The Tesla Model Y is an electric crossover utility vehicle (CUV). When the EV maker introduced the Model Y, it became a price competitor with the Model 3 and Ford Mustang Mach-E. Before the now-Texas-based brand introduced the Standard Range RWD earlier this year, the Model Y was essentially a $50,000 luxury EV if you purchased the cheapest model.
You can snag a 2021 Model Y Performance model for about $10,000 less than previously. It starts at only $5,000 more than the Model 3 and $510 less than the top-trim Ford Mustang Mach-E GT. With such a small price gap between the Tesla Model Y Performance and Model 3 Performance, is the former worth $5,000 more?
Tesla Model Y vs. Model 3: Range
In terms of performance, an EV’s driving range is likely at the top of your list of deciding factors. The Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus gets an EPA-estimated 263 miles per full charge. The Model Y Standard Range gets a few miles less, at 244. The Model 3 Long Range boasts 353 miles per charge, and the Model Y Long Range can go 326 miles. And the Model 3 Performance can travel 315 miles per charge, while the Model Y Performance gets 303 miles.
So each Model 3 trim offers a longer range than the Model Y. But the Performance trims have a difference of only 12 miles — the smallest of the three trims. However, the Long Range trims have the smallest price difference of $3,000. The Performance trims have the greatest price difference of $5,000. And the Model 3 Standard Range Plus and Model Y Standard Range differ by $4,000, Tesla‘s website shows.
Tesla Model Y vs. Model 3: Speed
The Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus RWD drives on a single motor. It can reach a top speed of 140 mph and travel from 0 to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds. The Long Range AWD has a dual-motor drivetrain, a top speed of 145 mph, and a 4.2-second 0-to-60 time. The Performance AWD boasts a dual-motor drivetrain. It can reach 162 mph and go from 0-to-60 mph in 3.1 seconds. Other performance features include 20-inch Überturbine wheels, high-performance brakes, a carbon fiber spoiler, and a lowered suspension.
The Model Y Standard Range RWD runs on a single motor. Its top speed is 135 mph and goes from 0 to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds. The Long Range AWD packs a dual-motor drivetrain, has a top speed of 135 mph, and reaches 60 mph in 4.8 seconds. And the Performance trim AWD comes with a dual-motor drivetrain. Its top speed is 155 mph, and it can go from 0 to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds.
Tesla says the Performance trim for both models offers better handling, traction, and stability control because both motors digitally control the torque. The EV maker also claims this trim is competent in the rain, snow, mud, and off-road terrain with more reliable traction control.
Tesla Model Y vs. Model 3: Capacities, interior amenities, and safety features
If the Tesla Model 3 is about longer range and better overall performance, the Model Y is about utility. For example, the Model Y is a seven-seater, and the Model 3 is a five-seater. The Model Y offers 63 cubic feet of cargo space before the seats are folded down, while the Model 3 offers only 15 cubic feet. And each second-row seat in the Model Y folds flat independently, providing even more flexibility and cargo space.
The Model 3 — a fastback sedan — is inherently sportier yet less utilitarian than the Model Y crossover SUV. And like their gas-powered rivals, the Model Y’s weight and size hamper things such as range and overall performance. A Model Y weighs nearly 400 pounds more than a Model 3.
The Model 3 struts its stuff with a fairly long list of “Partial Premium” and “Premium” features. They include 12-way power-adjustable heated front seats, premium seat material and trim, a 14-speaker sound system, a tinted glass roof with ultraviolet and infrared protection, and custom driver profiles. On the other hand, the Model Y doesn’t offer nearly as many premium features, whether standard or optional. Of the 20 premium features offered the Model 3 boasts, the Model Y has only nine.
Both the Model Y and Model 3 earned an overall 5-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). It rated the 2020 Model 3 as having the lowest likelihood of injury of any car the U.S. New Car Assessment Program has evaluated, Tesla claims. However, Consumer Reports lists the 2021 Model Y as the least reliable Tesla.
Both models also come standard with plenty of advanced safety and driver-assist features. They include adaptive cruise control with a semiautonomous driving mode, auto emergency braking with pedestrian detection, and standard lane-departure warning with lane-keep assist. There are optional self-parking and summons features, too. Both models also come with basic safety features like driver and passenger airbags, four-wheel ABS, and four-wheel disc brakes.
Overall, the smaller Model 3 outclasses the Model Y SUV in numerous ways. But if usefulness is more important than sportiness, the larger, more spacious Model Y is worth the $5,000 extra.