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2021 Tesla Model Y long-term introduction: Yep, we leased one

Kicking off 24 months of emissions-free motoring in one of the most popular EVs on the road.

2021 Tesla Model Y
We've got this one for two years.
Tim Stevens/Roadshow

You can learn a lot about a car after a day behind the wheel, and a week is plenty to do a comprehensive review. But if you really want to put a machine to the test, to challenge its reliability and livability as much as its drivability, you need more time.

With that, I'm happy to introduce you to the latest member of Roadshow's long-term test fleet, a 2021 Tesla Model Y. This EV is currently the fastest-selling EV in the US -- and also among the most controversial, thanks to its overpromising and underdelivering "Full Self Driving" package. We couldn't just sit by and watch that story develop any longer, so we put our money where our mouth is and entered into a 24-month lease of the blue Model Y you see here.

Yes, we're paying for this one. We didn't get any discounts or special treatment. In fact, whatever shadow remains of Tesla's PR department is only learning of this lease at this very moment. (Hi there!) 

Tim Stevens/Roadshow

How much did we spend? Well, we started with a Model Y Long Range with all-wheel drive and 326 miles of range. We then paid the extra $1,000 for Deep Blue Metallic paint, but skipped the outrageous $2,000 upcharge for 20-inch wheels. We did pony up $1,000 for a neatly hidden tow hitch, which we hope to use for some range testing, and another $1,000 for the white interior. Why white? Because we want to see how that holds up to 24 months of dogs and gear and whatever else we can throw inside. We stuck with the five-seat layout, and you just know that we had to pay the $10,000 for the "Full Self-Driving Capability" upgrade. Outrageously priced and misleading as it is, this is the feature we're most eager to watch over the next two years.

The total price for our Model Y comes out to $67,490 including Tesla's $1,200 delivery fee. Tesla calculated a residual value of $48,980 after the 24-month, 20,000-mile lease, a legally binding counterpoint to Elon Musk's own promises of his cars being appreciating assets.

I placed the order on June 8, when delivery estimates were in the four- to six-week range. That then predictably got pushed, but not too far. I took delivery on Aug. 19, a pain-free process at Tesla's Mt. Kisco dealership here in New York. I signed in via QR code, was directed to find my car out in the parking lot, then signed a few forms that were waiting for me on the passenger seat. A friendly rep grabbed the forms and asked me to check the Tesla app on my phone. I hit the "accept delivery" button and, after a minute or two for the car to reboot, drove away. The process took maybe 10 minutes.

2021 Tesla Model Y

White interior plus Dog Mode? Let's see how that shakes out.

Tim Stevens/Roadshow

It was easily the most pain-free new car delivery I've ever had, but the process leading up to it was unfortunately rather more convoluted. Given this is a business lease, Tesla's systems weren't really set up to handle the request. After placing the deposit (in my own name; there was no other way), I was unable to contact a human being to get the details I needed to finalize the payments on my end. Tesla financial folks wanted nothing to do with me until the lease was finalized (which doesn't happen until your delivery is scheduled), and good luck finding anyone from Tesla customer service in general. I got there in the end (and an individual leasing a car would likely see none of those issues), but it sure took a lot more back-and-forth than I'd have liked. 

Needless to say I'm nervous about what this means for future service visits, and that's part of exactly what we plan to test here. But other than that I am very much looking forward to seeing how well -- and how far -- this blue EV gets the Roadshow team over the next two years.