Disappointing: The 2024 Tesla Cybertruck Falls Short of Revolutionary Expectations

Unimpressive Upgrades: Cybertruck’s Design Fails to Enhance Traditional EV Pickup Model

The Tesla Cybertruck is a symbol of innovation from the exterior. It defies convention and challenges the traditional beliefs of what a pickup truck should be according to internal combustion automakers. It offers the potential for a new realm, an endless future, and a significant transformation. As for the interior, it maintains the essence of a Tesla, with a clear progression from the 2013 Model S. When behind the wheel, it performs like any other electric pickup currently on the market.

This product from Tesla is their most innovative and eye-catching yet, but surprisingly, it’s also their least game-changing offering so far. Rather than dominating the market, it simply holds its own against competitors. Instead of making significant leaps, it makes small incremental progress. And what sets it apart is not any specific specification or feature, but the overwhelming and overbearing amount of attention it receives.

For those seeking it, the Tesla Cybertruck is the ultimate choice. Other contenders fall short in comparison, such as the Rivian R1T which has been available for purchase for some time, boasting a lower starting price and comprehensive off-road capabilities.

Disclaimer: I leased the Cybetruck All-Wheel Drive Foundation Series through Turo, a rental platform that provides private vehicle lending. Turo offered a $1,500 markdown on the rental price.

Driving the Cybertruck can be a jolting experience, as even though its promotion, design, and functionality scream innovation, the actual driving feels quite ordinary.Despite all the buzz surrounding the Cybertruck’s unique features, including its futuristic appearance and advertised versatility, the act of operating it on the road is not particularly groundbreaking.

This is not a criticism of Tesla. It is simply a consequence of the brand’s triumph. When the Model S first entered the market more than ten years ago, its electrification features, such as smooth power delivery, seamless acceleration, and complete silence, were groundbreaking. However, these have now become commonplace.

If you’ve had the chance to experience both a Tesla and a pickup truck on the road, you’ll likely feel right at home in this vehicle. This familiar sensation may also be felt by those who have driven any of the four other electric trucks currently on the market. The acceleration is smooth and effortless, with an abundance of power at your fingertips. The ride is comfortable, but you may occasionally be reminded of the sheer size and weight of the truck. Noteworthy details exclusive to Tesla include a highly efficient one-pedal driving mode and less-than-ideal outward visibility, which requires heavy reliance on the cameras – either the side-view monitors or the rear-view display on the central screen, but not both simultaneously – or the yet-to-be-activated Autopilot feature.

During our testing, we had the opportunity to try out a Cybertruck All-Wheel Drive Foundation Series model. Although it may not have the same intense performance as a Cyberbeast or Hummer EV, it still packs a punch. The 600-horsepower dual-motor version can go from zero to 60 in just 4.1 seconds, making it more than speedy enough for a truck.

If you desire a 60-second acceleration in just 2.6 seconds, the tri-motor, 845-horsepower Cyberbeast may be an enticing upgrade for you. However, I do not advise it. As we enter the tenth year of the electric vehicle era, lightning-fast 0-60 times have become commonplace and less exciting.

The steering mechanism is the sole aspect of the Cybertruck driving encounter that evokes novelty. It stands as one of the truly innovative components of the Cybertruck. In fact, there is no tangible link between the steering wheel and either the front or rear wheels, as the Cybertruck includes four-wheel steering. However, steer-by-wire technology is nothing unprecedented.

Numerous companies have previously experimented with it. For instance, the Infiniti Q50 featured steer-by-wire technology in select models with a traditional steering shaft that could be disengaged through a clutch mechanism. This provided a backup option in case of power loss, reassuring those who were hesitant to embrace this new concept. However, Toyota is set to take it to the next level very soon. The main distinction here is that Tesla is not just dipping its toes in the water like others; instead, they are fully immersing themselves into this realm.

