The Tesla Model Y is a cross between the Model 3 and Model X, where it costs the same as the former but offers a more practical design than the latter. Indeed, the American automaker is looking to appeal to those who want a more affordable all-electric SUV, while still providing the full-blown Tesla experience.
However, with many large-sized EVs on the market, can the Model Y stand out over its rivals?
If you’d prefer to watch a review of the Tesla Model Y, head on over to our YouTube channel.
Tesla Model Y price & competition
Unsurprisingly, the Model Y is near-identically priced to the Model 3 with prices of the SUV coming with a £2,000 premium over the saloon. It’s worth considering, that Tesla’s older vehicle offers more range on the WLTP cycle and can get to 60mph from a standstill a bit quicker.
As for competition, there are numerous all-electric SUVs: the Hyundai Ioniq 5 from £36,995; the Kia EV6 from £40,945; the Ford Mustang Mach-E from £42,530; the Mercedes EQA 250 from £44,495; the Audi Q4 40 e-tron at £46,065; the Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin at £54,300; the BMW iX3 from £60,970; the larger Audi e-tron at £62,560; the Jaguar I-Pace at £65,620; the Mercedes EQC at £65,720; and the Tesla Model X at £102,980.
Elsewhere, there’s the MG ZS EV from £27,495; the Kia Soul EV, e-Niro ‘2 64’ and the Hyundai Kona Electric Premium 64 kWh, the Skoda Enyaq iV 60 and Volkswagen ID.4 all of which start from around £34,995. You’ve also got the MG5 EV, an all-electric estate that starts from £27,945.
Note, we should point out that some of the aforementioned vehicles are also available as dual-motor, larger battery pack SUVs – this does ramp up the price, whereby if we take the Skoda Enyaq iV as an example, the iV 80X Sportline costs £47,875. Meanwhile, the Mercedes EQA 350 4MATIC and the Audi Q4 e-tron 50 Quattro both start from around £53,000.
Tesla Model Y exterior review
From the exterior, the Model Y is quite similar to its sibling the Model 3 however, there are some key differences. The rear of the vehicle is noticeably larger while its front profile isn’t as flared; we feel that those who like the look of Tesla’s fleet will similarly appreciate the design of the Model Y.
It is, therefore, no surprise that the automaker has opted to use the same door handles as the saloon; they’re concealed within the car’s shell in order to maximise aerodynamic efficiency. They’re not as intuitive to use as those found on the Hyundai Ioniq 5, whereby they prop out of the vehicle’s shell. Nonetheless, once you’re accustomed to the mechanism it becomes second nature.
As for its side profile, the Model Y has slender plastic wheel arches, which don’t distract from its stylish design, although, we still would have preferred a body-coloured finish. The SUV also comes with 19” ‘Gemini Wheels’ as standard, while the pictured 20” ‘Induction Wheels’ cost an additional £2,100. We feel that the latter do bolster the exterior design of the vehicle, but do reduce the claimed range by 20 miles; so unless you dislike the look of the smaller rims, we’d suggest sticking to Tesla’s standard configuration.
When it comes to personalisation, there are five colours to choose from, where at the time of writing, ‘Pearl White Multi-Coat’ comes as standard. ‘Solid Black’, ‘Deep Blue Metallic’ and ‘Midnight Silver Metallic’ come in at a £1,100 premium. The halo colour, ‘Red Multi-Coat’, costs a whopping £2,100.
Tesla Model Y interior review
While there are some notable differences between the Model Y and Model 3 from the exterior, within the cabin the two are almost indistinguishable. Love it or hate it, the Model Y opts for a near-identical minimalist design. Here, the horizontally-placed 15” display dominates the front of the cabin, where almost all your vehicle’s interactions are conducted via the infotainment system; which includes adjusting the windscreen wiper frequency to the speedometer.
