Tesla Model Y review: interior, dashboard & infotainment
Tesla’s minimalist cabin will continue to divide people, but there’s not arguing its infotainment system is still one of the best in the business
In January 2023, Tesla abruptly announced it had slashed the prices of the entire Model Y and Model 3 range by up to £8,000 for certain models. The entry-level Model Y now starts from just under £45,000, while the Long Range version is priced at close to £53,000 and the Model Y Performance comes in at just under £60,000. Every Model Y costs £2,000 more than the equivalent Model 3 saloon – arguably a small price to pay for the added practicality.
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 think the inclusion of a head-up display would have been a perfect compromise by allowing Tesla to keep its clean aesthetic, without compromising usability. We only hope this will be added sometime in the future.
The build quality of Tesla’s cars has never been their strongest attribute, but the Model Y we drove felt solid – if not exactly luxurious – and didn’t have any signs of the inconsistent shut lines or trim that we’ve experienced before. Though of course, the fit-and-finish in the Model Y’s German, Swedish and Korean rivals will be better, as will the overall quality of the materials used.
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: customers get a choice of five paint colours – white, black, grey, blue or red – black or white upholstery, and the option to add ‘enhanced autopilot’ for £3,400 or ‘full self-driving’ capabilities for an extra £6,800. 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.
You can also upgrade the wheels on base or Long Range models, or get a towbar fitted, with the Model Y capable of pulling up to 1,600kg.
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 opening the glovebox – something that can be a tad frustrating at times.
It also gets plenty of typical Tesla touches – or gimmicks depending on who you ask – including a whoopee cushion function and a singalong ‘Careoke’ mode, plus plenty of built-in games to play. You can even access Netflix for when you’re parked up and topping up the car.
Voice commands are an easy way of circumnavigating the giant touchscreen while on the go and avoiding taking your eyes off the road to jump through menus. But, there is a handy row of shortcut buttons along the bottom of the screen, should you need to interact with the screen – although, these are still more difficult to press than a physical button when on the move.
The section of the display closest to the driver also displays your speed, range and relays live information about what the car’s Autopilot radar and camera systems are ‘seeing’ around it. It’s a helpful guide, particularly if the adaptive system is engaged.
In This Review
- 1VerdictThe long-awaited Model Y boasts ultra-rapid charging capability and bundles of practicality, making Tesla’s take on the popular mid-size SUV class one of the best electric cars on sale
- 2Range, battery & chargingThe Model Y leads the pack when it comes to both range and ultra-rapid charging speeds
- 3Running costs & insuranceHigh insurance ratings will eat into some of the savings you make from lower company-car tax and servicing
- 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 not 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