As you may recall, two months ago we placed an order for a Tesla Model Y, at which time the wait was supposedly short. Well, after going through the process and having the order accepted it ended up taking longer than anticipated, with several messages from Tesla advising us of the remaining time frame but everyone being confident that it would arrive prior to the end of the quarter.
As it turned out we were finally assigned a VIN on September 30th, and on October 1st were notified that it was in Fremont awaiting transport to Colorado. Yesterday, October 5th, we received a text message, the same way that all of the communication was handled from the beginning, saying it had arrived in Boulder (the location of our sales center) and asking when would we like to pick it up. As long as it was after 10:30am on the 6th any time or day would work for them. We suggested 10:31am on the 6th and they were happy to accommodate that, so this morning we made the hour’s drive down there.
Upon entering the lot half an hour early which in the meantime had its 16 Supercharging stations completed as compared to the last time we were there, we saw several new Model Y’s lined up in front along with numerous other Teslas. I approached the first one, looked at the VIN and realized it was ours – the last five digits of the VIN happen to coincidentally be the same as a relevant personal number for me so it was easy to remember.
I had spent the last few weeks reading lots of horror stories about poor quality, paint damage, mismatched and misaligned panels, damaged interiors, and one recent one of a roof detaching so had been ready to walk away if this had any significant issues. I was also concerned about the vague prospect of potentially getting someone else’s reject.
As I poked around the outside of it I was relieved to note that there was nothing of significance to note, and inside was much the same along with the VIN tag stating it was built in October of 2020 so it’s certainly a fresh car, right out of the paint oven. The detailing crew was just finishing up and was taking care of removing a couple of tiny spots of glue on the windshield as well as some leftover masking tape on some interior bits.
We glanced at the other cars parked nearby and they seemed much the same, i.e. perfectly fine, either we got part of a good batch or the stories are simply overblown, I’ll be the first to point out that Tesla (often of their own doing in my opinion) certainly gets an outsize dose of media attention, with just as much of it bad as good. As our original sales consultant was not there today, someone else was filling in and asked us to let him explain some key features of the car if we were interested before we got to the paperwork assuming we didn’t see anything that needing correcting that he may have missed earlier in the morning.
We agreed and he had us get in and then showed us / reviewed a few basic things regarding operation, programming our key cards, and setting up the personal settings for each of us. (Depending on who unlocks the car by walking up to it with a phone on their person or uses a key card as a backup, numerous settings on the car automatically adjust depending on who ends up in the driver’s seat, nothing as vintage as a physical “memory” button).
After about ten minutes of explaining and answering questions (including very clearly explaining that “autopilot” is an assistance feature, not a self-driving feature, and not at all overselling its capabilities) he handed us a folder with paperwork, asked us to read it over while comfortably seated in the car and sign if it all made sense and then meet him inside. This involved us reading some easily understood paperwork including the bill of sale and registration forms and signing as indicated, all was in plain language in normal size type on regular paper, nothing unexpected. A few minutes later we were done, went inside and he was entering info into the system regarding us and finalizing transferring the car into our name in the Tesla database.
We wrote a check for the car (yes, they take a personal check and the associate related that he was twenty-five years old and had never himself actually handwritten a check, I instantly felt very old and looked about for a cane) which he perfunctorily glanced at before placing it in the folder, showed him our insurance information which he took a photo of and uploaded and then we were done.
No finance office, no crap about extended warranties, no upsell for anything beyond one question asking if we were at all interested in a quote for a Tesla Solar system (Our response: “No thank you”; then him: “No problem”), no BS about needing perfect feedback on a survey, and if we had no other questions or any other needs that he could attend to then he wished us a happy journey home as he had preprogrammed our address into the navigation system and it would guide us home once we started driving.
Holy crap, the sales process simply does not get any better than that, they’d rather sell the car to us, get us on our way and then use the rest of the day to sell more cars to other happy buyers else rather than keeping us hanging around for no good reason and everyone getting annoyed. I’ve had more hassle buying a pair of sneakers, never mind a car. And don’t start on about sure it’s easy if one just pays the asking price, no, unfortunately it really isn’t in most places, that’s usually just phase one, of course it’s helpful when the car doesn’t seem overpriced in the first place and you’re confident nobody else paid less either.
