Tesla Model Y First Ride: A Compact Crossover For Canyon Roads

X Scalper

As we pull out of the alley, the driver stomps on the accelerator and my back is pushed against the seatback. We’re on board the dual-motor all-wheel drive Model Y, and like all Teslas and many EVs, the response feels instantaneous. The compact crossover quickly reaches a speed of 53 mph before we start slowing down on the closed road.

On stage, Musk claimed a 0-60 mph time of 3.5 seconds, but we have to strap in our VBOX test gear to verify that in the near future. After turning the Tesla around, the driver does a bad interpretation of a slalom, and even though the turns he made weren’t especially precise, the Model Y acquits itself well. Floor-mounted battery packs provide for a lower center of gravity and impart familiar and still impressive maneuverability. For an SUV, it sticks to the ground, and there’s hardly any head toss inside the cabin.

Musk bragged that his crossover rides like a sports car with the functionality of an SUV. That’s a hard statement to validate after spending just two minutes riding in the Model Y, but its quick acceleration and ground-hugging handling makes us want to take this crossover on a canyon road.

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As we return to the alley, I look around the cabin and have the same impression our own Kim Reynolds had when he rode in a Model 3 for the first time: It feels like a fishbowl inside. With the huge panoramic moonroof and large side windows, the Tesla Model Y has a sense of freedom. The seats feel like they’re positioned a little bit higher, reminding me of the ride height of the Jaguar I-Pace – not too high, but not too close to the ground.

As rides go, this one was all too brief. But fear not, MotorTrend won’t be sitting in the passenger seat for long. Soon enough we’ll be behind the wheel of the Model Y and confirming its acceleration, handling, braking and range, as we have with its Model S, X and 3 siblings.  Stay tuned.

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