Tesla Model 3 vs Model Y: Which Suits Your Family’s Needs Best?

Family standing in front of a Tesla model Y and Model 3. Title reads Which Suits Your Family Needs Best? Tesla Model 3 vs Model Y

Tesla Model 3 vs Model Y:
Which Suits Your Family’s Needs Best?

Our Tesla experts help you decide whether the Model Y or Model 3 is best for your family by comparing: seating capacity; storage; safety; suitability for children, seniors, pets and new (young) drivers; range; and ownership costs. Tesla’s exceptional safety data and family-friendly technology make both models an excellent choice. 

You love Tesla’s sleek, futuristic design, power, innovative technology, low maintenance and impressive safety ratings. Like us though, you know the real world isn’t simply about blasting off at ludicrous speeds, it’s about running errands, carrying our families to and from daily activities and family road trips.

If you’re considering purchasing a Tesla as your family vehicle, which model is best for you? All models have so much to offer, but most potential buyers choose between the Tesla Model 3 and Y and want to know how each one compares when it comes to their family’s unique needs.

The Tesla experts at EVehiclePro have families too, and are here to help you with your decision by sifting through the key differences between Model 3 and Y including:

  • seating capacity
  • legroom
  • storage space
  • family-friendly technology
  • child seat compatibility
  • suitability for children, seniors, pets & new drivers
  • safety ratings & advanced features
  • interior options
  • range
  • overall cost of ownership

What are the Differences Between Model 3 vs Model Y?

The economical Tesla Model 3 is a compact sedan with seating for five (2 in front; 3 in rear seat). The higher-priced Model Y is a crossover SUV with slightly more room, including seating for 5, or 7 when the optional third row is chosen (not available in all countries). 

Both models have child seat anchors and come equipped with the same infotainment options, and advanced safety and technological features Tesla is known for. Let’s dive deeper into some of the differences.

FeatureModel 3Model Y
Seating Capacity57 (with optional third row)
Child Seat CapacityEquipped with ISOFIX/LATCH points for child seat anchorsEquipped with ISOFIX/LATCH points for child seat anchors
HeadroomLess headroomMore headrooom
LegroomComfortable but less headroom and lightly less legroom. Overall more legroom and headroom (better for tall occupants)  Optional 3rd row has less legroom than front two rows
Storage SpaceLess space for passengers, pets and cargo (still very comfortable)More room for large families, pets and cargo
Suitability for Seniors/EldersLower ride may be more difficult for some seniors to enter/exit; no grab handlesHigher ride is easier to enter/exit. More space to carry mobile devices like walkers or wheelchairs; no grab handles
Family SizeSuitable for families up to 5 peopleSuitable for larger families (up to 7)
Trips & TravellingSuitable for families with smaller storage needs. Less room for camping/overnight useOffers more space for families that travel often. More comfortable for camping/overnight use
SafetySuperior safety ratings Superior safety ratings
Range 267-358 miles (430-576 km) 303-330 miles (488-531 km)
Autopilot & Full Self Drive (FSD)Autopilot is standard. FSD is optionalAutopilot is standard. FSD is optional.
Overall Cost of Ownership (Price, Insurance, Maintenance)More economicalSlightly higher overall costs
Panoramic Glass RoofStandardStandard
ConnectivityStandard (option for Premium Connectivity)Standard (option for Premium Connectivity)
PetsEquipped with Dog Mode; suitable for small to large dogs (head space may be limited for giant breeds)Equipped with Dog Mode; suitable for all sized dogs without the third row option, or small to large dogs with third seat option
TowingTow packages only available in EuropeCan tow up to 3500 lb
Blue Tesla Model Y next to a White Tesla Model 3. Tesla Model 3 vs Model Y

Let’s look at some of the detailed differences between the Tesla Model 3 and Y.

Comparing the Interiors: Model 3 vs Model Y

How Many Seats Do the Model 3 and Y Have?

One of the first things you’ll notice when comparing the Model Y and Model 3 is the difference in the number of seats. The Model 3, a more compact sedan, offers seating for five. In contrast, the Model Y, a crossover SUV, provides an optional third row that can bring the seating capacity to seven, making it potentially more suitable for larger families. Even with two child seats in the second row, there is room for a third person to sit safely and comfortably. 

