Before deciding to purchase the Tesla Model Y, I had a significant question in mind: why do people often criticize the Model’s user experience compared to Chinese-brand electric vehicles, yet its sales remain consistently high? This seems to present a substantial paradox. In today’s review, I will explore the user experience of this vehicle from five different perspectives, covering version selection, exterior design, driving experience, comfort, and smart applications.
In choosing between the Standard Range and Long Range versions, based on my experience after six months of usage, I would like to offer some advice. If you don’t frequently engage in high-frequency long-distance driving, I would recommend prioritizing the Standard Range version. I opted for the Long Range version, and like many others before purchasing, I had some range anxiety, thinking the Standard Range version wouldn’t be sufficient. Consequently, I chose the Long Range version, only to find that, apart from spending extra money, I roam the city daily with a large battery that I hardly deplete. The only help it provides is a slight reduction in the frequency of charging. However, you have to pay a significant amount for this privilege. Think about how many times you could charge with the money saved. So, if I had the chance to choose again, I would go for the Standard Range.
Adding a note about the range, my Long Range version, when charged to 90%, can travel approximately 470 kilometers. Of course, using the air conditioning will cause some level of range reduction, but overall, Tesla’s range estimation is very accurate. I can confidently say there is absolutely no range anxiety, and you can drive without any worries.
Many describe the Model as resembling a walking computer mouse, but the first time I laid eyes on it, I genuinely found it beautiful. Regarding the Model Y’s interior design, some may consider it minimalist, but I don’t share that sentiment. I believe, except for the lack of a cup holder limiter, every aspect of the design is both sleek and attractive. Of course, aesthetics are subjective, and as a car owner, I’m quite fond of it.
Before choosing the white interior, I was initially concerned about its susceptibility to discoloration. After six months of use, I’ve discovered that it’s not an issue. The only thing to note is some slight patterns on the side of the driver’s seat, but there’s no need for anxiety; you won’t notice it in your daily routine. Just adhere to one principle: avoid wearing denim pants and jackets, and you’re free to use anything else. White feels like a spaceship interior, exuding a strong sense of technology. Many users worry about potential reflections on the white interior panels affecting rearview mirror visibility. My conclusion is that it doesn’t impact it at all. If you prefer black, then go for black.
As for the optional 20-inch wheels, they are visually appealing with satisfactory aesthetics, but they indeed don’t bring any additional practical value. In this regard, I think the 19-inch wheels are also good, quite attractive, and offer longer range with 8000 units of remaining paint. Choosing white seems like the perfect decision—visually pleasing and resistant to dirt. In the six months since purchase, I’ve only washed the car three times. Every time I contemplate washing it, I find myself hesitating, considering it a form of extravagance.
The driving experience of the Tesla can be summed up in four words: lives up to expectations. The acceleration pedal is my favorite part. In standard kinetic energy recovery mode, pressing the pedal accelerates, lifting it decelerates, and braking is done with the brake pedal. While traditional gas car owners may need to adapt, I love it because this pedal provides me with a strong sense of control over the vehicle. Each press and lift corresponds precisely to changes in speed, and subtle adjustments to the pedal result in very accurate feedback. This is most beneficial in two daily scenarios: turning at intersections and driving in slow-moving traffic.
When turning at intersections, I only need to gently lift my foot, and the vehicle decelerates. Then, turning the steering wheel results in a smooth turn. In slow-moving traffic, kinetic energy recovery allows me to precisely control the vehicle with just one foot. As for the brakes, the feel is excellent, with a linear response and no nodding sensation.
Regarding the low kinetic energy recovery mode, there is still some deceleration effect, just not as strong. In actual testing, in the standard kinetic energy recovery mode, releasing the acceleration pedal at 50 kilometers per hour and slowing down to 10 kilometers per hour took six seconds. In the low kinetic energy recovery mode, it took 12 seconds. In the low kinetic energy recovery mode, there is a noticeable reduction in the control over the vehicle. To safely turn, you need to switch to the brake pedal, and during slow driving, you need to switch between feet. Therefore, for my personal driving, I still prefer the standard kinetic energy recovery mode, but for my parents, I might choose the low kinetic energy recovery mode. These two modes don’t have an absolute advantage or disadvantage; they just cater to different users.
Next, let’s talk about the steering wheel. Tesla’s steering wheel is a single-circle design, where each rotation corresponds precisely to a unique angle of the vehicle. The advantage of a single-circle steering wheel is that it’s not easy to confuse the number of turns when turning. The Model Y has a relatively large turning radius. In scenarios like narrow parking lots and turning at intersections, it feels like the vehicle, after discovering an iceberg, is turning the steering wheel to the full extent but can’t turn in time, causing some inconvenience.
When driving the Model Y, another feature I appreciate is its visibility. Due to the higher seating position and the downward angle of the front end, I can hardly see the front of the car in my daily driving, giving the sensation of driving a flatbed truck with an exceptionally broad field of view.
