2024 Tesla Model Y Review: Practicality Meets Affordability

The Model Y is that one Tesla brainchild that went to a good school ate all its veggies, got a cushy inner-city job and learned how to budget properly. It’s practical and reliable, with plenty of space for family essentials compared to some of the US car manufacturers’ more untamed offspring.

Despite its slightly bloated exterior, the EV’s impressive mileage, five seats and huge boot space make it a solid choice for drivers who need to use their car to transport more than the occasional suitcase. It’s little surprise it’s currently the best-selling electric car in Australia

But the ‘Y’ is also heading into battle. Kia’s brilliant EV6 and Hyundai’s rock-solid Ioniq 5 are competing for the title of best midsize electric SUV on the market. The Polestar 2 and 3 are as strong as ever, too. And with the Polestar 4 set to arrive in August 2024, Tesla has its work cut out to hold consumer interest. 

Tesla recently cut the price of its 2024 Model Y to likely to keep pace with its rivals. But is that enough to make it a worthwhile purchase, or should you shop around for something a little more unique? Let’s dive in and find out.

The Tesla Model Y overview

The Model Y is Tesla’s fourth four-door sedan after the Model S big sedan, Model X SUV, and Model 3 small sedan. The car currently has five seats, though customers in the US can now purchase a 7-seater version. 

Tesla apparently has plans to bring the 7-seater base model to Australia somewhere down the line, though I can’t say when. Tesla is famously unpredictable with its release patterns and pricing structure (and just about everything else). 

Where does the Model Y slot into the Tesla lineup?

The Model Y is based on and shares about two-thirds of its parts with the pre-facelift Model 3. It’s a bit taller and longer, though, as if you’d taken a photo of the 3 and stretched it out in Photoshop. 

This extra length and height translate to more spaciousness, the Model Y’s main selling point. The EV might lack the Model 3’s beauty and the discontinued Model X’s roominess. 

It fills the gap perfectly as an entry-level sedan that lands somewhere between the two: practicality meets affordability

How much does it cost? 

Trying to report an accurate price for the Model Y is like pinning water to a wall. Musk loves an overnight price change, so you should really check in with the Tesla website for the current cost, as it could change anytime.

Nevertheless, I can share the most up-to-date price info as of May 2024.

ModelBase Price (as of May 2024)
Rear-Wheel-Drive (RWD)$60,900
Long Range (AWD)$69,900
Performance (AWD)$82,900

These prices put the Model Y $2,000 higher on all fronts than the closely related Model 3. Still, it’s competitively priced compared to the $72,590 Kia EV6 and even the $65,000 Hyundai Ioniq 5.  

These prices do not take into account Tesla’s extra charges, like the $400 order and $1,400 delivery fee, as well as any on-road costs like registration, third-party insurance, and stamp duty. 

How far can it go on a single charge? 

The Rear-Wheel-Drive Model Y can travel around 455km on a single charge. That easily puts it in the upper echelon of current EVs on the market. Better still, the driving range shoots up to 533km on a single charge for the Long Range AWD variant. 

The Model Y Performance model can only handle 514km before the battery pack runs out of juice, but it more than makes up for this with its supercar-esque 563bhp. Tit for tat, as they say.

As always with EVs, this is just a best estimate. The actual range depends on the weather and how much gusto you’re unloading with your right foot. 

The Long Range AWD should easily give you 450km per charge, even if you’re spending a decent amount of time on the highway. 

Driving the Tesla Model Y

Driving the Model Y doesn’t bring the same level of satisfaction and excitement that you’ll feel while driving the Model 3. It’s a lot more tame and refined, carrying an extra 150 kg of weight that can make it feel a little stiff. 

It really fits the brief as the Model 3’s older, more mature cousin. More practicality, less energy. 

How fast can the car go? 

The Model Y isn’t quite as fast as the Model 3, mainly owing to the 150kg of additional weight it carries on its shoulders. 

