Last updated 13-Aug-2022
The Tesla Model Y has been available since 2020 in America including the USA, Canada and Mexico, and in the rest of the world over the following years. While it has not been out long, there are an increasing number of used cars available for purchase as well as well as new inventory. We run through the history, albeit short, the options, what we think are the common issues and make some suggestions on what to buy.
It's worth noting that YouTube reviews are only partly informative as there can be quite big differences between regions, especially with the model line-up. The US have the Texas build standard range, the LR and Performance, all AWD, whereas Australia only get a Standard Range RWD model and the Performance AWD at the time of launch. There can also be some detail differences such as soft lined door pockets in Europe whereas they are hard plastic in the US.
You may already know the Model Y is the car you want, and we have a guide to the Tesla model differences. The Model Y really does show the accumulated knowledge Tesla have gathered and as a design is it more mature than even the Model 3 on which it appears to share much of the detail. This is most readily seen by simply opening the trunk/boot. The hinges on the Model 3 are clunky and look like a design from the 1980s whereas the Model Y are altogether better resolved, albeit it not to the standards of some German cars. You may think this does not matter, but better designs mean better durability, less likely to develop creaks, better panel alignment etc. To us, the Model Y is the sweet spot in the range. The performance of the faster models grabs a lot of headlines, the Model Y is still very quick, it's far more usable as a car than the others, and we like it a lot.
It is worth reflecting briefly on the other choices from Tesla. The main alternative to the Model Y is the Model X for practicality albeit it as a much higher price. Even used Model X cars are expensive and we question the reliability as they start to age. For the similar money a new Model 3 is an option although while many claim it is as large inside, the rear is still relatively compromised for adults and we feel as mentioned above, aspects of the design are poor in comparison. This car was designed and implemented at the time when Tesla were on the brink of going under. A used Model S is also an alternative although like the Model X, this is starting to show its age in pre 2021 facelift guise, and even the 2021 facelift is not without its issues.
The Model Y is in the hottest segment of all EVs, the compact SUV, and as such has the most competition. Which you chose really depends on what you value most. There are cheaper but less capable cars such as the ID3, Enyaq and MG, and around the same price cars such as the Enya ID4, Ioniq 5, EV6 and even cars such as the BMW i3x are all very credible cars. The Model Y is slightly expensive to us for what you get, but if range is king in your book, then it wins.
The Model Y is widely available as new, nearly new or used cars, and we've a guide to saving money buying a Tesla which covers the different choices in more detail. The key differences in summary however are:
While the Model Y is still relatively new there have been a number of changes. The two main areas are the battery which has seen some small capacity upgrades and the MCU (media control unit) which from late 2021/early 2022 has started to shipped with the later Ryzen processor as used in the 2021 Model S. This does not seem to be consistent from country to country but finding cars with the later processor will help future proof the car going forward.
A rear load cover or parcel shelf was also introduced over 2022 with most production having it by the end of Q2.
For a full list of the changes and in which year see our guide to Tesla model Y history and changes over time.
The Model Y comes in Long Range AWD and Performance AWD. In some markets a standard range RWD model is or has been available. The performance of the P models over the LR has been largely off the line and once doing above 30 mph there is little in them, and for those reasons we'd suggest the smart choice really is the Long Range. The car is still quick by most standards and the chassis dynamics mean the Performance model is unlikely to ever be a more rewarding drive.
The Model Y is now made at 4 factories, Fremont, China, Berlin Germany and Austin, Texas. German production was originally limited to EU LHD Performance models with LR models starting in August 2022, both using the BT43 battery first seen in the China production cars. Texas uses the first 4680 battery cells as part of a new entry level model. This car has a battery capacity of approx. 67kwh, or about 18% less than the Long-Range model built in Fremont. There is also rumour that Berlin could make its own version of the MY with a structural battery pack and LFP battery with peprformance below the LR model.
The Model Y is one of the more efficient EVs you can buy, but its larger size means as speed increases then the effect on range also increases compared to the Model 3. That said, the LR model is still a very capable long distance car. We advise to work on 10% to 90% as the working range, and in winter assume only 80% of the efficiency. In effect 80% of 80% of 330 miles or 210 miles is worst case in winter. In weather above 10 deg C, and speeds less than 70 mph and 250 miles is readily achievable.
Tesla use 2 different conventions for naming batteries. In the car configuration which you can sometimes access through MyTesla and can see when looking at inventory cars they use a code such as BT37, whereas on formal import paperwork they use a code such as EC5D. Websites like TMC often discuss the batteries using the EC5D type codes but potential buyers then have difficulty matching that to inventory in their region as Tesla don't use these codes in their inventory listings. The table below helps match one to the other:
Each Tesla has a model code which is a combination of various factors including the battery. There are a surprising number of permutations which we list in the table below. This is important the model code is relatively easy to find in MyTesla just by looking at the image link of the car. From this model code you then determine the battery code and using the table above the alternative battery code if you so wish.