Tesla is highly uninterested in appeasing individuals with outdated methods. Across all trims, the Cybertruck lacks a traditional steering column and lacks any mechanical backup. While it boasts redundancy measures, such as a secondary motor to manage the steering system and alternative communication channels, Tesla remains tight-lipped about the inner workings of this system, declines to address inquiries from reporters, and typically prohibits engineers from speaking to the media.

By-wire controls, while widely used in the automotive industry for many years, have recently gained popularity in aviation as well. However, the current lack of transparency surrounding this relatively new and critical safety system is concerning. Although throttle by wire has been a common practice in cars for quite some time, the lack of information available on by-wire controls in general is disheartening.

The positive update is that the system consistently reacts as expected during daily driving. The accuracy at lower speeds is satisfactory enough to not require much thought, and the steering wheel provides feedback about the road conditions below. However, there are some drawbacks when driving at slower speeds. Tesla takes pride in the fact that the Cybertruck can reach its full steering range in less than one rotation of the steering wheel, but I wouldn’t consider it an improvement. That’s because the degree of steering proportionally increases as you steer away from the center, making it easy to make minor adjustments but challenging to control the difference between 90% and 95% of the maximum lock.

While it may seem convenient to avoid the hand-over-hand method, I personally prioritize having a strong sense of assurance when maneuvering my large vehicle with restricted visibility. Additionally, I have noticed that the steering system tends to make alarming and audible creaking sounds on occasions, particularly when attempting to turn the wheels while applying the brake.

This location is among the numerous areas where the advantage to the business surpasses the advantage to the customer. It proves advantageous for Tesla to eliminate the steering equipment, streamlining its planning and production process while establishing a more economical and effective drive-by-wire prospect. In the distant future, this will ultimately be beneficial for the consumer. However, with the current versions of the Cybertruck being significantly pricier than the F-150 Lightning or Rivian, this provides little consolation in this situation.

Unfortunately, I was not given the opportunity to conduct a test of this specific model in an off-road setting. However, one of our team members did manage to take the Cybertruck for a short off-road drive and had some positive feedback.

According to Tesla, the All-Wheel Drive version of the Cybertruck can travel up to 340 miles on a single charge. However, this figure only applies when equipped with standard tires. The Foundation Series model, which is currently the only option available, comes with all-terrain rubber, resulting in a slightly lower range of 318 miles in the EPA cycle.

Our team will soon conduct our own highway range examination, but for the time being, our associates at Edmunds have managed to barely exceed the Cybertruck’s projected range as determined by the Environmental Protection Agency. The advertised range of the Cybertruck places it ahead of the F-150 Lightning, which can reach up to 320 miles per charge, but falls short of the Rivian R1T (with a maximum range of 410 miles) and the Chevy Silverado 4WT (which boasts a range of up to 450 miles).

The rear-wheel drive variant is expected to have better fuel efficiency, yet it is equipped with a smaller battery that can only travel up to 250 miles on a single charge. Although Tesla provides an additional battery for extended range that can be placed in the bed of the Cybertruck, it is currently not accessible.

There is no official mention of the battery capacity for Tesla’s Cybertruck All-wheel drive. However, according to various approximations, the battery is believed to fall in the range of 120-125 kWh. It should be noted that these estimates should be taken with caution due to the lack of reliable technical documentation.

During my recent travels throughout San Diego, I managed to maintain an average of 2.34 mi/kWh (427 Wh/mi) and 2.2 mi/kWh (455 Wh/mi) over a span of approximately 500 miles. The majority of my driving consisted of 75% freeway and 25% city routes, with the added adventure of navigating through snowy mountain roads. Despite this, the temperature never fell below 50 degrees. Once we conduct our 70-mph range test, we will have a more comprehensive understanding of our vehicle’s range and efficiency capabilities.

