The Tesla Model 3 and Model Y might be getting progressively more expensive, but they're still the undisputed kings of the EV market. They're not entry-level EVs by any stretch, but they do fit nicely into the Tesla line-up — offering a luxurious hi-tech experience for less than you might have expected.
Granted neither car is as flashy as the Model S or Model X, but they do offer a lot of the same things for a much smaller price tag. Deciding between the two can be a little difficult, though, and whether you want long range, performance, or a luxury-feeling interior, the Model 3 and Model Y have it all.
But as similar as both cars are, there are some key differences that will make your job easier - least of all the price. So when it's a case of Tesla Model 3 vs Tesla Model Y, which car is right for you?
Tesla Model 3 vs Tesla Model Y: Specs
|Tesla Model 3||Tesla Model Y|
|Price||From $46,990||From $65,990|
|Range||358 miles||330 miles|
|Top Speed||162 mph||155mph|
|0-60mph||3.1 seconds||3.5 seconds|
|Extra features||Autopilot, Sentry mode, App control, wireless charger, tinted glass roof||Autopilot, Sentry mode, App control, wireless charger, flat folding seats, tinted glass roof|
Tesla Model 3 vs Tesla Model Y: Price
The Tesla Model 3 was once the cheapest car in Tesla’s portfolio, and while the single-motor Cybertruck is now technically cheaper the Model 3 remains an important part of Tesla's portfolio.
The latest price hike means the RWD Tesla Model 3 now starts at $46,990. That's the entry-level model that's pretty bare bones compared to other cars in the Tesla line-up. A Long Range model can also be picked up for $57,990, and a high-speed Performance model for $62,990.
The Model Y is a little bit more expensive as there's no ‘standard’ model on sale in the U.S. right now, though it may be coming fairly soon for somewhere around $60,000. For the time being Tesla jumps right in at the Long Range model, which will cost you $65,990. The Performance model costs $69,990.
So if you want a Tesla, but want to spend as little as possible, go for the Model 3. The RWD Model 3 $19,000 cheaper than the cheapest Model Y, while the Long Range Model is $8,000 less. That one has the added bonus of offering more noticeably more range.
Tesla Model 3 vs Tesla Model Y: Design and interior
The Tesla Model 3 is a sedan, while the Model Y is a hatchback SUV. Naturally that comes with a few differences in the overall look of the car and what you get on the inside.
Being a sedan means the Model 3 has a much sleeker and sportier profile than the Model Y. It’s closer to the ground, and has a much flatter hood. However, that design comes with some drawbacks, as you’ll only find 15 cubic feet of rear trunk space.
The Model Y comes with 36 cubic feet, on account of the noticeably larger SUV design. It’s two inches longer and wider than the Model 3, as a whopping seven inches taller. While you can squeeze five people into a Model 3, the Model Y’s larger design means they’re going to be a lot more comfortable on long drives.
You also have the option for a third row in the Model Y, which means you can get seven people in there. The Model Y also has an optional tow hitch, which the Model 3 lacks, though it will cost you an extra $1,000
As for the rest of the design, there isn’t much more to differentiate the two EVs. The dash is nearly identical, and you'll get the same glass roof, 15-inch touchscreen control panel, wireless charger, cup holders, power-adjustable seats and vegan-friendly “softer than leather” interior.
Previously the Model Y came with some extra features, like heated rear seats and steering wheel, but recently Tesla updated the Model 3 to include both. Making the difference between the two cars even smaller.
Tesla Model 3 vs Tesla Model Y: Power
The power you get with the Tesla Model 3 all depends on which version of the car you purchase. All of them pack in two motors, but the Standard Plus only comes with rear-wheel drive. Long Range and performance models come with all wheel drive, and that offers a little bit more oomph.
So the RWD Model 3 will go from 0-60 in 5.8 seconds, and has a top speed of 140mph. Long Range and Performance manage to get to 60mph in a respective 4.2 and 3.1 seconds, and each have top speeds of 145mph and 162mph.
The Model Y isn’t quite as good in this respect. While all models have all wheel drive and beat the standard Model 3, its acceleration and top speed are lower than the equivalent Model 3. Long Range manages 0-60 in 4.8 seconds, while the Performance manages it in 3.5 seconds. Both models have a respective 135mph and 155 mph top speed.