Indeed, there’s no instrument cluster nor a Head-Up Display (HUD) offered as standard nor as an option; of course, there are some third-party solutions available, but it’s not ideal for those who dislike tinkering around with their vehicle, and suspect its cabin design might put off a few prospective buyers.
Thankfully, however, the centre-weighted display is extremely responsive and provides for an intuitive user experience. It’s still the best infotainment system available on the market; from built-in Google maps integration with excellent route planning via Tesla’s Supercharger network, to the numerous games and apps that one can entertain themselves and occupants while parked. It truly is fantastic and better still, is constantly evolving thanks to frequent firmware updates.
Speaking of which, since our review of the Model 3 in 2020, Tesla has introduced dedicated subwoofer controls through the audio tab; the Model Y features the same fantastic 14-speaker configuration as the Long Range and Performance models of the saloon. If you’d like to hear how the system sounds, watch our detailed review on YouTube.
Continuing on the subject of technology, Tesla’s app is an intuitive way to interact with the Model Y. Through it, you can: remotely unlock or lock the vehicle; use it as a wireless key; control the interior’s cabin temperature; open the charging flap, boot, frunk and windows; check for the vehicle’s location; and use Summon, a feature that is comprised within the £3,400 ‘Enhanced Autopilot’ package.
In the UK and Europe, the latter feature is rather limited due to European law, where you’ll have to be approximately 1-2m away from the vehicle for it to actually operate; in the US, the SUV can be summoned from afar. Nevertheless, it’s a useful feature if you’re parking in a tight space or if you’re physically disabled and want easier access to the vehicle.
While the app is very intuitive and makes for a bettered experience, you can use Tesla’s NFC Key Card, instead. To unlock or lock the vehicle, you’ll need to tap on the driver’s side B-pillar, whereas to drive it, you’ll need to tap just below the two cupholders by the centre console. Should you not like either of these methods, you can also buy a stylish Key Fob in the shape of the car from the Tesla store. Note, if you’re worried about security, biometrics can be added to the app, while a pin-to-drive can be set through the infotainment system.
Tesla’s use of technology is certainly impressive, however, it’s baffling that the automaker has still chosen to omit both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay from its infotainment system – neither is supported be it in a wired or wireless format. Granted, the built-in navigation system works a treat, but it would have still been appreciated to have the option.
Tesla Model Y storage review
Moving onto storage, the cabin has plenty of areas to store your valuables. At the front, the centre console has a large compartment underneath the armrest; there’s a smaller bay that has a retractable cover, and there are fabric-lined wireless charging bays for two smartphones. Two cupholders also reside within the centre console, while a further two can be found at the rear within the retractable armrest. As for the door bins, all four are plenty large and can easily accommodate a 500ml bottle and a few valuables.
On that note, if you wish to hide your belongings from prying eyes you can lock them away within the electronically-operated glove compartment; one can also set a pin through the infotainment system to provide an additional layer of security. Here, you’ll also find a USB Type-A port that can be used to save your dashcam footage or allow for high-quality audio playback via mass storage – FLAC files are supported in the Model Y. The two USB Type-C ports found within the small compartment by the centre console and the two at the rear are used for charging only.
Where the Model Y really stands out is in form of boot capacity. The quoted figure sits at 854 litres and with the seats propped down extends up to 2,100 litres. Drawing comparisons to other SUVs is quite tricky when solely examining the figures; most manufacturers quote the capacity to the parcel shelf when the seats are upright, while the Model Y omits a rear parcel shelf altogether, making its boot capacity look a lot larger.
