Which three-row Tesla SUV is right for you? Here’s what the data says.
For most of Tesla's history, it had only the Model S sedan to sell. That changed with the introduction of the Tesla Model X SUV. Suddenly, you had choices, but it was either a large sedan or large SUV. But in recent years the choices have become more nuanced. If you want a Tesla car, you can choose from either a small sedan in the form of the Model 3 or the Model S. On the Tesla SUV front, you also now have a choice between the smaller Tesla Model Y or the larger Model X. Here, we take a look at the similarities and differences between the Model X and Y based on the data in order to better help you decide which Tesla SUV is right for you.
Model X Price Vs. Model Y Price
There are many large numerical differences between the compact Model Y and the midsize Model X, but the largest and for many the most important is the price tag (Editor's Note: check this link for the most updated Tesla prices). The Model Y is far and away the more affordable option with its base price of $67,190 compared to the cheapest Model X at $122,190. If you're on a budget, the comparison is a no-brainer, but for the purpose of this analysis, let's pretend you can afford a Model X but aren't sure if it's the right choice over the Model Y.
Model X Range Vs. Model Y Range
Despite their size differences, which we'll get to shortly, the Model X and Model Y have similar driving range. The Model Y can travel between 303 and 330 miles on a charge depending on your choice of the Performance or Long Range trims, according to Tesla. The Model X, despite being larger and heavier, fits a larger battery and can travel between 311 and 348 miles per charge depending on which model you choose.
Model X Passenger Space Vs. Model Y Passenger Space
Both the Model X and Model Y come standard with seating for five, but that's just a starting point. The Model X can be ordered with six seats—two in each of the three rows—or seven seats in a two-three-two layout. The Model Y is available with a seven-seat option in the same two-three-two layout. Adding additional seating will cost you, with the seven-seat configuration requiring an extra $3,500 on the Model X and the six-seat feature a $6,500 option. The Model Y's third row, meanwhile, will cost $3,000.
Being a larger vehicle, the Model X has more passenger space than the Model Y. In the front row, this means an extra 0.7 inch of head room and 4.3 inches of shoulder room in the Model X. However, the Model Y offers more front-row legroom by 0.6 inch.
It's a similar situation in the second row. The taller, longer Model X offers an extra 1.5 inch of head room over the Model Y and 2.8 inches of extra shoulder room. Here again, the Model Y offers more second-row legroom, an extra 2.1 inches compared to the Model X.
The extra legroom in the first and second rows come at a price for the Model Y's third row, which is really only large enough for children. The Model X's third row is already a tight fit for adults, with two fewer inches of head room than the Model Y's already pinched second row.
Model X Cargo Space Vs. Model Y Cargo Space
For the Model X, Tesla's best number is the 92.3 cubic feet of total cargo space with the six-seat configuration, including the 6.6 cu-ft "frunk" under the hood (the numbers shrink to 91.6 cubes for the five-seater and 88.2 for the seven-seat model).
By contrast, Tesla says the Model Y can swallow up to 76.2 cu ft of cargo all in counting the 4.1 cu-ft frunk for the five-passenger model, with 72.0 for the seven-seat version.
It's not a surprise that the Model X has significantly more total cargo space than the Model Y and, more important, space inside the vehicle for larger objects. It's also worth noting the Model X's Falcon Wing doors and larger rear hatch will make loading both people and larger, bulkier items easier than in the Model Y. On the other hand, its conventional rear doors allow the Model Y to be fitted with a roof rack to accommodate larger items.
Model X Dimensions Vs. Model Y Dimensions
Much of the difference in passenger and cargo space comes down to the difference in size between the Model X and Model Y. Additionally, external dimensions could determine whether your new Tesla fits in your garage. The Model X is of course larger in every dimension, with a 2.9-inch-longer wheelbase for starters. At 199.1 inches long, it's 12.1 inches longer than the Model Y and at 78.7 inches wide, 3.1 inches wider. The two are more similar in height, with the Model X being between 1.1 and 4.3 inches taller depending on how each is configured (the air-suspended Model X measures 67.6 inches standing on its tippy toes, before those Falcon doors go up).
Model X Performance Vs. Model Y Performance
With its larger batteries and more powerful motors, the Model X is the quicker SUV despite its extra size and weight. We've recorded a Model X hitting 60 mph from a stop in as little as 3.2 seconds and as much as 5.5 seconds depending on configuration. Tesla claims those times have been improved upon since we last tested a Model X and are now down to 2.5 seconds thanks to the addition of the tri-motor Model X Plaid and 3.8 seconds for other dual-motor models. Tesla also says the Model Y will hit 60 mph in as little as 3.5 seconds and as much as 4.8 seconds depending on configuration, which we also haven't yet tested. The Model Y Performance comes standard with the no-cost Performance Upgrade package, which features a lowered suspension, larger wheels, stickier tires, and higher-performance brakes. These features will no doubt increase its cornering ability, but we haven't been able to perform instrumented testing yet to quantify the difference.
Model X Towing Vs. Model Y Towing
As with a gas- or diesel-powered vehicle, towing with an electric vehicle hurts your efficiency and driving range. While Teslas have the ability to charge quickly at the company's many Supercharger stations, most stations are not set up to charge vehicles with trailers attached. Should you need to tow with your Tesla SUV, though, the Model X can pull up to 4,960 pounds depending on the trim. The Model Y, by contrast, can only pull 3,500 pounds regardless of trim.
Model X Equipment Vs Model Y Equipment
In terms of options and equipment, Tesla models offer most of the same features. Autopilot is standard on any model, upgradable to Enhanced Autopilot and can be further upgraded to the Full Self-Driving package, which promises fully autonomous driving capability at some point in the future. Both cars also come with heated front seats and second-row seats, but while the Model X comes with heated third-row seats, the Model Y does not. Either car can be ordered in one of the same five colors. At present, the Model X has two wheel choices, though one of the Model Y's wheel choices is only available with the no-cost Performance Upgrade package.
The more expensive Model X does offer some features the Model Y doesn't, though. In addition to the Falcon Wing rear doors, the Model X can also open and close its front doors automatically. The Model X comes with a heated steering wheel and a HEPA air filter for the cabin. The Model X also has a panoramic windshield that extends over the front row and two smaller sunroofs over the second row to the Model Y's single panoramic sunroof for both rows.
There's also the matter of how the features are laid out. The Model X has a more conventional dashboard with an all-digital instrument cluster and a separate, landscape-oriented infotainment screen, although the Model X has adopted Tesla's controversial yoke steering wheel. The Model Y features a radically simple dashboard with a single, center-mounted, landscape-oriented screen that doubles as both the instrument cluster and infotainment system.
Should You Buy The Model X Or The Model Y?
Assuming you can afford it, the Model X offers greater driving range, more cargo space, greater towing capacity, higher performance especially in Plaid configuration, and more seating configurations than the Model Y. The smaller, lighter Model Y will fit in smaller garages, will likely prove a better handler, and goes nearly as far on a charge while offering more second-row legroom. For most buyers, the decision will come down to cost, but if you can easily afford the extra $27,000, the Model X offers more of everything. For everyone else, the Model Y is more than good enough. (Note: This story was first published in June 2020 and has been updated to reflect present model details)