How’s the Legroom and Headroom on Models 3 and Y?

The Model Y offers more headroom and legroom compared to the Model 3. This is particularly true in the rear seats, making it a more comfortable ride for taller drivers and passengers or those who simply appreciate a bit more space. Additionally, the optional third row in the Model Y provides extra seating space, although it’s worth noting that third row passengers will have a bit less legroom than the front two rows, making it better suited for children or small adults.

Comfort and Convenience

Both the Model Y and Model 3 come equipped with a wealth of comfort and convenience features for families. Both models feature a minimalist and streamlined interior design, dominated by a large central touchscreen which controls a majority of the car’s functions. Both come standard with a panoramic glass roof, inviting in natural light, making it feel even more spacious. Climate control, rear vents and ample storage spaces are also standard in the Model 3 and Y. 

Can You Install Child Seats in a Tesla Model 3 or Y?

Both the Model Y and Model 3 are compatible with child seats and have ISOFIX LATCH points for child seat anchors in the second row’s outboard seats. The Model Y’s extra space makes it a bit easier to install and remove child seats.

EVehiclePro Tip:

  • Exercise extreme caution if the driver uses Easy Entry in a vehicle with a child safety seat installed behind the driver’s seat. Automatic seat adjustments can trap a child’s legs. Install the seat behind the passenger’s seat or disable Easy Entry.

The Tesla Model Y has been named the Best Car for Families 2023 by British AutoTraders

Storage Space and Trunk Capacity

Both the 3 and Y models offer a frunk (a front trunk, being an electric vehicle), providing a significant amount of extra storage that’s perfect for stowing away shopping bags or luggage for a family getaway. We bring home take-out meals in the frunk to avoid our interiors taking on the aromas of dinner! 

If space and storage are essential, consider the Model Y which shines with its storage space. Being a crossover SUV, it offers a larger trunk space than the Model 3. The Model Y’s frunk is also slightly larger than the Model 3’s.

Premium White Interior: Should You Choose Black or White Interior?

Both Model 3 and Y offer their futuristic Premium White vegan leather interior (not available in all countries). In our experience, the white vegan leather holds up well to spills and stains with a bit of care and regular cleaning with a non-detergent soap cleaner.

For peace of mind though, owners may wish to default to the black interior if they expect to encounter dirty hands, juice and food spills or passengers that frequently wear indigo-dyed blue jeans. Read more about how to choose the color of your vegan leather seats.

Are Tesla Models 3 and Y Good for Seniors?: Elder-Friendly Features

Senior family members may need extra room to get in and out, or have mobility devices to carry.   Although the Model 3 sedan can make entry and exit slightly harder, it does not pose a significant issue for most people. The higher ride height of the Model Y translates to an easier entry and exit for elderly family members. Note that neither model are equipped with a grab handle. 

Both models are exceptionally quiet, making in-cabin conversations easier for the hearing impaired. Traveling with people living with disabilities? Read more about which Teslas are best for people living with disabilities.

Are Tesla Models 3 and Y Good for Pets?: Pet-Friendly Features

You’re gonna love traveling with your fur family! Both the Model 3 and Y offer Dog Mode to keep your pets at a comfortable cabin temperature when you step out. Both models are also equipped with in-cabin cameras which allow owners to check in on pets using the Tesla phone app (when you subscribe to Premium Connectivity). 

Small to large dogs will fit comfortably in both the Model 3 or Model Y. If you have more than one large dog or are lucky enough to have a giant breed, consider the Model Y (without the third seat option) for the most headroom.

Models 3 and Y: Towing and Carrying Bike or Roof Racks

Both  the Model 3 and Y can accommodate aftermarket bicycle or roof racks. The Model Y can tow light cargo up to 3500 lb. Model 3s are not recommended for towing, but a tow package is available in Europe at this time.