Nevertheless, here’s how it stacks up to its rivals: the Audi e-tron (660/1,725 litres); Skoda Enyaq iV (585/1,710 litres); VW ID.4 (543/1,575 litres); Hyundai Ioniq 5 (520/1,587 litres); BMW iX3 (520/1,560 litres); Jaguar I-Pace (656/1,453 litres); Audi Q4 e-tron (520/1,490 litres); MG5 EV estate (464/1,456 litres); Kia e-Niro (451/1,405 litres); Peugeot e-2008 (434/1,467 litres); MG ZS EV (448/1,375 litres); Kia EV6 (490/1,300 litres); Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin (452/1,328 litres); Ford Mustang Mach-E (402/1,420 litres); Kia Soul EV (315/1,339 litres); Mercedes EQA (340/1,320 litres); Citroen e-C4 (380/1,250 litres); Hyundai Kona Electric (332/1,114 litres) and the Tesla Model 3 (425/1,235 litres).
In practical terms, we’d say the Model Y sits between the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and the Skoda Enyaq iV, thus still offering plenty of capacity for your weekly shops or family trips. On that note, the Model Y has an enormous underfloor area, which is handy to store away your charging cables or other luggage. Better still, the split-folding rear seats have a 40:20:40 design and when dropped present a flat loading bay; with the ability to drop the rear seats electronically via buttons found within the boot, it’s both practical and convenient to transport larger goods.
In comparison to the Model 3, the Model Y also has a hatchback design, whereby the electronically-operated tailgate opens up to such an extent that 6-foot (182cm) individuals won’t have an issue when accessing the rear of the vehicle. The same praise couldn’t be given to the Model 3.
Much like its sibling, however, the front storage compartment (also referred to as frunk) is less practical, as its lock mechanism can only be electronically unlocked via the app or through the infotainment system, but yet still requires you to open and close it manually. It’s a shame that it’s not fully electronically operated like the tailgate, as the Model Y’s frunk offers a whopping 117 litres of capacity.
Tesla Model Y comfort review
While accessing the front storage area might seem cumbersome, the ability to operate it from within the cabin is certainly appreciated. Likewise, when leaving the vehicle, all four doors have an electronic door release button, which truly makes it a breeze each time you or your occupants wish to exit the cabin.
This brings us to comfort, where the sense of spaciousness can certainly be felt throughout the cabin. Both at the front and rear, 6-foot 4-inches (198cm) individuals can be seated with ease; the rear middle seat has tighter headroom but given the Model Y has a flat rear footwell design, it means all those sitting at the back can fully stretch out their legs. Better still, all seats – that also includes the rear middle one – are heated; the steering wheel is too.
Note, at the time of writing and in the UK, the Model Y is only available as a five-seater. In the US and in select markets, it’s also possible to get it as a seven-seater; that’s pretty unique in the all-electric SUV market.
Another standard feature that we love is the inclusion of a panoramic glass roof, which stretches almost the entirety of the cabin. This brings in additional light and thanks to UV coating means you won’t get a suntan while sitting inside the cabin, either. Should you wish to go a step further, a sunshade can be purchased as an additional option.
Similarly, it’s good to see fully electronically-operated front seats fitted as standard. However, due to the raised front seat design, it can be problematic for taller-sized individuals to find the best driver’s position; oddly, the seats can’t be lowered to the same degree as the ones found in the Model 3 or the BMW iX3, among others.
Elsewhere, the Model Y’s cabin isn’t as insulated as the aforementioned vehicles. Tyre noise is audible, at least with the tested 20” ‘Induction Wheels’ fitted, and wind noise can be heard deflecting off the A-pillars while traversing at faster speeds.
Tesla Model Y performance review
This brings us onto straight-line speed, where the Model Y stands out over rival single-motor electric SUVs, such as the BMW iX3. Indeed, as standard, the Model Y has a dual-motor configuration that’s unofficially estimated to output 342 kW (459 hp) of power and 633 Nm of torque. We had the Long Range model (without the optional ‘Acceleration Boost’) tested from 0-60mph in a blistering 4.68 seconds, which is a tad bit better than the manufacturer’s claim of 4.8s. Top speed is rated at 135mph, while the Performance model can attain up to 155mph and get to 60mph from a standstill even quicker – it’s claimed at 3.5 seconds, making it one of the fastest SUVs on the market.
