Quick Compare: 2020 Tesla Model Y Vs. Model 3 — Beginner’s Buying Guide To Two Hot Electric Cars

Buying an electric car can be a daunting decision for first-time buyers.

Here’s a very short, very basic comparison of the Model 3 and Model Y for electric car buyers just getting their feet wet:

Type:

—Model Y: SUV*

—Model 3: sedan

*Also called a CUV or crossover utility vehicle

Production start date:

—Model Y: January 2020

—Model 3: mid-2017

American made:

Both the Model 3 and Model Y are made in America in Fremont, Calif.

How similar?

The Model Y is based on the Model 3 and shares 75% of the parts, according to Tesla. And to the untrained eye, they can be hard to distinguish.

How different?

But there are some big differences like cargo space and ground clearance — the Model Y has more of both. And you sit higher in the Model Y because the Y’s seats are on risers, which makes it easier to get in and get out of the car compared to the Model 3.

The Model Y also uses a more efficient heat pump versus the resistive heating system in the Model 3.

And the Model Y is taller, wider, and longer than the Model 3. It’s only a matter of inches (e.g., the Y is about 7 inches taller) but it can make a difference for things like headroom.

How popular?

The Model 3 was the best-selling car in California — the hottest electric car market in the U.S. — in the first quarter of 2020, beating both the Honda Civic and Toyota Camry, according to the California New Car Dealers Association. Since the Model Y is just beginning to ramp up production, the jury is still out but CEO Elon Musk has said that he expects it to outsell the Model 3.

Price:

2020 Tesla Model Y Dual Motor All-Wheel Drive Long Range: base price: $52,990 (cheapest version currently available / price as shown on Tesla’s website)

2020 Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus base price: $37,990 (cheapest model)

Battery range:

—Model Y (listed above): 316 miles (EPA estimate)

—Model 3 (listed above): 250 miles

Cargo space:

—Model Y: 68 cu ft*

—Model 3: 15 cu ft

*Here’s what Motor Trend says, however: “The Model Y can hold more stuff than the Model 3. However, the Model 3 with rear seats has almost comparable cargo capacity, not as bad as those numbers from the owner’s manuals suggest.”

That said, the Model Y’s frunk (front trunk) is deeper than the Model 3’s.

Seating capacity:

5 passengers for both the Model 3 and Model Y, though the Y has an option for seven passengers (see “options” below).

Ground clearance (think: light off-roading):

—Model Y: 6.6 inches

—Model 3: 5.5 inches

Basic warranty:

4 years / 50,000 miles for both the Model 3 and Model Y.

Major options:

—Model Y will offer a third row of seats, allowing it to seat seven passengers ($3,000 option)

—The Model 3 Performance offers 0-60 in 3.2 seconds for thousands of dollars less than the Model Y Performance (which is a plodding 3.5 seconds by comparison).

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