• All-new mid-size electric crossover
  • 7-passenger seating
  • Up to 300-mile range on a single charge
  • Base price of $39,000
  • Available in Fall 2020

 

Elon Musk introduced Tesla’s all-new Model Y at an event at the company’s Hawthorne design studio. The midsize electric vehicle is a 7-passenger crossover that is smaller and less technically complex than the Model X. When it arrives in showrooms in less than two years, it will complement the company’s Model 3 sedan, Model S luxury sedan, and Model X SUV.

Shares architecture with the Model 3

The Model Y will share nearly 70 percent of its componentry with the Model 3. This is a common practice with traditional automakers as it reduces development costs, decreases time-to-market, and simplifies manufacturing. Additionally, electric vehicle platforms are less sophisticated – more modular – than their combustion counterparts, which further eases the development of multiple body styles sharing common architecture. While the Model 3 is assembled in Tesla’s factory in Fremont, California, the new Model Y is expected to be built at the company’s battery Gigafactory under construction near Reno, Nevada.

According to the automaker, the Model Y will be fully compatible with the nationwide Tesla Supercharger network (as of today, there are more than 12,000 superchargers in 36 countries). Consumers will be able to charge the Model Y at a common Level 2 charger (at their home or office), a Supercharger, or at the company’s newest V3 Superchargers that claim a charge rate up to 1,000 miles of range per hour.

Spacious interior and panoramic glass room

Crossovers are supposed to be taller and more spacious than their sedan counterparts – the Model Y follows those marching orders with precision. The interior delivers a feeling of spaciousness thanks to an oversized panoramic glass roof, which eliminates any hint of claustrophobia within the 7-passenger cabin. Driver and front passenger sit in supportive bucket seats identical to those in the Model 3. The second row seats three abreast – it folds to provide more cargo room, when needed. The third row has just two seats, which are best occupied by children. Like the second row, these fold to accommodate larger loads.  

While the tall Model Y lacks the complex (and eye-catching) gullwing doors of the Model X, its interior is equally as futuristic. The cockpit lacks a traditional instrument cluster. Instead, there is a single, massive, touchscreen that controls nearly all the vehicle’s functions. The interface and controls mirror those on the Model 3, which was predictable considering the commonality.  

Performance of a sport sedan

Tesla’s vehicles are renowned for their quick acceleration – credit goes to the electric motors that provide abundant torque immediately off the line. The Model Y shares the powertrain of the Model 3, with highly efficient and “ultra-responsive” (in Tesla’s words) motors that will deliver class-leading acceleration. The slowest of the four variants is the Standard Range model with an expected 0-60 mph sprint in 5.9 seconds. The fastest is the Performance, which boasts the ability to hit 60 mph in just 3.5 seconds (faster than a Porsche 911) towards a top speed of 150 mph.

With the battery pack located at the bottom of the chassis, the Model Y’s center of gravity will be very low – this reduces body roll in corners, which improves handling. The suspension will be tuned towards the sporty end of the spectrum, just like the Model 3, reinforcing the fun-to-drive quotient.

Model Y Riding Impressions

We were offered a brief ride in the all-new 2021 Model Y at the vehicle’s introduction. In a nutshell, it feels nearly identical to the Model 3 on which it is based. The cabin is airy and spacious and comfortable for four adults – five will fit, but their shoulders will be touching. We didn’t try the small third row of seats, which should be fine for children.

Acceleration is instantaneous and strong, with only the faint whine of the electric motors and increasing sound of air rushing by the windows interrupting the silence. At speed, there’s a fair amount of road noise spilling into the cabin (likely amplified by the large glass panel overhead), but it’s not overly intrusive – conversation is easy with fellow passengers. Handling seems to be a strong point, with minimal body roll and chassis motions tamed. Braking, which is mostly regenerative, also comes across as effortless despite having four passengers on board.

Pricing and availability

Tesla will introduce three variants of the 2021 Model Y in the fall of 2020, and one in the spring of 2021. The Performance model will start at $60,000, a Dual Motor AWD variant will cost $51,000 – each promising a range of 280 miles. The Long Range Model Y, boasting 300 miles between charging, will start at $47,000. The following spring, the last and least expensive Model Y to be offered is the Standard Range (230 miles) with a base price of $39,000.

Bonus Content: See why the Tesla Model 3 won the KBB 2019 Best Resale Value Award in its segment    

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