Tesla continues to make strides in their development and production of electric vehicles adding the Model Y to their lineup. As a newcomer to the company, the Model Y can be viewed as a cross between the Model X and a Model 3. When the Y first hit the market, it was considerably cheaper than the X, but now that its price has gone up, you may be wondering, how does the Model Y compare with the Model X?
There are two versions of both models, but the Model X out-performs the Model Y in the following areas: range, cargo capacity, AWD, and acceleration top speed. The Model Y leads in other areas, including having a racier look and being the cheapest of the two by a minimum of $38,000.
As with many comparisons, the positives of certain performance factors may not register on any given buyer’s radar because of what matters to that person. Ultimately the result of a comparison between the two models is going to come down to preference, especially given the price difference. Keep reading to learn about how the Model Y and Model X compare and the results of this test comparison.
The Model Y and Model X in Comparison
If there is a way to sum up the comparison of the two models it would be to say that it comes down to a battle of aesthetics. In many respects, the Model X leads the charge with a longer range, bigger cargo capacity, and higher top speed. But these positives become debatable depending on who the buyer is.
A top speed of the Model X Plaid of 163 miles per hour is great. But how often are you going to legally be able to go even 155 miles per hour, the top speed of the Model Y Performance? For some buyers just having the ability is worth the $59,000 difference between the two models. For others, not so much.
You can make similar arguments for most of the performance specs between the two models. The decision for most buyers will probably come down to practicalities versus prestige in the major categories of comparison:
- Cargo size
- The infamous door question
Each of these comparisons have their ins and outs, and obvious wins may not be so obvious when given a little perspective. So read on for a thorough breakdown of all the considerations you need to make when choosing between the two models.
The upshot of the price is that the Model X is more expensive than the Model Y, you might even say ridiculously more expensive. When comparing the high-end versions of each model, the Model X is just barely shy of being twice as expensive as the Model Y.
Take a look at the side-by-side comparison of the top versions of each car, the Model Y Performance vs the Model X Plaid The tables for this section are kept simple for your reference later. Keep the price difference in mind as you read through the comparisons later in this article.:
|Model Y Performance||Model X Plaid|
As mentioned earlier, the Model X Plaid is almost double the Model Y’s high-end version.
Now compare the basic versions of the Model Y and the Model X, the Long Range versions:
|Model Y Long Range||Model X Long Range|
In an honest evaluation, you have to ask yourself: are the performance benefits of the Model X worth even the $38,000 starting difference?
The price difference between the two models is so steep it is almost worth wondering, at the risk of you continuing to read this article, if there even is a comparison. Tesla seems to be going after two different markets. And yet, certain features of the Model Y pretty much demand comparison with the Model X:
- Both are classified as SUVs
- The Model Y has the option for 7 seat capacity, putting it in the same passenger class as the X
- The Model Y and X are also comparable in terms of cargo capacity, especially when compared with the Model 3 and Model S
- Both the Model X and Model Y have towing ability
Cargo capacity and seating are big deals for buyers, so the two models are definitely worth comparing.
Seating and Cargo Capacity Compared
There is nothing like trunk space and seating to cinch the deal when buying a new car. This has been true in the car industry for decades and it holds true for Tesla’s EVs as well.
In some ways, given the way electric cars tend to be smaller than traditional cars, space is even more of a big deal. When trying to attract cross-over buyers from the gasoline world of cars, this may even be more important to the viability of the EV market than range.
To what extent is an electric car able to hold all my junk and all my people? That is the question (sorry, Hamlet).
How Does the Seating Compare?
The Model Y hit the market back in March 2020 with a 5 seat arrangement, two in front and three in the back. As with all cars, it is an open question as to what kind of person is likely to be able to sit in the center of the back seat for long, but for the sake of this comparison, it is an available seat.
