All eyes are on the Tesla Cybertruck, as it’s finally in the wild after several years of waiting. But the automaker’s existing catalog still offers solid tech, range, and performance. The Model 3 and Model Y have been hot sellers for Tesla, and the latter has earned the global top-seller spot despite fierce competition from Chinese automakers.

While similar in some regards, the Model 3 recently received an update for the 2024 model year, and the Model Y just saw a notable price cut, so it’s worth digging in to discuss the differences between the two and take a look at how they might fit your needs.

Tesla Model 3 vs. Tesla Model Y: Price

2024 Tesla Model 3 (Highland)

For a while, Tesla was cutting prices on the Model 3 sedan, making it one of the most affordable EVs on sale, but the script has flipped since the updated sedan debuted earlier in 2024. The Model 3’s price now begins at $38,990, and all but the new Performance model are ineligible for federal tax credits. Meanwhile, Tesla slashed Model Y prices to just $29,420. The Y also qualifies for tax credits across the board, making it wildly affordable in the cheapest configurations.

The Model 3 All-Wheel Drive costs $47,740, and the brand-new Model 3 Performance All-Wheel Drive starts at $52,990. Stepping up to the Model Y Long Range All-Wheel Drive pushes the price to $34,490, while the range-topping Performance All-Wheel Drive model costs $37,990 before options and fees. The two upgraded Model Y variants also qualify for credits.

Tesla Model Y

Though none of these prices are particularly outrageous, even the most expensive Model 3, buyers can add thousands to their purchase price with options. Tesla charges extra for every color but black, with some hues adding $1,000 and others bumping the price by $2,000. Upgraded wheels can cost as much as $2,000 while opting for a white interior can add up to $1,500 to the price. The good news is that Tesla has reduced the cost of Full Self-Driving Capability, making it $8,000 in April 2024.

Tesla Model 3 vs. Tesla Model Y: Range

The longest-range Model 3 tops out at 341 miles in the Long Range All-Wheel Drive variant, while the Model Y’s Long Range All-Wheel Drive configuration maxes out at 310 miles. Those are both impressive numbers, but it’s important to note that real-world range often varies from the advertised specifications. Driving in extreme temperatures, adding the larger optional wheels, and driving fast can significantly impact range.

2024 Tesla Model 3 (Highland) interior

The Model Y Rear-Wheel Drive has a range estimate of 260 miles, and upgrading to the speedy Performance AWD model brings a 279-mile range. Model 3 RWD buyers get 272 miles of range, while the new Performance AWD variant advertises a 296-mile range. Tesla’s range estimates are highly competitive, even for the cheaper models, making them excellent choices for people with longer commutes or sparse charging infrastructure.

Tesla Model 3 vs. Tesla Model Y: Efficiency

While Teslas don’t get fuel economy ratings like traditional internal combustion vehicles, the EPA rates them on MPGe, or miles per gallon equivalent. Using that metric and the 2023 model year, which is the latest data available on, the Model 3 RWD is the most efficient between the two vehicles and is the automaker’s most efficient vehicle overall, at 132 MPGe combined. The Model Y RWD appears to be mislabeled on as a basic AWD model, which landed at 123 MPGe.

The Model 3 Long Range AWD returns an estimated 131 MPGe, while the Performance is estimated at 113 MPGe. The Model Y Long Range AWD is rated at 122 MPGe and the Performance at 111 MPGe. It’s important to note that new vehicles from the 2024 model year may return different numbers.

Tesla Model 3 vs. Tesla Model Y: Charge Time

Tesla doesn’t differentiate between models on its charging site, saying that its Supercharger network can add 200 miles of range in 15 minutes. Its chargers offer up to 250 kW of maximum speed, and the automaker states that charging a Tesla is less expensive than filling a gasoline vehicle.

Tesla Model Y Home

While Superchargers have long been the exclusive privilege of Tesla owners, the company recently began opening the network to outside EV brands. Using an adapter or factory-installed port, the vehicles can utilize Tesla’s lauded Superchargers, with many offering the ability to manage and monitor charging through their in-house apps.

Tesla Model 3 vs. Tesla Model Y: 0-60 MPH

Even the slowest Teslas are still quite rapid by gas vehicle standards, but the quickest between the Model 3 and Model Y is the new Model 3 Performance AWD, which boasts a 2.9-second 0-60 mph time. While “slower,” the Model Y Performance AWD still rocks a healthy 3.5-second 0-60 mph run.

Tesla Model 3 Performance 2024

At the low end of the Model 3 line, the RWD variant promises 5.8 seconds to 60 mph from a standstill, while the Long Range AWD takes just 4.2 seconds to do the deed. The slightly larger Model Y RWD makes the run in 6.6 seconds, and the Long Range AWD offers a 4.8-second 0-60 mph time.

