Was the Tesla Model Y Worth the Wait?

Tesla’s awaited crossover, the Model Y, is officially out. And, like the larger, more-expensive Model X, it competes not just with other EVs, but gasoline-powered crossovers, too. Can the Tesla Model Y back up its promises? Doug Demuro attempted to find out.

Tesla Model Y specs

2020 Tesla Model Y
2020 Tesla Model Y | Tesla

As with the Tesla’s own Cybertruck, as well as Rivian’s lineup, not every Model Y promised is currently available. As of this writing, only the dual-motor all-wheel-drive Model Ys are for sale. And, although a 3rd-row option will allegedly be available in 2021, for now, the Tesla Model Y only seats 5.

The 2 models on sale are the 316-mile Long Range, and the 315-mile Performance, both with a 145-mph top speed. Before incentives, the former costs just under $53k, and the latter just under $61k. In 2021, a single-motor, rear-wheel-drive model is expected, costing about $40k and offering a 230-mile range.

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Model Y on the way!

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The Performance distinguishes itself with a shorter 0-60 time (3.5 seconds vs. 4.8 seconds) and an optional free upgrade. It adds lowered sport suspension, high-performance brakes, a 155-mph top speed, and 21” wheels. Although thus equipped, range drops to 280 miles, which should still be plenty for most consumers. But, as Demuro discovered, the crossover has more interesting features.

Quirks and features

Tesla Model 3
Tesla Model 3 | Tesla

Although the Model Y shares about 75% of its parts with the Model 3 sedan, the crossover has its own unique touches.

The Model Y has more knee-room and headroom than the sedan, although the middle rear seat is a little narrow. However, while the rear passengers do get heated seats and climate vents, the controls for both are in the front. Though, the 2nd row does at least recline and can fold completely flat. The rear passengers also get 2 USB-C ports, while front passengers get several storage areas and a wireless charging pad.

2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee rear cargo area
2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee rear cargo area | Jeep

The rear cargo area is significantly larger than the Model 3’s, and on-par with the BMW X3 and Jeep Grand Cherokee. There are also 2 fairly-deep underfloor cargo areas, for additional storage. However, it’s possible the 3rd-row will take the place of at least one of these underfloor areas.

The Tesla Model Y comes with Tesla’s latest Autopilot advanced driver-assistance suite. It’s not self-driving, but part of the updates includes the ability to display fine details, like the specific kind of vehicle in front of you, as well as the traffic light status.

Tesla Model Y interior
Tesla Model Y interior | Tesla

The Model Y also comes with Sentry Mode, which uses the crossover’s multiple cameras to detect when someone approaches it, and flashes the lights and sounds a warning. Sentry Mode also turns those cameras into ersatz security cameras, and the owner can later play the footage back. Luckily, you can disable Sentry Mode if you’re at home or at work.

The Model Y can also alter the climate control settings if you leave your dog inside, or if you want to be comfortable if you’re trying to sleep in it. There’s even a built-in dashcam that can be set to automatically record if you honk your horn.

What’s the Tesla Model Y like to drive?

Both Demuro and YouTube team Throttle House drove the Tesla Model Y. And overall, like Throttle House, Demuro came away impressed.

Admittedly, the crossover isn’t perfect. Demuro notes the lack of a heads-up display can be problematic. Looking to the center screen is somewhat inconvenient, as it takes your eyes from the road. And Tesla has struggled with quality-control in the past. However, other than that, there’s a lot to like about the Model Y.

There’s the instantaneous torque, which is an EV trademark. The Tesla Model Y is slightly slower to 60 than the Model 3, but the added practicality is worth it. The steering is still very responsive, though, naturally, the crossover’s taller height means it’s not exactly a sports car. The sport suspension and larger wheels do impact the ride quality slightly, but the noise from the road and wind is at a minimum.

Tesla’s crossover isn’t a hype-machine like the Cybertruck or Model X. But it is a practical, genuinely-competitive new arrival to an extremely lucrative segment. In short, the Model Y was worth the wait.

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