Since it had been a couple of months since we had driven the test car and this is really my wife’s car, she asked if we could drive around locally for a few miles before heading home separately, so we did to be sure she was comfortable and had everything adjusted properly and then she dropped me off and I followed her home in this week’s test vehicle, all the while realizing that I liked the test vehicle a lot but it was just so 20th Century while she was ahead of me in the lane, to say nothing of the future…
As far as the car is concerned, it’s a 2020 Model Y Dual Motor Long Range – so basically a full-time five passenger AWD vehicle with a big enough battery for 316 miles of range and a 0-60 time of 4.8 seconds. The only actual option we selected was the “Deep Blue Metallic” paint for an additional $1,000 over the $49,990 base price and of course the $1,200 destination charge. You can do the math, tax and registration are on top of that and we are eligible for a $4,000 tax credit from our home state which will take care of most of that so really it’s our own sales tax and registration that are coming back to ourselves, not “someone else’s tax dollars”.
While we were waiting for the car to be built a new Performance option was offered (and we can still select it at any time as it’s an over-the-air software upgrade, just push a button on our app any time we are so inclined) that would lower the 0-60mph time from 4.8 to 4.3 seconds, for a one time charge of $2,000. At this time we don’t need that, (4.8 without any loss due to altitude is excellent already), but I can’t think of many (ok, any) cars that you can improve the performance by that much for that little money and zero labor.
As a point of comparison there is an actual Performance model variant of the Y that costs an additional $10,000 and which results in 0-60 reducing to 3.5, top speed increasing to 155mph (from 135 on ours) as well as larger wheels, tires, and brakes and slightly reduced ride height and range. We certainly didn’t need that but the $2,000 performance upgrade option is comparatively well-priced.
Once home, my wife took one of the kids on an errand and then later this afternoon I finally had enough time to take it for a spin, hence this COAL update is really just a first impression and not super thorough like a regular review. I’ll follow up later after more time with the car and after having had enough time to really decide what is great and what might perhaps be less satisfactory.
For example, while we were happy that four seats are heated, we were not thrilled that the steering wheel wasn’t. On a cold morning that is generally a valuable feature, however we have been told that instead of that a better option is just to set the car to preheat a few minutes before departure and that climbing into a 70 or whatever degree cabin on a freezing day is even better than just a warm wheel and something that an electrically powered vehicle can easily do.
In any case, as I got in and adjusted myself I noodled around in the menus a bit and noted again that on the large 15″ screen the speed is at the top left (it would be in the picture if I was moving), a visual representation of the car and anything around it is below that (which varies depending on actual traffic and objects on the road or things around you in the garage), with the rest of the screen devoted to either a very detailed map or whatever menu is selected as on overlay. Along the bottom are dedicated areas for audio, HVAC, and a couple of other frequently used controls.
The steering wheel is simply styled with only two buttons, however both scroll up and down, can be pushed side to side, as well as depressed. These two spherical buttons control many functions on the screen as well as the mirrors and the tilt/telescoping wheel itself and audio volume.
Most controls can also be selected/adjusted by simply speaking a command, i.e. turn up the fan speed by one, lower temperature by three, turn on left rear seat heater to high etc. Or the same can be chosen along the bottom edge of the screen if one happens to be mute. In other words the most often used items are very easily accessible and do not necessitate either removing a hand from the wheel or glancing away from the road if one doesn’t want to.
But much more esoteric stuff can be selected by diving deeper, ideally when stopped of course. Wipers, Lights, Highbeams etc. are all automatic but can be overridden as desired and I’ve driven enough new vehicles from various manufacturers now to realize that all of this tech has been quite well-perfected for some time now.
Materials are of excellent quality, fit and finish was perfectly fine for any $50-something thousand vehicle and easily as good as many at higher price points, the faux leather looks and feels good (better than Toyota Softex, perhaps not as thick as the old MB-Tex), alcantara inlays in the door panels are welcome, the pillars and headliner around the glass on the ceiling are woven cloth, the wood strip is an open pore wood with texture, and there are various actual metal bits of trim. Dashtop materials and door uppers are soft, materials lower (knees and below I think) are harder.
Turn/Wiper and Gear Selector stalks are solid with good heft, feel, and balance, and the center console bin lids, while of a piano black plastic that may scratch (perhaps a wood upgrade to those lids as in Model 3 might become available?) close with a soft touch on magnetic catches. Standard is a two-phone wireless charging pad, however an automatic garage door opener (Homelink) is not, but rather a $300 including installation option that must be installed after purchase, not at the factory. Lord Elon giveth, and Lord Elon taketh away…
The front trunk (frunk) has a large bin even on this dual-motor version similar to the one I had in my Porsche, and the rear hatch is spacious with another very large bin under the floor.
The cargo area is lacking a cover or any provision for one, but the glass is deeply tinted as well as being difficult to see into due to the shape and where the metal and glass surfaces are. The underfloor bins can hold a large volume if need be. There is no spare tire, we probably need to be sure we have some fix-a-flat or repair kits in the car if we will be out of range of a repair service call, that will be an area to investigate further.
