The engine is powerful on all options of the Model Y, and it offers decent braking (60-0 in 110 feet). Its driving is comparable to many sports cars, which is a feat given its size. However, the Model Y Performance was a slightly rougher ride, and we would recommend the Long Range for smoother driving.
The Model Y has very comfortable seats, which are padded and supportive. In addition, various features like heating, climate control (which can be remotely operated), and others are available to cater to the driver’s/passenger’s preferences.
If you opt for the third row, you’re in for disappointment because they aren’t as functional as they claim to be. The design of the rear windows impedes the comfort of anyone sitting in the third row, so those seats may only be useful for small children. The third row is overpriced at $3000, and we wouldn’t recommend choosing that option unless necessary.
Tesla is well known for the technology, so we expect a lot from the Model Y. Everything is controlled from the dashboard touch screen of the infotainment system, which may not be the best feature. The screen even shows the speedometer, and in our opinion, that may be considered a driving hazard. You can also control various features using the Tesla App, which is considered your main key. There is a backup key card that Tesla provides in case your phone is not with you.
It offers Google=based navigation and impressive audio quality from a system of 14 speakers. We were disappointed not to find Android Auto or Apple Carplay. Bluetooth connection for smartphones felt like taking a step back for a Tesla. The infotainment system also offers voice control, which wasn’t as reliable as other voice control software. Entertainment options include games, streaming services, Youtube, and other apps. They are conveniently disabled when the car is being driven to prevent accidents due to potential distractions.
The Tesla Model Y comes equipped with a 75 kWh battery (72.5 kWh usable), which can power the car to drive 300 EPA-rated miles. The Performance upgrade uses the same battery but manages to increase the driving range slightly up to 303 miles. The Standard (reduced) Range option was a downgrade with only RWD, which is not very significantly cheaper but only offers 244 miles for driving range.
As you probably already know, Tesla has the largest supercharger network in the world. So, charging your Model Y shouldn’t be an issue when you’re on the road because fast charging is always accessible. You can also charge it at home conveniently (overnight). Using a normal outlet (120V) should power the car for 4 miles of driving range every hour. That means it would take 12 hours to charge up to 50 miles, which is fine for most short errands. Another option would be to install a special outlet (NEMA 14-50) and buy the relevant adaptor from Tesla. This powers the Model Y for 30 miles every hour, and so you can charge it fully overnight.
Due to the vehicle’s size, there is massive space for cargo. If you don’t opt for the third-row seating configuration, that further increases the storage capacity. The cargo floor is removable in case you ever need it, and according to Tesla, the car can store a total of 68 cubic feet at most (which is impressive). This includes the additional cargo space under the hood of the car. We would have preferred more organization in the center console, but that’s a minor demerit.
As expected from any Tesla, the Model Y comes with its Autopilot semi-autonomous driving system with positive reviews worldwide from previous models. Additionally, assistance features are offered (optionally), such as self-parking and Tesla’s summon feature. It passes with flying colors in NHTSA and IIHS ratings, and we think it is a safe vehicle to drive. Standard safety features also include lane departure alerts, automated emergency braking (in case pedestrians pass in front of the car), and adaptive cruise control. Note that Tesla recommends only charging up to 90% for battery health.
We loved both versions (Longe Range AWD and Performance) of the Tesla Model Y. The car drives fairly smoothly for a compact SUV, provides ample space for passengers and storage alike, and comes with many safety features. Our only major drawback would be the lack of Android or Apple support on the infotainment system. Nevertheless, the car has the aesthetic and performance of a sports car, the environmental and technological advantages of being an all-electric vehicle, and the space of an SUV.