Safety: Comparing the Model 3 vs Model Y

Both the Model Y and Model 3 are among the safest vehicles on the planet. Crash, fire safety and injury claims are stellar, making both models an excellent choice for safety-oriented families.

Safety Ratings

Tesla Models 3 and Model Y have superior safety ratings and both have received high scores from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS):

  • Fire safety data show that both Models 3 and Y are 10x safer than traditional ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicles
  • Electric vehicles overall have 40% fewer injury claims to insurance providers than ICE vehicles
  • All Tesla vehicles see significantly fewer collisions than traditional ICE vehicles. Safety ratings increase even more if Full Self Drive is purchased.
  • The Model 3 has earned five-star ratings in every category from the NHTSA, making it one of the safest cars out there. Not to be outdone, the Model Y has also subsequently received an identical five-star rating. In 2021, the Model 3 was named a “Top Safety Pick+” by IIHS, an honor that was bestowed upon only 49 vehicles.
  • The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has recognized Tesla’s Model Y as one of the safest vehicles on the road in 2023, using the strictest standards yet.

Safety Features: Model 3 and Model Y

Both Model Y and Model 3 come equipped with advanced safety features including a large number of airbags placed strategically throughout the car, stability and traction control, and automatic emergency braking systems. These systems, when coupled with the vehicles’ low center of gravity and rigid body structure, provide exceptional crash protection.

Model 3 and Model Y also come with other advanced safety features including collision warning systems, blind-spot detection, and lane departure warnings. These systems are designed to preemptively detect potential hazards and alert the driver, thereby reducing the risk of an accident. 

Range: Model 3 vs Model Y

A Tesla’s range is affected by several factors but on average, the Model 3’s range on a full charge is 267-358 miles (430-576 km) and the Model Y’s is 303-330 miles (488-531 km). With easy home charging, Tesla’s huge supercharger network, and the vehicle’s ability to direct you to the nearest charging station, it’s a breeze to keep your battery charged.  We promise, there’s no need for range anxiety with a Model 3 or Y! 

Family-Friendly Technology

Picture of a Tesla interior with black seats

Your family will love the state-of-the-art infotainment system – especially if you purchase the Premium Connectivity upgrade. If not, you can still enjoy the standard services that come with your new vehicle:

  • Standard Connectivity is included with each Model 3 and Y, which gives owners free connectivity for 8 years. This includes basic maps (without satellite views), navigation (without live traffic conditions, access to Tesla’s mobile app and music streaming over Bluetooth.  
  • When you purchase a monthly subscription to Premium Connectivity, you can dazzle your family with ‘Caraoke’ (Tesla’s version of karaoke), internet browsing, live traffic visualization, satellite view, live Sentry Mode viewing, media and music streaming. Netflix and Spotify are available if you have accounts with those services – amazing for family road trips.
  • Families with infants, small children or those with neurodivergent conditions like autism will appreciate one of Tesla’s standard features called Joe Mode. Joe Mode is designed to reduce the volume of the vehicle’s chimes and alerts so that sleeping babies can stay asleep and noise-sensitive passengers can travel peacefully. 
  • If you need a viewing screen for rear seat passengers, the Model 3 and Y are not equipped but these can be added as an after-market accessory.

Tesla’s Autopilot and Full Self-Driving Capabilities

One unique feature that sets Tesla apart from the rest of the market is their advanced autonomous driving feature: Autopilot. In both Model Y and Model 3, Autopilot comes standard, offering semi-autonomous driving under certain conditions.

This system can steer, accelerate, and brake automatically for other vehicles and pedestrians within its lane. This technology greatly enhances your family’s safety by monitoring the surroundings more meticulously than a human driver possibly could.

However, it’s important to note that Autopilot doesn’t make these vehicles fully autonomous. The driver still needs to supervise the vehicle at all times.

For an additional cost, owners can purchase Tesla’s Full Self-Driving package which unlocks features like Navigate on Autopilot, Auto Lane Change, Autopark, and Summon.

If you’re interested in getting three free months of Full Self Drive for your vehicle, use a referral link to purchase your Model 3 or Y.

Is the Model 3 or Y Good for New Drivers?

