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Consumer Reports Testers Say the Tesla Yoke Causes More Problems Than Offer Benefits

"Why does Tesla insist with the yoke?" is a very good question. So far, the company's answer, if you can talk about "answers" from a company that doesn't really talk to anyone other than through the voice of its CEO, is that it offers a better view of the instrument cluster.
2021 Tesla Model S yoke 8 photos
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You know, the same instrument cluster you don't need on a Model 3 or Y, but we'll ignore the lack of coherence for now. The real answer, we suspect, is that it makes the Model S seem closer to being able to drive itself than it really is. "Why waste any time talking about something you very soon won't even have to use?"

That's the real answer that Tesla would like to give, but it knows it is a little too much even for it. Well, we say that, but let's not forget Elon Musk talked about the $25,000 EV that will come no later than two years from now and will feature no steering wheel at all. Based on the latest FSD V10 videos, we suspect even Musk's delusional optimism might have been curbed a little, but he did say it.

Ever since the yoke actually made it on the production Model S, most people called it out for what it is: a potential danger to traffic safety. Videos of people driving it for the first time showed them repeatedly grabbing air during maneuvers because muscle memory is a real thing. Sure, muscles can be reconditioned, but why bother? Also, why put people at any potential risk during this recalibration period if the benefits aren't that great?

According to consumer reports, who just bought a Model S,we're only looking at two possible benefits. A better view of the gauges? Sure, but installing a heads-up display is even better, keeping the driver's eyes on the road, not to mention it's much more high-tech. Besides, steering wheels have notoriously been hollow above the hub for over a century, so that's really a solution to a problem that never existed.

Another potential advantage mentioned in the video is "a panoramic view out the windshield", but if you need a flat steering wheel for that, you might want to have a good look at your seating position because it's definitely not right. The top of the steering should sit just above the gauges in the driver's view angle, overlapping with the top of the dashboard. A correct position means the ring of the steering wheel will never overlay the perimeter of the windshield.

So, if these are the (non-existing) benefits, what are the drawbacks? As we said, as far as the shape of the yoke itself is concerned, it mostly has to do with maneuvering. Once you need to make more than a 180-degree rotation in any direction, things get complicated - and even potentially dangerous.

However, the shape is only half the story, though its implementation was most likely what made the company remove the two stalks that normally sit either side of a steering wheel. That means drivers now have to use buttons on the yoke to indicate turning. They may not sound too bad, but it is because not only are the buttons touch-sensitive, so there's no way to "feel them" (thus having to take your eyes off the road), but they sit on the same side of the yoke. Now, imagine having to signal with the yoke upside-down - a scenario you're very likely to come across in Europe, where there are a lot of roundabouts.

Tesla also decided to remove the shifter and have it integrated in the main central display. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but that display can sometimes malfunction. You don't want critical functions of the vehicle depending on it. Presumably, there are hidden PRND buttons in the vehicle's dashboard that become visible and operational when the car detects there's a problem with the display, but you are once again relying on the vehicle to make that ascertainment, which doesn't sound ideal.

The people at Consumer Reports say they will come back with more impressions after they have spent more time with the car, so all this is potentially subject to change. If that happens, we may lose Consumer Reports' confirmation, but we will always have Common Sense on our side.


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