Model Y sightings are picking up ahead of the car’s seemingly-imminent launch, but one question remains: what do the third-row seats look like?  

Electrek, By Bradley Berman

© Eletrek | Pictures surface of Tesla Model Y third-row seats and they don’t look large

Previously we’ve seen just a glimpse of the third row through the side windows, but couldn’t really get a feel for the legroom available.

Now we have well-lit photos, from the inside of the car, showing what kind of legroom third-row passengers might expect.

The Model Y is sold as seating 7 adults when the optional third-row seats are installed.  

Tesla states on their website that the car has “Room for up to seven adults with optional third-row” and that:
Model Y provides maximum versatility able to carry 7 passengers and their cargo. Each second row seat folds flat independently, creating flexible storage for skis, furniture, luggage and more. The liftgate opens to a low trunk floor that makes loading and unloading easy and quick.
Pictures showing the third-row seats appeared on a Japanese blog and were attributed to Reddit, though we couldn’t find where the pictures had been previously posted on Reddit.

The pictures show, well, the rear seats look perhaps a little bit vestigial, at least as far as legroom is concerned:

Some smaller SUVs have similarly-small third-row seating (see the Honda CR-V’s third row, which isn’t available in the US), but these photos suggest that the Model Y could be among the smaller third-row seats out there.

Recent photos have shown that the Model Y is quite a bit larger than expected.  We’ve seen it driving next to a Model 3 and other cars and spotted next to the very large Model X and it looks substantially bigger than a 3 and not too far off from an X.

This gave some hope that the Y would have similar amounts of passenger space as the X, but these photos may suggest otherwise. Headroom may be smaller as well, compared to some boxier SUVs, due to the Model Y’s sloping roofline.
These are also just two photos – we will have to see how the second-row seats can be adjusted.  

Model X had a system to adjust second-row seats which added a lot of manufacturing complexity for Tesla but gave lots of flexibility in terms of interior space and seat configurations.  We would expect some amount of adjustment for the Y, but nothing as complex as the X.

The photos at least show that the seats seem to be plenty wide.  There’s even room for cupholders in the middle.  So at least the hip and shoulder room won’t be an issue.

While this sighting is of a pre-production car, the Model Y is expected to start deliveries very soon, perhaps within the next few months. Tesla has already started registering Model Y VINs with the NHTSA.

It’s unlikely that there will be many changes between cars spotted today and the cars that get shipped to customers when deliveries begin.  So this is likely the form the third-row seats will take when Model Ys start getting delivered to customers.

Electrek’s Take

This is a little disappointing, but personally even as a tall-ish person, I’ve never had much trouble with being in small seats, as long as it’s not for a long period of time.  The Model Y will have a similar wheelbase as the Model 3, so it was never going to be easy to cram an additional two adult passengers into that car in a spacious manner.  So this could be better, but it’s not unexpected.

There are other cars with small rear seats with very little legroom.  Small cars like the Mini and Fiat 500, or sportscars like the BMW i8, have rear seats, but most adults would consider them too small for extended sessions as a passenger.  But those aren’t family SUVs, and buyers generally know they’re not going to make much use of the rear seats.

In a Model Y which is marketed as being capable of holding 7 adults, there may be a bit of a surprise for customers who see how big those seats actually are.

Rather than being used for all-the-time transportation of up to 7 passengers, these photos make the seats look like they will be more for occasional use.  Perhaps more for kids than adults, or for when the family has visitors and everyone needs to cram into a car to get somewhere across town.  Longer drives don’t look particularly comfortable back there.

Not many people constantly have 7 passengers in their car anyway, and the seats are optional after all.  If they work for you, get them, and if they don’t, don’t.  Though unless we see more photos with 2nd-row adjustments, that “7 adults” assertion could be questionable.

But hey, there are two cupholders, which are quite welcome.

This article was originally published by Electrek.
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