By on January 28, 2021

The next Tesla Model S is here. And the steering wheel is no wheel at all, but a yoke.

That’s the feature that’s getting all the attention – and all the Knight Rider jokes on the tweet machine – but it’s not the only thing at play. The infotainment screen shifts away from a portrait layout to a horizontal one, and a screen gets added for rear-seat passengers.

Other interior items of note include wireless device charging, heated seats at all positions, cooled front seats, and tri-zone climate control.

Exterior changes are minor, with a standard glass roof perhaps being the most notable item.

Also of note – an available uplevel powertrain promising 520 miles of range and 0-60 acceleration un under two seconds.

The price of entry for a dual-motor Long Range Model S with 412 miles of range is now $79,990 (unclear if that includes D and D fees). A Plaid trim gives 390 miles of range and that 0-06 run of under two ticks for $119,000, while $139,000 gets you Plaid+ and 520 miles – and what is Tesla is claiming is 1,100 horsepower.

Tesla claims this car will be the “fastest accelerating production car ever made.”

Plaid and Plaid+ cars have claimed top speeds of 200 mph, although CEO Elon Musk says the cars need the “right tires” to achieve that speed. The Long Range car is claimed to top out at 155. Tesla has claimed the new Model S will be able to do up to five times as many trips down the dragstrip, thanks to the new powertrain and the use of the heat pump from the Model Y.

Meanwhile, the Model X gets the same new interior and some minor outside changes. Pricing for a Long Range Model X (dual-motor, 360 miles of range, 0-60 in 3.8 seconds, 155-mph top speed) is $89,900, while a Plaid Model X (340 miles of range, 163 mph top speed, 0-60 in 2.5 seconds) is $119,000.

The new infotainment system has a chip with the capacity for up to 10 teraflops of processing power, which means it can play video games that were meant to be played on PCs or consoles. The car even supports the use of wireless controllers.

Back to that steering “wheel” – it’s definitely a departure from the norm. And that’s no yoke.

[Images: Screenshots via Tesla]

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65 Comments on “You Must Be Yoking: Tesla Model S Refreshed...”


  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “an available uplevel powertrain promising 520 miles of range”

    Not enough – I drive 600 miles a day without stopping, while towing a 10,000-lb boat. I don’t have time for bathroom breaks, and I live in an apartment so I can’t charge at home.

    No EVs for me until they come out with one that meets these driving needs, and costs $25,000.

    And, so many claims (5) in this story. Could Tesla be lying?

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      There are reasonable issues people have with EV adoption. Snarkily hand-waving them away because you like your Ioniq and because Tesla sells a *$140k* vehicle with a 520 mile range is a weak comment.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        Sorry for the snark. I’m only poking at the absurd criticisms that have appeared over the years.

        Since the late-2010 introduction of the Leaf, ‘required’ ranges for EV critics have always been 50-100% higher than what was on the market. This concern has eased as ranges have risen, but charging times are still not great for a lot of drivers.

        I’m the first to acknowledge that an EV is not right for everyone, and that the tech has a way to go. Depreciation on non-Tesla EVs is terrible.

        And of course, just having a long-range EV available in the market doesn’t mean it’s affordable.

    • 0 avatar
      Tim Healey

      We use “claims” or “said” with all OEMs as much as possible since we can’t verify the claims. We do forget that wording at times, but I think y’all know by now that only a few places can do the actual instrumented testing to verify the claims.

      Is Tesla lying? Is it making a claim it thinks is true but isn’t? Only way to know is to hook a Model S up to a dyno and a fifth wheel.

    • 0 avatar
      CKNSLS Sierra SLT

      SCE-did your truck you are towing that boat with cost $25,000.00? And you don’t have to stop for fuel before 600 miles towing that boat? OK-now I see you were joking….

    • 0 avatar

      “I drive 600 miles a day without stopping, while towing a 10,000-lb boat.”

      Good grief, how I envy you.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      @SCE to AUX Sir, you forget to mention the 14% uphill grades while towing your boat :)

    • 0 avatar
      chomachomachoma

      Wow! You’re a real man! 600 miles and you don’t even stop to urinate.

      Of course no EV is going to satisfy a good ol boy like yourself. You got to get that boat where it’s going ASAP.

      Thanks for sharing such useful information.

  • avatar
    ajla

    The EV-specific specs of a Tesla are great. The internet sales method is good too.
    And then I hate almost everything else about them.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Get yoke, go broke.

