Tesla Model S vs. Tesla Model Y

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Automotive Editor

Justin Cupler has specialized as an automotive writer since 2009 and has been published in multiple websites and online magazines. In addition to contributing to CarsDirect, Justin also hosts a web-series car-review show and dabbles in the world of personal-finance writing.

His specialty is in the high-performance realm, but he has a deep love and understanding for all things automotive. Before diving into the world of writing, Justin was an automotive technician and manager for six years and spent the majority of his younger life tinkering with classic muscle cars.

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, Automotive Editor - April 20, 2020

With the Model Y’s release for the 2020 model year, Tesla has finally reached “SEXY” status. Well, almost. Since Ford blocked its use of the Model E name, it’ll just have to deal with being “S3XY,” as Elon Musk has pointed out in the past.

The Tesla Model Y gives buyers a smaller crossover with the expected performance, efficiency, and design expected from the brand. It also doesn't feature the maligned Falcon Wings doors and hefty footprint found on the Model X.

The Model S, meanwhile, has been around since 2012. Every Tesla model to arrive since its legendary debut has its success measured against the Model S. Here's how the Model Y stacks up against it.

See a side-by-side comparison of the Model S & Model Y »

What the Model S Gets Right

The Tesla Model S gets a quick leg up in the style department on the Model Y. Much like the Model X, the smaller Model Y looks great, but the Model S pulls off the Tesla design language far better. The low, sleek roofline and the designed-by-the-wind body fit a sedan better than a crossover.

Inside, the more upmarket Model S shows off a shapelier dash that gives this cabin more character than the flat and low design of the Model Y. Also, the Model S boasts a portrait-oriented, tablet-style touchscreen that puts everything in better reach of the driver. In the Model Y, the driver has to stretch a little to reach the far right of its landscape-oriented 15-inch screen.

The Model S is only available in two trims for the 2020 model year: Long Range Plus and Performance. This is way down from a list that almost rivaled Baskin Robbins in its earlier years.

The Long Range Plus model boasts an EPA-estimated 373-mile range and a 155-mph top speed. It can go from 0-60 mph in an impressive 3.7 seconds. Bump up to the Performance model, range drops to 348 miles in favor of getting a 163-mph top speed and a supercar-crushing 2.4-second 0-60 mph time. The Model Y Performance only gets 315 miles of range and a quick 3.5-second 0-60 mph time, but all it’ll see are Model S taillights.

What the Model Y Gets Right

The Tesla Model Y may lack the brute force and sleekness of its sedan big brother, but it makes up for that with all the roominess the family needs. In its back seats, the Model Y offers 40.5 inches of leg room and 39.4 inches of head room. These measurements beat the Model S by 5.1 and 4.1 inches, respectively.

As a crossover, the Model Y is all about hauling cargo with up to 68 cubic feet of space with the second-row seats folded. The Model S is respectable at 60.2 cubic feet with the rear seats folded, but it still falls short by 7.8 cubes. Plus, with its higher roofline, the Model Y can fit more cargo vertically.

On top of being roomier, the Model Y boasts a smaller platform. It measures 187 inches long and 75.6 inches wide, which is 9 inches shorter and 1.7 inches narrower than the Model S. The smaller footprint makes it easier to navigate in city traffic and tight parking garages.

Finally, the Model Y checks in dramatically cheaper than the Model S. Its starting price ranges from $54,190 for the Long Range model to $62,190 for the Performance model. The Model S ranges from $81,190 for the Long Range Plus to $101,190 for the Performance. There are also reports of an even more wallet-friendly Model Y Standard Range coming that’ll start around $40,000.

Value and Space Go to the Model Y

The Tesla Model Y is a great option for families, as it offers loads of space for passengers and cargo, great visibility, and a useful real-world range at a more reasonable price. That said, it’s not up to taking down its well-established big brother just yet.

Our Verdict: Tesla Model S

While the Model Y may be the better car for the mainstream family, there's no denying the Tesla Model S remains one of the best cars available today. It’s not only insanely fast, it’s roomy, stylish, efficient, and quite the conversation piece. Sure, it’ll put at least an $80,000 dent in your wallet before incentives, but it’s plenty rewarding.

Take a closer look at the Tesla Model S »

Take a closer look at the Tesla Model Y »

Side-by-side comparison of features, pricing, photos and more!

, Automotive Editor

Justin Cupler has specialized as an automotive writer since 2009 and has been published in multiple websites and online magazines. In addition to contributing to CarsDirect, Justin also hosts a web-series car-review show and dabbles in the world of personal-finance writing.

His specialty is in the high-performance realm, but he has a deep love and understanding for all things automotive. Before diving into the world of writing, Justin was an automotive technician and manager for six years and spent the majority of his younger life tinkering with classic muscle cars.

Follow On: Twitter

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