Tesla Model Y review: is this Australia’s best electric SUV?

A white Tesla Model Y with a surfboard on the roof parked next to a river in front of wooded hills

Toby Hagon

Posted November 24, 2022

Tesla’s Model Y has proved to be an early sales hit in Australia for electric vehicle buyers - for good reason.

Tesla has been a major player in the growing EV space in Australia – and it’s mostly done that with a four-door sedan called the Tesla Model 3.

Given Australian motorists tend to favour SUVs, there’s little wonder the Tesla Model Y has been so eagerly awaited for families looking to transition to cleaner energy solutions. Effectively an SUV version of the popular Tesla Model 3, the Tesla Model Y has the same underpinnings but wider wheel arches, a taller body, and a hatchback-style boot. 

The Tesla Model Y’s combination of a solid list of standard equipment, excellent driving credentials, and industry-leading tech makes it a tempting mid-sized SUV proposition.

On this page

Tesla Model Y

Currently only the Rear-Wheel Drive and Performance versions of the Tesla Model Y are offered in Australia. Image: Supplied

Tesla Model Y pricing and features

The Tesla Model Y is a mid-sized SUV with five seats. There are seven-seat models available overseas, but they’re not yet offered in Australia - and it’s unclear if they ever will be.

Tesla currently offers two versions of the Tesla Model Y in Australia – the Rear-Wheel Drive (RWD) and Performance – but there’s a third one (the Long Range) available overseas that should eventually slot between the two locally.

The RWD gets a single electric motor and drives only the back wheels. The Performance variant adds a front electric motor plus a larger battery which translates to a lot more power. While people can order both on the Tesla website, only the RWD has been delivered to customers so far, so that’s the one we’re focusing on for this review.

The Tesla Model Y RWD is priced from $72,300 plus on-road costs, or $78,134 drive-away in Victoria. At that price it misses out on the Australian EV rebates. And if you want the full connectivity - including music streaming, web browsing capability and satellite view for the maps - then it’s another $9.99 per month.

Tesla Model Y safety equipment

Like the Tesla Model 3, the Tesla Model Y gets a sparse interior that’s dominated by an enormous 15-inch touchscreen. That screen is the nerve centre of the car, not only displaying vital information such as the speedo, but also looking after the infotainment and displaying images from the nine cameras (eight exterior, one trained on the occupants).

It also controls a whole bunch of things that would traditionally be left to buttons and dials in cars that aren’t Teslas. Want to activate the windscreen wipers? Delve into the screen. Want to open the glovebox or bonnet or program the sat-nav? Yep, it’s the screen again. You can even play arcade games or watch Netflix when the car is parked. Tesla’s iconic screen promises to only get smarter over time via over-the-air software updates.

Audiophiles will love the 13-speaker sound system, which has excellent clarity and punch. There are also dual wireless phone charging pads and four USB-C ports – handy for those long road trips.

The Tesla Model Y also gets trim that looks vaguely like leather, although it’s very obviously not (the car is vegan). All five seats and the steering wheel are heated and the front seats are electrically adjusted. There’s also a panoramic sunroof and 19-inch alloy wheels with plastic covers (the covers improve aerodynamics to increase the driving range).

One thing you won’t get is any way of charging the car. Tesla removed the portable charger from the list of standard kit, so you’ll either have to buy one ($550) or have a wallbox installed at home (upwards of $1,000).


Tesla Model Y

The bounty of headspace is partly at the cost of lower seats in the Tesla Model Y. Image: Supplied

Tesla Model Y interiors and design

The Tesla Model Y’s cabin is an acquired taste due to its minimalist design, but it’s big on space - amplified by the glass roof.

Those up front will have loads of room and an SUV-height seating position for good visibility. There’s also loads of headroom in the rear, although it partially comes about by low seats. That makes getting a view out the front a little trickier, especially for the shorter statured. 

Luggage capacity is excellent, with a broad space behind the seats and a deep cavity beneath the floor that can easily keep the groceries from rolling around the boot. There’s also some storage under the bonnet that works well for charging cables or valuables.

One of the coolest features of the Tesla Model Y is the way it connects to the Tesla app. Once hooked up, you don’t need to use the cards to lock the doors; simply walk up to the car and once it detects your phone is nearby you can open up.

The app also allows remote monitoring and you can even activate the ventilation or seat heating. You can also check out the view from the exterior cameras to see if anyone is lurking around the car. Tesla leads the way on this connected tech.


Tesla Model Y

Energy use in the Tesla Model Y is impressive, claimed at 14.6kWh per 100km or around $5 per 100km. Image: Supplied

Tesla Model Y battery, charging and efficiency

Energy use in the Tesla Model Y is impressive, claimed at 14.6kWh per 100km, which equates to around $5 per 100km if you’re paying for electricity. With a battery capacity of about 60kWh, it gives the car a real-world range of about 400km (versus an official claim of 455km). 

It’s easy to achieve that, although if you use the Sentry mode when the car is parked - which keeps four of the exterior cameras active to record any interference with the vehicle - you’ll use a lot more due to the power requirements, in turn reducing the range.

Charging is done via any Type 2 plug or a CCS combo that many DC charging stations have. Teslas can also utilise the Supercharger network - which is bespoke to the brand - as well as Tesla-branded chargers, significantly increasing the number of places you can top up.

Tesla Model Y performance and handling

Tesla doesn’t quote figures for the motor’s outputs. But some online digging reveals that, like the Tesla Model 3 RWD, the Tesla Model Y makes 194kW and 340Nm, about the same as a hot hatch. But the car is also a portly 1909kg. 

While performance is thoroughly acceptable, it doesn’t have the impressive enthusiasm some may have previously experienced in a Tesla. Compare it to a Toyota RAV4 or an entry-level luxury SUV of a similar size, though, and it’ll out-accelerate them around the suburbs.

The Model Y is more about driving enjoyment than pampering. Its suspension is quite taut, which means you’ll get a bigger kick from bumps. The trade-off is direct steering and a surefooted feel. 

What the Tesla Model Y lacks in compliance it makes up for in athleticism - which may not suit everyone, especially those who prefer to travel with a little more comfort.


Learn more about buying, owning and charging electric vehicles.
Discover more →