Tesla’s charging process continues to surpass all other competitors. It stands as a top factor when considering purchasing a Tesla instead of any other electric vehicle. Superchargers not only offer greater reliability, but also easier usability and more widespread availability compared to other charging methods. While I was temporarily unable to access the nearest Supercharger while owning my Cybertruck, the next-closest location boasted over 20 functioning stalls.

The Cybertruck is the latest model from Tesla to utilize an 800-volt design, marking a significant advancement in electric vehicle (EV) technology. This feature enables rapid charging while minimizing heat buildup. However, during the period between its unveiling and release, two other EV pickups, namely the GMC Hummer EV and Chevy Silverado EV, have been introduced with similar 800-volt charging capabilities.

These two vehicles share a parallel 400-volt design, allowing them to operate at 400 volts while being capable of handling 800 volts during charging. However, this setup may result in lower efficiency while driving, but performance in terms of charging remains unchanged.

During my experience with the Cybertruck, it was able to charge from 11 to 80 percent with a peak of 210 kW but then quickly dropped to 150 kW. As it approached 80%, the charging slowed down significantly, resulting in a total session time of 45 minutes. While this is an acceptable timeframe, it is consistent with what one would expect from the Rivian R1T, which also has a charging capacity of around 220kW. On the other hand, the GMC Hummer EV has a higher charging capacity at 350kW, although its larger battery size may prolong the charging time. In my next charging session, the Cybertruck went from 16 to 90% in about 50 minutes, once again meeting my expectations for charging speed.

Both Tesla and Rivian seem to have reached a plateau in terms of their battery and charging capabilities. This seems to be the ceiling set by current technology. It’s worth noting that even the impressive 18-minute charging time from 10% to 80% on models like the Hyundai Ioniq 6 is not achievable with these larger batteries. While it is commendable that charging a Cybertruck only takes slightly longer than a Model 3, the real breakthrough will come when the 800-volt charging system is incorporated into the more affordable Tesla models.

One important point to mention is that F-150 Lightning drivers are now receiving CCS to NACS adapters, which will allow them to utilize Tesla’s supercharging network. Rivian drivers can expect to receive their adapters soon, well before the more budget-friendly versions of the Cybertruck from Tesla hit the market. This marks a significant shift for Tesla, as it will be the first time one of their products does not have an advantage in charging speed or network compared to their closest rival.

The interior of Tesla’s Cybertruck remains consistent with their brand aesthetic. Despite its high-end positioning, the vehicle does not feature a gauge cluster like the Model S and X, which is a common feature among most other cars on the market.

Rather than multiple screens, this car relies on a central touch screen for all information, much like the Model 3 and Model Y. The interior design is sleek and minimal, with not much else catching the eye. However, some notable features are the unconventional driving position created by the long windshield and the single wiper that struggles to effectively clear heavy rain without leaving streaks.

Although taller drivers may find the seat comfort tolerable, for me, it’s a complete dealbreaker. Standing at 5’6”, I found that the jutting part of the headrest pressed uncomfortably against the back of my skull, instead of fitting comfortably against the curve of my neck. As a result, my head was pushed downwards and forwards. I was faced with two options: either endure the uncomfortable strain on my neck or adjust the seat in such a way that my head would not make contact with the headrest. However, this also meant that I had to provide support for my own head since the angle of the headrest was non-adjustable. Moreover, in order to avoid any contact between my head and the headrest, I had to lean at an unnatural angle off the backrest, leaving no support for my head, neck, or shoulders.

Driving in the car for anything longer than a brief trip was tremendously uneasy. I am unsure if Tesla neglected to conduct proper testing of the seat with individuals of shorter stature or average women, or if it simply chose to disregard the feedback they offered, but the driving posture was entirely unsatisfactory. If you measure under 5’8″, ensure that you can find contentment in the seat before you make the final decision to purchase.

