Consumer Reports did a deep dive on the new Tesla Model S steering yoke recently and offered some insight into the changes. In real-world situations, the yoke steering wheel made driving more complicated. This seems to be the opposite of what the automaker had to do. The yoke steering wheel looks cool, but it hides some of the essential primary controls generally found on a steering wheel.
Consumer Reports on the Tesla Model S yoke steering wheel
Consumer Reports shared some impressions of the Tesla Model S yoke after driving around in it for a bit. If you missed it, Consumer Reports did not recommend the 2020 Model S, so much was riding on this review.
In the review, Keith Barry, one of the “Talking Cars” show hosts, says that Tesla has not responded to communications from the company since 2019. Thus, the Consumer Reports team set off to test the yoke steering wheel without comment.
The real test of the yok steering wheel isn’t at the Nürburgring track or while racing other fast cars, but the day-to-day driving. One of the Consumer Reports “Talking Cars” hosts, Alex Knizek, had an issue just getting out of the driveway. While backing up, the yoke steering wheel made it hard to get out of the driveway without a problem. The driver has to essentially be looking at the wheel while also looking behind the vehicle.
The Model S yoke steering wheel complicates situations
“With the yoke, there is only one way of gripping it. Maybe they are ergonomically correct for someone, but they weren’t for my hands,” Barry said. While Full Self-Driving is hopefully a part of the future for Tesla electric vehicles, drivers still have to keep hands on the wheel for now. With that said, the Model S yoke isn’t the most comfortable for such occasions.
Jake Fisher has spent a lot of time participating in various motorsports hobbies and worked as a driving instructor for many years. With that said, Fisher says emergency handling situations in the Tesla Model S could be a considerable drawback for the yoke. Even in regulating driving situations, drivers might find themselves having to look down at the new steering wheel before taking action.
In addition to some of the other quirks, the yoke steering wheel is missing other standard features. There is no turn signal stalk, and the horn is no longer activated by pressing the middle of the wheel. All of these controls are now buttons on the top right of the yoke. The turn signals are now up and down arrows on the top left of the steering wheel.
The turn signals pose a threat to everyday driving
Fisher found the turn signals incredibly confusing. The buttons for left and right turn signals have left and right buttons. In a typical situation like a parking lot, maneuvering is confusing when the wheel is already turned. Is the right turn signal left or right in that position?
Consumer Reports says that if this is your primary vehicle, you will likely get used to it after a bit of driving. However, it requires a lot of attention to operate the Tesla Model S properly.
At the end of the day, Consumer Reports doesn’t think the yoke has staying power. It’s confusing and complicates regular, day-to-day driving that doesn’t need to be complicated. The unintuitive nature of the yoke will likely be a drawback for many drivers.