Tesla Model 3 vs. Tesla Model Y: Top Speed

While there are no public roads capable of legally accommodating any of these top speed numbers, the Tesla Model 3 Performance AWD is the quickest of the group, with a 163 mph maximum. The Model Y Performance AWD’s top speed is a slightly slower 155 mph, but again, that’s far faster than anyone is able to travel on public roads without putting their license and life in serious jeopardy.

Tesla Model Y LHD

Slowing things down a bit, the two less powerful Model 3 variants top out at 125 mph. Surprisingly, the comparable Model Y offerings are slightly faster, with a 135-mph top speed for both.

Tesla Model 3 vs. Tesla Model Y: Driver-Assistance Systems

Tesla’s vehicles all come generously equipped with driver-assist features. The list includes automatic emergency braking, forward collision warnings, side collision warnings, obstacle-aware acceleration, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alerts, lane departure avoidance, and emergency lane departure avoidance.

Tesla FSD V12

Buyers can add Full Self-Driving (FSD) Capability for a significant upcharge, which brings autosteer on city streets, traffic and stop sign control, auto-parking features, automatic lane changes, “smart summon” features, and navigate on Autopilot, which suggests lane changes and helps guide the vehicle on limited-access highways. As of this writing, FSD costs $8,000, and the subscription is now $99 a month

And remember, despite their names, they are not fully self-driving cars; these systems require education on how to use them and constant monitoring from behind the wheel. 

Tesla Model 3 vs. Tesla Model Y: Interior

Tesla’s interiors are austere, relying heavily on the central dash-mounted touchscreen for vehicle controls, gauge displays, and infotainment features. Synthetic leather heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, and a panoramic glass roof are standard features for the Model 3, while the Model Y misses ventilated front seats.

2024 Tesla Model 3 (Highland) interior

The new Model 3 gained numerous interior upgrades over the previous car, including an available 17-speaker audio system and an eight-inch rear display.

Tesla Model 3 vs. Tesla Model Y: Build Quality

Tesla’s build quality has always been hit-or-miss, and the same is true for the Model 3 and Model Y. While it employs premium materials and relies on attractive design, the automaker often falls flat on core competencies like panel alignment and noise/vibration/harshness controls.

Tesla Giga Texas

Depending on when the vehicle was produced and how it was sold (existing inventory vs. custom ordering), there may be issues with fit and finish, paint quality, interior panel alignment, and squeaks or rattles. The good news is that the automaker’s delivery process allows for an initial buyer inspection, and it offers repairs through one of its regional service centers for problems that slid under the radar during delivery.

The updated Model 3 is, by many accounts, better on the quality front than ever before, with fewer panel gaps and noticeable build issues.

Tesla Model 3 vs. Tesla Model Y: Driving Dynamics and Ride Comfort

The new Model 3 is surprisingly sharp in the corners and offers a well-tuned ride in other situations. Its batteries are mounted low in the floor, giving it a low center of gravity, which keeps it planted and confident during spirited driving. Its brakes are smooth and linear. Tesla improved on previous cars in 2024 with better noise insulation, making the interior quieter and more relaxing at highway speeds.

Tesla Model 3 Performance 2024

Model Y buyers get a competent handling SUV with direct steering and responsive braking. That said, the ride quality can be a bit too firm at times, and the Y hasn’t gotten the Model 3’s updates to its noise protection, so there can be more wind and tire noise in the cabin than expected.

What Our Experts Say

Pound for pound, the Model 3 is now a better car than it’s ever been. The quality has been improved, the ride is better, the new Performance variant seems extremely impressive, and even the looks are sharper. But there’s no getting around the fact that the Model Y is the better, bigger car for families. If you need the extra space, get that one. It’s not too hard to figure out. With any luck, the Model Y will get the same updates the “Highland” Model 3 got, but even until then it remains the EV crossover to beat. – Patrick George, Editor-in-Chief

Tesla Model Y

The Model Y feels roomier with a higher seating position. Its weight is only really noticeable if you're trying to drive it like a sports car. I think most buyers will value the extra seating and cargo space you get with the Model Y; as a Model 3 owner, I sometimes wish I had that. –Rob Stumpf, Contributing Writer, Tesla owner

Tesla Model 3 vs. Tesla Model Y: Conclusion

Tesla made numerous refinements to the Model 3 heading into 2024, making it a more attractive buy than the Model Y in many regards. Even so, most configurations miss out on federal tax credits, so it’s more expensive than the Model Y, which recently got a significant price cut. Both vehicles offer compelling range estimates, and they’re still on the cheaper side of the EV spectrum, even with the Model 3’s recent tax credit loss.

Issues with build quality aside, either would make a fine zero-emissions vehicle at a mostly reasonable price.

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