First Drive: Tesla Model Y Has Nimble Handling and Impressive Power Delivery

CR's engineers caution buyers on the SUV's stiff ride, unintuitive controls, and Tesla's first-year reliability issues

Tesla Model Y Consumer Reports

The Model Y is Tesla’s fourth mainstream vehicle after the Model S and Model 3 sedans, and the Model X SUV. It’s essentially the SUV version of the 3, using shared components and delivering a similar driving experience.

Although the Model Y starts at $41,000, the long-range versions are first out of the gate. This bumps up the price by almost $12,000. The EPA rates this version at 316 miles of range. We believe that with any electric vehicle, buyers should opt for the largest battery and longest range to hedge against any unforeseen needs and adverse cold-climate effects.

Update: Since this first drive was originally published in June, 2020, we finished testing the Tesla Model Y.

Read the complete Model Y road test.

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The Model Y aims at the heart of the luxury SUV segment, where players such as the BMW X3 and Lexus RX compete. Given the popularity of SUVs and the Model Y price, we wouldn’t be surprised if it eventually becomes Tesla’s best seller.

If you’re a Consumer Reports member, our initial assessment of the Tesla Model Y is available to you here. We plan to put it through more than 50 tests at CR's Auto Test Center, including those that evaluate acceleration, braking, fuel economy, handling, car-seat fit, and controls. CR members will get access to the full road-test results as soon as they’re available.

If you haven’t signed up yet, click below and become a member to access this full article and all our exclusive ratings and reviews for each vehicle we buy and test. Joining also gives you full access to exclusive ratings for the other products our experts evaluate in several categories, including electronics and appliances, among others.

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What we bought: 2020 Tesla Model Y Long Range AWD
Powertrain: 384-hp combined from two electric motors, 1-speed direct drive; all-wheel drive.
MSRP: $41,000
Options: $11,990 Long Range Dual Motor AWD, $7,000 Full Self-Driving Capability, Destination fee: $1,200
Total cost: $61,190

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