If you have new drivers in your family (or young adults) eager to try Tesla’s super-quick acceleration and power, don’t worry. Both the Model 3 and Y allow you to set top speeds and driving modes to ensure your new drivers aren’t as tempted to take chances. You can also set up driver profiles so that multiple drivers can enjoy their own unique preferences.

Cost of Ownership

The overall cost of owning a Tesla Model 3 or Y is not just about the sticker price. It also includes maintenance, insurance, winter tires and other after-market purchases. Overall, electric vehicles are slightly more expensive to purchase, but more than make up for cost savings over the life of the vehicle.

Price Comparison: Model 3 vs Model Y

Budget is often a significant consideration when choosing between the Model 3 and Y.  In terms of initial purchase price, the Model 3 offers a more affordable option, with the Standard Range Plus version starting at around $40,000 USD. Conversely, owing to its larger size and optional third-row seating feature, the compact SUV Model Y begins at a higher price bracket, with the Long Range version starting at around  $54,000 USD. 

When you’re ready to purchase, take advantage of our referral link for three free months of Full Self Drive. 

Maintenance Costs: Model 3 vs Model Y

Like all electric vehicles, the Model 3 and Y have fewer moving parts than their gasoline counterparts, which results in lower maintenance costs. However, it should be noted that the Model Y’s additional weight and size might translate into slightly higher costs for tire replacements and brake maintenance. Our busy families love the low maintenance of our Tesla vehicles (less time spent at the mechanics means more time for life’s important things). 

EVs cost 4 cents less per mile to operate than traditional ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicles.

Fuelling/Electricity Costs: Model Y vs Model 3

Tesla supercharger station - Supercharger Etiquette

Electricity costs are generally lower than gasoline expenses for similar distances traveled. Even so, the Model 3 is known to be more energy-efficient than the Model Y. A 2021 study by the U.S. Department of Energy showed that the Tesla Model 3 Long Range had an energy consumption rate of 25- 29 kWh/100 miles, while the Tesla Model Y Performance used 30 kWh/100 miles. While the difference seems marginal, it can add up over the long term, making the Model 3 the cheaper option in terms of energy costs.

Insurance Rates: Model Y vs Model 3

Insurance rates depend on a multitude of factors, including driving record, location, vehicle and credit score. However, some data suggests that insuring a Model Y may be slightly more expensive than insuring a Model 3. For instance, according to the insurance comparison site Insurify, the average monthly insurance rate for a Model 3 is $185 USD, while for a Model Y, it is $190. Check with your insurance company for a quote before making your final decision.

Projected Resale Values: Model Y vs Model 3

Tesla vehicles are known for their impressive resale values. Currently, given that the Model Y is newer to the market and offers more cargo space along with optional third-row seating, it carries a slightly higher resale value than the Model 3. However, as more units hit the road and the used car market, this could change. If you add features like Full Self Drive or Acceleration Boost, it’s yours for the life of the vehicle, meaning it could be more appealing to buyers if you decide to sell. 

Bottom Line: Is the Model Y or Model 3 Best for Families?

Deciding between a Tesla Model 3 and Y depends on many factors, including your families’ size and unique needs. The Model Y may hold a slight advantage due to its larger size and spacious interior plus the option for third row seating. However, the Model 3’s lower running costs could make it the more suitable option.

Your final choice will inevitably boil down to your individual priorities as a family. Whatever you decide though, both of these Tesla models are an excellent choice for families. Our team of Tesla owners all love their vehicles and hope our experience helps make your decision a little bit easier.

EVehiclePro Tips:

Ready to buy your new Tesla? Use our referral link for 3 months of free Full Self Drive! It’s one way we can thank our readers and welcome you into the Tesla community! We also appreciate when you use our referral link – we are grateful for the nod to our research, work, writing and videos.

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Darren Globe

Darren is a Tesla EV owner, Professional Firefighter and former Paramedic. His experience and passion for EVs inspired him to create EVehiclePro.com, where he works as CEO and Chief Editor. Darren is a recognized Tesla expert featured in gobankrates.com and referenced by MSN, Yahoo and in numerous forums, websites and social media.

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