Still, it’s more than quick enough for the everyday driver. The RWD has a single electric motor that produces 220kW of power and 420Nm of torque, meaning it can accelerate from 0-100km/h in 6.9 seconds.

The Long Range AWD is faster still, boasting a dual motor with an estimated maximum power of 378kW and 493Nm, meaning it can do 0-100km/h in around 5 seconds.

That’s plenty quick enough for the majority of buyers, especially if the extent of your daily race is commuting to work and ferrying the kids to and from school. 

Still, if you like your cars on the rapid side, the Performance version offers an astounding 393kW and 660Nm, delivering a blistering 0-100km/h in 3.7 seconds. That makes it a pretty close match for the GT Kia EV6, especially impressive when you consider the two-tonne load the EV is hauling.

How well does it handle? 

When you’re coasting along the freeway, the Model Y feels at home. Its weight is a plus here. While it doesn’t feel as grounded as EVs like the BMW i4, it’s certainly up there with the best. 

When you’re hitting tight corners, the handling can start to feel a little sluggish. The weight lets it down, and the lower centre of gravity means the EV doesn’t feel nearly as agile as the Model 3.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s a reliable drive, and the steering is still super responsive. You can take on windy roads with confidence, especially with the AWD models. But if you’re a keen motorist and like your driving experience to be on the peppy side, you might find yourself wanting something more. 

Aside from that, the Model Y’s breaks are absolutely stellar. I’ve experienced very few cars that are so responsive to the pressure of your right foot. 

How comfortable is the car?

Tesla and ride comfort don’t often go hand in hand. The 19-inch Gemini rims that come standard with the car are on the larger side, making for a pretty rough ride at times.

Even if a road seems smooth at a glance, the Model Y has a way of attacking every tiny pothole like it has a personal vendetta against pavement. The suspension could definitely be better.

Naturally, this problem is only exacerbated by the sports car suspension and 21-inch alloys standard with the Performance version. 

The Model Y is still more relaxed and comforting than the comparatively back-jarring Ford Mustang Mach E. But compared with the comfy Kia EV6 and even the GV60, it’s a bit of a bumpy ride. 

What about noise?

The Tesla Model Y is a whole lot quieter than most internal combustion cars, but it’s still less hushed than comparable EVs.

You’ll hear some road noise when driving owing to the panoramic glass ceiling. It doesn’t really absorb much sound, meaning that the EV can turn into an echo chamber at high speeds. 

It sometimes feels like you’re joyriding around Jenolan Caves rather than commuting down the M31 Hume Highway. 

This is the only real problem I see if you’re like me and prefer blissful silence on your daily drive. Even if you’re a recent petrolhead convert, you’ll still find the Model Y’s road noise comparably discreet. 

Tesla Model Y interior

The Model Y isn’t the sleekest on the outside. It doesn’t feel as streamlined and aesthetic as the Model 3, which is looking pretty slick following its 2023 facelift. 

But on the inside, it’s a different story. As with all of Tesla’s offerings, the interior is modern and sophisticated, if sparse for some. The central 15-inch touchscreen controls everything, which is something that you’ll need to get used to.

How are the front seats?

The Model Y’s driving position is a bit higher up than the Model 3, but not as high as sitting in a large SUV. For better or for worse, it still retains that sporty feel.

The low dashboard makes the car feel even more spacious and gives you a birdseye view of the road. It’s a great feeling.

You can adjust the wheel if you need to, but it can be a bit of a hassle for first-timers. You’ll need to use the central touchscreen to get the wheel where you want it, which can take a bit of getting used to.

What’s the experience like for backseat passengers? 

The Model Y offers far smoother ride quality for passengers than the Model 3. This isn’t just due to the spaciousness (although that obviously helps) but also because the seats are raised further off the ground. 

There’s plenty of room for people to stretch their legs out and watch some Netflix on the back seat screens. If someone wants to catch some Z’s, they can recline their chair, too. 

