Hybrids & Electrics

Tesla Model Y’s Quality Put to the Test with Surprising Results

Although its EVs do offer some intriguing features, Tesla has struggled to deliver them with a consistent level of quality. The Model 3, for instance, is fast, but lately, owners have been reporting steering wheels falling off. And the Model X has been problematic when it comes to fit and finish. Initial examples of the Tesla Model Y crossover didn’t inspire much more confidence. But now that it’s been out for some time, has the Model Y managed to shake off these issues? Michigan-based automotive firm Munro & Associates took a closer look to find out.

The Model Y shows Tesla’s improving its quality

2021 Tesla Model Y rear
2021 Tesla Model Y rear | Tesla

Munro & Associates, as Jalopnik explains, is the firm automakers and OEM suppliers turn to for design analysis. The company literally takes vehicles apart, and looks at every single part, down to the tiniest screw. That way, its clients can be informed of the current state of automotive design, from engineering to investment costs.

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Munro & Associates had previously taken a look at the design of the Tesla Model Y’s hatch. Some individuals were concerned the hatch, which extends into the bumper to lower the load floor, would be expensive to fix after a collision. Sandy Munro, CEO of Munro & Associates, presented his firm’s findings, and ultimately reported the hatch design wasn’t an issue.

Since then, Munro and his firm have analyzed more and more of the Tesla Model Y’s components. Recently, he took a Model Y a client had bought themselves for an on-road fit-and-finish test. And Munro came away with a positive impression.

In terms of overall fit and finish, Munro was very impressed with the Model Y. He also reports the crossover handles “like it’s on rails,” and accelerates very well at highway and street speeds. In addition, he notes the EV’s controls, and Autopilot, in particular, are well designed, and fairly intuitive. Though Munro takes care to point out that having Autopilot does not mean the Model Y is self-driving.

However, although Munro recommends the Tesla Model Y to potential EV buyers, the crossover still has some faults.

But the Tesla Model Y still has some notable flaws

Firstly, it’s worth noting that the Tesla Model Y is a significant step up from previous Teslas, especially the Model 3. The doors, in particular, are fitted well. However, Munro notes the hatch area still suffers from inconsistent panel gaps. Not just the hatch itself, but the taillights, too. Though, to be fair, the Porsche Taycan has also been experiencing similar issues.

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Secondly, in an interview with YouTuber Sean Mitchell, Munro reports the Model Y exhibits another characteristic Tesla flaw: paint. The Model Y came with orange peel, as well as dirt underneath the paint itself.  True, other automakers have suffered significant paint flaws. However, this is an issue Tesla’s struggled with for some time.

Edmunds.com also noted some issues with the Model Y it purchased. The rear seats can be folded flat with a switch in the rear cargo area. These seats fold in the typical 60/40 manner. However, Edmunds.com reported that the larger seat section repeatedly fails to drop.

Other critiques

In addition, although Edmunds.com appreciates the Tesla Model Y’s large central screen, the crossover could use more physical controls. The rear passengers do have their own climate vents, but no way of controlling the air temperature. The rear seats are also heated—but the controls are on the central screen.

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The seats and climate control can be altered through the Tesla app. As can the audio streaming through the speakers. However, that requires every person who will ride in said Model Y to download the app. And know how to operate the app. This app also lets you use your smartphone as a stand-in key. But, like any piece of software, when it gets updated, it can get buggy. In fact, previous Tesla app updates have locked owners out of their cars. Yes, there’s a physical key card that can unlock and start the car. But if there’s already a key, why do you need the app?

Tesla Model Y interior
Tesla Model Y interior | Tesla

Tesla’s integrated infotainment also causes some headaches. Not because of glitches or slow software, though. The system allows passengers to access apps like Netflix, YouTube, Twitch, and Hulu. However, even if you have these apps on your phone, you have to pay extra to access them on your Tesla’s screen.

That’s because, unlike a conventional car’s Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, Tesla’s infotainment interfaces through Bluetooth. So, even if you have Spotify Premium on your phone, you have to pay again to get it in your Model Y. It’s oddly reminiscent of how BMW used to charge customers for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Should you buy it?

Paint quality issues aside, both Edmunds.com and Sandy Munro recommend the Tesla Model Y. While it may be based on the Model 3, it’s a marked step up in terms of quality from the sedan.

2019 Audi e-tron
2019 Audi e-tron | Audi

However, if you’re worried about reliability, there is at least one Model Y alternative. The Audi e-tron is technically closer in size to the Model X. And, with a $74,800 base price, it’s about $14,000 more expensive than the Model Y Performance. However, Consumer Reports Audi’s EV delivers above-average reliability.

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