To put things into perspective, we had the dual-motor Model 3 Long Range tested at 4.41s, the Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin at 4.51s, the Jaguar I-Pace at 4.8s and the Hyundai Ioniq 5 AWD at 4.87s. As for the single-motor BMW iX3 it attained 0-60mph in 6.28s, the Audi Q4 40 e-tron in 7.67s, the Mercedes EQA 250 in 7.69s, and the Skoda Enyaq iV in 7.95s.
Aside from sheer speed, the all-wheel drive (AWD) Tesla Model Y also instils plenty of confidence when driving in trickier conditions. Indeed, over its two-wheel drive (2WD) competitors the Model Y has a lot more grip around windy country roads and wetter terrain.
This isn’t to be confused with the vehicle’s driver’s feel, however. Here, the Model Y doesn’t have the same level of one-to-one connection to the road as the BMW iX3 or Jaguar I-Pace. We’d say it’s on par with the likes of the Audi Q4 e-tron, Mercedes EQA, and Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin; and superior to the Kia e-Niro, Peugeot e-2008, Citroen e-C4, and the Hyundai Kona Electric.
Much like the driver’s feel, the Model Y doesn’t have a class-leading suspension system, either. One can feel speed bumps, potholes and road anomalies, which makes for less pleasurable inner-city commutes over rival SUVs or the Model 3, which has a softer configuration. On the other hand, the Model Y’s stiffened setup does yield for less body roll on windy country roads – a rarity in electric SUVs due to the extra weight they carry over electric saloons or indeed non-electrified vehicles.
The Model Y’s driving characteristics are certainly important, but we suspect many will be opting for the Tesla due to its claimed electric range, and indeed we’d say it’s one of its key selling points. See, in comparison to other dual-motor SUVs we’ve reviewed to date, the Model Y reigns supreme, even with the 20” ‘Induction Wheels’ fitted that are claimed to attain 20 miles less range than the 19” ‘Gemini Wheels’.
Indeed, we attained 260-280 miles in our mixed driving test, which puts it above the Jaguar I-Pace and Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin which both attained around 240-250 miles and the Hyundai Ioniq 5 at 230-250 miles. Even when compared to most of its single-motor competitors, the Model Y stands strong; in fact, it’s only superseded by the single-motor Skoda Enyaq iV 80 that attained closer to the 300-mile mark in our tests, while the Model 3 (with the 18” ‘Aero Wheels’ fitted) managed to squeeze 310 miles from the same 82 kWh battery pack of its larger sibling.
Another excellent trait of the Model Y is that it benefits from Tesla’s Supercharger network, which is easily the best and simplest charging infrastructure across the UK, Europe and the US. Route planning is a breeze thanks to the fantastic infotainment system, which shows you charging points along the way and gives you an accurate indication of the remaining charge that you’ll have once you arrive at your destination or do the round-trip. Better still, if you are to take a longer trip, the system will be smart enough to calculate where and for how long you’ll need to charge. It’s simple, intuitive and takes away the faff of finding the best route.
Read next: A list of our favourite phone holders
In terms of charging, the Model Y supports up to 210 kW of input via its CCS charging port, which at the time of writing, is just shy of the Supercharger V3’s peak capacity of 250 kW. Nevertheless, it’ll go from 0-80% in just 20 minutes when connected to an ultra-rapid DC charger. Plug the Model Y into a V2 Supercharger (capped at 150 kW) and it’ll take roughly 30 minutes, instead. Should you opt for a non-Tesla branded charger, such as a more commonly found 50 kW motorway charger, and it’ll take around 1hr 20mins.
As for AC charging, the Model Y has an 11 kW onboard charger, which means when it’s connected up to three-phase power, it’ll take seven hours to recharge from empty to full via its Type 2 port. A 7 kW input will take 11 hours, while a three-pin wall socket will be a whopping 33 hours.
