Yes, it appears that I’ve come full circle from being an admitted early Tesla skeptic (but not shortseller!) and reluctant embracer of Mr. Musk’s shtick, to now having just placed an order for our own Model Y, Tesla’s newest model as the newest “Cars Of A Lifetime” (COAL) entry in my stable. Hopefully it will arrive around the end of the month, after which there’ll be regular updates describing our experience(s).
Mrs. Klein’s 2016 Toyota Highlander XLE AWD, while still impeccable as far as being a reliable and quality vehicle is concerned, was starting to become too familiar to her after four and a half years. Coupled with its still impressive resale value at this point ($21,500 as a trade-in with 64k well-maintained miles and new tires, currently on Craigslist for $26,000 obo, hit me up if you want it, I’ll even buy you lunch!), and more importantly our upcoming 20th wedding anniversary, a change was in order. Originally we thought that might be in the form of a Lexus such as the one I tested recently, but then last Monday I suggested we take a look at the Model Y, so off to one of Tesla’s newest dealerships in Superior, Colorado, we went. Superior is about an hour away on the outskirts of Boulder.
Arriving at the dealership, the parking lots were packed with Teslas either in for service or about to be delivered to new buyers as well as employees’ cars. Construction was still underway for parts of the facility including for their own (Super)charging stations. We fit our BMW test car into an empty spot, unlikely the first or last to do so, and walked inside, having made an appointment for 1pm.
The building is about 90% service space, and 10% dealership. Seeing as how the majority of Teslas are just ordered online the showroom is devoid of cars and only had a couple of small tables at the end. I assume perhaps in the future this might be outfitted differently, likely at least more like the mall locations, but who cares, we weren’t there to lounge around.
We texted Dave, our sales representative, and he walked in, introduced himself and asked if we had any questions as we were a few minutes early and the car we’d be driving was out on another test drive currently; it appeared that they had three Model Y demo cars and all were booked all day long in one-hour test drive increments. My wife had a few questions which were answered and then “our” demo pulled in and the previous testing party got out, at which time Dave got to work with the disinfectant spray while we looked it over externally.
A few minutes later it was our turn. Dave explained how to use the key card to start the car (basically just place it near the cupholder) and helped us adjust the mirrors and showed us how to find a few other things on the screen in case we needed to adjust them for whatever reason. Luckily our 11-year-old had come along and he had been studying videos on operating Teslas so we let him help and educate us. The front seats are soft and very comfortable while still being surprisingly supportive, adjustments are easy and done conventionally.
Of course, pretty much everything else is controlled by the large screen in the center of the minimalist dashboard in conjunction with two buttons on the steering wheel that are used for actually moving things such as the mirrors and making adjustments, but also become the interface for voice commands (depress the right one and speak) etc.
We messed around with the HVAC and the Infotainment options as well as the Autopilot functions, which Dave was careful to explain did not mean you could just remove your hands from the wheel and take a nap, but rather was to be used as an assistive device much as we rely in part on similar technology in other cars. A few things are slightly different, Blind Spot Assist is not done via a light in the mirror as most other cars might but rather the screen has a rendering of this car and every other thing around it which you can keep in your peripheral vision. See left side of screen below.
However if you ignore this, signal and try to move into another lane that is occupied, the Tesla will shriek at you just like most other modern cars will now. If you just move without signaling or looking at anything first I suppose you will have what’s coming to you (an insurance claim or worse).
Putting the car in gear is pretty much like any modern Mercedes with a small column wand for reverse, drive, and park. We pulled out and headed for the open road. Immediately noted was both the silence and the thrust from a standing start. Our test car was a Long Range Dual Motor, which was what we were most interested in, we felt it would have plenty of performance so that we would not need the “Performance” version. And we were not disappointed.
Acceleration was smooth, strong, and unceasing. Pulling onto the freeway saw triple digit speeds appearing within seconds and merging from one lane to another was done with an almost hyperspeed burst. Having full torque available at any particular speed is quite addictive.
Pulling off the freeway, I ceded the wheel to my wife and got in the backseat where I had the opportunity to look around more. The Model Y has a full windshield/roof combo piece of glass that is deeply tinted overhead, we were in it on a hot and sunny day and felt comfortable without a separate sunshield overhead which was one of my concerns.
Legroom in back is abundant, and visibility is good in most directions except for perhaps the somewhat wide front pillars and immediately rearward where the liftback design makes for a shallow rear window aperture. This car makes good use of its rear camera system and proximity sensors.
My wife was very impressed with the smooth power and was pretty much ready to sign for it right then and there. We drove around a bit more and then headed back to the showroom. We then tried the Model 3 since we were already there, the 3’s were more readily available to drive without needing a new appointment and we drove one for a few miles but decided that the Y was more to our liking (higher seating position, more space, more practical and barely more cost).
After returning again and speaking with Dave some more we decided to think about it a bit and bid him farewell, but not before he presented our son with a 1:43 Burago scale model of a Model 3, a clever marketing move such as Detroit used to do at times.
