Dear Tesla Motors:
My family lives in a mountainous region of BC, Canada called the Kootenays. The venerable Subaru is kind of the unofficial car of our region for a number of good reasons. We in fact own a 2011 Forester as our 2nd car for all the journeys that our electric Nissan Leaf cannot do. It has a good AWD system, decent ground clearance, and can traverse any gravel road we encounter on our way to remote lakes and mountain hikes. In the winter, the AWD and clearance makes the drive to the ski hill a non-event. And, for a small SUV, it gets decent gas mileage. However, after driving an EV for a few years, driving the Forester feels archaic.
We would love to replace our Forester with a Model Y in the next few years, and while on a recent road-trip in our Forester, we thought up a list of features we would like to see in your next take on an SUV.
(For blog readers unaware, Tesla will be making a SUV/CUV vehicle after the Model 3, and it will be based on the same platform and called the Model Y; similar to how the X is based on the S platform.)
To ensure the Model Y fits the SUV badging, it should have a few key features:
- Approach/departure/ramp angles that equal the Forester (25/25/21) (the Model X is 18.8/21 in long travel mode)
- Ground clearance of 8″ (at speeds up to 90 km/h if it is adjustable suspension); a nice to have would be 10″ at low speeds
- Turning radius of about 11 m
- Dual motor (of course!), but with limited slip or something similar on the rear axle
- Good low-speed modulation on the accelerator pedal; none of this “breathe on the pedal and zoom off” feeling that many cars have now – I want the option to have a linear pedal feel, much like my Leaf in Eco mode. This allows for much more control in limited grip situations, or low speed navigation of obstacles.
- Ability to have strong regen at slow speeds to assist with going down mountain roads – the Leaf barely has any regen below 30 km/h, which has me riding the brakes fairly often on our steep roads around Nelson
- 0 – 60 mph time… not that important. 6 seconds is plenty, along with decent passing performance. We aren’t buying this car to drag race, but I do like the quick off the line aspect of EVs.
Our Forester has taken us to so many places – we used to own a 90’s Nissan Pathfinder, and while that vehicle was obviously more capable, we determined that the Forester could take us all the places that we wanted to go, and if it was somewhere that needed the Pathfinder (e.g. deep deactivations, fording a river), we probably shouldn’t be driving a car anyways!
While the Model X is a gorgeous SUV, and undoubtedly the (somewhat controversial) doors have a large appeal for many, I, and many others, want to see more of a focus on utility and flexibility in the Model Y.
- No falcon wing doors! Please, stick with a regular door. If you want to see a decent conventional door opening design, check out our Forester – we’ve been putting kids in and out for years and they’ve worked fine. They open nice and wide, yet have good detents to keep from banging into the car next to you.
- Shape it like an SUV; we happen to love the tall wagon shape of our Forester as it allows for a lot of cargo room, but the roof is still low enough to access for attaching bars, cargo pods, ski racks and bike racks.
- With no FWD, and a tall wagon shape, you can add either dedicated roof-rack attachment points, or better, a longitudinal roof rail to allow for adjustability. Bonus points to design your aerodynamics to account for the fact that this vehicle will likely have at least bars and a pod or bike rack(s) or ski rack ALWAYS ATTACHED! Don’t try to eke out the last 50 km of range with aero improvements that totally destroy the functionality of the vehicle. By the time you produce the Y, you’ll be able to put a 100 kWh pack in it economically anyways, so why bother. Give people a useable shape – if they want the most efficient, they can buy the Model 3.
- Choice of 55 or higher series rubber to soften the ride on gravel/rocky roads. Our Forester came with Yokohama Geolander tires, which have been good on gravel roads and a bit of mud.
- A full-size spare would be great, and/or a built-in compressor.
- The rear hatch should open fully, but we would also love to see either retracting glass (ala 4Runner), or glass that hinges up by itself (ala 90’s and early 2000’s Pathfinder). Our Pathfinder had this feature and it is so darn handy! Works great when you have the hatch jammed full and only want to grab something near the top without everything falling out. Also amazing when you have all the bikes loaded on the receiver rack and you don’t want to unload everything to grab your swimsuit that you forget in the back of the car. Our Forester does NOT have that feature, and it is one thing we really miss from the Pathy.
- Main stats; tongue weight of > 350 lbs, and towing ability of > 3,500 lbs
- Self-leveling rear suspension to accommodate that tongue load, plus 300 – 400 lbs of gear in the hatch would be great
- 2″ receiver that does not impact departure angle (adding a tow-ball will obviously have to affect this, and that’s ok; but adding the receiver to our Forester causes us to drag going over deep waterbars, which is not ok)
- Roof rack capacity of > 200 lbs
- Rear-seats-up cargo capacity of > 1,000 L (> 35 ft3)
- Closely related to the cargo area; shape the hatch such that a good-sized cooler will fit in the rear-hatch
- To go with this fitted area, ensure a power outlet is nearby, both a DC outlet, AND an AC outlet, with sufficient power to plug the cooler into. Ensure that there is some way of providing power to this outlet 24/7 – the battery is huge compared to the draw, and I would love a mobile ‘fridge’ when we are car-camping with the kids, especially on week long road trips, but even just for weekend trips or grocery shopping!
- There should be other 120V/15A outlets in the car as well; occasionally it would be great to have a mobile power source with a few kW on tap to allow for using power tools at remote sites
- Folding rear seats that also recline, preferably that fold flat and would allow for a 6′ adult to lay down in the back of the car
- Last but not least, an official “camper mode” that allows to run the HVAC overnight, while being able to operate typical Accessory functions, the outlets, allows to fully dim the display and all but one or two buttons, and allows movies to play on the dash. At the same time, it would disable any possible driving functions. You should also be able to use this mode while plugged in and charging. There are quite a few people in the Koots who use their car to access great backcountry skiing from the side of the highway and would buy an EV tomorrow if the car described above had this mode!
So readers, what did I miss? Add it to the comments section below and maybe we can help shape the Tesla Model Y!