The list of green family vehicles with three rows is slowly but surely expanding. One of the most exciting new three-row crossovers on the market today is the Tesla Model Y. This compact/midsized crossover is roughly the size inside of a RAV4 Prime or a Mustang Mach-E, yet Tesla has managed to work its magic and create enough space for a compact third row with two seats.
This story was inspired by a social media image post that a Model Y owner named Shannon posted. The image at the top of our page is worth a thousand words, but we reached out to Shannon and her husband Kraig and asked if they would be willing to help us highlight why the Model Y’s third row seems so perfect for so many families. They generously agreed. The answers below are entirely their words.
Q) Can you tell us which Model Y you have?
A) Our Model Y is the Standard Range (SR) model in Deep Blue Metallic, with black interior, stock wheels, no FSD, no tow hitch, and of course with seven seats.
Q) Let’s jump right in and then circle back. Please tell us why the Model Y’s third row works well for your family.
A) We had imposed a requirement that the next car we get fit the whole family (six people total!). In normal times, Kraig commutes about 100 miles a day so an efficient vehicle can really help our budget. The SR Model Y with a third row was the perfect answer in our case. We wanted to be able to fit the whole family in any vehicle we own. We were also hoping the Model Y will be a comfortable car for long road trips to capitalize on fuel savings and help from Autopilot.
Q) We feel that too many automotive publications see any three-row vehicle as one which must fit adults in every seat. As an owner of a three-row vehicle, what is your view on this?
We didn’t intend for adults to sit back there. If they are smaller adults, they could fit. Shannon can barely fit at 5’ 6”. I do not fit at all at 6’ 3” but could in an emergency, I suppose. When we need to add another adult for a trip, they would sit in the middle row. For our situation, and for families of little kids, it’s a great option!
Q) Has the third row proved as useful as you had hoped? Do the kids fit in it? Do they feel as if it is a punishment to have to take the rear-most two seats?
A) Our boys have pretty much claimed the third row. It’s like a clubhouse back there for them. So far, we have completed one road trip with the whole family loaded in the Model Y that was about 600 miles round trip. It was a success! The kids loved the third row and panoramic glass roof, and everyone was comfortable.
Q) Is the third row parent-friendly, meaning is it a hassle to get the kids settled back there given the fact that room is limited in the Model Y?
A) There is great access to the third row from the back when the hatch is open. I’m able to lean over and help with buckling or can even put small kids directly into their seats. Not quite as easy access as the Model X falcon doors, but it reminds me of that! I installed the carseat from the hatch access and dropped our youngest in from above.
Q) What about the bigger long-term picture? As your boys grow, do you feel they will be too large for the third row?
A) We have several years before the boys outgrow the third row. Our oldest, who can get car sick, said, “this car is actually the perfect road trip car because the glass roof makes it feel huge!” Also, you should know that our second car is a Toyota Sienna. Even if our children were older and bigger we probably still would have gotten the Model Y with a third row for occasional use, but continued to use the minivan more often and for family road trips.
Q) Tell us what vehicle the Model Y replaced and give us some insight into your thoughts on the family vehicle marketplace for those who want to own a green family vehicle.
A) Our new Model Y replaced a Ford Fusion Energi, which was our first foray into the EV world as a plug-in hybrid. It was a great car but didn’t fit the whole family. We had imposed a requirement that the next car we got would fit the whole family. Finding a truly efficient vehicle that seats at least 6 is pretty challenging.
We are hoping that Tesla makes an affordable, competitive, minivan-like vehicle in the near future. Shannon will be driving our Toyota Sienna more locally, but we will still use the Tesla as often as possible until the Sienna needs to be replaced. We would like to have an EV that’s larger (and more affordable) than a Model X as our kids grow. Our Model Y will then probably primarily be a commuter and back up. Hopefully, there are “affordable” options in the near future.
This SR Model Y was definitely at the threshold of our budget, but considering the savings on fuel and maintenance, it made sense for my high-mile commute. We wanted to move to a full EV for my commute as electricity prices are generally more stable in our area. Fuel price can increase dramatically at the drop of a hat, so we’ve been wanting to eliminate that factor from our budget considering the number of miles I normally commute. We also considered a used Model X around the same price range but preferred Tesla’s new vehicle warranty and newer tech on the Model Y.
Our thanks to Shannon and Kraig for sharing their story about the Tesla Model Y. If you have a three-row crossover, feel free to tell us in the comments below how it has worked for your family's needs.
John Goreham is a long-time New England Motor Press Association member and recovering engineer. Following his engineering program, John also completed a marketing program at Northeastern University and worked with automotive component manufacturers. 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
Top two images courtesy of Shannon and Kraig. Third top-down view image courtesy of Tesla, Inc.