Test Driving A Tesla Model Y — One Reporter’s Experience

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The following story about test driving a Tesla Model Y by Detroit News reporter Henry Payne is no surprise. He loved everything about the SUV, especially the extra headroom fore and aft and generous cargo space compared to his personal Model 3.

Tesla Model Y
Image courtesy Tesla

“True to its SUV mission, the Model Y is bigger in every dimension than the 3,” Payne writes. “Indeed, its dimensions are bigger than anything else in class. Its cavernous, 68 cubic feet of cargo room (with rear seats flattened) dwarfs class leaders like the Mercedes GLC (56 cubic feet) and Cadillac XT5 (63 cubes).”

What is a surprise is that the car he drove is owned by Dick Amacher, the former GM engineer who worked on the EV1 project that CleanTechnica interviewed back in April. You can also see him facing backwards in a Model Y wearing a CleanTechnica T-shirt in a Sandy Munro video from April. He is getting around in this EV/Tesla media world. (Photos below courtesy Mr. Amacher.)

Having worked for GM, Amacher made a good faith effort to be true to his roots by considering a Chevy Bolt. But he says he was blown away by Tesla’s superior technology and charging infrastructure. Amacher was one of the first to reserve a Model Y when Tesla started taking orders for the car. While he waited, he bought a Model 3 for his personal use.

He tells Payne the Tesla ownership experience is similar to that of an iPhone — it’s not like anything else on the market. Payne and Amacher agree on one point. If you’re nervous about pushing the limits of tech, mobile repair, and charging infrastructure, then this isn’t the brand for you. Better to stick with a known quantity, like a Blackberry or Nokia.

The Model Y sits one inch higher off the ground than the Model 3, but its seats are a full 6 inches higher, giving drivers a sense of commanding the road ahead. Head room is no problem, though. The Model Y is fully 7.2 inches taller than the 3 and all that extra height goes into providing generous headroom for front and rear seat passengers.

The car Payne drove was a top-of-the-line AWD Performance model with all the handling and acceleration that suggests. Payne says it did not disappoint in any of his subjective assessments of the car. He says Tesla’s voice command system is the best in the business. The only black mark against the car is a noisy climate system, attributable no doubt to the new heat pump design incorporated into the Model Y. Several reviewers have commented on this, so it’s likely Tesla is working on ways to quiet the system. Again, here’s Amacher’s CleanTechnica webinar which discussed this further and offered video and audio of the issue:

So, the Model Y Performance is a great car, but at $60,990, it should be. A non-performance long-range version starts at $52,990, plus $1,200 as a destination charge, and an even cheaper standard range option is supposed to be coming next year. The latter two don’t have all the bells and whistles of the Performance version, but for people looking for a roomy SUV that’s also electric, it could be the perfect choice.


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Steve Hanley

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new." You can follow him on Substack and LinkedIn but not on Fakebook or any social media platforms controlled by narcissistic yahoos.

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