Tesla Model Y: interior, dashboard & infotainment
Tesla’s minimalist cabin will continue to divide people, but there’s no arguing its infotainment system is still one of the best in the business
When the Tesla Model 3 (the Model Y’s saloon sibling) first arrived, there was nothing quite like its ultra minimalist interior out there. Nowadays, several other models from rival manufacturers have adopted this ‘less is more’’ approach – for better and for worse – with the Model Y mimicking the 3’s cabin almost identically, bar a slightly higher driving position.
Tesla build quality has long left a lot to be desired, however, we must say that our most recent experiences show a dramatic improvement in this regard. The Model Y isn’t quite a posh-feeling as, say, an Audi Q4 e-tron, but the standard-fit vegan upholstery and suede door linings feel pretty plush, regardless.
Tesla Model Y dashboard
Ever heard the phrase “too much of a good thing”? Well, while the Tesla Model Y’s minimalist cabin makes it look strikingly modern, this has ultimately come at the expense of ergonomics. Everything is centred around a giant 15-inch touchscreen, with very few physical controls in sight, bar the indicator stalks and hazard lights. There are no dials or head-up display either; instead, this information is displayed at the right-hand side of the screen.
As you can expect, having to take your eyes off the road and look down to the centre to check your speed isn’t exactly an ideal setup – we constantly found ourselves accidentally straying over and under the speed limit given we didn’t have this information in our direct line of sight. We think the inclusion of a head-up display would be the ideal compromise, allowing Tesla to keep its minimalist aesthetic without spoiling the ergonomics. We’re not holding out much hope regarding its inclusion in the future, though, especially given the facelifted Tesla Model 3 did not include this piece of equipment in its long list of upgrades.
Equipment, options & accessories
The Tesla Model Y comes with pretty much all the kit you’d want as standard, including the 15-inch touchscreen, wireless charging pad for two smartphones, heated front and rear seats, heated steering wheel, tinted panoramic glass roof, 14-speaker sound system, a heat pump to warm the cabin more efficiently and vegan upholstery. Plus, 19-inch alloy wheels, though you can upgrade to a set of 20-inch rims should you wish.
You don’t get a traditional key fob with the Model Y, as the keyless entry system automatically recognises your phone as the key. But you also get a credit-card-style key as backup and for valet parking etc. The basic version of Tesla’s Autopilot system, over-the-air update capabilities and a smattering of other tech is fitted to all Model Ys, as well.
Upgrading to the Long Range version doesn’t get you any extra kit other than the extra motor and bigger battery. However, the Model Y Performance adds lowered suspension, 21-inch alloy wheels, upgraded brakes and aluminium pedals, as well as the extra horsepower.
Unlike most of its rivals, there is a fairly limited options list with the Model Y. There is the option to upgrade from the base white paint to something a little more vibrant, but this will cost you an arm and a leg – it's no wonder then why most Model Ys you see are in greyscale. You can also add either 'Enhanced' or 'Full Autopilot', thought do note that while Tesla dubs its driver assistance systems as ‘self-driving’, all require the full attention of and occasional inputs from the driver.
Infotainment, apps & sat nav
You might not get Apple CarPlay or Android Auto in the Model Y, but Tesla’s infotainment system being as slick as it is makes up for that. The graphics on the huge 15-inch central touchscreen are sharper than most of its rivals and it’s quick to respond, too. Which is especially good considering everything is controlled through the screen, from the climate controls to even opening the glovebox – something that can be a tad frustrating at times.
The main thing that sets Tesla’s system apart from those used in rivals, however, is the range of additional features it offers. For starters, you have the ability to stream music services like Spotify and Apple Music while you drive along, as well as video services like Netflix, Disney+ and YouTube – provided you’re already signed up for the necessary subscriptions, that is. There’s even a ‘Careoke’ feature which, from our personal experience, is enough to keep a car full of hyperactive musical theatre performers entertained for a three-hour round trip.
Perhaps the biggest stars of the show are the range of video games such as Cuphead and Stardew Valley that come built-in; there’s also a Mario Kart-esque racing game in which you control a miniature Tesla via the car’s steering wheel and pedals! That, alongside things like built-in whoopee cushions on the seats truly makes the Model Y a good choice for the young at heart.
It’s worth mentioning, though, that many of these features, as well as handy things like additional traffic information and satellite-view maps, are only available if you subscribe to Tesla’s £10 per month ‘Premium Connectivity’ service. This comes free for the first 30 days and while it may seem like an annoying additional cost to consider, it’s not a huge amount extra – especially if you’re already forking out for finance or lease payments.
In This Review
- 1VerdictFast, efficient and full of fun features, the Tesla Model Y almost does it all and we can clearly see why it’s the UK’s best-selling EV
- 2Range, battery & chargingThe Model Y boasts superb range and charging speeds, with full access to Tesla's Supercharger network being the icing on the cake
- 3Running costs & insuranceAn average warranty and high insurance premiums dampen what is otherwise a relatively affordable electric SUV to buy and run
- 4Performance, motor & driveIt’s startlingly quick for a family SUV, but the Model Y is bigger than most of its rivals and has a particularly firm ride
- 5Interior, dashboard & infotainment - currently readingTesla’s minimalist cabin will continue to divide people, but there’s no arguing its infotainment system is still one of the best in the business
- 6Boot space, seating & practicalityFold the rear seats down and the Model Y offers van-like levels of cargo space, plus a frunk up front as a bonus
- 7Reliability & safety ratingReliability and build quality might not be Tesla’s strong suit, but the Model Y does boast a five-star rating and high scores in the Euro NCAP crash safety tests