If there’s one aspect of the driving experience that’s less satisfactory, it would be the suspension. Before purchasing, friends warned me about the strong jolts in the Model Y. After the actual delivery, I did feel as he said—normal road driving is fine, and you can feel the road very clearly. Still, sometimes it feels like running on a smooth road in socks. I know many users like this somewhat sporty tuning style, but if you prefer a more comfortable style, be mentally prepared for the suspension of the Model Y.
When I initially chose the Model Y over the Model 3, a significant reason was its spacious interior. Whether it’s the headroom or legroom, the Model Y offers a more comfortable and roomy experience. Comparing the second-row seating spaces of the Model Y and Model 3, in terms of the space between the second-row seats and the front seats, the Model Y provides approximately three to four centimeters more than the Model 3. Additionally, in terms of legroom, the Model Y seems to have an advantage of around six centimeters over the Model 3. Furthermore, the Model Y allows for foot extension beneath the front seats, while the Model 3 is confined within a certain space. Considering the higher elevation of the panoramic roof, the headroom in the Model Y is significantly greater. If your car usage leans more towards family needs, especially if you often carry more than two passengers, then the Model Y is indeed more suitable than the Model 3.
Regarding noise levels, the Model Y performs comparably to other vehicles. When passing through the same tunnel with closed windows, the noise level in the Model Y is approximately around 63, whereas in the same scenario, the Ideal L8 registers at around 58. Despite its average comfort experience, the Model Y stands out for its spaciousness. The storage space in the Model Y is exaggerated, featuring a large front trunk, and even a 20-inch suitcase in the front trunk poses no pressure. The storage space in the rear trunk is exceptionally large, with a massive compartment beneath, making the Model Y somewhat akin to a small cargo vehicle. Many owners use it to transport goods like groceries, furniture, and cement. I believe the Model Y has the potential to become the best-selling model globally in the first quarter, maintaining long-term dominance over the Model 3 in sales, primarily due to its ample space and extensive storage. Although its original positioning may not be as a family car, its spacious attributes provide numerous possibilities for many households.
Most of Tesla’s infotainment interactions are centralized on the center screen, equipped with a gaming console-level chip, ensuring a smooth and seamless user experience. You can browse articles, play games, listen to music, and even use Apple Music and mini-programs, meeting various needs for an in-car large screen. However, regrettably, it lacks support for 360-degree panoramic imaging. The current Model Y can facilitate parking and provide front-end prompts, including distance detection on the right front through an energy line to warn of potential collisions. This makes daily maneuvers such as parking in reverse, parallel parking, and narrow multi-segment turns effortless. However, a drawback is its inability to effectively detect relatively small obstacles, like parking lines on the ground and small obstructions on the roadside, such as curbs. This makes it prone to wheel scraping, a genuine pain point for Tesla owners.
The Tesla navigation system falls short of expectations. Despite having such a large and visually appealing screen, it fails to meet navigation needs, requiring the use of a mobile phone for navigation, which is truly frustrating.
The Model Y I purchased did not include full self-driving capabilities for three main reasons: first, the high cost, around 60,000 RMB; second, purchasing self-driving does not increase the vehicle’s value when reselling as a used car; third, full self-driving has not yet officially launched in China, making it impossible to experience complete intelligent driving. Tesla’s allure may come in part from full self-driving capabilities, so my perception is that, in terms of experience, Tesla falls short compared to some Chinese new energy vehicle models. However, in terms of technology, the Model 3 and Model Y are not lagging behind. Their positioning is that of basic models, focusing on providing a good driving experience, reducing costs, and promoting the popularization of new energy vehicles.
The Model Y’s assisted driving features are free to use, and most owners find them sufficient. In congested road sections, assisted driving can automatically follow other vehicles, and in closed sections, it can also automatically accelerate and decelerate. However, it cannot change lanes by activating the turn signal; for this feature, an additional payment of 30,000 RMB is required. Additionally, Tesla’s driving experience is perceived as emotionless, like a machine, for example, not decelerating during turns, which may make drivers feel uneasy. Overall, the Model Y’s experience is solid and worry-free. While it may not excel in some areas, its technological performance is strong, with few minor issues, making it convenient for daily use and providing a simple and stress-free experience.
Let’s reexamine the initial question: Why does Tesla consistently lead in sales despite being visibly surpassed by some aspects of Chinese new energy vehicle models? I believe one key factor is the brand. Perhaps some share the same sentiment as me—having test-driven various new energy models and finding them appealing but hesitating to make a purchase due to concerns about potential brand issues. Imagine spending 5000 RMB on a smartphone, only to find out the manufacturer went bankrupt the next day. You might reluctantly accept it, but if an automotive manufacturer were to go bankrupt, not only would software upgrades and after-sales services be affected, but the resale value of the vehicle would also suffer a significant blow. Since entering the Chinese market in 2011, Tesla has built a robust brand reputation over 12 years, influencing the purchasing decisions of many consumers. While the Model Y may not be the most comfortable or luxurious model in its price range, its consistent and reliable performance aligns with user expectations without introducing additional concerns about the brand. I am most looking forward to the launch of fully autonomous driving. With the construction of data centers in China and supervision from relevant regulatory bodies, the Model Y should reach a fully mature state by then.