Who Fits in the Tesla Model Y’s Third Row?

tesla model y 2021 04 interior third row scaled jpg 2021 Tesla Model Y | Cars.com photo by Jennifer Geiger

If you want a third row of seats in your car, there are few electric vehicles currently on the market to meet your needs. More are coming (for example, the 2024 Kia EV9 SUV and Volkswagen ID. Buzz van), but right now, Tesla has you covered with the Model X SUV’s standard third row and the smaller Model Y SUV’s optional one.

The key word here, however, is smaller. Who can fit in the Model Y’s third row? We found its use to be limited.

Related: What’s New With Electric Vehicles for 2023?

What Is It?

Adding the optional third row to the Model Y gets you two more seats, bumping capacity (in theory) to seven. Each seat folds flat via electronic fold-flat releases. Along with the third-row seats, you also get third row USB-C charging, but the setup isn’t cheap.

The third row is not currently available as an option on the base trim. To add it, you need to choose the mid-level Long Range trim, which costs $3,000 more than the base version. Then you need to select the third-row option, which is an additional $3,000, bringing the feature’s total to $6,000.

Aside from the option’s cost, its impact on cargo space should also be considered. Behind the second row, the Model Y has 20.8 cubic feet, according to Cars.com’s measurements; when the third row is in use, there’s just 9.9 cubic feet.

Who Fits?

tesla model y 2021 01 interior third row scaled jpg 2021 Tesla Model Y | Cars.com photo by Jennifer Geiger

At 5 feet, 6 inches, I fit in the third row — but I was crabby about it. Headroom and legroom were a challenge both for me and my kids. First, climbing back there is a clumsy, graceless maneuver. The mechanism that moves the second-row seat is a bit clunky, and you end up having to force the seat to move it. The second row also tilts forward a bit to make third-row ingress and egress a little easier, but you cannot have a car seat or booster in the second row when you do this. Even with all the tilting and the sliding, the opening is small and requires squeezing from people of all sizes.

Next, comfort is a big problem. The bench seat itself is lower to the ground than the second row and narrower, so I continued to feel squeezed once I got seated. At my height, I was one frizzy bad hair day shy of my head grazing the ceiling. What’s worse is the legroom and footroom situation: My feet felt scrunched under the second-row seat, and even with the seat slid all the way forward, my knees still felt crowded.

tesla model y 2021 03 interior third row scaled jpg 2021 Tesla Model Y | Cars.com photo by Jennifer Geiger

Fellow Cars.com editor Mike Hanley did not fit. At 6 feet, 1 inch, he noted that “it’s a really uncomfortable space for taller people for a few reasons. There’s not enough legroom even with the second row slid forward a bit. The top of my head was also pressed against the rear window, forcing me to sit in a hunched position,” he said. I also made my 6-foot husband crawl back there — a feat he called “impossible.” He made it to the back but, like Hanley, couldn’t sit upright without his head hitting the glass, and it took a while to figure out how to situate his feet. Again, comfort was elusive.

Kids fit better, with some caveats. Car seats and boosters are a mixed bag and only one will fit in the third row at a time because the seat is narrow and the car seat or booster base rides over the other seat’s buckle. There’s not enough legroom to install a rear-facing infant or convertible seat, either.

With a forward-facing convertible, the head restraint comes up but isn’t removable, so it got in the way and pushed the convertible off the seatback when it should sit flush against it. Because the third row lacks lower anchors, we used the seat belt to install the convertible — a challenging operation because the seat-bottom bolstering pushed the convertible atop the buckle, making connection difficult. Top tether anchors are clearly marked, but again, legroom is a big problem with this seat; there’s not enough of it for children to extend their legs comfortably.

tesla model y 2021 02 interior third row scaled jpg 2021 Tesla Model Y | Cars.com photo by Jennifer Geiger

Booster seats fit better, but again, we had issues. With a high-back booster, we again struggled with the head restraint. Also, the seat-bottom cushion is very bolstered, so it pushed the booster off to the side and into the buckle, blocking buckle access. One set of buckles is flush with the seat cushion, but the other set sticks up a bit for easier grasping. Legroom was again a major issue: Even with the second row moved all the way forward, children in the booster may struggle to wedge their feet and legs into the floor space. Also, the top of our high-back booster was uncomfortably close to touching the liftgate glass.

I put my younger daughter in a backless booster and that worked better in terms of headroom, but she still struggled with legroom and buckling herself in.

More From Cars.com:

The only human to decently fit in back was my 13-year-old daughter, though she complained about the contortions needed to get back there. At 5 feet, she fit fine in terms of headroom but, like the others, did not have enough legroom or foot space to be comfortable. Cue more complaining.

Is It Worth It?

Overall, it seems like the third row’s use cases are fairly limited. In a pinch, it can hold two older kids or one younger one still in a car seat or booster. As far as adults, however, I wouldn’t consider the third row a viable option outside of a very short trip or an emergency use.

The Model Y’s third row can be added to the list of the things you buy your kids that they quickly grow out of.

Related Video:

Cars.com’s Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with Cars.com’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don’t accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of Cars.com’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.

Photo of Jennifer Geiger
News Editor Jennifer Geiger joined the automotive industry in 2003, much to the delight of her Corvette-obsessed dad. Jennifer is an expert reviewer, certified car-seat technician and mom of three. She wears a lot of hats — many of them while driving a minivan. Email Jennifer Geiger

Featured stories

hyundai palisade calligraphy night edition awd 2024 04 exterior front angle scaled jpg
bmw i5 2024 01 exterior front angle scaled jpg
lexus tx550h  2024 01 exterior front angle 1 scaled jpg