- I drove a Tesla for the first time and came away impressed with the very popular brand.
- The Y Model’s elegant interior, fast acceleration, and innovative technical features set it apart.
- But the oversized touchscreen and lack of physical buttons aren’t for everyone.
Tesla established and dominates the booming market for electric cars. But can the iconic startup’s cars withstand a barrage of competitors from giants such as Ford, General Motors and Volkswagen?
That’s the big question I sought to answer when I was behind the wheel of a new Tesla Model Y SUV earlier this month. After testing more than a dozen battery-powered rides last year—but never made by Elon Musk—I wondered whether or not Teslas could live up to the hype. In other words: Are the company’s die-hard supporters right, or are its cars not special?
I borrowed a Tesla from a friend to figure it out for myself. (The company does not provide press loans, so journalists have to be creative.)
First, the basics
The Model Y is Tesla’s most popular compact SUV. she has Pricing starts at $65,990 And two engines that provide all-wheel drive. A Performance version that sacrifices some range for more speed is available for an additional $4,000, but the base model is much sportier.
Tesla does not have dealerships and instead sells its cars online, directly to the consumer. Buyers can pick up at the Tesla location or have their cars shipped home.
What stands out: The latest technology, sporty driving, and effortless charging
Go to Tesla and you’ll find an uncluttered interior devoid of traditional buttons, ports, and gauges. The cabin’s sleek design and simple wood trim evoke the Apple Store more than a car.
This simple look is made possible by a large touch screen that controls virtually all important vehicle functions apart from stopping, going and turning. This command center contains the door locks, settings for the air conditioner, speedometer and navigation system. It’s also stuffed with out-of-the-box features like gaming, a digital whoopee pad, and Netflix, which can help owners pass the time while charging.
The screen is very responsive to clicks and swipes and features crisp graphics. Plus, Tesla regularly adds new capabilities through software updates, making the Model Y cockpit a tech-obsessed student’s paradise.
There’s plenty of room to stretch out in both the front and rear seats thanks to the completely flat floor and tall glass roof. The Y offers plenty of cargo space, including a large luggage compartment in the front and under-floor storage in the rear, both of which you won’t find on every electric vehicle.
Despite not being a performance model, the Model YI sampled accelerating at astounding speed, sprinting forward with every thrust of the throttle in much the same way they do other high-powered electric cars. Treated more like a sports car than a lumbering SUV, it provides fast, precise steering that allows me to determine exactly where I want to go.
Tesla’s advanced autopilot feature confidently kept the SUV centered in its lane and followed the flow of traffic. Although the system is not standalone, it can come in handy for long stretches on the highway.
Charging after a long day exhausting the 330-mile Y range is as easy as cake. After loading a credit card into the Tesla app, one simply pulls out to one of the 1,500 Supercharger locations in the country and gets connected.
Using Tesla-exclusive fast charging stations is remarkably smooth compared to the often difficult process of filling a non-Tesla motor into a generic socket.
What it falls short: Intricate controls and a bumpy ride
As much as the Model Y is a tech-lover’s dream, it can be a nightmare for the less tech-savvy.
Basic functions such as opening the glove box, changing the wiper speed, and directing the vents require the use of a touch screen, which is not only inconvenient but distracting while driving. I can’t help but think of how someone like my mom, who needs help using a DVR and shudders at the thought of navigating a new app, can be immersed in an all-digital driving experience.
Additionally, the Model Y lacks Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
While the stiff Y suspension helps with agility, it doesn’t isolate occupants well on rough terrain. I also noticed a lot of wind and road noise above 60 mph.
Our impressions: An excellent choice but not the only option
As it turns out, Tesla fans have a point. The Model Y has a lot to do in that it’s packed with impressive technology, drives better than most SUVs, gives access to Tesla’s convenient charging grid, and generally feels different than other cars.
But it is not without flaws. In addition to what I have indicated, issues such as inconsistent build quality and . have been widely reported Difficult to repair They are important considerations, but I haven’t tested them directly.
The Model Y is a great option for many buyers, but Tesla isn’t the only toy in town anymore. The EV Curious has more attractive options than ever as players like Audi, Rivian and BMW are cramming into the EV space. The competition is getting more intense day by day.
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