How much boot space does it offer?

The five-seater Model Y has an 854-litre boot when you factor in the underfloor storage space. That turns into 2,158 litres when you fold down the rear seats.

In comparable terms, that’s pretty close to the ultra-practical Skoda Kodiaq or Volkswagen’s flagship Touareg. 

There’s also a genuinely handy 117-litre boot at the front, and the enormous size of the rear trunk means you might not even need it. Still, it’s nice to have.

The boot space is one of the car’s primary selling points. It’s just a shame Tesla didn’t add a way for luggage to be tied down, especially as the ability to travel with heavy goods is one of the EV’s specialties. 

How’s the 15-inch touchscreen?

Tesla’s monolithic touchscreen is a source of great debate. It’s intuitive and brilliant once you get to know it, but it doesn’t always make up for a lack of tangible buttons and switchgear. 

Sometimes, it feels like you’re taking your eyes off the road more than you should to adjust a simple setting when a dial would’ve worked just fine. You’ll be glad to hear that the Tesla Model Y has an indicator stick instead of a button on the steering wheel, something that the latest Model 3 lacks. 

Aside from that bugbear, the infotainment system is exceptional. You’ll have all the usual accoutrements like sat-nav and access to the internet, as well as some new additions such as Spotify and Netflix. 

As with all other Tesla EVs, the lack of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is a big drawback if you’re a regular user of the services. You’ll need to get used to Tesla’s in-house system instead. 

What other features does the Model Y have?

Aside from the enormous boot space and touchscreen, the car also features a panoramic glass sunroof that adds a good amount of natural light to the interior.

It gives the white or black fake leather seats a really airy feel, it does contribute to echoing as you drive. Tesla also tells us that the glass is tinted in such a way that it blocks infrared and ultraviolet light

Lastly, you’ll also have standard cooled and heated seats and four USB charging ports. 

What about the materials?

One of the age-old qualms with the Tesla lineup is that they (historically, at least) weren’t made of particularly strong stuff. Earlier cars had a tin-can feel. Style over substance. But this is starting to change. 

The Model Y feels cohesive and well put together, with a higher build quality than many of the EVs that came before it. That said, don’t expect the world. The materials feel sturdy and reliable but not necessarily luxurious compared to contenders like the Kia EV6 GT.

Tesla Model Y safety features

You’ll be pleased to know that the Model Y is, by and large, considered extremely safe. It got its full five-star safety rating in 2022 under the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP). 

In particular, it achieved a 97% adult occupant protection score, the highest of any vehicle that ANCAP assessed with its recently updated 2020-2022 standard. 

It also scored a rather impressive 89% for child occupant protection and a record-breaking 98% safety assist technology score.

As for how safe you actually feel while driving the car, the Model Y comes with front auto emergency braking, automatic lane centring, adaptive cruise control, and blind-spot monitoring. It has all of the active safety features to support your driving. It’ll react even if you don’t. 

Tesla Model Y charging

The Model Y Accessory Shop sells an $800 Gen 3 Wall Connector for home charging. Tesla claims it’ll add up to 75km of range an hour, meaning it’d take roughly 6-7 hours for a full charge, which is ideal for leaving it to charge overnight. 

But where Tesla really shines is in its ruthlessly efficient Supercharger network: the biggest collection of rapid chargers in the world. 

These are only available to Tesla drivers, too, so you can secretly relish in the exclusivity while you play a game of Solitaire on your infotainment system and wait for your EV to charge.

Tesla Model Y reliability and warranty

Tesla’s reputation for faults used to be a shadow over its head, but it seems keen to step back into the sun with the Model Y. It’s fairly reliable, more so than most internal combustion engines. 

Still, it’s early days. We’ve only had the Model Y in Australia for a couple of years, so time will tell if the EV runs into any recurring problems down the line. 

Luckily, the 2024 model version has a 4-year/80,000km vehicle warranty, which is much better than the industry standard.

