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2021 Tesla Model Y – All You Need To Know

The all-new 2021 Tesla Model Y is a small SUV that slots below the larger Model X in the company’s lineup. It’s a Tesla, so of course, it’s all-electric. It also has a lot in common with the Model 3 sedan, including similar designs inside and out. Compared to the 3, the Y gives you more space for rear passengers and greater cargo capacity. You can even order a 2021 Model Y with the third row of seats. Just know that the third row of seats is strictly for small children because the rear window glass directly intrudes on passenger headspace.

Overall, the 2021 Tesla Model Y has many redeeming qualities. Its Long Range and Performance variants offer an impressive range, each rated by the EPA at more than 300 miles on a full charge. They also feel great to drive thanks to quick acceleration and nimble handling. However, new challengers have entered the EV arena in the past year.

Engine, Transmission, and Performance

Unlike the Model 3, the Model Y lineup no longer includes a Standard Range cost-leader trim. The Model Y’s Long Range and Performance models are more compelling than a Standard Range trim anyway. Thanks to a generous Car and Driver reader, we were able to test an all-wheel-drive Long Range, which zipped from zero-to-60 mph in just 4.4 seconds, a mere 0.4 second behind our long-term Model 3 sedan.

The Performance model delivered an even quicker 3.6-second blast to 60 mph in our testing. While the Model Y offers impressive acceleration, it doesn’t deliver the same level of driving satisfaction as the Model 3. The SUV body creates a higher center of gravity, which dulls the sharp edge of the Model 3’s handling, and the Y’s ride is considerably rougher over road imperfections as well.

Range, Charging, and Battery Life

The all-wheel-drive Long Range offers 326 miles of range; the Performance model’s estimated range drops to 303 miles. But the latter comes with 20-inch wheels, a lowered suspension, a higher top speed (145 mph), quicker claimed acceleration, and a dedicated Track mode. The cheapest Model Y is the Standard Range model but it comes with a lower driving range of 244 miles per charge.

Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG

The EPA estimates that the Long Range model is good for 131 MPGe in the city and 117 MPGe on the highway, while the Performance model’s fuel economy estimates are 115 MPGe city and 106 MPGe highway. The Long Range model that we tested over our 200-mile highway fuel economy test route recorded just 94 MPGe and an estimated highway driving range of 220 miles, while the Performance model delivered a result of 98 MPGe and 230 miles of driving range.

Interior, Comfort, and Cargo

The 2021 Tesla Model Y doesn’t come with the larger Model X crossover’s complicated Falcon Wing doors; its interior is mostly carryover from the Model 3 sedan. Like that car, it is largely free of buttons and relies mostly on a large infotainment display centered on a simple dashboard. An all-glass roof lends an airy ambience to the cabin but is heavily tinted to avoid roasting occupants in Sun Belt states. The optional third row of seats adds a steep $3000 to the Model Y’s price—we can’t imagine they’ll be spacious enough for adults to ride in comfort.

Infotainment and Connectivity

In the Model Y, almost every function is managed through the large, slim infotainment display that’s in the middle of the dashboard. Everything from climate control to the speedometer is shown on this display, which takes some getting used to. The Model Y offers the same entertainment functions as the Model 3, including embedded Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube apps as well as video games perfect for killing time while waiting for the battery to charge at the public charging station. Don’t worry, drivers are locked out of using these distractions while the vehicle is moving.

Safety and Driver-Assistance Features

Tesla is known for its very advanced Autopilot semi-autonomous driving system, and the 2021 Tesla Model Y offers the feature as standard. Even more advanced features such as a self-parking feature and a Summon feature are optional. To see crash test ratings visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) websites.


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2020 Tesla Model Y Long Range

front- and mid-motor, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door wagon

$57,190 (base price: $54,190)

1 permanent-magnet synchronous AC, 1 AC induction, 272 and 212 hp; combined output, 384 hp, 376 lb-ft; 80.5-kWh lithium-ion battery pack

1-speed direct-drive

Suspension (F/R): control arm/multilink
Brakes (F/R): 14.0-in vented disc/13.2-in vented disc
Tires: Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 5, 255/40R-20 101W M+S TO

Wheelbase: 113.8 in
Length: 187.0 in
Width: 75.6 in
Height: 63.9 in
Passenger volume: 106 ft3
Curb weight: 4386 lb

Rollout, 1 ft: 0.3 sec
60 mph: 4.4 sec
130 mph: 17.2 sec
Rolling start, 5–60 mph: 4.6 sec
Top gear, 30–50 mph: 1.7 sec
Top gear, 50–70 mph: 2.0 sec
1/4 mile: 12.7 @ 114 mph
Top speed (governor limited): 136 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 161 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.88 g

75-mph highway driving: 94 MPGe
Highway range: 220 miles

Combined/city/highway: 121/129/112 MPGe

2020 Tesla Model Y Performance

front- and mid-motor, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door wagon

$72,190 (base price: $62,190)

F: induction AC motor R: permanent-magnet synchronous AC motor
Combined Power (C/D est)
470 hp

Suspension (F/R): control arms/multilink
Brakes (F/R): 14.0-in vented disc/13.2-in vented disc
Tires: Pirelli P Zero PZ4 Elect, F: 255/35R-21 98W TO R: 275/35R-21 103W TO

Wheelbase: 113.8 in
Length: 187.0 in
Width: 75.6 in
Height: 63.9 in
Passenger volume: 106 ft3
Curb weight: 4439 lb

60 mph: 3.6 sec
100 mph: 9.1 sec
1/4 mile: 12.1 sec @ 113 mph
130 mph: 17.8 sec
150 mph: 29.5 sec
Results above omit 1-ft rollout of 0.3 sec.
Rolling start, 5–60 mph: 3.7 sec
Top gear, 30–50 mph: 1.4 sec
Top gear, 50–70 mph: 1.8 sec
Top speed (mfr’s claim): 150 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 154 ft
Braking, 100–0 mph: 324 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.94 g

75-mph highway driving: 98 MPGe
Highway range: 230 miles

Combined/city/highway: 111/116/106 MPGe
Range: 291 miles

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