Tesla Model 3 vs. Model Y: Spec comparison

Red Tesla Model 3 Performance and blue Model Y Performance in front of city

The long-awaited Tesla Model Y crossover SUV is finally on sale in Australia.

Based on the most popular electric vehicle Down Under, it shares around 95 per cent of components with the Tesla Model 3 sedan – but with larger dimensions and a hatchback boot opening.

With about $8000 separating the two, how much is the Model Y really bigger and different than the Model 3?

EDITOR’S NOTE: As Tesla makes continuous running changes to its vehicles, feature, specification and pricing differences are subject to change. Information is correct as at the time of publication.

Model 3 v Model Y: Exterior size

Tesla Model 3 and Model Y side profile overlayModel 3 (white) and Model Y (blue) pictured

Overall, the Model Y is 57mm longer, 41mm wider (including wing mirrors), and 181mm taller than its Model 3 counterpart.

The ground-up EV crossover also has a 34mm longer front overhang and 8mm longer rear overhang from its wheels.

The Model Y only has a 15mm longer wheelbase to yield a slightly more spacious interior and has a 27mm higher ground clearance.

For context, the Model Y’s 167mm ground clearance is still lower than Australia’s most popular SUV, the Toyota RAV4, at 190mm, yet it still sits higher than the Kia EV6 at 160mm.

It’s worth noting Tesla doesn’t disclose ground clearance figures for its Performance variants which feature lowered suspension.

Critically, with the omission of the mid-spec Model Y Long Range at launch in Australia, this means buyers will need to choose from either a higher ground clearance base Model Y rear-wheel drive (RWD) or lower Model Y Performance but with the confidence of all-wheel drive (AWD) grip.

Naturally, it’s no surprise the Model Y demands more manoeuvring too, with a 12.1-metre turning circle as opposed to the 3 at 11.6-metres.

Model 3 v Model Y: Interior size

Tesla Model 3 and Model Y side-by-side rear row interiorModel 3 (left) and Model Y (right) with black and white interior pictured

With slightly bloated dimensions and a 15mm extra wheelbase, the five-seater-only Model Y gains 17mm more head room, 2mm more shoulder room, and 11mm more hip room.

However, it interestingly has 22mm less leg room than the smaller Model 3 sedan. Though, with the Model Y's front seats on raised rails, it allows more space for passenger's toes to sit underneath the seats.

The Model Y SUV does benefit in storage volume, though, with a 293-litre larger boot with all seats in place and a 29-litre bigger frunk. Tesla doesn’t disclose volume with the Model 3’s rear row seats folded down, but the Model Y is rated at 2041-litres.

It’s worth noting that Tesla’s boot figures measure up to the roof, instead of using the more realistic VDA (Verband der Automobilindustrie) blocks standard, which explains its generous number compared to its rivals like the BYD Atto 3, Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Volvo XC40 Recharge.

While the Model 3 has a deep compartment underneath the boot floor, the Model Y adds another separate storage space under the boot, too.

Additionally, the Model Y’s rear row can fold the centre seat individually in a 40/20/40 split and there are two release buttons at the boot to electronically fold it down in a 60/40 split. The 3’s back seats can only manually fold in a 60/40 configuration.

The crossover’s hatchback opening means storing items in and out of the boot will be easier with a more open, wider aperture. Both EVs feature an electric tailgate as standard, but they aren’t ‘handsfree’ automatic; it still requires a button press or the connected Tesla smartphone app to open and close it.

Model 3 v Model Y: Range and powertrain

Tesla Model 3 and Model 3 Performance side-by-sideModel 3 Performance (left) and Model Y Performance (right) pictured

Both Shanghai-made electric cars offer the same battery packs and similar charging capabilities with exclusive access to the Tesla Supercharging network in Australia (for now), but the naturally heavier battery-electric wagon is slower than the small sedan.

As the Model Y RWD is 303kg heavier than the Model 3 RWD, it is less efficient and has 36km less claimed driving range (WLTP). This single-motor variant is also a claimed 0.8 seconds slower in a 0-100km/h sprint than its sedan equivalent with a top speed capped at 217km/h instead of 225km/h (not that this matters in Australia).

