Tesla Model Y SUV (2021 -) Electric Review

Expert review

Tesla’s small SUV is finally here, but how does it compare to other versions of the electric giant?

Auto Trader expert judgment:

Available new from £54990

At first glance, the Tesla Model Y looks like a Model 3, for which you’ll pay a hefty extra, but a test drive reveals this little SUV is more than the sum of its parts. Also, be wary of comparing its price to a base model of similarly sized electric cars: the Standard Model Y gives you plenty of equipment. In our minds, it’s also the best looking Tesla.

Reasons to buy:

  • tickLong-term
  • tickA large area
  • tickEasy and fast public charging network
Tesla Model Y

Tesla Model Y

Operating costs for a Tesla Model Y

As for operating costs, they are surprisingly low, in line with any other electric car

The Model Y is more expensive to buy, whether through financing or outright purchase, than most of its large electric competitors, but it’s worth doing your research, because to get the same amount of equipment in competitors, you will have to go far. Go up the specs and parts lists and check a lot of option boxes (see Features), thus bumping the overall price up. Interestingly, we already have Tesla Model Y rental deals on site for delivery next spring. As for running costs, they’re impressively low, in line with any other electric car: no congestion or ULEZ tolls, and very low road tax (VED) and in-kind interest tax (BIK) for company car owners. Tesla is also very energy efficient. The Model Y promises up to 4.2 miles per kilowatt-hour (anything more than 3 miles per kilowatt-hour is a good thing). Few faulty moving parts means lower costs in the garage, though, warn you: This road test dad passed a boulder in his Model 3 that demanded a new battery at a cost of around £13,000 (covered by insurance but Tesla won’t let the cars go until you get money from insurance companies).

Expert Rating: 5/5

Tesla Model Y

Tesla Model Y

Tesla Model Y reliability

A respected JD Power survey last year placed Tesla last out of 32 brands, with 250 issues per 100 vehicles

Tesla Model Y owners in the US have reported a lot of issues, albeit more with build quality than important things going wrong under the bodywork, like skewed body panels for mismatched paint. A respected JD Power survey last year placed Tesla last out of 32 brands, with 250 problems for every 100 vehicles reported by owners. The Model 3 has been reported to have similar build quality issues, both inside and out. Tesla has listened to other reliability fists surrounding the Model S and Model X and updates and fixes have been released, so you’ll be fairly safe assuming things get better over time, and the closing lines on the Model Y actually seem more refined.

Expert Rating: 3/5

Tesla Model Y

Tesla Model Y

Safety in a Tesla Model Y

The Model Y feels incredibly safe, with a massive amount of glass that increases your view around the vehicle

Tesla claims the Model Y is “designed to be the safest midsize SUV,” which Volvo may reject. The brand cites the Model Y’s low center of gravity, rigid body construction and large breakdown areas as evidence of unparalleled protection. However, the Y feels incredibly safe, with a massive amount of glass that increases your view around the car, and software systems that recognize things around you and display them on the huge center display as you drive. There’s a multi-view rear camera, parking sensors, and all-wheel drive to improve traction in wet areas. You can also select Enhanced Autopilot which lets you navigate on autopilot, but Standard Autopilot and Traffic Aware Motion Control are standard. You can link your car to your phone to lock and unlock it as well as track its location.

Expert Rating: 4/5

Tesla Model Y

Tesla Model Y

How comfortable is the Tesla Model Y

The most striking element of the Model Y, compared to the Model 3, is how compact it is inside

Like we said before, you’ll love or hate the sparse contemporary interior design, which focuses more on space and light than amenities. Tapping on the key card or your phone will start the car, then everything is controlled via the screen. The most striking element of the Model Y, compared to the Model 3, is how compact it is inside. There’s plenty of headroom and legroom, but it’s the large glass areas that make your heart sing, from the massive glass roof to the panoramic windows and expansive windshield. Also, the Model Y has a hatchback rear which means it’s easier to get the big stuff in and out. You can pull the center back down for a large armrest with cup holders, or pull the whole thing down to fit the putters through the hole. Impressively, the three rear seats are heated as standard. On the front are two felt-covered wireless chargers angled toward you, more cup holders and a large storage area. You can ask the car to open the glove box to save more space. In addition to the large and deep luggage compartment (with levers to release the rear seats for more storage) there is space under the hood (called the luggage compartment – the front trunk) for more bags. You can choose a black or white floral interior.

Expert Rating: 4/5

Tesla Model Y

Tesla Model Y

Tesla Model Y . Features

The digital entertainment available includes a wide range of karaoke ringtones and online games for kids

You either love or hate the technology Tesla fills its car with, because the minimal design and lifestyle focus on language and features don’t suit everyone. The only options are paint colors and wheel size. Given the fact that Tesla releases software updates across its models and versions, it’s no surprise that all of the stuff inside the Model Y is identical to the Model 3. One huge tablet-style screen controls everything, including the functions of the car’s only two keys on the wheel. Leadership. We love the lifestyle focus in everything, like the ‘dog’ mode, which displays a large message on the screen when you’re away from the car, explaining to passersby that you’ll be back soon and that the dog is feeding by temperature—air control via the vents. The digital entertainment available includes a wide range of karaoke tunes and online games for kids. Our only annoyance is that sometimes, you just want to operate a button, for example, to adjust the wing mirror, and don’t feel that going through several screen swipes is the safest or fastest way to manage these functions.

Expert Rating: 4/5

Tesla Model Y

Tesla Model Y

The power of the Tesla Model Y

We love the Tesla’s driving personality: the huge windshield, high ride height, and slim pillars give you a great view.

There are two options: the entry-level all-wheel drive (4WD) long-range max 315 miles and big power 434 horsepower, and the more expensive Performance version, with 483 horsepower (and 0-60 in 3.5 seconds) but slightly lower range. Note that if range is what you want in the first place, the Model 3 offers up to 360 miles because it’s lighter. We love this Tesla’s driving personality: the huge windshield, high ride height and thin pillars give you a great view, and with the short bonnet up front, it feels like you’re moving around town. We mean it as a compliment – you just have a great view of the road ahead and feel like you can spin the car around town on a pint point, not to mention park it easily. The only downside is a tough and slightly busy ride, not helped by the low battery weight, and there is some vibration coming from the rear over the bumps. We also wish we could adjust the amount of regenerative braking, as you can on competing models like the Kia EV6 which offers six modes. But you can’t go wrong with the range and Tesla’s public charging network and it’s the only one in the country that doesn’t give you a heart palpitate if you need to refuel on the road.

Expert Rating: 5/5

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