posted on March 15, 2019

The crossover is slated for Fall 2020

Tesla’s Model Y has arrived to take on the world’s crossovers. Elon Musk just unveiled his latest creation at an event last night in Los Angeles, and orders opened immediately after. With zero emissions, high performance, and a slew of futuristic technology, the Model Y has appeal for a wide range of drivers.

The Model Y will appear familiar to any Tesla fan. From some angles it looks like an inflated Model 3; from others like a compacted Model X. Inside it’s nearly identical to the Model 3, with an ultra-minimal dashboard dominated by a 15” touchscreen. A massive glass roof gives a wide view of outside surroundings.

Image: Tesla

Cargo and seating capacity are crucial factors for crossovers. The Model Y’s lack of an engine and clever use of interior space account for 66 cubic feet of cargo space between the front trunk and hatchback tailgate, comparable to other vehicles in the segment. However, the new Tesla has optional seating for seven adults, a standout feature for an SUV of this size.

Musk claims the Y will be the safest midsize SUV on the market. Of course, the best way to stay safe in a crash is to avoid it entirely. To that extent, automatic emergency braking, collision warning, and blind-spot monitoring are standard. Customers can also opt for Tesla’s infamous Autopilot system, or, as Tesla puts it, “Full Self-Driving Capability.”

Image: Tesla

Shocking acceleration is a trait Teslas are known for, and the Model Y is no different. The Standard car goes zero to 60 in 5.9 seconds, while the Performance version will make the sprint in only 3.5 seconds. Range anxiety is still a factor, but the Model Y offers solid full-charge distance: 230 miles for the Standard, and up to 300 on the Long Range.

Many of the Y’s parts are shared with the Model 3, helping to keep price in line. Still, costly options are plentiful: any exterior color besides black adds at least $1,500, the seven-seat configuration costs $3,000, and Full Self-Driving Capability commands $5,000. Deliveries of the Model Y are expected to begin in Fall 2020.

Tesla on the move

Image: Tesla

At the unveiling Musk said Tesla is the first new automaker in 100 years to achieve mass production. Punctuated by photos of their barren Fremont Factory in 2010 to its worker- and robot-filled production lines of today, it’s incredible to see how far the brand has come in a decade. The Model Y represents a major step in Tesla’s quest to become a mainstream automaker, further filling out their product lineup with a midsize SUV.

Crossovers are the best-selling vehicle type right now, so the Model Y is the sensible next car for Tesla. However, every manufacturer is hard at work designing SUVs for any driver’s preferences. Gas-powered crossovers are plentiful, usually for far less money than EVs — it will take convincing to get more drivers to adopt the zero-emissions lifestyle. But electric power is steadily becoming popular across the spectrum, above and below the premium bracket Tesla aims for. The brand now faces a threat by the trend it helped create.

But to drive a Tesla is to love it. Sleek and sculpted looks, ultra-simple interiors, incredible technology, and powerful acceleration contribute to a unique driving experience. With the Model Y combining those features with the practicality of a crossover, Tesla has built itself another hit.

Alex has been a car fanatic for as long as he can remember. At 6'10," he might be the tallest auto writer in the world, and whether it's engine timing, exotic car design, or race strategy, there is no automotive topic beyond Alex's interest.