First Drive Review – 2023 Tesla Model Y Long Range – Tesla Aims Big In CUV Segment

The Tesla Model Y is shaping up to be a veritable sleeper hit for the upstart EV company with the CUV actually being on par in sales with the Model 3 sedan. However, until now, getting Tesla to review (especially in Michigan) was easier said than done due to various factors. As a result, we had to wait a bit to get our chance to get behind the wheel, but is the 2023 Tesla Model Y worth the wait and your hard-earned dollar?


Futuristic Styling That Doesn’t Forge New Ground

To find out, we traveled to Detroit and attended an event sponsored by DTE (the local power provider here in Michigan) that aimed to promote the advantages of all-electric motoring and the all-electric lifestyle as a whole.. Amid the exhibits and displays DTE had on hand, there was also a test drive area where attendees could get behind the wheel and spend some time in an electric vehicle (with a rep tagging along.)

The exterior styling of the Model Y we drove follows some of the core themes that are also present on its platform-mate, the Model 3. As a result, from some angles, it looks like a 3 that has been molded like a wad of putty with the heightened roofline and the more upright rear styling, helping the Y fall in line with other CUV rivals. Several packages allow buyers to customize the Model Y, but only five exterior colors are available, with three of them appearing as extra cost opinions. When viewed as a whole, the Model Y’s look is already starting to age, especially in the face of a growing pool of rivals that are doing a better job standing out amongst the crowd, including the Ford Mustang Mach-E.


Cleanly Styled Model Y Interior Marred By Poor Quality Materials

Slip inside the Model Y, and you’ll discover that it’s largely carried over from the Model 3. Thankfully, The CUV does not adopt the complex Falcon doors seen in the larger X, but like the 3, the cabin is largely devoid of buttons, with many of the controls housed inside a large infotainment screen. This screen is very responsive, and we noticed minimal lag when navigating between select menus. The seats are also very impressive, with balanced bolstering and cushioning. The Y is a two-row offering out of the box, but buyers can add an optional third-row for an extra $3000.

That said, it was a pity to see that our example also came with low-quality materials, cheap textures, and even misaligned panels being discovered when we had a chance to take a more detailed look around. That’s a shame, too, since Tesla has recently been committed to improving quality control, especially in constructing its interiors. The second-row seats offer decent amounts of leg and knee room, but we wished for more headroom, with part of this being due to the large all-glass roof panel, which is thankfully tinted to help prevent the cabin from turning into a Swedish hot sauna on warm sunny days.


Dual-Motor Performance Propel Model Y Towards Fun

Performance for all 2023 Tesla Model Y models comes from dual-electric motors, but the performance, range, and overall driving experience depend on what trim level you choose. The Long Range model we drove gets a setup that makes 384 horsepower and 330 miles of range, with the Long Range making the sprint to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds. The range-topping Performance model sees its range dip to 303 miles but makes up for it by offering 456 horsepower and a 3.5-second 0 to 60 time.

The route that DTE laid out for the drive experience was short, but we got to experience a blend of city and freeway driving, and it certainly revealed some things about our tester. Out in the city portion of our drive, the Y’s firmer suspension tune proved to be a double-edged sword, with some of the pockmarked sections of Downtown Detroit’s roads revealing a lot of chassis vibrations and steering that was far too numb for its own good. This impression was softened somewhat by its freeway manners, with our tester having impressive amounts of acceleration and noise isolation, especially in regards to tire noise.

This potent amount of performance on hand allows the Model Y to have a unique place in the minds of family buyers, especially those who don’t want to lose out on some of the fun that they had before the kids came along. However, the Model Y needs to have more balance in its overall presentation and rise above being a one-trick pony. The Mustang Mach-E, for example, has crisper styling and an infotainment system that’s more user-friendly. The Hyundai Ioniq 5 has higher-quality materials and a more comfortable layout for passengers.


Value Quotient

Pricing for the 2023 Tesla Model Y Long Range starts at $50,490 before any green credits are factored into the equation, with a base Y having a slightly lower pre-credit MSRP of $47,740. Our Long-Range example arrived with a wide range of optional extras, including the $6,000 AutoPilot and the $12,000 Full Self-Driving (FSD) system, which caused the final as-tested price to swell past $59,000.

This pricing puts the Model Y firmly in the hunt with the Mach-E and similar rivals, but it also highlights a prominent problem that faces the EV market: mass affordability. Many EV offerings are still out of reach for many consumers, and the Model Y is competing in a price bracket that’s too high for most family buyers. Some of the low-quality materials Y has don’t match its price point and make you wonder why buyers should even pay that much in the first place. Lastly, the process of formally buying one is still a challenge in states like mine, where prospective buyers have to travel out of state to pick it up and sign on the dotted line though the company has opened up several service locations, including one in Clarkston, Michigan.

Tesla is rumored to be eventually releasing a model that would have a targeted base price of $25,000 but for now, the 2023 Model Y will continue to be Tesla’s bread and butter in sales, and we look forward to seeing what the future holds for the Model Y moving forward.