Since the Model Y Performance is 153kg heavier and less efficient than the equivalent Model 3, it has 33km of less claimed range (WLTP). This hi-po dual-motor model is 0.4 seconds slower in the 0-100km/h acceleration than the Model 3 Performance with top speed maxing out at 250km/h instead of 261km/h.

Applying zecar's real range modelling algorithm, we've calculated real-world range estimates for each model based on different driving profiles.

The Model Y isn’t offered in the mid-spec Long Range variant at launch with the same large battery as the Performance but with slightly tamer dual electric motors. However, it could arrive in Australia later on.

Another key difference is the Model Y is rated to tow up to 1600kg (braked) or 750kg (non-braked) trailers, but the Model 3 is capable of 1000kg (braked) or 750kg (non-braked).

Only the former will be offered with a first-party tow hitch accessory from Tesla Australia in 2023.

Model 3 v Model Y: Battery and charging

Tesla Model 3 and Model Ys charging at Tesla Supercharger

While Tesla doesn't disclose exact battery capacities, it seems the RWD and Performance models share the same packs across the Model Y and Model 3.

Entry-level RWD variants house a 57.5kWh (usable) nickel and cobalt-free lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP) battery that can be regularly charged to 100 per cent without degradation concerns.

Meanwhile, Performance AWD models use a 76kWh (usable) nickel-cobalt-aluminium (NCA) battery that the company recommends charging up to 90 per cent to preserve its health.

Zecar believes the Model Y is capable of receiving faster DC charging speeds with an extra 40kW of power across both variants. This should result in a five- to six-minute saving to get to 80 per cent based on zecar's estimates.

All models can charge at up to 11kW AC.

Model 3 v Model Y: Pricing

Tesla Model 3 and Model Y interior side-by-sideModel 3 (left) and Model Y (right) black interior pictured

With both EVs being hit by another price hike due to the ongoing production and supply crisis, the Model Y RWD and Performance is now $6800 and $5100 before on-road costs more expensive than the equivalent Model 3 respectively.

The entry-level small sedan is also eligible for more state EV rebates in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia as it undercuts price thresholds, unlike its Model Y sibling.

As per the fledgeling electric carmaker’s simple and streamlined approach, both the Model Y and 3 offer the same exterior paint colour, interior and wheel options for the same cost.

However, there are differences in the standard range RWD wheel styles and size (Model Y is one-inch larger) with Performance models featuring the same 21-inch Überturbine wheels.

Both models can also be had with the newly introduced ‘Enhanced Autopilot’ safety assistance suite at $5100 or the ‘Full Self-Driving Capability’ pack (which currently isn’t full autonomous driving) at $10,100.

Model 3 v Model Y: Other features

Tesla Model 3 and Model Y glass roof side-by-sideModel 3 with black interior (left) and Model Y with black and white interior (right) pictured

Beyond the numbers, the Model Y and Model 3 also have some features unique to each EV.

Features exclusive to the Tesla Model 3 include:

  • 18-inch Aero wheels (standard)
  • 19-inch Sport wheels (optional on RWD and Long Range)

Compared to the Model 3, the Tesla Model Y adds:

  • 19-inch Gemini wheels (standard)
  • 20-inch Induction wheels (optional on RWD and Long Range)
  • Plastic cladding on wheel arches, side skirts and rear bumper
  • High efficiency particulate air (HEPA) cabin filter
  • Fixed single-pane panoramic glass roof (without centre crossbar)
  • Double laminated rear window glass
  • Ambient interior footwell lighting
  • Raised front seat rails
  • Adjustable rear row seatbacks
  • 40/20/40 split folding rear seats
  • Electronic folding rear seats (60/40 split) release via boot buttons
  • Tow hitch (optional accessory)

Model 3 v Model Y FAQs

Words and image edits by Henry Man

Datawrappers by Danny Thai

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