That same rear hatch shape, while making it difficult to see in, unfortunately also has the opposite effect of being difficult to see out of, the high resolution screen on the monitor all turning to a huge image of what’s behind is a necessary feature on this car as what’s left as a vertical window area is not a very tall area. Were backup cameras not a thing, then a 2nd gen Honda CRX or Prius-like extra window back there would pretty much be a necessity.
Charging at this point is waiting for my electrician to install the Tesla fast charger in my garage, the device (from Tesla) costs $500 shipped with an 18-foot cord and installation of a new 60amp circuit along with around 40 or so feet of conduit up and over one of my garage bays and down a pillar will be another $600, after which we will be able to charge up in around five hours or so.
For the next week or two we will (if needed) use the Tesla Supercharger down near our local airport at a hotel, there are ten stations at that location, and the Tesla app has never shown less than eight stations available since I’ve been checking it for the last few weeks. The same app tells me that we currently have 182 miles of range left, where my four closest Supercharger stations are and where my four closest non-Supercharger but available with adapter chargers are along with the exact current quantity of available chargers at each of the Supercharger locations are at this exact point in time.
Driving the car is exhilarating, of course we only got it today, my wife has driven maybe 80 miles and me another 40 or so, so it’s still very new. There are zero rattles, but I have found two more small pieces of masking tape inside the car that I removed. It’s obviously dead silent while stopped, it holds itself in place (or can be set to creep), accelerates strongly from any speed or rest, and invariably you find yourself exceeding the speed limit as the acceleration is far stronger than normal with far less noisy feedback.
Braking is currently set to mainly regenerative and I’ve more or less already mastered the one-pedal driving method wherein you are just on the gas to some extent or not at all, and when not the car slows all the way to a stop, it is not difficult to judge how exactly to get it to stop exactly where you want it to this way although it’s almost impossible to explain to anyone that hasn’t tried it themselves. I can easily see how the brake pads and rotors will last forever, I don’t believe I touched the brakes more than a few times today and even those touches were more due to muscle memory than anything else.
In fact it’s a lot like a larger version of the Electric Mini Cooper that I enjoyed so much some time back, just faster, more powerful, with more range, and roomier, but with a similar feel and while obviously heavier, with the weight located so low in the chassis still with an exceptionally tossable feel along with a very secure feeling of being planted.
Headroom is very spacious what with the tinted glass ceiling without a cover and the edges are far enough away from my head as to not be intrusive at all, the seats are supportive and very comfortable, the legroom is capacious and the rear seat legroom is as good or better than most cars of this size.
The wheels on ours are the 19″ standard size, the covers (that apparently contribute to about 3% of the range) come off and hide what I find is a very attractive alloy (in silver) underneath, I have ordered a set of center caps and lug nut covers for those and will likely be making that change before the next update. We will be ordering a set of snow tires and perhaps dedicated wheels as well soon. The tire size is 255/45-19, the same on all four wheels.
More updates will be coming periodically, we will see how this all turns out in the long term, but as of now everything is as expected (actually better than expected, really, the delivery experience was one I was dreading and turned into a best case scenario). As time goes on we will learn more about the car, its features, things that differ from a “regular” car, and what we like and/or dislike.
We are far from “early adopters” but aren’t stuck in the past either, along with a willingness to explore the world and different cultures near and far, we find progress interesting (as well as inescapable). I’m sure not everyone will agree that this would be the right vehicle for them for various reasons and that’s perfectly fine (I myself am not particularly a fan of Mr. Musk’s general schtick), but I’m also not interested in ignorant commentary either.
If you have questions, please ask, I’ll answer honestly and openly, we are regular owners without any agenda. I’ve been openly critical of Tesla in the past and still believe they could do various things better, but have become impressed with the fact that they have not only survived but are thriving currently and although several others have cars on the horizon, some highly ballyhooed manufacturers have completely whiffed with their products to date and some others due to debut soon don’t instill the utmost confidence either. I do think this technology (electric mobility) is the future and that it’s proceeding quicker than many anticipate.
It will start (has started) successfully with passenger cars such as this one and its predecessors and will then continually expand to other segments. In case you agree and are inclined to do the same, if you use this referral code https://ts.la/james86546 when ordering one we both get a small benefit out of it. That being said, it’s a very interesting car from an interesting company that is absolutely far in the lead – mainly because they absolutely believe in it and are doing it because they want to, not because they have to or realize they can’t continue to compete in the marketplace without it.
More updates to this series to come “over the air” to your browser…Watch this space!