Consumer Reports names multiple flaws with yoke.
It turns out the Tesla Yoke steering wheel actually wasn't such a good idea after all. This shocking revelation was made by the well-known superhero, Captain Obvious.
If his findings weren't good enough, a study conducted by Consumer Reports sure is. And to remove any doubt from your mind, the study used ten test drivers and a Model S it purchased.
By now, you're all in on the yoke. Tesla famously replaced the steering wheel with the yoke, a square missing the top half. In doing so, Tesla literally reinvented the wheel. It also gave the Teslarati something new to point at to prove their brand's superiority and rabidly defend after it was criticized. Tesla also removed the indicator and windshield wiper stalks, replacing them with touch-sensitive buttons.
We called it soon after the first images were unveiled. While it may seem extremely cool to have such a futuristic steering mechanism, there is a good reason the wheel has been the default for so long. Like the mousetrap, it's a flawless design that has been with us for more than 100 years.
In the interest of fairness, we should point out that Consumer Reports mentions one good thing about the yoke. By removing the top half of the steering square, you get a better view of the new digital instrument cluster. We should also mention that the Model S is a brilliant car. Apart from setting the EV standard, the Plaid is stupid fast. Jay Leno recently set a quarter-mile record in his Plaid.
On the downside, the yoke blocks the part of the center console responsible for vehicle controls.
As we expected, the main problem is turning. When making sharp turns, which most of us do daily, you can't use the hand-over-hand method. The steering wheel isn't there, leaving you grabbing air.
CR also mentions that it's hard to hold on to. The yoke doesn't have a space to rest your hands, and you have to grip it tightly to ensure you maintain control of the car. Gripping the yoke that hard led to hand pain, mentioned by more than one tester.
Another issue is a three-point turn or reversing out onto the street. When looking over your shoulder, you rely on the feel of the steering wheel, and you always know what to expect. With the yoke, you don't know if you'll be grabbing the flat side, a corner, or nothing at all.
Moving away from traditional turn signals also proved to be a problem. In a normal car, the turn signal controls are stationary. In the Tesla, they move with the wheel. Imagine turning left, and then another left within 50 yards. The yoke will most likely be upside down or in some awkward position. A few of the testers admitted that they simply didn't indicate because it proved to be too much of a hassle.
Yoke fans point at high-speed driving, in which case it makes sense. But that's only under the assumption that everything will remain under control. What happens in case of an emergency, when the driver needs to apply a lot of opposite lock? There's a good reason Randy Pobst used a round steering wheel when he set the fastest EV time at Laguna Seca and again at Pikes Peak.
There's also some controversy around the recent Nurburgring record run. Spotters at the track claimed to have witnessed a Plaid with a round steering wheel. Following this revelation, Tesla published in-car footage of the Plaid doing the slower of the two runs, and that model was equipped with a yoke. Looking at the video, we'd have gone for a regular steering wheel. The yoke seems perfectly fine at high speeds, but going through the carousel required some serious steering input. If things had gone wrong at that point…
Still, we can't take away from Tesla's victory over Porsche on its turf. The Plaid remains a mighty impressive car, just with a sucky steering wheel.