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Tesla Model Y first look: The Model 3 of SUVs is here

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 2019-03-15 Motor Trend Staff
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The electric Tesla compact crossover we've been waiting for was finally revealed Thursday evening at an exclusive event in the company's design center in Hawthorne, California. The Tesla Model Y will seat up to five or seven passengers, depending on the configuration, and according to CEO Elon Musk, it will have the functionality of an SUV but ride like a sports car. The crossover will arrive in the fall of 2020.

a car parked on the side of a building: Tesla-Model-Y-reveal-rear-three-quarter.jpg
Tesla CEO Elon Musk unveiled the new Model Y in front of hundreds of Tesla owners and employees, noting that the electric crossover's driving range will max out at 300 miles. The top range will be available on the Long Range model priced from $48,200, including $1,200 destination charge. Also in the fall of 2020, Tesla will offer a Dual Motor AWD version ($52,200) and Performance version ($61,200), both with 280 miles of range. The Standard Range model will arrive in the spring of 2021 with a $40,200 price tag and a 230-mile range (up slightly from the Standard Range Model 3). All Model Ys will support third-generation Supercharging, which means you can get 75 miles of range in just five minutes.

a blue car parked in a parking lot: Tesla Model Y front three quarters© Motor Trend Staff Tesla Model Y front three quarters

Tesla claims the Model Y Performance model will accelerate to 60 mph in as little as 3.5 seconds. In our exclusive First Test of a long-range Tesla Model 3, we clocked the sedan hitting 60 in 4.8 seconds. A Dual Motor Performance version of the Model 3—equipped with AWD—reached 60 in a MotorTrend-tested 3.2 seconds.

a car parked in front of a building© Motor Trend Staff

Aesthetically, Tesla followed the same design language we saw on the Model 3, but with lines inspired by the Model X to give the compact crossover a polished look. Like Model 3, the smooth, grille-less front end still has that blunted look to it. The Model Y will get a panoramic glass roof, and to keep costs down, no fancy Falcon-wing doors here; the Y retains the elegant, mechanically-engaged door handles from the Model 3. The large greenhouse, raised belt line and elevated rear hatch give the Model Y a crossover appearance very reminiscent of a small Model X.

a close up of a car© Motor Trend Staff

Featuring a "frunk" (front trunk) and split-folding second-row seats, the Model Y offers a total of 66 cubic feet of storage space. Tesla claims a seven-seat configuration that adds a third, forward-facing bench with seats for two, is on the way as well.  Inside, the Model Y sports a simple and tidy design thanks to the free-floating 15-inch touchscreen, which is pretty much the only thing you'll see when you sit inside. Like in the Model 3, there is no gauge cluster, and the shifter is in form of a lever located behind the steering wheel. Other features like the A/C, audio system, and side-view mirrors can be adjusted through the touchscreen or steering wheel controls.

The center console has designated spaces to put your phone down, key card, or any other small objects. Wood trim and leather can be seen throughout the dash and door panels, adding a touch of luxury.

© Motor Trend Staff

Like the Model 3, the Model Y will be unlocked and turned on with your phone or designated key card. Autopilot and Full Self-Driving Capability packages will be available for an extra cost (as with the Model 3).

a car parked on the side of a road© Motor Trend Staff

There's no doubt the EV game has drastically changed over the last two years. Hyundai's Kona Electric, which starts at $37,495 and has a range of 258 miles, is causing a lot of buzz in the market, and Kia will have the Niro EV and Soul EV with 239 and 243 miles of range, respectively. The Chevrolet Bolt EV, our 2017 Car of the Year, has a range of 238 miles and a starting price of $37,495. On the luxury side, the Jaguar I-Pace has a range of 234 miles, and we expect Audi's upcoming E-Tron to have a range between 210 and 225 miles. The biggest difference, however, is that Tesla is running out of the $7,500 federal tax credits, which are gradually being phased out for new Tesla models because the company hit the 200,000 vehicle limit in July. Currently, all Teslas can get a $3,750 federal tax credit, but that will drop to $1,875 on July 1, and by the end of this year, new Tesla buyers won't receive any federal tax credits at all.

a close up of a car© Motor Trend Staff

We hope Tesla has learned from its "production hell" mistakes and doesn't run into as many issues as with the production of the Model 3. Tesla said the Model Y is designed to be the safest midsize SUV.

With the Model Y being written in the books, Tesla will start to focus on future models. Musk said in the past that a pickup truck is in the plans, and last year it showed the new Roadster and Semi. With competition from Rivian with its upcoming electric R1T truck, it seems likely that Tesla's next new model could be the pickup. The Model S and Model X could also get a refresh soon, especially inside, where they could adopt a cleaner look similar to the Model 3 and Model Y.

Check out our First Ride in the new Tesla Model Y and the Model Y configurator.

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