I drove a Tesla for the primary time after testing 14 different electrical automobiles. Now I get why individuals are so obsessive about Elon Musk’s automobiles.

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I drove a Tesla for the primary time after testing 14 different electrical automobiles. Now I get why individuals are so obsessive about Elon Musk's automobiles. 1

The
Tesla Model Y.
Tim Levin/Insider
  • I drove a Tesla for the primary time and got here away impressed with the much-hyped model. 
  • The Model Y’s smooth inside, speedy acceleration, and modern tech options set it aside. 
  • However its outsized touchscreen and lack of bodily buttons is not for everybody. 

Tesla created and dominates the burgeoning marketplace for electric vehicles. However can the startup’s fashionable automobiles face up to a barrage of rivals from titans like Ford, General Motors, and Volkswagen?

That is the large query I sought to reply after I bought behind the wheel of a brand new Tesla Mannequin Y SUV earlier this month. After testing more than a dozen battery-powered rides within the final yr — however by no means one made by Elon Musk — I questioned whether or not Teslas can stay as much as the hype. Put in a different way: Are the corporate’s fanatical supporters proper, or are its automobiles nothing particular? 

I borrowed a pal’s Tesla to seek out out for myself. (The corporate does not supply press loans, so journalists must get inventive.) 

First, the fundamentals

The Mannequin Y is Tesla’s small SUV and its hottest product. It has a starting price of $65,990 and two motors that present all-wheel drive. A Efficiency model that sacrifices some vary for added quickness is obtainable for $4,000 additional, however the base mannequin is lots sporty. 

Tesla does not have dealerships and as an alternative sells its automobiles on-line, direct-to-consumer. Consumers can take supply at a Tesla location or have their automobile shipped to their dwelling.

What stands out: Chopping-edge expertise, sporty driving, and easy charging

Slide right into a Tesla and you will find a refreshingly uncluttered inside freed from standard buttons, vents, and gauges. The cabin’s smooth design and understated wooden trim extra evoke an Apple retailer than an vehicle. 

This minimalist look is made doable by a big touchscreen that controls virtually all essential automobile capabilities other than stopping, going, and turning. This command middle accommodates the door locks, A/C settings, speedometer, and navigation system. It is also full of outside-the-box options like video games, a digital whoopee cushion, and Netflix, which can assist homeowners go the time whereas charging.

The show is tremendous conscious of faucets and swipes and options crisp graphics. Plus, Tesla regularly adds new capabilities by way of software program updates, making the Mannequin Y’s cockpit a tech nerd’s paradise.

There’s loads of room to stretch out in each the entrance and rear seats due to a completely flat ground and tall glass roof. And the Mannequin Y gives tons of cargo house, together with a beneficiant trunk up entrance and an under-floor storage space in again, each of which you will not discover in each EV. 

Regardless of not being the Efficiency mannequin, the Mannequin Y I sampled accelerated stunningly rapidly, darting ahead with each nudge of the accelerator pedal in the identical manner that different high-powered EVs do. And it dealt with extra like a sports car than a lumbering SUV, providing fast, exact steering that permit me level precisely the place I needed to go.

Tesla’s superior Autopilot characteristic confidently stored the SUV centered in its lane and adopted the stream of visitors. Whereas the system is not autonomous, it may very well be useful on lengthy freeway stints. 

Charging up after a protracted day depleting the Y’s 330-mile vary is straightforward as cake. After loading a bank card into the Tesla app, one merely pulls into one of many nation’s 1,500 Supercharger places and plugs in.

Using Tesla’s exclusive fast-charging stations is remarkably seamless in contrast with the customarily clunky process of filling up a non-Tesla at a public plug. 

What falls quick: Overcomplicated controls and a bumpy journey

As a lot because the Mannequin Y is a tech-lover’s dream, it may show extra of a nightmare for the much less technologically adept. 

Fundamental capabilities like opening the glove field, altering the wiper velocity, and directing the air vents require utilizing the touchscreen, which isn’t simply inconvenient but additionally distracting to do whereas driving. I could not assist however contemplate how somebody like my mother, who wants assist utilizing DVR and shudders on the considered navigating some new app, is likely to be overwhelmed by a completely digitized driving expertise. 

Plus, the Mannequin Y lacks Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. 

Whereas the Y’s stiff suspension aids agility, it does not insulate passengers nicely from bumpy roads. I additionally seen a number of wind and highway noise above 60 mph. 

Our impressions: A superb alternative, however not the one possibility

Because it seems, the Tesla followers have some extent. The Mannequin Y has so much going for it in that it is filled with dazzling tech, drives higher than most SUVs, grants entry to Tesla’s handy charging community, and usually feels totally different from different automobiles. 

However it’s not with out flaws. Along with what I’ve famous, extensively reported points like inconsistent build quality and difficulty with repairs are essential issues, however I did not expertise both firsthand. 

The Mannequin Y is a good alternative for a lot of patrons, however Tesla is not the one sport on the town anymore. The EV-curious have extra enticing choices than ever earlier than as gamers like Audi, Rivian, and BMW pile into the EV house. And the competitors is getting stiffer by the day. 

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