All of the batteries also have warranties depending on the car you buy. 

The RWD has 8-years/160,000km, and the Long Range AWD is backed for 8-years/192,000km. Tesla insists that the battery won’t degrade more than 30% during this period. 

Tesla Model Y pricing

The base price for each Model Y is:

  • Rear-Wheel-Drive: $60,900
  • All-Wheel Drive Long Range: $69,900
  • Performance AWD: $82,900

The standard kit for each of these Tesla cars includes a panoramic glass roof, heated seats (both front and back), alloy wheels, LED headlights, 360-degree cameras, adaptive cruise control, two-zone climate control and dozens of apps included in Tesla’s massive touchscreen. 

With the Long Range and Performance, you’ll also get Front LED fog lights. The Performance also comes with standard 21-inch alloy wheels and a carbon fibre rear spoiler.

All of those luxuries are good news because the addon options are quite sparse. Still, you’ll need to pay extra for any additional bits and pieces you want to add. 

Exterior and interior purchasing options

Tesla currently offers six different exterior colours, with the Pearl White Multi-Coat being the standard if you don’t fancy paying extra. 

2024 Tesla Model Y ColoursAddon Cost 
Pearl White Multi-CoatIncluded with Base Price
Deep Blue Metallic$1,500
Solid Black$1,500
Stealth Grey$2,300
Ultra Red$2,600

Aside from that, you can also pay $2,400 for 20-inch Induction Wheels for both the RWD and Long Range variants (the Performance AWD comes with 21-inch Überturbine Wheels as standard).

On the interior side of things, you’ve got a choice between All Black (included in the base price) or Black and White, which looks a lot sleeker but will set you back an extra $1,500.

Autopilot purchasing options

If you fancy some extra help, you can buy the Enhanced Autopilot for an extra $5,100. This offers an auto lane change assistant and even the ability to summon the EV to you in a car park, like a mystical EV wizard. 

$10,100 will pay for Full-Self Driving (FSD) capability, which adds all of the features from Enhanced Autopilot plus additional systems like traffic light and stop sign control. 

This package also comes with the promise that you’ll receive Tesla’s Level 2 ‘Autosteer on street’ capabilities when they arrive. But with Tesla’s often random timelines, there’s no telling when this feature will turn up on Australian shores. 

You’ll need to weigh up the costs versus benefits carefully. Full Self-Driving doesn’t mean entirely autonomous. You still need to keep your hands on the wheel. Australia still requires it by law, too, so you’ll have to wait a while before you can start catching up on Netflix as your Model Y drives you to work.

Is the Model Y worth it? 

Overall, the Model Y is a solid car. It’s extremely practical, so much so that the acceleration (unlike nearly every other Tesla) isn’t the car’s main talking point. The boot space is genuinely astounding, and the spaciousness inside is seriously impressive. 

Despite the fact the car weighs a couple of tonnes and looks like a blown-up version of the Model 3, it still somehow feels like it packs a lot into a little. 

It’s not as beautiful as the Model 3, nor is it as fast. Even the handling doesn’t feel as slick. 

But what it does have is buckets of practicality and dozens of sensible use cases. It’s Tesla, but a little bit more down-to-earth. It’s less fun. It’s more functional, and I love it. 

Considering a lease for your next EV?

The Model Y is competitively priced in the EV market, but that doesn’t make it cheap. Leasing is a more affordable alternative, especially for EVs. 

A novated lease sets up an agreement between your employer and a dealership, like Vehicle Solutions. It lets you choose the car you like and bundle the finance (including all running costs) into a single payment that’s deducted from your salary each month. 

Aside from saving you time and money, buying a novated Model Y means you’ll pay no car tax on the lease and even no GST on running costs. 

Want to find out how much you could save on your Tesla Model Y with an EV-novated lease? Check out our EV Novated Lease Calculator to see how little you’ll need to pay weekly to own a Tesla Model Y.