  • avatar
    Oberkanone

    Pricing begins at $19,995 plus destination. Now, that is a joke!

  • avatar
    JMII

    Given the way most people drive the yoke seems like a terrible, borderline dangerous idea. Racers use this style but only because years of muscle memory has them hardwired to keep their hands locked at 9 & 3. I wouldn’t want a daily driver with a yoke… that is for sure. Is Musk trolling us here?

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      I wouldn’t be surprised if the aftermarket eventually produced a round wheel that can replace the yoke, or maybe a Model 3 steering wheel already does. I wouldn’t buy a car with that thing.

    • 0 avatar
      PeriSoft

      Actually it’s worse; race cars using yoke-style wheels tend to be limited to formula car with tight cockpits and fast steering ratios, where all is lost if you need to wind it up anyway. Rally, touring cars, GTs and endurance cars, and a chunk of prototypes use round wheels.

      I can’t imagine the yoke making it to production. Even if it wasn’t dangerous, it would be infuriating.

    • 0 avatar
      bunkie

      I can, definitely, see the yoke working out so long as the change in steering angle is progressive. Who really needs 2 1/2 turns lock to lock?

      Some of us are old enough to remember the two attemps to go beyond the steering wheel, the “wrist twist” setup on some ‘60s concept cars and SAAB’s center console joysick which incorporated the accelerator and brakes.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        I saw a video somewhere of someone with a yoke style steering wheel, but with longer “horns”. He used the top of the horns as sort of a suicide knob and spun the wheel faster than you could with a conventional wheel. Not sure if the “horns” are long enough on the tesla wheel, but they might be. I’d have to try the thing.

  • avatar
    Mike Beranek

    Every Tesla is a yoke.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    First the stupid Ipad dashboard on the Model 3, and now this silly “yoke” steering wheel. I don’t know about anyone else, but both of these are “will not buy” items for me. Are they flat-out trying to do stuff that just turns buyers off?

    I get that for the time being, people are buying their stuff because it’s unique, so they can basically do whatever the f**k they want. To an extent, I respect that. And I get that pretty soon, they’re going to have competition, so unique features make sense. But this is the kind of “unique” that is just going to send buyers elsewhere. I mean, do prospective Taycan owners (or people interesated in the upcoming Audi and Mercedes electric sedans) have to put up with this silly yoke and Ipad dashboard?

    I think that as soon as Tesla has serious competition, this kind of stuff won’t work anymore.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      “I think that as soon as Tesla has serious competition, this kind of stuff won’t work anymore.”

      I hope so. Although we’ve seen with the Mach-E that manufacturers are very willing to just copy Tesla’s nonsense when making their own BEVs.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        @ajila: as soon as Tesla has serious competition

        The new EQS could be it. I’m kind of holding back to see what its like. Not to mention the fact I wouldn’t touch either until they’ve been in production a while.

        The toughest competition will be from Toyota. They have possibly the best battery tech, but it’s going to take a while to get it into mass production. We might not see it on the road in mass production until 2023 or 2024. I’ve been following the patent filings on that battery for a while and it’s pretty good.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          We shall see but I seriously doubt Tesla will be facing retail competition in the immediate future. Do Apple people switch away from Apple products in appreciable numbers?

          • 0 avatar
            northeaster

            Apple is a somewhat different example, I think. If Tesla’s ecosystem truly extended to battery powered houses etc, it might well work.

            Apple has staked out a relatively broad presence in mobile devices including laptops, tablets, and phones as well as expanding into source material.

            I don’t question that Musk could do these things, but imagine he’s more distractable by things like Mars.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          I don’t think Toyota *does* have the best battery technology when it comes to pure EVs; the company has also had a belated response to EVs, in the first place.

          I honestly think–believe it or not–that GM has the best chance, assuming the company’s future products look better than the Bolt. The Hummer is a promising start.

          • 0 avatar
            tedward

            Kyree…agreed gm has, or had, the in house advantage on electric. That said, both Toyota and VW have the buying power to muscle their way to parity and beyond.

            The yoke steering wheel is probably not a responsible offering. Personally Id be a-ok with any company selling a wheel like this as a stand alone, but there are too many unintentional drivers out there for those to be safe as a default.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          @mcs:

          If I were Teals, I’d be most scared of VW in the short term and GM in the long term. Both companies are deadly serious about EVs, and VW has two products that will directly take on Tesla models – the ID4 and the Taycan/Audi E-tron sedan. And you can bet that there will be an Model 3 fighter from Audi very soon. That t!t is just too fat to pass up.