The Model Y is only a fraction of a second slower than Model 3, and chances are you won’t even get close to that top speed on a public road. But for those obsessed with the highest numbers, or who want to take part in some drag racing, the Model 3 has the edge.
Tesla Model 3 vs Tesla Model Y: Battery and range
Once again the range you can expect is all dependent on which model of car you purchase. And there’s a very obvious correlation with bigger batteries making your car last longer.
If you pick up a RWD Model 3, you can expect to get 272 miles out of the battery. The 2021 Long Range and Performance models offer a larger battery, and come with a respective 358 and 315 miles of range. That difference is something to consider, and it means choosing between range and driving power.
The Tesla Model Y can offer 330 miles with the Long Range model and 303 miles out of the Performance model. That difference in range will be down to the smaller battery, as well as the Model Y’s larger design. That’s the sacrifice you have to make for having room to put more stuff (and people) inside your car.
The Model 3 recharges faster, with Tesla claiming it can regain 175 miles of range in 15 minutes, while the Model Y can only get 162 miles in the same time. Though all variants of the cars can now enjoy the full force of Tesla's V3 250kW Supercharging network
So if you want to maximize range and optimize recharge time, the Model 3 is the car to pick.
Tesla Model 3 vs Tesla Model Y: Autopilot and other tech
In terms of special features, both cars have the standard Tesla suite. That includes basic Autopilot, that comes with basic autonomous steering, acceleration and braking, lane assist, collision warnings and blind-spot alarms.
The “Full Self-Driving package” is also available on both for cars, either as a one time purchase of $12,000, or it can be accessed with Tesla's $199 a month FSD subscription service. Both the Model 3 and Model Y included Tesla's Full Self Driving Computer 3.0 from day one. So you shouldn't have to pay an additional $1,000 to have your computer upgraded, which has happened to owners of some older Model S and Model Xs.
It's worth reminding people that this isn’t complete Level 5 autonomous driving. Instead this lets you navigate on freeways, change lanes automatically, automatically park, a summon option, as well as light and stop sign recognition.
Both cars also come with a sentry mode that monitors the surrounding area when the car is unattended, a glass roof shielded from UV and infra-red light, over the air updates and mobile app support. Inside they have the same 15-inch touchscreen control panel, a wireless charging pad, and “advanced climate control”.
That last one is Tesla's fancy HVAC control system, which lets you control what air flows where by dragging simulated air flow across a touchscreen — which you can see below.
The Model Y gets a few extra bits, however, including a heated steering wheel, flat-fold rear seats, LED fog lamps, and a “premium” audio system that included 14 speakers, two amps and one subwoofer.
All car models get complimentary access to Tesla’s premium connectivity service, which offers live traffic visualizations, satellite-view maps, video and music streaming, a ‘Careoke’ mode and an internet browser. The RWD Model 3 only has 30 days of free access, while all the other models get it for one year. After your trial access is over, it will cost $10, or $90 a year, a month to retain access — no matter which car you have.
Tesla Model 3 vs Tesla Model Y: Outlook
Which Tesla you buy is completely dependent on what you want to get out of your car. The Model 3 easily wins on both range and performance, if you’re only looking at the numbers. But you have to sacrifice interior space as a result.
The Model Y isn’t far behind in terms of both range and power, though the benefit of owning one is that you can fit a lot more stuff inside. You can still hold a lot in the Model 3’s trunk, but you might want to be mindful of its limitations before you try and fill it with Ikea furniture — even with the back seats folded down.
The Model Y comes with a few extra luxuries. While you may not care about a heated steering wheel, it's a feature that's are more than welcome on those cold winter days. Once you have them, you’re never going to want to lose them.
But the reality is that both cars are very similar. The price difference between comparable models isn’t huge, and honestly, both are going to look very similar to the untrained eye. When it comes down to it, it all just depends on what you need your car for.
Families and other people who can take advantage of the size of an SUV will want the Model Y. If you want a Tesla on the cheap, or you want to maximize the amount of range or power your car has, then the Model 3 is for you. There’s no wrong answer, and you’ll get a pretty similar Tesla experience regardless of choice.