On the way home we stopped at the Lexus dealer and test drove an RX Hybrid, the car that my wife thought she wanted as of the week prior. After driving the Tesla less than half an hour earlier, she remarked that while the Lexus was nice, it now just felt old and kind of slow and not really much different from her Highlander. She was no longer interested in it at all no matter how much she liked the layout; the sleeker and more minimalist interiored Tesla appealed to her more.
Upon returning home and going on our usual afternoon walk, we knocked on the doors of our neighbors that we had seen with Teslas in their garages. One had a 5-year-old Model S, another had a new Model 3 and another had a Model X. After introducing ourselves and explaining our quest, all were immediately enthusiastic about the Model Y and professed to be immensely pleased with their car and the resolution of any service issues that may have arisen since they owned them.
All would purchase them again and either considered or are still considering the Model Y themselves as well, with general agreement that it seems to be the form factor and price point that should catapult Tesla to the mainstream even more than the Model 3 has. This direct personal feedback from people that we would be seeing regularly in the future reassured us tremendously, not that there aren’t still some issues with Teslas but that the company does resolve issues that may arise in an acceptable manner.
This morning I placed the actual order for our car, which will be a Long Range Dual Motor Model Y with 316 miles of range, the color will be blue over black (same as this one here) and the wheels are the standard 19″ units which are different than the larger units fitted to this demo car which is fine, we’d rather have 19’s than those 20’s and while the standard wheels aren’t unattractive, removing their covers presents an extremely attractive silver spoked wheel that I forgot to photograph and haven’t been able to find a picture of on the internet yet.
The pricing is $49,990 plus another $1,000 for the blue color (pearl white is no charge, gray, black, and blue cost $1,000 and the red is $2,000). Other options we did not choose are the Performance option which would have cost $10,000 more (ours allows for 0-60 is 4.8 seconds and a 135mh top speed which should suffice especially as there for once will not be any degradation due to altitude), and the 20″ wheels would have been $2,000 more, a trailer hitch is $1,000, and a third row of seats (not yet available) is on the menu for $3,000 as well as Full Self Driving (also not yet available, if ever) can be reserved at today’s price of $8,000 which was frankly completely unappealing to us. Oh, and the snow white interior option is $1,000, while beautiful and apparently popular it’s not a great idea for our family and we much prefer the strip of wood across the dashboard in the black version anyway.
Also included is a 4year, 50,000 mile bumper to bumper warranty, while the destination charge is $1,200. The order fee (credited towards the purchase at delivery) was $100. While I placed the actual order on my laptop, it was also possible to do so on my phone, I actually got all the way to the “submit” button, then decided to do it on my laptop instead. Dave was also happy to have entered it himself for us if I had chosen to do that. In the end it was as easy as ordering anything from Amazon.
Our insurance agent quoted a coverage price not significantly more than a new Lexus RX would cost which itself was only slightly higher than our current Highlander, as this was one of my concerns I was relieved. Colorado will provide a $4,000 tax credit when we file our 2020 taxes which will cover at least the sales tax. We will be installing a charger in our garage, the Tesla branded one costs $500 and our favorite electrician has provided a quote to install it for $600 including a city permit.
Our garage will necessitate about 35-40 feet of conduit to run the 6ga wire up the wall, across the ceiling including around some obstacles, and then down a pillar, other quotes we got were in the range of twice that amount. This, with a 60amp circuit breaker will allow us to charge at 48amps, essentially recharging from 20% to 80% in less than 5 hours which will be done overnight when our city charges under 7cents per kW and even with the last 20% charging at a dimishing rate should still charge to full during the overnight hours.
The top charging speed will be 11.5kW, or about 44 miles of range per hour of charging. The battery capacity itself is 75kWh which in this long range dual motor car translates to 384hp and 375lb-ft of torque (combined). Weight of the vehicle is 4,367lbs, and it has a perfect 50/50 weight distribution. There is no weight difference between the “tank” being empty or full…
Dave confirmed that the order had been received, we will apparently be assigned a VIN soon, the car will be built in Fremont, CA and then shipped here. He expects it to most likely arrive by the end of the month, but there is a small chance it could go into early September. In the meantime we will see if we can sell the Highlander privately for an amount greater than the trade-in offer plus the sales tax saving that would be generated via that option and make it worth our while.
I’m frankly still a little surprised that we did it, but looking forward to it, I’ve been more and more intrigued as I’ve learned more about electric propulsion in cars and have been very impressed with both the plug-in hybrids as well as the electric cars that I have driven. There’s not really any way to accurately explain the difference in sensations versus a conventional vehicle, it has to be experienced first hand to be understood.
I’m still into internal combustion and all that, but this is certainly one path into the future that is sure to spread wider and I believe Tesla is well poised to accelerate the trend both for itself as well as the industry as a whole. And if not, oh well, the Tesla is costing less than the Lexus would have while not providing any less capability in the aspects we deemed most important. Once it arrives I’ll provide a full review with continuing updates, no punches pulled.
Oh, one more thing…If you decide to ever order one too, feel free to use my referral code https://ts.la/james86546 We each get some goodies out of it.