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Review: Tesla Model Y vs. Model 3 range and efficiency test

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Tesla Model 3 is undoubtedly a major landmark in electric vehicle history, it proved that smaller and more affordable normal-looking EVs can have a range of above 300 miles (482 km). Since the first Model 3 produced in July 2017, this car has spread across continents, the US, Canada, China, Europe, it’s everywhere.

Because no other automaker has achieved range efficiency like Tesla, it is better to compare two of the best compact Tesla cars for range and efficiency.

YouTuber Andy Slye took his 2018 Tesla Model 3 Long Range AWD and a 2020 Model Y Performance on a road trip to compare the range of both these vehicles (video below).

When Andy purchased his Model 3 LR AWD in 2018, the range of the vehicle was 310 miles (499 km). Now with the latest software and hardware optimization and a slightly bigger 82 kWh battery pack, the 2021 Model 3 Long Range has an EPA estimated range of 353 miles (568 km).

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EPA estimated ranges: 2020 Tesla Model Y LR AWD, Model Y Performance, 2021 Tesla Model 3 LR AWD, and 2021 Tesla Model Y LR AWD. Source: fueleconomy.gov.

As we can see in the above screengrab from the EPA website, the 2021 Tesla Model 3 Long Range AWD has the best fuel economy of 134 MPGe vs. 2020 and 2021 Model Y which range from 121 to 125 MPGe.

Just last year, Model 3 LR AWD also had a fuel economy of 121 MPGe, Tesla has significantly improved the energy consumption of the newer 2021 model year cars, especially the Model 3.

The EPA comparison also shows that the Model 3 has an efficiency of 25 Wh/mile (Watt-hours per mile) vs. 2021 Model Y 27 Wh/mile. Since both the Model 3 and Model Y have the same battery pack of 82 kWh, Model 3 should be the winner of range and energy consumption efficiency in this comparison.

The following factors also affect the range of an electric vehicle:

  • Size / Weight
  • Aerodynamics (both Model 3 and Model Y have a drag coefficient of 0.23 Cd despite the size difference, engineering par excellence).
  • Passenger / cargo load
  • Incline / decline position
  • Weather
  • Speed
  • Use of AC or Heater
  • Life of battery

Let’s watch what results do Andy Slye and his friend get out of their Model 3 vs. Model Y road trip of 360 miles (~580 km) from Louisville, Kentucky to Asheville, North Carolina.

I agree with Andy, when purchasing an electric vehicle or Tesla, most people should consider the vehicle with the most range if it comes within their budget.

With the launch of the 2021 Tesla Model 3 refresh, the difference of range between the Model 3 LR AWD (353 miles) and Model 3 Performance (315 miles) is 38 miles. This difference is more than what Andy described in the video, probably the video was recorded a few months ago.

Related: Tesla Model 3 cost of ownership after 2 years and 50,000+ miles

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By Iqtidar Ali

Iqtidar has been writing about Tesla, Elon Musk, and EVs for more than 3 years on XAutoWorld.com, many of his articles have been republished on CleanTechnica and InsideEVs, maintains a healthy relationship with the Tesla community across the Social Media sphere. You can reach him on Twitter @IqtidarAlii