Bob Nuttmann

A Yacht And A Speedboat – Acura vs Tesla Model Y

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We have a new 2022 Acura MDX with the A spec package. And we also have a 2021 Tesla Model Y. These are two great cars but with very different personalities. This is our third MDX and the newest one is very different from the first two. The new Acura to me seems far more luxury oriented than the first two. It is also less “sporty”. I would say this is more of an LUV than a SUV. The ride in the new MDX is adjustable and in “regular” is very comfortable yet it is very stable on the road. Even though the ride is cushy it does not lean in corners. I attribute some of that to Acura going to twin wishbone suspension over the previous strut front end. And the steering effort is much less than our previous 2008 MDX, but is almost exactly the same as the steering effort in the Tesla.

On the other hand the Tesla model Y long distance we have is very sporty and extremely fast. I have driven the Tesla Model 3 and that is one of the best luxury small sedans you can buy. The model Y is very similar but with a raised platform for easier getting in and out, more ground clearance, and a better view of the road. However, when you raise the Model 3 /Y platform it changes the driving dynamics a bit. Lower center of gravity in a car = better handling. Tesla I believe has tried to compensate for this by making the Model Y slightly stiffer. But that said the Model Y is a great sports sedan / smallish SUV to drive with very fast acceleration, quick steering, stiffish springs, fast steering ratio, and superb throttle dynamics of rapid acceleration and regenerative braking. It is a hoot to drive. The Model Y is low to the ground and huge inside for the size car it is. The electric motor and direct drive can be a bit touchy so you have to get used to that, but overall driving a Model Y will put a smile on your face. The Tesla Model Y is a sports SUV with a capital S in bold. It has a very smooth ride, but it is in no way a luxury ride.

The Acura MDX has large leather seats with very nice cloth in a strip down the middle. The Acura has what I would call large luxury seats. I am 6′ 2″ and about 210 lbs. I like the Acura seats a lot. The Tesla also has quite good seats, just a lot smaller than the Acura ones. And the Tesla seats are well made but very plain. The Acura seats have the cloth in the middle where you can direct cool and hot air. And the Acura seats have more ornamentation on them. Which seat would I rather sit in on a drive of an hour, easily the Acura. But, the Tesla seats are good too, just not as nice as the Acura ones.

The Acura has a lot of buttons and controls for everything. It also has a big screen. With a small amount of time driving the Acura I learned the controls. A couple controls I did not like that much after a short drive I found to be much better after using them a while. Originally I said that replacing the transmission controls from a simple stick to buttons was no good. I was wrong. I like the buttons better. Originally I thought the touch pad to control the screen was not good. That was mostly based on auto journalists. I found the touch pad was easy and quick to learn and works fine. A big advantage to no touch screen is no fingerprints on the screen. I like the Acura’s physical buttons so well I have not even bothered to learn the voice command system.

On the other hand the Tesla has easy to use controls but they need a few more physical ones. The big center screen was easy to learn and I learned to use its systems quickly. But Tesla would be making a wise choice to try and improve the physical interface of a few of them. The Tesla has a very voice control system. If you are going to drive a Tesla you should learn the voice system right away. But some more simple one step control interface is needed for these systems. 1. Glove box needs a simple control that is on the glove box. 2. Windshield wipers. 3. AC & Heater controls. 4. Sound system. And, I want to say in the loudest possible way, Tesla needs to add Apple Car Play and Android similar system. After using Apple Car play I love it. In the Acura you just lay down your phone on a charging area (which works far better than the Tesla system which I have a hard time using) and then turn on Car Play. If you had been using Car Play the last time you drove it goes on automatically. The Tesla interface that is built into the Model Y is very good. There is a built in map system with a touch screen. A built in music system with radio and streaming or even TV. But if you are using Apple Music at home then in my opinion it is easier to use an iPhone for music in the car. I know you can do it with the Tesla, but you cannot use Air Play.

In Tesla’s favor is the drive and brake system. Tesla has integrated their throttle and bake system so that you can mostly drive with a single foot controlling them. Their electric motor and direct transmission are just superb. I have never driven a car that is close to as smooth as the Tesla drive system. It is by a wide margin nicer to use than any kind of gas, diesel, or hybrid drive system I have driven.

I like the way the electric power system works well enough to say that if there had been an electric vehicle available at a price I would pay and a 500+ mile range, and including a spare tire I would have likely bought it. But there is currently no electric car like that. So I upgraded my MDX and so far really like the car. I do not like the fossil fuel I am using to power it, but right now there are problems getting where I want to go without electrics have more range. And I mean real range not some EPA rating. When the computer says you have 300 miles of range I want 300 miles of real distance, not some computer simulation. Oh, and a sunshade under the big glass roof.

To me these are two great cars / SUVs but different. The Tesla is for when you want to drive up to a local mountain area and go for a hike. The MDX is when you are driving 500 miles or more to a National Park that is not in a big city.

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