By the time 2021 rolled around Tesla had added the Performance version of the Model Y and more seating was made available on its website. The performance version has the third-row option that includes two additional seats, which gives the Y the potential of seating 7 individuals just like the X.
It does seem something of a marvel that, with less space in general, the Model Y is able to fit two more people, but it can do it with comparable comfort to the Model X.
The Model X is known for bringing the SUV into the electric world, including that car style’s ability to seat more people, so the X has bragging rights. But for both models, the third row is best when used by children (possibly including toddlers in forward-facing car seats) and littler than average humans.
How Does the Cargo Capacity Compare?
In cargo capacity, there is one clear winner and that is the Model X. Both versions of the Model X have a cargo capacity of 88 cubic feet. However, both versions of the Model Y shave 20 cubic feet off that number to come in at 68.
It is interesting to note that the five-seat version of the Model Y has the same cubic feet cargo capacity as the 7 seat version, making it an astounding achievement of engineering that Tesla was able to squeeze in two more seats without subtracting a cubic foot of cargo space.
Also, in terms of the earlier discussion of why these two models warrant a comparison, you should take notice that both the X and the Y have much a higher cargo capacity than their model mates the 3 and the S:
- The Model S has 28 cubic feet of cargo space
- The Model 3 comes in at a measly 15 cubic feet of cargo space
So even at its lesser cargo capacity, the Model Y still comes in 30 cubic feet higher than the S, which is the next best contender.
Finally, while the Model Y has less onboard cargo space, it does have a cargo capacity edge that the Model X does not. While both have accessory options for storage of skis, bikes, snowboards, etc. off the back hitch (which is itself an accessory), only the Model Y has the capability for a roof rack. The Falcon Wing doors eliminate that possibility for the X.
After the things that most buyers care about in any car (seating and cargo space), probably the biggest consideration for electric cars in their range. So how far can the Model Y and the Model X go? Check out the table below:
|Model Y Long Range||Model X Long Range||Model Y Performance||Model X Plaid|
|Range||326 miles||360 miles||303 miles||340 miles|
Both models maintain a more or less similar spread between the respective ranges. The Long Range versions of the models have a difference of about 34 miles while the Model Y Performance and the Model X Plaid differ by 37 miles. Does the difference of about 37 miles matter?
The Question of Range
On the Model X page on Tesla’s website, there is a map that shows four examples of just how far you can go in a Model X. The routes it shows are:
- Fort Lauderdale to Orlando: 195 miles
- New York to Boston: 211 miles
- San Jose to Los Angeles: 340 miles
- Berkeley to Lake Tahoe: 178 miles
As you can see the only example that is outside the range of both versions of the Model Y is the San Jose to L.A. trip. And that only by about 37 miles on the outside.
But the Model Y can also charge to 162 miles within about 15 minutes when it is done at a Supercharger. Tesla operates an ever-increasing network of Supercharger stations, and a glance at their map shows around 15 stations between San Jose and L.A. along two different routes collectively.
To drive that far at 70 miles an hour would take about five hours (not including the continual rush hour that is L.A. traffic). So the question becomes, is it worth it to spend at least $38,000 more to avoid a 15 minute stop that you would probably want to take anyway given the length of the drive?
While the Model X certainly out-performs the Y in terms of range, given the increasing availability of Superchargers and given that the difference is only 37 miles at the most, it seems like a moot point. If you are going on a trip much longer than 340 miles, you are going to have to recharge the X anyway.
The Model Y and Model X have another point well worth comparing and that is their drive. The baseline versions of both models have standard Tesla AWD Dual Motor. This is the Tesla motor that has been used for their electric vehicles for several years. But now there is the AWD Tri Motor
The Tri Motor is available only in the Plaid versions of the Model X and the Model S, and it will be available in the forthcoming Cyber-Truck. The Tri Motor is essentially just like it sounds: three motors with rotors in carbon sleeves working independently to power the vehicle.