          GM will eventually go EV on their trucks and SUVs, which will take sales away from the Cybertruck and the Model X.

          And both companies are capable of producing far better made stuff on their worst day than Tesla on its’ best.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Agreed. I’m no fan of the center display or the yoke.

      Any EV with a driver-facing display automatically has more of my interest.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        If you don’t like the center display, there is still one directly in front of the driver. The steering “wheel” actually isn’t that different from the C8 wheel. It’s flat on top and bottom as well. The design was to mimic a formula one wheel. It’s almost identical. With variable-ratio steering, it shouldn’t be bad. There probably won’t be a third-party wheel because there are a lot of controls built into the wheel.

        https://www.roadandtrack.com/motorsports/a26827434/2019-mercedes-f1-steering-wheel-explained/

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          “The design was to mimic a formula one wheel.”

          But why? The Model S is not a Formula 1 car. I don’t like the C8’s design either but at least it is an enclosed wheel.

          “it shouldn’t be bad.”

          That’s not exactly comforting on an $80K+ car.

          I just don’t see why Tesla needs to go so radical with steering wheels and door handles and gauges and key fobs.

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            This article didn’t even mention the truly scary feature. Get this, it’s going to guess whether you want forward or reverse. You can manually select it and should definitely check to verify what it’s selected is correct. But, people being people, some are going to just hit the throttle without paying attention.

            Now that I’m thinking about it, I wonder what that wheel will be like on hairpin turns? When we get one locally, I’ll try it. The Lotus Evija has the same wheel with a similar aspect ratio though. Lotus wouldn’t compromise the handling of the car and have made it work. Funny, I could end up with two cars with the same type of wheel. The plane has a joystick so it’s different. At least Musk didn’t try that.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            “Funny, I could end up with two cars with the same type of wheel.”

            If you can go buy a $2M hypercar then you are on a different level than pretty much everyone. However looking at pictures this appears worse than the Lotus design. Once you have the Evija in your garage you can report back.

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            “If you can go buy a $2M hypercar”

            Actually, $2m is more than I think I’d spend right now, but I have been doing well lately. Connections in the fintech industry helped me find a place for my AI and high-performance hardware research. Other business dried up during the pandemic giving me more time for my own research. I’ve developed software and new hardware for fintech. Right now even the prototype is making good money. Just testing it is bringing in It’s a ridiculous way to make money and not what I want to do in life, but I’m not turning it down. The good thing is that I can take everything and repurpose it for medical research and do something productive with it eventually.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            “I have been doing well lately.”

            Lol, yea if you’re shopping for cars priced into 7-figures I’d say you are.

            Heck, with that high of a budget you should just buy your favorite car and pay for an EV conversion.

        • 0 avatar
          Garrett

          Except it doesn’t mimic an F1 wheel or a C8 wheel.

          The axis that the steering spins about with this yoke design isn’t halfway between the upper and lower limits of the wheel – it’s higher.

          Go to your existing car, and steer in the 4:30 and 7:30 positions. That’s what this will be like. Just dreadful.

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            @Garret: “this yoke design isn’t halfway between the upper and lower limits of the wheel – it’s higher.”

            I’m looking at the alignment of the steering shaft and the rotation point might actually be lower than the hub makes it appear. I’ll have to check one out to be sure. If it was in fact some sort of pendulum motion, it would be really horrible. I could put up with a lot and I’m very adaptable. Having a pendulum motion for steering would be an issue for me. we should start seeing youtube videos in 5 or 6 weeks, so I guess we’ll find out then. It’s totally a styling thing and I’m sure we’ll see it in sportier cars from all of the other makes.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I think they are trying to make things as sci-fi as possible.

      • 0 avatar
        Dawnrazor

        Yes, Elon seems to be obsessed with inserting these pop culture references into everything Tesla makes (Spaceballs for the “Plaid” option and Night Rider/Batman for the stupid aircraft yoke steering thingy).

        Personally, I wish they would just cut the cutesy crap and get down to the business of building a car as fully baked, refined, ergonomically sound, and tightly assembled as the $80k+ competition.

        A vehicle with the exterior/interior design, performance, and build quality of something like an A6/7/8 or E/S class but featuring the Tesla drivetrain is the stuff of dreams!

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Hopefully Lord Elon will keep using clever and witty references. Building a fully baked, refined, and ergonomically sound car is hard… just ask every marque which says its going “upmarket”.

