If you’ve read this blog recently, you’ve noticed that I blabber on about Tesla a lot. I bought the stock back in 2012 and it has since gone to the moon. Yay!
I didn’t buy the stock for any good reason. I just thought Elon Musk and electric cars were cool. Who needs an MBA from Wharton with reasoning like this?!?? But I digress…
I drove a Model S way back in 2016 and a Model 3 in 2018. I was impressed by both. Teslas are fast, quiet, and futuristic.
However, I’ve never driven a Model Y, Tesla’s newest model, so I thought it was time to get in one. I scheduled a test drive at the local Tesla store.
If I’m going to own the stock, I should be familiar with the products. Yeah, whatever! Mainly, I just like to play with new toys.
Before I regale you with my review, I must disclose that my daily drivers are old. Mindy and I have a 2003 Honda Element and a 2010 Mazda 5. I am a poor choice to judge the amenities of a modern vehicle. Power windows and air conditioning still get me excited. Hell, after the troublesome cars of my childhood, I’m happy with a car that starts regularly!
Quality Lapse With The Gaps
I arrived at the dealership early and there were new Teslas everywhere. I could tell they were new because the windshields had stickers on them stating that they had been manufactured in December of 2020.
Tesla has been criticized for quality issues. Sandy Munro recently pointed out that the Model 3 still has problems with inconsistent panel gaps. With this in mind, I was disappointed, but not surprised, to see these issues in person on new Model 3s. After more than 3 years of production, Tesla should have figured this out.
The Model Ys I looked at had fewer issues, but in many, the hood wasn’t lined up quite right. The gap issues wouldn’t stop me from buying the car and I don’t think most would even notice them, but they do annoy me. A quick search suggests that Tesla will fix these issues, but if I’m spending $50,000 on a new car, I’d rather not have them in the first place.
Before our drive, I checked out the Model Y that was in the showroom. The car felt a bit smaller than expected, but still had plenty of room. My preference is for a car to be exactly as big as it has to be to carry out normal life and no bigger, so the Y came to feel just right.
After a couple of minutes of a Tesla employee explaining the basic operations of the car, we were off.
Driving the Y feels like you’re piloting an advanced machine sent by aliens from the future. It’s smooth, quiet, and holy hell, really fast. Regarding that last point, early in the drive, we were out on a rural road with little traffic. I slowed down to build a good amount of space between the car in front of me and nailed the gas (electron injector?). BOOM!
It was sorta like being on the Barf-A-Whirl ride at the amusement park. We all felt a little sick.
Thankfully, no one puked in (or on) the Y.
While Mindy was driving, I played with the screen. It has a drawing app and I tried to draw a T-rex. I’m a horrible artist and drawing in a moving car did me no favors:
I played with the screen a bit more. Because my sense of humor is stuck at age 13, I changed the car’s name to Butt:
- High interior build quality: The interior build quality was excellent. Everything looked great and did what it was supposed to do.
- Autosteer worked well, but…: The Y didn’t have the new Full Self Driving (FSD) Beta, but it did have the more limited Autosteer functionality which is mainly for highway driving. It worked very well, however it requires you to have your hands on the steering wheel almost constantly and nags you nonstop. The nagging is highly annoying, but I understand that Tesla must do this until the software is more robust.
- Luxury: I’ve heard people complain that Tesla interiors aren’t luxurious enough. My thought is that the interior is great. Clean, simple, functional, and quiet. Who needs leather knobs, heated floor mats, gold-covered door handles, or whatever the hell high-end cars come with these days?!??
- Stern, but good ride: The Y felt more like a sports car than a cushy SUV. You feel the bumps and the steering is sharp. However, I like this. It won’t be for everyone though.
- Intuitive: Almost everything about the car and the display was intuitive. It reminded me of the original iPhone where you could just pick up the device and start using it with no instructions. This is how objects should be designed.
My next car will be a Tesla. Electric cars are clearly the future and despite some of the build shortcomings, the Tesla is a great car.
I’m especially interested in the Full Self Driving software and will happily fork over the $10,000 for the option if Tesla nails (and gets regulatory approval) for Level 5 autonomy. I don’t believe this will happen in 2021, but I am surprised at the progress Tesla is making.
I probably won’t buy a Tesla any time soon. Both of our cars work fine and I’d rather wait for some of the improvements coming down the pipeline (Hardware 4.0, 4680/ structural batteries, FSD). Perhaps I’ll revisit buying a Tesla in the second half of 2021?
The Model Y has advantages over the Model 3:
- More legroom: I was able to stretch my legs completely in the backseat.
- More storage space: The Y has room for a lot of crap.
- Better tech: It appears that at least one major manufacturing improvement has already made it into the Y.
However, I’m apparently the one person in America who doesn’t care much for SUVs or the crossover segment, so if it were up to me, I’d take the Model 3:
- It’s cheaper: Save $3,000!
- It has a longer range: The long-range Y gets about 25 more miles on a full charge.
- It has enough room: We don’t travel with tons of junk, so the 3 is sufficient.
- It’s faster: The Long Range 3 scoots to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds versus 4.8 for the Model Y. Perhaps I would end up puking if we got the 3…
Why would I buy a fancy car? I already had one and it didn’t bring me joy.
- Road trips: Most of my family lives about 800 miles away. As my mom ages, I plan on making many more visits. I avoid flying distances less than 1,000 miles, so this would be a great car for road-trips.
- An electric future: My furnace and AC unit are both over 20 years old. When they die, I’ll replace them with a heat pump which heat and air condition efficiently and run on electricity. At the same time, I’ll put solar panels on my home. From that point on, my auto fueling, heating, air conditioning, and other electrons I use to power my life become almost free.
- Market research: Tesla has taken over my portfolio, so I’d value having firsthand experience with the product.
- Robotaxi: Musk has promised a Robotaxi service that you’ll be able to put your car into to make a little extra money. I’d probably do this.
- Autonomy: Level 5 autonomy (the Y driving itself with no human behind the wheel or even in the car) probably won’t be available for at least another year, but I believe it isn’t far off either. Having a car that could be my minion would free up my time:
Hey Butt Y, go pick the girls up from school.
Butt Y, go get me a burrito!
Butt Y, how about you get on the Robotaxi network for the next 4 hours and earn your keep?
So yes, I’ll buy a Tesla eventually. I’ll just have to think of a better name than “Butt.” I wouldn’t want the car to retaliate once it achieves consciousness…
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