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How We'd Spec It: 2023 Tesla Model Y

Tesla defends its turf with price cuts, making the 2023 Model Y a deal. For now.

2023 Tesla Model Y Performance White front quarter view
  • Price cuts and tax credits make the 2023 Tesla Model Y more affordable than before.
  • We think you’ll want the one that goes the farthest on a full battery charge.
  • Alternatively, you can save serious cash with the base model.
  • But the one that goes the fastest might be worth the extra expense.

Though electric vehicles remain a small percentage of overall sales across the United States, the Tesla Model Y ranked among the best-selling models in America in 2022. In California, it was the best-selling vehicle, period, and that happened before Tesla once again became eligible for the EV federal income tax credit and started chopping prices.

The Model Y will be a contender for many shoppers looking to add a new EV to their driveway. But which one should you set your sights on? If you’re thinking about buying a new Model Y, we have recommendations for you. Get all of the details below.

The recommended spec

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Blue Tesla Model Y Long Range with optional 20-inch wheels driving on a road

We recommend the Model Y Long Range. As of this writing, it costs $3,000 more than a standard Model Y, but it provides 51 additional miles of driving range (330 miles) and offers slightly better acceleration (0-to-60 mph in 4.8 seconds, compared to the standard version's 5.0 seconds). Against the Model Y Performance, the Long Range costs less, travels farther on a full battery, and offers a smoother ride. But it’s not nearly as fast.

All paint colors except for Pearl White cost extra, with the Red Multi-Coat paint topping the list at two grand. So we would pick Deep Blue Metallic (a $1,000 option), keep the standard 19-inch wheels, and stick with the standard black interior. The Long Range is the only Model Y with an optional third-row seat, but since it isn’t very useful, we would skip it. However, anyone planning to use the Model Y’s 3,500-pound towing capacity will want the optional tow hitch.

Should you get Enhanced Autopilot or the inaccurately named Full Self-Driving Capability (FSD) features? That’s entirely up to you. Since the Model Y includes a standard version of Autopilot, these two upgrades strike us as unnecessary and fraught with potential aggravation.

So, our Deep Blue Model Y Long Range would come to $53,130, which includes destination and ordering charges but not any federal, state, or local tax credits or rebates.

The worthy alternative

2023 Tesla Model Y interior showing the dashboard and front seats

You can save some money by choosing the standard Model Y. Like the Long Range model, it comes with a dual-motor all-wheel-drive system. With this Model Y, the driving range on a full battery is 279 miles, and acceleration to 60 mph takes 5 seconds. Still quick but slower than other Model Ys.

Since choosing the standard-range Model Y is about saving money, we would stick with the no-cost exterior and interior colors, as well as the standard 19-inch wheels. There is no need to upgrade to Enhanced Autopilot or FSD at this point in time, and Tesla doesn’t offer a third-row seat option for this version.

By sticking with the basics, this version of the Model Y carries a sticker price of $49,130, including destination and ordering charges. And the price may be even lower, as all Model Ys qualify for the maximum $7,500 tax credit, and if you live in California, a $2,000 rebate drops the price even further.

The emotional choice

2023 Tesla Model Y Performance in red paint parked with snow-capped mountains in the background

If you’re seeking a thrill ride, get the Model Y Performance. It has a base price of $56,130, but it zips to 60 mph in an Edmunds-achieved 3.7 seconds, increases the top speed to 155 mph (a 20 mph gain), and can travel 303 miles on a full battery. Plus, it has a sport-tuned suspension, performance brakes, a carbon fiber rear spoiler, and great-looking 21-inch wheels with a dark finish.

We would dress the Model Y Performance in Red Multi-Coat paint but stick with the black interior. As with our two other Model Y builds, we'd would skip the advanced driver assist packages, especially since the point of the Model Y Performance is to have fun driving the SUV.

So, what does our emotional choice cost? The price tag comes to $58,130.

Edmunds says

The Model Y's somewhat capricious price cuts, combined with Tesla’s revived eligibility for federal income tax credits, make the electric SUV more appealing and accessible than in the past.

Unfortunately, you never know what Tesla might do next, so if you want a new Model Y, now might be the best time to buy. Or, in the future, Tesla could slice the price even more to ensure it can keep selling the SUV at a significant volume. As with everything else Elon Musk touches, Tesla is nonconformist and unpredictable.