A little smaller than the X, and a lot less pricey
To drive any new Tesla is to realize that most of its EV rivals, for all their gains, still have some catching up to do. The Model Y SUV is the latest to raise the bar, including a 525-kilometer (326-mile) range.
I tested the Long Range version in and around Brooklyn, driving nearly 4 miles for every kilowatt-hour stored in its 75-kilowatt-hour battery. That's about 30 percent higher energy efficiency than I achieved in the new Ford Mustang Mach-E and nearly two-thirds better than the Audi E-tron Sportback. The EPA estimates that a Model Y needs US $550 a year in electricity to cover 15,000 miles, versus $750 for the Ford's all-wheel-drive version and $850 for the Audi.
It's a delight to drive. The Model Y's frisky handling and instant-on acceleration makes every time you pass and merge a pleasure. That kind of oomph comes from dual electric motors that combine for 286 kilowatts (384 horsepower) and 510 newton meters (376 pound-feet) of torque. The $62,900 Performance edition—with a wicked 456 horses and 497 pound-feet—sacrifices 57 km of range but cuts the 0-to-60-mph time to 3.5 seconds, from 4.8.
A 15-inch center touch screen is the altar of the car's Temple of Tech, and its voice controls are among the most natural in the business. Dial up Tesla's sophisticated semiautonomous features, including Navigate on Autopilot, and its situational awareness includes animations in the driver's display of nearby vehicles, bicycles, even orange cones in a parking lot.
Tesla's other big advantage, in North America anyway, remains its proprietary, continent-wide Supercharger network. The company's V3 Superchargers will replenish up to 254 km (158 miles) of range in 15 minutes, enough time for a bathroom break and a snack.