Tesla Model Y First Impressions: It’s easy to see why this will sell it’s trunk off

The Tesla Model Y is easily the most anticipated EV to land in Australia this year, 3 years after being announced and 3 years after the arrival of the Model 3, the all-electric mid-sized SUV from Tesla, is finally here in Australia.

After picking up the car in Melbourne, I had the opportunity to experience the car in dense city traffic, followed by a more relaxed cruise down the the Hume Hwy on Autopilot. A few hours later and a quick pitstop in Euroa to Supercharge and I was in Wodonga.

Having experienced the car now, it’s time to document my initial impressions.

Update
The video version is now available.

Storage

From the second you open the Frunk and the Trunk in this car, it is immediately obvious why this car is so successful internationally. The storage space available (even with the rear seats up) is incredibly generous with the frunk and truck offering deep volumous storage, easily accommodating for the typical family suitcases, backpacks, pillows etc when embarking on a family holiday, or weekend getaway.

When you see the available space, it’s a stark reminder of the opportunities that EVs represent. EVs aren’t just better for the environment, they are better vehicles in so many ways, particularly when it comes to storage, made possible when you eliminate large components like a fuel tank and internal combustion engine.

With the height of the vehicle being taller, it creates more vertical space for storage at the front and rear of the vehicle, but also increases the internal space for occupants.

The seats sit on risers which helps create a far entry and exit experience, particularly great for people in their later years with mobility issues. With higher front seats, your rear passengers will also have more space for their feet.

The center console between the front seats is also raised compared to the Model 3. This enables the arm rest to be positioned accordingly to accommodate the higher seating position. This unlocks extra space in the center console storage bins. Unfortunately, Tesla doesn’t include storage dividers, but there are plenty aftermarket options.

The door pockets are now lined with carpets, likely an effort to reduce rattles from bottles, however, a soft rubber finish may have been a more practical alternative. It’s not uncommon for liquids to leak and if that occurs on carpet, it won’t be easy to clean.

Space

The glass roof in the Model 3 is great, but compared to the Model Y, it’s not nearly as impressive. By moving the second cross member behind the heads of the rear passengers unlocks a stunning view of the world above.

Whether you’re driving under trees on a country road or under the towering buildings in the city, the glass roof in the Model Y provides a view unlike any other car, a particularly great bonus for rear passengers.

I’m 6’3 and being taller, I need the front seat further back than most. If I jump out of the driver’s seat and get in the back, my knees fit comfortably, indicating how much more leg room there is on offer here. I did try to rest my head on the rear-row headrest, but it was too low and I could place my head on the rear cross-member. If you’re 6 foot or under, this would not be a problem at all and even with my height, I’d happily embark on a few hour drive in the back seat.

Something new on the Model Y is the ability to recline your seat. Once you do this, it’s likely you’ll never have the seats in the upright position again. It’s far more comfortable and only in the event you were completely out of space would you entertain standing them up again. My daughter’s car seat also reclines, which results in a more comfortable seating position for her, translating to longer drives and fewer complaints from the 4yo.

If you take a trip to Ikea and have your flatpacks ready to load into the car, you can simply open the boot, pull the seat release buttons and the rear seats will fold down, revealing a massive area to load into. With the larger body of the Y, the entry angles are much better, making something like a large TV far easier to transport in the Y.

Range

The car I’m driving is the Model Y RWD, also known as the Standard Range model. This means the car uses a lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO 4) battery which is 62kWh in capacity. This battery can be charged to 100% regularly.

When I Supercharged to 100% last night, the screen read 435km of range. I think it’s interesting to compare to the day-to-day range of a 90% charge (recommended) from the Model 3 Performance. After some degradation, I’m getting about 405kms at 90%, while a charge to 100% for trips would yield around 450kms.

Australia is a large place and while our electric charging infrastructure is expanding, the Long Range option would have suited many families better than a choice between the standard range and performance. I have no doubt Tesla will offer the LR version of the Model Y here, but with supply-constrained, that may need to wait until Gigafactory Shanghai expands.

Comfort

The seats in the Model Y are the same seats on offer in the Model 3 which I find incredibly comfortable and supportive. I do miss the lumbar support on the passenger’s side seat, but outside of that, these are great to ride in, even on long trips.

Being seated higher, your legs are positioned at a different angle to the floor and as such is far more like being seated at the table, rather than low to the ground like a sporty sedan.

Some other writeups about the Model Y included characterisations of the ride being harsh, to the point where I think some people were even reconsidering their orders. After having driven this car hundreds of kilometers, in city, and rural driving, across varied road surfaces, I can say this is absolutely a non issue.

The review car has the 20″ Induction wheels (which I think look great), and while the ride is sporty, it’s not harsh or uncomfortable. Being an SUV, it has more suspension travel, combined with soft seats and the ride is great, exactly what I was expecting from another Tesla, built on the same platform as the Model 3.

Many automakers ship their vehicles with soft suspension, with the massive compromise of handling around corners. Despite the Model Y’s higher stance, it handles corners at speed, in a very similar way to the Model 3, virtual no body roll at all, very close to being on rails.

Personally, I think if anyone backs out of an order because of this conversation around ride comfort, you’ll immediately regret it when you actually get to ride in one.

I do wish the Model Y Performance was offered with a 20″ option to add to the default 21″ wheel, as the reduction in sidewall suggests the ride would be harsher than this, although I don’t hear the hundreds of thousands of Model Y owners internationally complaining about this. Just pay attention, watch out for potholes and enjoy the car.

Closing thoughts

The view through the rear view mirror is very limited, but this is easily overcome with a tap of the camera icon on the touchscreen to reveal an unobstructed view from the rear camera (and side repeaters if you chose).

Despite being taller, the car still remains easy to wash, although I am taller, but given this lands around normal SUV heights, if you’ve managed before, this won’t be an issue.

With the rear seats down, you can hear the rear motor a little more, but this will be a very rare, occasional use situation, so not an issue.

The double-pane glass definitely helps remove much of the road noise, although I typically listen to music or podcasts while driving, so this never bothered me.

Coming from the Model 3 in 2019, the refreshed console works well, great to have dual-wireless phone charging built-in.

Finally, I’m really glad the Model Y is here (available from August), however, I really wish this thing was cheaper and Tesla could make more of them, so more people get to experience just how amazing this car really is.

As configured, this Model Y costs A$84,345 driveway (VIC), with the Midnight Silver Metalic paint ($1,500), the 20″ Induction wheels ($2,900) and the white interior ($1,500) options selected.

Check out Tesla’s website for more detailed specs and if you have any questions about what it’s like to live with the Model Y, please leave a comment below and I’ll respond in the full review.