Tesla give each model an internal code which changes when updates to the battery or motors occur or when changes such as the addition of a heat pump can make a material difference. We have covered elsewhere how you find your version number but for the Model Y these all start MTYxx. We list the versions, the battery code, and the key performance data.
It is worth noting that Tesla list performance model specifications with 1 foot roll out. This reduces the time by approx. 0.2s, so this should be added to the 0-60 times to get a comparable time to those of the other models.
All Model Y cars come with Autopilot hardware so the only material choice is the software level installed. Autopilot is standard on most cars; we feel paying extra for Enhanced Autopilot or only a sensible option if you can make use of the features such as extensive use of the lane change and auto parking. FSD is worth very little over EAP except in the US if the car is on the Beta trial. We don't feel the $10k/£8k asking price from Tesla is ever reflected in used car prices.
The model Y is fairly light on options besides colour and interior. There are however a few to look out for:
The Long Range has almost always had a choice of wheel size. Larger wheels tend to look better, but are more prone to accident damage and reduce range. The standard LR wheels are often seen without the wheel covering which makes them look significantly different but they are in fact the same wheel. The removal of the aero cover does reduce range slightly. We would suggest the standard wheels and if you prefer the blacked-out look, either get them repainted or buy some relatively inexpensive wheel covers.
The towing package is now both an option at order time and a service centre fit option at the same price of around $1200/£1090. It's not clear whether there are any actual differences between the two, we suspect not, and think the tow pack may even be fitted by the service centres prior to delivery rather than a true factory option.
You may see Long Range cars advertised with an Acceleration boost. This is a software option and can be purchased for LR cars and would be activated by an over the air update. It makes the car a little quicker and as an alternative to buying the Performance model is cheap, but the Model Y never feels like it needs more power.
We're also starting to see this option appear on other AWD models such as the Austin built cars.
Some early cars had this as standard but it can be purchased after sale and fitted by Tesla.
These are now standard on even the RWD model, however some early SR+/RWD cars may not have them enabled. This can be done via a software update. Heated steering wheels however can't be turned on afterwards, the car either has a heated steering wheel or not.
Some of the Model Y now have the option of 7 seats, although the practical use of these is limited to relatively small people. We would suggest the option is not worth considering.
To find out what is activated in the car follow this guide on how to find out what hardware versions a Tesla has. Many dealers are now including the required pictures in their adverts and those that do, clearly understand the cars.
No Model Y came with unlimited free supercharging for the life of the car. Tesla have however offered a year free supercharging to cars delivered at the end of 2020. It is not clear if this is transferable to new owners within the year, generally speaking since 2017 any free supercharging given to new car buyers has not been transferable.
The Model Y was a new platform and Tesla seem to have learnt from a number of the previous issues, however they have also introduced some new ones. Most of the issues are factory issues and not ones that develop over time so the owner or a good condition car is likely to run into fewer problems over time, however getting a car in good condition can be harder than it should be because of Tesla's stance.
The Model Y build quality is much better than the Model 3 was at launch. While panel gaps can still be an issue, this is becoming less so.
Tesla paint is notorious for being soft and easily chipped. The paint did suffer from run marks and sanding marks from the factory and a number of car detailers refused to touch the Model Y (and Model 3) following an inspection they were that concerned although thankfully things do seem to be improving. The advantage the Model Y has over the Model 3 is more plastic trim in vulnerable areas and some PPF coating in front of the rear wheels. Still a relative weak spot for the brand.
Cars with LED lights tend to suffer in general with condensation forming within the light cluster and the lack of heat (due to not using incandescent lights) can mean this persists. A small amount is to be expected simply due to atmospheric conditions, but if the drain is blocked then water can build up eventually causing the unit to fail.
The Model 3 suffered from a number of issues with the heat pump including failed units and poorly written software. Most of these have been addressed and the implementation in the Model Y is much better.
It's a sad reflection on Tesla that cars are delivered with some fundamental issues, many of which are trivial to fix. Massively over inflated tyre pressures, brake pad clips fitted incorrectly and USB ports not connected illustrate the wide range of issues that should not occur on any new car, let alone one costing as much as Tesla’s do.
Tesla have been parts constrained from time to time and have switched to using older parts in some production runs. For instance, the matrix headlights were introduced and then swt5iched back to the non-matrix lights for a while. As the matrix lights perform the same as regular lights the benefit of matrix is limited at this time, although this may change in the future.
Model Y cars come with 2 manufacturer warranties. One covers the battery and motor for 8 years and 100k or 120k mile warranty depending on battery size, whichever comes sooner. This covers the owner against failure or battery degradation although Tesla have written into the warranty that that battery losses due to software changes are allowed.
The second warranty is the general car warranty for everything else. This lasts for 4 years or 50k miles, which comes sooner.
We feel the Long Range is the perfect balance of range, performance and comfort. The performance models move to bigger wheels which hurts the ride, and are not that much quicker on the move.
You can check the whole market and compare prices between models on our Inventory listings.
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