    • 0 avatar
      Daveo

      Based on the number of Taycan’s appearing in my neighborhood I’d say they do have serious competition. And that competition has a dealer network and customer service to support it. These updates make me think they are aware of what’s about to happen. When the ETron GT starts shipping that’s going to eat into their sales as well.

  • avatar
    Rick Astley

    By the mercy of having already burned 1.5 million taxpayer dollars on the hoods of these $80,000-120,000 machines (sans options), these are finally off the taxpayers backs.

    A famous meme comes to mind, except in this case, they were taking my money to give it to the wealthy so they may enjoy cars they can already afford. That’s SMART!

    https://media2.giphy.com/media/TdwziQPhbNAzK/giphy.gif

    Now we can return to the standard arguments for Tesla vehicles: Why are they so unattractive, and why do they all look the same?

    Full disclosure: On the average 4 mile commute to work I see no less than fifteen Teslas per trip. They all look essentially the same, and in the same four colors. Fancy.

    • 0 avatar
      Land Ark

      I mean, if we’re being fair here:

      On the average 4 mile commute to work I see no less than 600 crossovers per trip. They all look essentially the same, and in the same four colors.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      The law’s intent was to replace an ICE car with an EV at the time of purchase. The car’s price is irrelevant to the environmental impact of the law.

      For several years, Nissan’s Leaf actually had the lead on the subsidy, and they still receive it. Tesla surpassed the 200k sales point way before Nissan, so of course they are sunsetted. IMO, Biden should leave the law alone, and not add more incentives.

      Tesla should be proof that the law is having its desired effect – that is, to develop a viable EV mfr base with a growing EV market.

      • 0 avatar
        Rick Astley

        Tesla has proven it will violate worker safety requirements.

        There has been essentially zero movement in the recycling of these batteries as the tech has advanced, at a mind boggling carbon footprint, with no thought to full lifecycle environmental impact.

        If you willfully ignore that batteries are simply offshored to 3rd world nations to leach into their soil and rot, then yea, the environmental impact, in America, has been fantastic!

        Tesla is proof that they cannot exist without taxpayers to fund their cars, or OEM’s to buy vaporware “carbon credits”.

        There is no viable electric generation base for this product nationwide. And I live in the PNW, where it actually is viable, but that doesn’t make a federal policy necessary. Japan is proof that nuclear is the path forward for electrification but I don’t see that argument gaining steam here in burning-coal America.

        • 0 avatar
          RHD

          Yep, Japan is going all-in on nuclear energy.
          Ri-i-i-ight.
          They learned their lesson at Fukushima.

          The hard data is that in 2019, 136 out of 5128 terawatt hours were from nuclear energy. Oil, coal and gas were their first, second and third sources of energy.

          https://ourworldindata.org/energy/country/japan?country=~JPN

          It’s so easy to spout rhetoric on the Internet, which have nothing to do with the facts of reality.

  • avatar
    Garrett

    It looks like they have totally screwed up the design of the “yoke”.

    Look at an F1 wheel – if there are “open” sections, they are at the bottom, not the top.

    The karts at my local indoor karting track have squared off wheels. The pivot point is directly in the middle of the wheel, and your hands are positioned inline with the pivot point of the wheel. This wheel looks like you have to grip below the rotational point of the yoke. For a car that you need to be able to steer, often having to make significant rotations, it’s horrible. Their design is only suitable for planes where you aren’t making huge inputs.

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    Tesla’s website mentions Long Range and Plaid models but not a Plaid+. A Long Range with a 520 mile range would be good.

    I’d have to drive the yoke to see how well it works. Without trying it, I’m skeptical. It would take very fast steering to go from lock to lock in one turn. That is, -180 degrees to +180 degrees while keeping your hands on the yoke at 9 and 3.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    The steering wheel aka yoke looks like the half of a Virgil Exner designed one from a late 50’s early 60’s Mopar.
    I once sat in a Model S just to check it out. The iPad in the center was off putting and hardly ergonomic plus a focal point for distraction. This new design seems somewhat better.
    Maybe I’m old school. When I sit behind the wheel of a vehicle I want gauges in front of me and controls within an easy reach.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      “When I sit behind the wheel of a vehicle I want gauges in front of me and controls within an easy reach.”

      In both the new and old Model S, there is a display directly in front of the driver in addition to the center screen. Only the 3 and Y are center display only.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    The Yolk reminds me of the gull wing doors on the Model X. A design element meant to set Tesla apart, which is in fact no more than a retrograde gimmick.