The result is an impressive display of power:
- The Model X Plaid can go from 0-60 in 2.5 seconds and has a top speed of 163 miles per hour, all the while maintaining peak output
- By contrast, the Model Y Performance runs a whole second slower in the 0-60 contest and has a top speed of 155 miles per hour
- The Tri Motor gives the Model X 5,000 pounds of towing capability in contrast to the Model Y’s 3,500 pounds
Of all the benefits of the Tri Motor, the one that is the most practical is its towing capacity. As an SUV, this is the feature that, in terms of power, puts the Model X above the Model Y. With that kind of power you can officially say that glamping has gone electric.
The Downside of the Tri Motor
But Tesla’s Trimotor accounts for another difference between the two high-end versions of the models: price. The Model X Long Range is about $90,000 and the Plaid jumps up thirty grand, so once again, the buyer must ask if that kind of price leap is worth it to gain one second in acceleration and 7 miles per hour of top speed that you will not likely use.
To clarify, these tests have been hallmarks of automobile performance for decades. The question is not if the tests are valid markers of performance, but if the results in these markers, which likely may not impact daily practical use, warrant the price gap.
Designs Compared: The Door Question
The Model X is now infamous or famous (depending on who you talk to) for its Falcon Wing doors. These are the doors that swoop up with a narrow clearance and always attract the attention of casual onlookers. There are people that love them and people that hate them.
The Model Y, on the other hand, has normal doors that simply sport a cool handle. In terms of design, this is without a doubt the biggest difference between the two models, so it is worth taking a few extra moments to sort out what these differences mean.
Ultimately the question is: which type of doors are better, the normal doors or the Falcon Wing doors? This question has various practical and aesthetic aspects, so read on for the details.
The Door Question and Parking Lots
Proponents of the Falcon doors will argue that they are a must-have in tight parking spaces. This argument is completely valid and worth considering for the ultimate purchase.
If you guide your Model X into a tight squeeze in a crowded parking lot, the Falcon Wing doors are a tremendous asset because they can lift up with a narrow clearance, and, more to the point, they can open completely. This is helpful if your back seat holds:
- Elderly people on whom it is the hardest to wiggle through a tight opening
- Babies in car seats or young children in the third row who need assistance from mom or dad
- Just about anyone else who does not want to squeeze out of a narrow door opening
The Model Y, with all four doors being normal, is not at an industry-level disadvantage (any more than any other call with normal doors). It just cannot claim the advantage that the Model X can claim.
The Door Question and Children
With this issue, both the Falcon Wing doors and normal doors have their place, so you could come away wanting them or not. Here is how it breaks down.
Falcon Wing doors have the advantage of giving parents a lot of room both on the side of the car and above it (since they reveal an opening in the roof) to:
- Install cars seats into place
- Put children in and take them out of car seats
- Help children sort through their issues finding sippy cups, blankets, etc. once they are buckled in
With its larger cargo space and slightly roomier feel, the Model X is going to appeal a lot to parents of small children. In that regard, it makes sense that the Falcon Wing doors would be used on this model.
The Model Y, with its option for seven seats and ample (if smaller) cargo capacity, would likely have a lot of appeal for the same type of buyer. With normal doors, it puts the user in the realm of all the disadvantages that normal doors have.
But before you think the lack of Falcon Wing doors puts it at a disadvantage, consider that where you have children and unusual tech, you also have a higher potential for accidents. Tesla forums have entries about little hands getting pinned in the doors, and one Youtuber describes he and his wife getting pinned by the doors due to a child kicking the door-close button.
So in regards to the doors and children, it is a draw. Yes, kids and adults can get hurt anywhere, but why increase the chances?
The Door Question and Faulty Doors
Tesla has become as much known for the problems of their cars as their ingenuity:
- Chipped paint
- Panels that fall off
- Flimsy Falcon Wing doors
The Falcon doors have had every sort of problem from not opening at all to not opening all the way to opening suddenly while driving.