Of course, you can also recoup energy when on the move via regenerative braking. The Model Y, much like its smaller sibling, allows for one-pedal driving. Whereby, when lifting off the accelerator pedal one can bring the SUV to a complete standstill. It’s a shame, however, that there’s no degree of customisation via the use of flappy paddles or via the infotainment system.
Here, both the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6 offer consumers a plethora of options from light to adaptive regenerative braking levels. One can only hope that the American automaker will reintroduce the ability to customise the harshness through the display via a firmware update; the option used to be present in older software versions of the Model 3, but was inexplicitly removed in 2020.
Tesla Model Y safety review
When it comes to safety, the Tesla Model Y has yet to be tested by Euro NCAP; at least not at the time of writing. We can only imagine it’ll score 5/5 stars given the vehicle received top marks by the US-led National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
As for your driver assistance systems, there are numerous standard features included such as the fantastic Adaptive Cruise Control system with Stop & Go technology, which keeps you at a safe distance from the leading vehicle, and will even bring you to a complete standstill in heavy traffic without you needing to touch on the brake pedal. Lane departure avoidance, forward and side collision warning, and Automatic Emergency Brake (AEB) further bolster the Model Y’s safety credentials.
We’re also particularly fond of the blind spot monitoring system. Not only does it alert you of a vehicle being present in your blind spot through the use of the infotainment system, but thanks to Firmware V11 which was released in early 2022, you can also see your respective surroundings when indicating. Indeed, the vehicle uses the side-view cameras to show a live feed of your blind spot via the 15” display.
It’s certainly an intuitive means of bettering driving security, but we’d wish that Tesla had placed the live feed in another location; it’s at the bottom corner of the infotainment system, closest to the driver, which means that when your hands are placed at three and nine o’clock on the steering wheel, part of the camera feed will be hidden. You can see it in action on our YouTube channel, Instagram feed or TikTok page.
Now, should you wish to take it one step further, you can add the £3,400 ‘Advanced Autopilot’ package that brings self-driving navigation, auto lane change, Autopark and Summon. Opt for the full shebang at an additional £6,800 and you’ll have access to Tesla’s full self-driving (FSD) package; at the time of writing, the expensive option doesn’t add many additional features but is continually being improved via firmware updates. We’d only recommend FSD for those who want to be part of the first in the world to experiment with the manufacturer’s latest autonomous developments.
As for visibility, it’s a mixed bag. Over the bonnet and the side windows, it’s excellent. However, the chunky A-pillars mean you’ll have to double-check your surroundings when you’re cornering and likewise, should you want to look over your shoulder when parking, the rearview is limited; even when the rear middle headrest is concealed within the seats. Thankfully, Tesla includes high-resolution surround cameras as standard – these provide you with a near 360-degree view of the vehicle, ensuring you won’t kerb your wheels nor accidentally reverse into an object.
TotallyEV’s verdict on the Tesla Model Y
While the Tesla Model Y isn’t quite perfect, namely with its stiffened suspension setup and lack of a HUD, it’s still among the best all-electric SUVs on the market. It combines efficiency, access to a class-leading charging network, blistering straight-line speed and a spacious design into one comprehensive package. As a result, it receives TotallyEV’s Best Buy award.
One should consider, however, that there are other alternatives: the Model 3 is better for those who don’t need the extra space but would rather longer range and better driving comfort; the Skoda Enyaq iV is excellent for larger-sized families and comes in at a more affordable price; the BMW iX3 and Jaguar I-Pace both provide are more engaging driving experience while preserving luxury; the Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin combines a lot of what the Model Y has to offer but to some will have a more practical interior design; while the Kia e-Niro, Kia Soul EV, and Hyundai Kona Electric might not have the same boot capacity nor performance but do come in at a significantly lower asking price.
Suffice to say, there are plenty of options. Would you pick the Model Y over its rivals? Let us know in the comments section below or via social media; we’re on: YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.