  • avatar
    stuki

    Doubt the yoke will even be legal. Certainly not practical.

    But then again, actual vehicles are just marketing props for an outfit whose real business is selling paper to those on central banks’ welfare rolls. And as props, the more outrageous, the more attention, which is what matters.

    Like broken clocks, the props themselves are still exactly right for some people some of the time, though. Just not very many very often.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Actually the more “horizontal” center screen seems more attractive to me than the current “iPad Pro” set-up. It appears that the “topless” steering yoke design is a feature to permit the driver to see the screen directly ahead.

    I doubt that the yoke has any physical connection with the steering gear itself, so extreme variable ratios would be possible, since they’re implemented in software. Would it be possible to make a driveable car with a 180 degree range of rotation of the steering wheel? It certainly would take some getting used to. Or, perhaps the degree of steering angle could be limited as a function of vehicle speed. Stopped or very slow vehicle speed would permit full rotation of the steering yoke to create maximum steering angle at the wheels. As vehicle speed increased, the amount of steering angle created by rotation of the yoke would progressively decrease.

    Might be interesting.

    • 0 avatar
      Kendahl

      I once read that the MG TC had very fast steering. Something like 1.1 turns lock to lock. Several delivery drivers went over the side backing them off the upper decks of auto trailers.

  • avatar
    conundrum

    Hello, el Musko here, genius extraordinaire and multi billionaire which makes me a lot better than you. Sure, Model 3 sales are down by 8% in Europe in 2020 compared to 2019, and a German High Court said all cars must have physical switches for main functions so that a screen cannot perform primary functions. I will disregard this just as I disregarded Covid shutdowns, solve the court problems with money sent to the right people, and be even more righteous by next week. And my tie-up with the dictator Erdogan in Turkey gives you an idea where my next factory and villa will be built. Texas is too left!

  • avatar

    Folks, calm down. That yoke of yours is not supposed to be used very often, it is there just in case, for that very rare case when help from driver is required. Most of time driver will hold wi-fi controller to play computer games.

  • avatar
    Imagefont

    What kind of amateur computer generated nonsense is this? The steering wheel will be round, and the car will not drive itself.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Hmmmmm, a Platinum crew-cab 4×4 F-150 is OK because it takes a bit to understand you’ve just seen a double middle finger of class envy but Teslas are oh so very bad because the same raised double middle fingers are out there and upfront? Just trying to understand all of it.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    Every so often I go to ebay motors and view the used Teslas, sorting by lowest price. Model S (first available in 2012) keeps getting closer to my preferred price range. [Model S sales volume increased through 2018, so things should continue to break my way at an increasing rate over the next several years.]

    A tow-rated Tesla with a utility trailer would be a viable alternative to my current 1/2 ton pickup (and the ‘load floor’ would be even lower to the ground). [The truck sticks close to home.]

    I could make any Tesla work on my road trips (since I’m generally not in a hurry), if I’m ever allowed to travel again. :-)

    Many of my around-town errands have been outsourced.

    The price of Tesla parts at rockauto doesn’t scare me too much [and should continue to improve].

    When the next lockdown comes, a Tesla will age in the driveway at least as gracefully as my current ICE vehicles (if it has access to power).

    So while all of you work out the kinks in the steering yoke and the landscape screen and the infotainment and the gullwing doors and the self driving, I’ll just be over here, waiting quietly. (I appreciate your support.)

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    The Model S used to be the only car from Tesla that was appealing. Now with this, none of their cars are. The S is still handsome on the outside though where the 3 is off in its proportions.

    An electric would work for us as a commuter and may replace the sedan we have and keep the minivan for road trips.

    Tesla has always been about electronic gimmicks and gee wiz factor. The electronic adjusting vents and so forth. It is all about the cool factor and not about efficiency or convenience.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      If you don’t like Tesla, just buy one of the competing EVs.

      Nothing wrong with a little competition, eh?

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        The problem is that while the competing EVs are better cars they are also much worse at being EVs and are often thousands more. They also don’t have access to the supercharger network.

        • 0 avatar
          rudiger

          ^This. Whatever foibles a Tesla model might have relative to another EV, or whatever goofy crap Musk might throw in, their ace-in-the-hole is the Supercharger network. Until a competitor comes up with something near as comparable (and it won’t be some lame third party supplier like Electrify America, either), it will be a while before Musk has anything to worry about.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    Here I thought the steering wheels that need to do some squats looked stupid.

    Just put a tiller in already so either front passenger can aim the car.

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