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2020 Tesla Model Y Dual Motor Long Range Tested: It’s the “Slow” One

Several months ago, you read our first driving impressions of the new 2020 Tesla Model Y, along with some bootleg performance numbers. We say “bootleg” because all our usual testing facilities were shut down by, well, you know what. We’ve been working to get you the full and complete test data you deserve since then. So here it is.

There is one teeny little catch, however: Because Model Ys are so popular, Tesla wasn’t able to provide one. Enter Richard Hak of Precision One Design in Torrance, California, who agreed to rent us his low-mileage 2020 Tesla Model Y Dual Motor Long Range for this test. We like to evaluate brand-new cars provided by automakers so we know they’re in pristine condition, haven’t been modified or crashed, and have no outstanding mechanical or software issues or open recalls. Sometimes, though, you have take what you can get. We bought Richard a new set of tires to make up for trashing his on the test track.

When we got our hands and test gear on a pair of Model Ys earlier this year, they were different specifications and tested less formally. One was a Dual Motor Performance PUP and the other a Dual Motor Long Range. Utilizing an “undisclosed location” that definitely wasn’t a quiet road late at night, the test team was able to get the following results: Zero to 60 mph in just 3.7 seconds for the Performance and 4.6 seconds for the Long Range. Those are already great numbers, but we knew the Teslas had more in them. Now that we’ve more accurately recorded performance figures for the latter, we’re certain they do.

How Fast Is the Tesla Model Y?

Back at our go-to California Speedway test facility and now fully instrumented, the Model Y Dual Motor Long Range hit 60 mph in just 4.1 seconds. That’s just a tenth slower than the Jaguar I-Pace and a full second quicker than the Audi e-Tron, both of which are substantially more expensive. You already know this if you read our comparison between the Model 3, the I-Pace, and the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, of course.

Forget those unicorns, though, because the Tesla is dead even with a V-8-powered 2020 Chevrolet Camaro SS. That’s right, a five-passenger all-electric SUV hanging with a snarling, snorting Detroit muscle car. And this is the regular-strength Model Y, not even the Performance model.

Keep the pedal on the metal, and it’ll finish a quarter-mile in 12.4 seconds at 114.8 mph, still dead even with that Camaro, slightly ahead of the Jag and pulling away, well clear of the Audi. Point is, unless you’re driving another Tesla or a high-end sports car, don’t try to stoplight drag a Model Y. It won’t end well for you. Also, street racing is bad, drive safely, all that.

Although so-called ludicrously quick acceleration has long been a Tesla hallmark, the extremely low center of gravity afforded by their underfloor battery packs enables them to handle quite well, too. Being the Long Range model, this Model Y wears fairly pedestrian, mildly sporty Continental ProContact RX all-season tires on its 19-inch wheels. Even still, it pulled a respectable 0.86 average lateral g on the skid pad and put down a 25.2-second lap of our Figure Eight course at 0.75 average lateral g. Here again, that’s basically the same as the Jag (unless you get the optional performance tires) and way ahead of the Audi. That Camaro, the actual sports car with performance tires and significantly less weight to throw around, finally gets a clean win.

Same story in the braking department. The Long Range needs 118 feet to stop from 60 mph, which is pretty good but not great.  The Jag stops a few feet shorter on standard tires (112 feet) and well short of the Camaro on optional performance tires (103 feet). The Audi is laughably far behind at 128 feet.

This, again, being the “efficiency minded” version of the Model Y, expect the sticky-tired Model Y Performance to produce far better numbers for all these categories, especially handling and braking. All this performance comes at a price, and frankly, it’s not too bad.  At $51,190 to start and just $53,190 as tested, the Long Range is a total bargain compared to anything else in the electric luxury SUV market. Jaguar, Audi, and Mercedes can’t touch that pricing, and no one else is even fielding an entry at the moment. If you want to spend less money, you can get a Chevy Bolt or a Kia Niro EV or whatever, but anything in that class will be way slower, smaller, and notably not a Tesla.

The Tesla part is key, because you’re buying more than just the vehicle. With any Tesla, you’re buying access to a worldwide proprietary supercharging infrastructure and an all-but-guaranteed conveyer belt of over-the-air software updates promising cool new features every so often. No one else has the chargers, and the few other companies just starting to do over-the-air stuff aren’t putting Asteroids on the infotainment system so you can play video games while you’re charging.

There are other prices to pay, though. As we mentioned in our First Drive report, the Long Range rides surprisingly stiff. Thank goodness Tesla keeps improving its seats because you feel every inch of imperfect pavement even on the small wheels in the non-performance model. Tesla says the ride gets better if you put more people in it, something we can’t do right now, but the principle does work for pickup trucks, some of which ride smoother than this thing. We’d like to see more differentiation here between the Performance and Long Range models. If we’re not buying performance, give us luxury.

There’s also the matter of the road noise, which we also reported previously. Although there’s very little noise from the wind and other vehicles, there’s a constant dull roar of tire and road noise coming up through the floor. Same ask as above: If we’re not buying a high-performance SUV, give us a luxury SUV.

Then there’s everyone’s favorite dead horse: build quality. Tesla still seems to be focused on speed of assembly over quality, which results in our test model’s big and uneven gaps between body panels, one headlight that fits flush and one that doesn’t, and B-pillar trim that’s fitted properly on one side of the car and not the other, among other things. More concerningly, some owners have reported issues far more dire that could impact safety. Inspect your new Model Y closely before taking it home.

We can’t write a Tesla review without talking about the Autopilot driver assist feature, either, so here goes: It’s great, it’s not perfect, and it’s inconsistent. Despite running the latest firmware and being equipped with Full Self Driving hardware (meaning it can’t drive itself now, but has the hardware to someday do so should software catch up), this car had a tendency to initiate turns just a little too late, causing the car to run wide at the end of the turn and onto the lane lines, crowding other cars and freeway barriers. It’s neither the best nor the worst performance we’ve ever seen from Autopilot, but it’s closer to the best adaptive cruise control setups with self-steering lane-keep than the worst.

Well-worn criticisms aside, the Model Y remains an impressive achievement for Tesla all around. It’s a better vehicle out of the gate than the Model 3 was and in a far more important segment. Many of the issues we had with the Model 3 have been solved for the Model Y, and the Model 3 was hardly a bad car. Like its Autopilot software, Tesla is learning and learning fast. Get the body panels on straight, ensure stuff is properly bolted down before it leaves the factory, and we’ll really struggle to find something to complain about.

2020 Tesla Model Y Dual Motor Long Range
BASE PRICE $51,190
PRICE AS TESTED $53,190
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front + rear motor, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV
MOTORS Induction (front) + permanent magnet (rear); 384-hp/376 lb-ft (comb)
TRANSMISSION 1-speed direct
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 4,357 lb (50/50%)
WHEELBASE 113.8 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 187.0 x 75.6 x 63.9 in
0-60 MPH 4.1 sec
QUARTER MILE 12.4 sec @ 114.8 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 118 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.86 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT 25.2 sec @ 0.75 g (avg)
REAL MPG, CITY/HWY/COMB NA
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 127/114/121 mpg-e
EPA EST RANGE 316 mi
TIME TO CHARGE, LEVEL 2 10.0 hrs
ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY CITY/HWY 27/30 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.00 lb/mile (at vehicle)
Individual front- and rear-motor peak output (which may vary with rpm and hence are not necessarily additive). The combined horsepower and torque ratings are provided by the manufacturer. Miles-per-gallon equivalent (mpg-e), and predicted range are sourced from EPA results.

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