Tesla Model Y: Green Car Reports’ Best Car To Buy 2021 finalist

A series of pandemic-related delays means that we close 2020 without as many new fully electric models on the market as we anticipated at the beginning of the year.  But with the Model Y, Tesla pushed on with production, into the eye of the pandemic—to much controversy—and managed both to roll out the Model Y […]

A series of pandemic-related delays means that we close 2020 without as many new fully electric models on the market as we anticipated at the beginning of the year. 

But with the Model Y, Tesla pushed on with production, into the eye of the pandemic—to much controversy—and managed both to roll out the Model Y early and ramp up its production far more smoothly than any of its other products. 

The same weekend in mid-March that many Americans were panic-buying toilet paper and yeast, Tesla was working on “touchless” deliveries of the Model Y, with many customers not actually expecting their vehicle for weeks, if not months. 

2020 Tesla Model Y

2020 Tesla Model Y

As such, Tesla looks on track to exceed 500,000 deliveries globally in 2020, and Model Y totals within the U.S. are likely to exceed the sales of all other premium non-Tesla EVs in the market combined. 

Although the Model Y borrows much from the Model 3, and its instrument panel is so close that it’s likely to be mistaken for that of the 3, the Model Y comes with a heat pump that should help maintain range in cold weather, plus an Off-Road Assist mode that could help get to trailheads or just through mud and snow. A teardown showed plenty of smart cost-cutting, but none of the stuff hinted at earlier by CEO Elon Musk, like a completely different communications architecture.

2020 Tesla Model Y

2020 Tesla Model Y

The vast majority of our time with the Y so far came last summer, with a daylong loan from extended family. In GCR’s first drive of a Long Range Model Y our two Chicago-based editors enjoyed the exhilarating acceleration and were impressed by 3.4 mile-per-kwh average, and found that the Y sacrificed little if any of the 3’s sport-sedan handling. 

The Model Y showed up with better range numbers than originally anticipated, and over the nine months it’s been available they’ve gotten better at least a couple of times. In Long Range form, the Model Y is currently rated at 326 miles. That corresponds to 125 miles per gallon equivalent, by EPA standards, or an excellent 3.7 mi/kwh. No other electric crossover comes close in range, and outside of the Hyundai Kona Electric, no other non-Tesla long-range EV comes close in efficiency.

2020 Tesla Model Y

2020 Tesla Model Y

2020 Tesla Model Y

2020 Tesla Model Y

2020 Tesla Model Y

2020 Tesla Model Y

2020 Tesla Model Y

2020 Tesla Model Y

There are most definitely ups and downs in assembly quality, and we were surprised that the company didn’t improve materials in any significant way for the Model Y. That might change when Tesla lightens the load at its Fremont factory and starts also producing the Model Y—perhaps in a wider range of builds—at its upcoming Texas plant that will also build the Cybertruck

The Model Y’s price has dropped since its rollout. It now starts at $51,190, including the $1,200 destination fee. Add $3,000 for the seven-seat layout on the way in 2021, or $10,000 for Full Self-Driving Capability that brings an expanded list of driver-assistance features such as Summon and the “automatic driving from on-ramp to off-ramp” of Navigate on Autopilot. The more affordable rear-wheel-drive versions of the Model Y still haven’t arrived.

Tesla continues to instead invest its money where its fans and customers seem to most appreciate it—in an increasing number of connected products that continue to become smarter, more efficient, and better-performing with over-the-air upgrades and the potential to do more in the future.

Visit our editorial group’s other Best Car To Buy awards—at Motor Authority and The Car Connection. And vote for The Car Connection’s annual Driver’s Choice.