Tesla Model S steering yoke is a pain and possible safety concern, says Consumer Reports

Testers at Consumer Reports recently got their hands on the Tesla Model S steering yoke, and first impressions aren’t good.

The publication, which purchases all of its test vehicles, recently received a new Model S equipped with the yoke which, in addition to its unusual shape, replaces conventional controls for the turn signals, windshield wipers, and horn with touch-sensitive buttons.

Over the course of a week, ten Consumer Reports testers reported numerous issues with the yolk. It slipped out of drivers’ hands, doesn’t allow for hand-over-hand shuffling when maneuvering in tight spaces, and drivers had trouble figuring out which button to press to activate the turn signals.

2021 Tesla Model S Plaid

2021 Tesla Model S Plaid

Those buttons also made it too easy to accidentally flash the high beams or honk the horn. The yoke also created concerns about emergency maneuvers.

“Swerving to avoid road debris or a stopped vehicle may be more difficult,” Jake Fisher, senior director of Consumer Reports’ Auto Test Center, said in the article about the yoke. “I am concerned if I would be able to control the vehicle well in an emergency situation.”

The yoke did at least provide a clear view of the instrument cluster, but based on this report, that hardly seems worth the many potential drawbacks.

2021 Tesla Model S Plaid

2021 Tesla Model S Plaid

Tesla first showed the yoke in a preview of the Model S Plaid. Since then, the 520-mile Model S Plaid+ has been cancelled, leaving only the 396-mile Plaid version. But the yoke, which was thought by some to be a gag, was delivered. In addition to the Model S, Tesla has teased the feature for the revamped Model X due soon.

It’s worth noting that the yoke is no Tesla invention; it’s been a favorite in concept cars for decades, reeled in by some of those realities. Among many examples, the Audi AI:Trail electric off-roader that debuted at the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show had one—and Audi has made no move toward yokes in its production models.

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