Tesla Model Y Research

The Car Connection Tesla Model Y Overview

The Tesla Model Y is an electric compact crossover with up to 316 miles of range and more passenger space and cargo room than the mechanically-related Model 3 compact sedan.

The egg-shaped Model Y shares about 75 percent of its content with the Model 3, but is about two inches longer and half a foot taller for significantly more cargo volume. In addition to competing against the Model 3 and Model X three-row SUV that's more than double the price, the Model Y squares off against other electric crossovers such as the Jaguar I-Pace, Mercedes-Benz EQC, and Audi E-Tron, and less expensive models such as the Chevy Bolt and Kia Niro EV. 

MORE: Read our 2020 Tesla Model Y review

It costs about $51,000 to start in Long Range model, while the Performance model asks for an additional $11,000. A less expensive entry-level model is expected for 2021. 

The Long Range and Performance models are powered by an estimated 75-kwh battery pack (Tesla doesn't publicize battery capacity) with a motor on the front and rear axle for all-wheel drive. The Long Range model has a 316-mile range and hits 60 mph in 4.8 seconds; the Performance model sacrifices range (291 miles) for a 0-60 mph time of just 3.5 seconds, same as many six-figure luxury sports cars. It has a 135-mph top speed, and can tow up to 3,500 pounds. A 50-kwh rear-wheel drive model with an estimated 250-mile range will shore up the lineup for 2021.

The Model Y distinguishes itself with a smooth, blank front fascia, and a tall, broad back with a short ground clearance. With the battery pack suspended in the floor between the axles, the low center of gravity makes for sportier handling than most crossover SUVs. Build quality issues such as panel gaps and some flimsy trim parts distort the Model Y's popularity.

Inside, a 15-inch touchscreen with a horizontal orientation dominates the cockpit. It replaces the instrument cluster and the center stack, and controls everything from audio and climate inputs to side mirror adjustments and driver-assistance settings that Tesla calls Autopilot. Despite the misleading and legally contentious name, Autopilot uses active lane control and adaptive cruise control down to a stop to ease the burden of highway cruising and stop-and-go commuting. Even with beta testing of "Full self-driving" the driver needs to monitor the system and stay alert.

Over-the-air updates keep the technologically sophisticated Model Y as fresh as a smartphone. Standard features include a tinted glass roof spanning front to rear windshield, keyless entry and ignition, heated front and rear seats, 14-speaker sound system, 12-way power adjustable front seats, power-folding heated side mirrors, and four USB ports. Cargo volume with the 60/40-split rear seats folded down is 68 cubic feet, or about 10 cubic feet more than the Audi E-Tron or Chevy Bolt. Tesla promises an available third row to seat seven for 2021, but we doubt its fit and comfort. 

Built in Tesla's home of Fremont, California, the Model Y is the fifth Tesla, following the low-volume Lotus-based Roadster that launched the brand.  

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