Comparison: Tesla Model 3 vs. Tesla Model Y

  • Christian Wardlaw has 25 years of experience serving in automotive editorial leadership roles with Autobytel, Edmunds, J.D. Power, and Tribune Publishing. A married father of four, Chris is based in the Los Angeles suburbs and believes fuel cell electric vehicles will power the future.

can be reached at christianwardlaw@gmail.com
  • Christian Wardlaw has 25 years of experience serving in automotive editorial leadership roles with Autobytel, Edmunds, J.D. Power, and Tribune Publishing. A married father of four, Chris is based in the Los Angeles suburbs and believes fuel cell electric vehicles will power the future.

can be reached at christianwardlaw@gmail.com
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Tesla is on track to sell more than 139,000 Model 3 sedans in 2019. That estimate is based on sales through July, and the numbers for that month took a big hit because that’s when Tesla’s federal income tax credit got chopped to $1,875 per car instead of $3,500. By the end of December, the credit will be gone.

Still, that’s an impressive figure. By contrast, Mercedes-Benz is trending toward 52,775 C-Class sales, while BMW is on track to put more than 42,000 examples of the BMW 3 Series on the road, and Lexus ought to move almost 50,000 ES sedans by the end of 2019.

Tesla: It’s not just for early-adopter tech geeks anymore.

Earlier this year, Tesla introduced the Model Y. It’s based on the Model 3, but is positioned as an SUV instead of a sedan. As you might expect, the reality of a Tesla SUV that’s cheaper than the company’s larger Model X caused fans of the brand to nearly lose their minds.

But is the Model Y worth the extra cost over a Model 3?

Front Views of the Tesla Model 3 vs Tesla Model Y
The Tesla Model 3 (top) is less expensive, faster, recharges quicker, and travels farther than the Tesla Model Y. (Photo: Tesla)

The best things about the Tesla Model 3

While the Tesla Model 3 is a sedan with a traditional trunk measuring 15 cubic feet, it beats the more practical and more expensive Model Y is in pretty much every other measurable category. For example, it costs less. Compare the Long Range Dual Motor All-Wheel Drive versions, and the Model 3 saves you $4,010.

The Model 3 also travels farther on a full battery charge. Depending on the version you choose, the minimum/maximum range estimates are 240-310 miles for the Model 3. The Model Y travels 230-300 miles.

Acceleration to 60 mph takes 5.3 seconds for the Model 3 Standard Range, and 3.2 seconds for the Model 3 Performance. Equivalent versions of the Model Y take 5.5 seconds and 3.5 seconds, respectively.

Eventually, you’ll need to visit a Tesla Supercharger, where you’ll plug in for some extra juice. In 15 minutes, the Model 3 soaks up 180 miles of range. The Model Y rejuvenates to 168 miles in the same period of time.

Tesla Model 3 vs Tesla Model Y Interior and Dashboard Views
Essentially, the Tesla Model 3 (top) and the Tesla Model Y (bottom) are identical inside, each featuring the automaker’s clean, austere, high-tech look. (Photo: Tesla)

The best things about the Tesla Model Y

There’s not much difference between a Tesla Model 3 and a Tesla Model Y. The former is lower and sleeker, while the latter sits up taller and provides more cargo space. Otherwise, the styling themes are the same, the interiors are essentially indistinguishable, and the drivetrains are identical.

So, why should you spend extra money on the Model Y?

The main reason is for its extra utility. Open the Model Y’s rear hatch, and it holds more luggage than a Model 3. Tesla doesn’t provide an official figure for the space behind the rear seat, but you can bet it’s bigger than 15 cubic feet.

Fold the seats down, and the Model Y can carry up to 66 cubic feet of cargo, according to Tesla. That’s competitive with other compact luxury SUVs. Plus, you can load bulkier items into a Model Y than you can a Model 3. Tesla could’ve given Model Y owners even more room had it gone with a more traditional SUV look, but that would’ve been tough given the company’s rounded, organic styling themes.

Another reason to get the Model Y is for the optional third-row seat. Spend an extra $3,000, you can stuff two extra seating locations into this Tesla, giving the SUV 7-passenger seating capacity.

Otherwise, there is no reason to upgrade to a Tesla Model Y. It is either identical to the Model 3, or inferior to it.

Tesla Model 3 vs Tesla Model Y Rear Views
One of these Teslas is better at carrying cargo, while the other is better at everything else. (Photo: Tesla)

Tesla Model 3 vs. Tesla Model Y. Which is better?

Unless you absolutely must have the Model Y’s optional third-row seat, its extra cargo space, or the improved utility that comes with a larger rear load area, we recommend the Tesla Model 3. It is the better vehicle, and the better value.

And if you fold the rear seats, the Model 3 holds an estimated total of 43 cubic feet of your junk, as long as you also use the frunk.

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About the Author

  • Christian Wardlaw has 25 years of experience serving in automotive editorial leadership roles with Autobytel, Edmunds, J.D. Power, and Tribune Publishing. A married father of four, Chris is based in the Los Angeles suburbs and believes fuel cell electric vehicles will power the future.

can be reached at christianwardlaw@gmail.com
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