The all-new Tesla Model Y crossover launched earlier this year and is already a top-selling vehicle in America. However, very few have been driven in winter conditions. For that reason, we will rely on reviews by owners of similar crossovers for the tires we suggest.
Although all-wheel drive is an outstanding aid in winter conditions and proven to be safer, it does nothing to help a driver stop a vehicle on slippery surfaces and very little to nothing to aid in turns at speed or emergency maneuvers on the highway. Winter compound tires help in all of these scenarios and will also help with launches in icy and snowy situations beyond what an all-season tire can offer.
As a Tesla Model Y owner, you have two options for winter tires. One option is to purchase a set of complete wheels with rims, tire pressure monitoring sensors, and rubber. The other option is to just buy the rubber and have it swapped out each year. Each has its pluses and minuses. Choose whichever method you think works best for you. Either way, the choice of rubber must still be made.
The Model Y doesn’t come with just one size rim. So, our story below will walk you through the current options based on which rim (or wheel, if you prefer) you own. Always look at your vehicle’s actual tire sidewall before purchasing replacement tires to ensure you get the correct ones. It is also necessary to ensure that your tire retailer agrees that you have made a proper selection. Usually, we suggest two tires for each size. One is the best value (lowest cost), and the other is the one we think will offer the best results for those who want the most all-around performance on a winter tire. However, given the size and style of this vehicle’s needed tires, options were limited. We opted to go for the tire with proven reviews and test results.
Some retailers will suggest that you “downsize” a set of winter wheels. The logic is that you get more sidewall and that a smaller rim and taller tire work better in winter. We don’t disagree with that in theory, but in our story we will stick to the tire sizes that the manufacturer thinks works best. Also, we understand that some folks have had great luck with certain brands and certain winter tire models on other vehicles they have owned. While that helps give some perspective, we are suggesting tires that you can actually purchase. A kick-butt obscure brand tire is no help to you if it is not manufactured in the size you need and can source (or replace) without difficulty.
Here are the best winter (no longer called snow) tires for the new Tesla Model Y crossover.
Tesla Model Y Long Range 19” Diameter Wheel Size 255/45R19
Best Performer – Continental VikingContact7
We poured over the many reviews of the Continental VikingContact7 and saw that an Outback owner thought they performed great, a Tesla Model 3 owner reported they were quiet, and the owner of Toyota RAV4 Hybrid reported no loss in fuel economy.
Tire Rack testing reveals that the VikingContact7 earns the highest score of Excellent in all conditions. This tire is our pick as the best performer in this size for the Tesla Model Y. And the good news is that it is priced within 10% of the least expensive winter tire we could find to fit this vehicle. So it gets the nod as the best value as well.
Tesla Model Y Long Range 20” Diameter Wheel Size 255/40R20
Best Performer – Pirelli Winter Sottozero
The best tire we could find based on available ratings was the Pirelli Winter Sottozero. We suggest speaking to your retailer to determine which exact Sottozerro is the current 2020/2021 season model they suggest. Within the family, there are a few variations, and all are priced within 10% of one another. We checked out the available reviews for the Sottozero 3. This tire scored excellent on every Tire Rack test except comfort, on which it earned a Good rating.
We checked out online reviews and found Audi and Volvo crossover owners who found them to perform well in winter conditions, but also noted good dry weather performance as well. An Outback owner reported that the tire resisted wear better than previous winter tires that owner had in the past.
We have not included the Tesla Model Y Performance with its staggered sizes (different front and rear) because we were unable to find a set of winter tires with any availability. Check back in a month or two and see if we have updated the story based on new availability.
John Goreham is a life-long car nut and recovering engineer. John's focus areas are technology, safety, and green vehicles. In the 1990s, he was part of a team that built a solar-electric vehicle from scratch. His was the role of battery thermal control designer. For 20 years he applied his engineering and sales talents in the high tech world and automotive supply chain market. In 2008 he retired from that career to chase his dream of being an auto writer. In addition to Torque News, John's work has appeared in print in dozens of American newspapers and he provides reviews to many vehicle shopping sites. You can follow John on Twitter, and view his credentials at Linkedin
Image credits can be seen by hovering one's mouse over the images in the story.