- Tesla revealed the Model Y crossover SUV on Thursday night.
- The Model Y's specs are impressive, especially in Performance trim.
- But the design, while distinctive in crossover SUV land, isn't a huge departure from what has become a familiar Tesla look.
LOS ANGELES Tesla CEO Elon Musk revealed the Model Y SUV at the carmaker's design studio on Thursday night, to the cheers of a crowd of Tesla owners and special guests gathered inside.
Musk was in loose, easygoing form he ditched his now-famous habit of wearing a cool new jacket for the vehicle reveal, opting instead for a basic black blazer, but he did don black-and-red Nike Jordans for the occasion.
Tesla's lineup Model S, Model 3, Model X, and now Model Y spells out "S3XY," and Musk offered plenty of jokes on that score as he reviewed Tesla's history, starting with the first Roadster and concluding with the Model Y unveiling. At times, the CEO, embattled through 2018, seemed to be engaging in an extended standup comedy routine. He boldly declared that in 10 years, Tesla will be driven on Mars, cracking himself up.
It was a good show, and it was topped off by the main event as the Model Y was driven out by Tesla design head Franz von Holzhausen.
In a dashing blue with blacked-out details such as badging and door handles for its debut, the Model Y is the car that Tesla urgently needs to be selling: a long-range all-electric crossover to capture the imagination of buyers increasingly besotted by these car/SUV mashups.
Great specs, familiar design
In Performance trim, the Model Y's specs are stunning. A zero-to-60 mph time of 3.5 seconds meets 300 miles of range, with a 150 mph top speed and $60,000 price tag. That trim level arrives in late 2020, while the slower, $39,000 Standard Range Model Y won't hit the market until 2021.
The numbers are actually cooler than the car, which isn't a major departure from Tesla's familiar design language. It's sleek, wearing its functionality well. But compared with the dazzling new Roadster, revealed in 2017, and the stately Model S and taut Model 3, the Model Y is a typical crossover. Von Holzhausen did some fine work with it, but crossovers are difficult to make thrilling.
That was to be expected Tesla has to build this thing, and the design shares components with the Model 3 to ease the manufacturing burden. So yes, it's an upscaled Model 3, or a downsized and less complicated (No falcon wing doors!) Model X.
That said, it does have that distinctive, futuristic Tesla look and will stand out vividly from the Toyota RAV4's and Honda CR-V's when it does hit the streets.
The bottom line? It's an incredibly important vehicle for Tesla, and the details are exactly what the market was asking for. But is it "bringing sexy back, quite literally," as Musk said? Along with the rest of its family, yes. But on its own, I don't think it looks as good as it will probably drive.
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