Another common problem is with the sensor that prevents the doors from opening if it senses something overhead. Some users report that it can be a bit too sensitive reacting to things overhead that are not close enough to cause problems with the door.
Now, you may argue that Tesla has also had problems with normal doors, and it has. But when a normal door goes wrong, you only have a couple of choices as to the source of the problem. With all the tech involved in the Falcon Wing doors, the possible sources are much higher (and probably more expensive to fix).
The Door Question and Aesthetics
When Tesla was first putting its EVs on the market, they largely appealed to those buyers who had a combined love of tech and the environment and wanted to further a good cause. This still makes up a big part of their market. This kind of buyer does not mind standing out. In fact, standing out from everyone else is part of the appeal.
There is an extent to which the aesthetic of the Falcon Wing doors seems like a ploy to appeal to this buyer. Not only can you save the earth with tech, but you can look super cool doing it.
To others, that appeal feels gimmicky and embarrassing. There is no right or wrong with this. But the reality is that some people will be attracted to the Model X for the flashiness of its Falcon Wing doors and others will be attracted to the Model Y for the lack of it.
As Tesla tries to gain more of the mainstream market, these kinds of aesthetic design decisions may become even more of an issue.
The Other Door Question
There is another issue that revolves around doors, and this one has to do with the perfectly normal-looking doors present in both models.
The front doors of the Model X are electronic and will open with a gentle push of the handle. The driver side door also has an added feature that is both loved and hated. When you approach the X with the key fob in your pocket the driver-side door will automatically open.
You can disable this feature, but it remains a bone of contention. Some users love it and some hate it. The Model Y goes for a more traditional door opening style: the kind you have to do yourself.
Overall Design Compared
The overall design of the two models is something to consider when comparing them side by side.
The overall look of a car says a lot about who it is going to appeal to. Tesla has a distinct design style for their vehicles, but there is still a difference between the two models.
The Model X Design
The Model X originally held some appeal to those buyers who wanted to move into the electric car future but still liked some things about the traditional SUV style. They like the roomier feel of the car and the slightly larger presence it has on the road.
Even though the Model X is still identifiably a Tesla vehicle it shares some characteristics of the traditional SUV look. When compared with the Model Y:
- It looks a little bulkier
- It stands a little taller in the road
For those buyers who want the eye-catching Tesla-streamlined looks with the more traditional SUV look, they are probably going to be drawn to the Model X.
The Model Y Design
Granted the Model X was a sporty SUV when it came out, but the Model Y takes that position hands down:
- The Y’s overall width is narrower than the X
- The Y sits lower
- It has sharp, sleek lines that make it look a good deal racier than the Model X’s top speed of 163 mph
If the comparison came down only to which car looked sportier, prospective buyers would get the Model Y and go home.
Other Design Comparisons
There are, of course, some more design comparisons to note when looking at the two models:
- The Model Y has a more traditional-looking steering wheel (ironic since it is the more sporty of the two), but the current Model X has a steering wheel that looks like it belongs in a private jet
- Both models have an overhead window that extends from the windshield to the back, but in the Model X it is broken up in the middle rear portion to accommodate the structure and mechanism of the Falcon Wing doors
- Both models now have the streamlined dash with basically has no buttons, but the Model Y has a single 15 inch, centrally located screen for the car’s interface, while the Model X retains its driver side screen in addition to the center one which is 17 inches
Additionally, both models have impressive sound systems and over-the-air wifi so you can leave home, but its comforts.
To summarize, the Model Y and Model X appeal to two different markets within the SUV class. One market will value power, range, and the roomy SUV style. For them, the Model X, with or in spite of its Falcon Wing doors, is the only way to go.
The other market will value a mix of cargo capacity and sporty flair. For this market, power and range matter, but only in the context of practicability and common sense. Whatever car you choose, the Model X and Model Y are a stylish part of Tesla’s charge into the future.