Hybrids & Electrics

Is the Tesla Model Y’s AWD System Any Good?

As far as electric crossovers go, the Tesla Model Y is one of the very best. Aside from offering a surprising amount of electric range, the Model Y is also a decent performer. Unlike a traditional all-wheel-drive system, the Model Y employs a dual-motor setup to send traction to all wheels. To test just how capable the crossover is, The Fast Lane Car put the EV to the test.

How does the Tesla Model Y’s AWD system work?

The Tesla Model Y is available in one of two flavors. The first is the Long Range trim for $49,990, which boasts an estimated range of 326 miles. Even the base model can reach 60 mph in 4.8 seconds. If you want more speed, you can opt for the range-topping Performance trim for $59,990. Although the range dips to 303 miles, you get a 0-60 mph time of 3.5 seconds. Regardless of which model you chose, they use a similar dual-motor setup.

Although we know many of the Tesla Model Y’s top figures, the EV carmaker doesn’t give away all of the important details. According to The Fast Lane Car, we don’t even have the exact horsepower and torque figure for the model. Despite this, we know there is one electric motor mounted in the rear axle and one in the front axle. The combination of these two is what allows the Model Y to have an all-wheel-drive.

According to Carfax, a traditional AWD system takes power from the engine and distributes it evenly to all four wheels. A 4WD system can selectively send power to either the front, rear, or all wheels at any given moment. In this case, the Model Y is slightly unconventional.

The Model Y is surprisingly capable

The Tesla Model Y is the brand's first small electric crossover.
Tesla Model Y | Tesla

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To test the Tesla Model Y, TFLC decided to place the electric crossover on a set of rollers. The idea here is to place the Tesla in various low traction scenarios to see how the all-wheel-drive system performs. The first test put the rollers underneath both front wheels to see if the rear wheels would kick in to drive off. Unsurprisingly, the Model Y quickly passed this test, finding grip almost immediately.

The second test is the exact opposite. What is notable about placing the rollers on the rear is that the Tesla Model Y struggled slightly more. This could be attributed to the suspected rear-drive bias. To throw the crossover a bit of a curveball, TFLC conducted a diagonal slip test, placing a roller under the front right and rear left tires. Despite the unusual situation, the Model Y still managed to find traction quite quickly.

To finalize testing, TFLC placed rollers under three wheels simultaneously to see if one tire was enough to drive off. The test was conducted once, leaving a front wheel on the ground, and a second time leaving the rear wheel on the pavement. Although it struggled significantly more than in the other tests, the Tesla Model Y still eventually found its grip. As a result, Tesla’s dual-motor set up in many of its vehicles should be apt enough to handle even tough, low traction scenarios.

Are other Tesla’s just as good?

The Tesla Model Y is the brand's first small electric crossover.
Tesla Model Y | FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images

The Tesla Model Y isn’t the only model in the range to utilize this dual-motor setup. In fact, all of the other Tesla models currently on sale can be optioned with a dual-motor powertrain. Since there are extensive powertrain similarities across all Tesla models, there is no reason to suspect that the other EVs should be less capable.