The Cybertruck offers the typical array of Tesla products, although some expected features are noticeably absent. While the phone-as-a-key feature functions seamlessly, only adaptive cruise control is currently included in Autopilot. Lane-keeping for regular Autopilot and Full Self-Driving capabilities are not yet available, despite Tesla’s assurance that they will be added eventually. As our practice is to evaluate what is currently accessible rather than what has been promised, the lack of these features is a letdown for a truck with a price tag of $100,000 that was initially announced in 2019.

Standard features on our Foundation Series include both heated and cooled seats, as well as a high-quality stereo system. We have also included a heat pump to maximize the efficiency of both heating and cooling. Additionally, our vehicle boasts side view cameras that automatically appear when the turn signal is activated, giving you a wider view while driving. The rear-view camera can also be utilized while in motion, and we have added a powered tonneau cover for convenient lockable storage in the spacious truck bed.

The bed of the Cybertruck also includes two household-style 110-volt outlets and one 240-volt outlet. The All-Whell Drive Foundation Series comes equipped with air suspension, providing a remarkable 12 inches of total travel. In off-road mode, the maximum ground clearance reaches an outstanding 17 inches.

For those interested in technology, Tesla continues to lead the way compared to traditional car manufacturers when it comes to seamless integration and advanced software capabilities. While there may be some incomplete aspects and ongoing testing of key features, the Cybertruck’s technological offerings are sure to impress.

The Cybertruck utilizes the identical fundamental multimedia platform as all other Tesla models. Adjustments for mirrors, wiper speed, trip data, range, battery status, lock settings, preferences, gear shifting, and practically every other function are all accessed through the primary 18.5-inch screen.

This article discusses how the overall performance of this particular infotainment system is superior to that of most car companies. However, its design of incorporating all controls into a touch screen may prove challenging for users. Additionally, it would be beneficial to have individual lock and unlock buttons instead of a toggle switch, as this would make it easier to unlock the rear doors without having to first re-lock the front doors.

It is rather unusual that, despite its hefty $100,000 cost, the Cybertruck Foundation Series boasts less memory and storage compared to the Model S or Model X. As a result, it lacks compatibility with Steam Gaming. Personally, I am not too bothered by this, but it does seem strange for the leading hardware to be featured in the older, less expensive models while the flagship vehicle does not offer features such as Steam Gaming, Autopilot, and locking differentials (which are listed as “coming soon”).

Despite the fact that the door handles for Tesla’s Model 3 and Model S can be quickly mastered with just one motion, the Cybertruck falls short in terms of ergonomics due to its click-to-open doors. To open the doors, you must first press the button above the door and then wait for an electric motor to release them. Once this is done, you have to reach inside the door and pull it out. This unnecessary two-step process serves as a frustrating reminder of the unusual tradeoffs that come with Tesla’s stainless-steel construction.

According to reports, the Cybertruck is expected to have all of Tesla’s Autopilot features. At this time, it only has adaptive cruise control, emergency braking, blind spot detection, and lane departure warning. It’s strange that Tesla is lagging behind competitors like the F-150 Lightning and Rivian, which both offer hands-free BlueCruise driving and a comprehensive ADAS suite. It’s surprising to see Tesla enter the game without essential capabilities.

The safety ratings of the Cybertruck from the National Highway Traffic Administration or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety have not yet been released. Previous Tesla models have shown strong results in safety evaluations, although this is the first stainless-steel vehicle since the DeLorean.

In any case, the towering front end and sturdy frame of the Cybertruck could spell trouble for pedestrians or other vehicles that may come into contact with it. However, this issue is not unique to this particular electric pickup truck, as all EV pickups face the same potential problem.

Our focus is on the current offerings, not just what was promised. This is especially crucial in the case of the Cybertruck, which was initially touted as being significantly more affordable. However, this was back when the vehicle was announced four and a half years ago, before the pandemic changed everything. As of now, there are only two versions of the Cybertruck available for purchase:

Both models offer identical technology and equipment, however the Cyberbeast boasts an additional motor, increased horsepower, and a slightly shorter range. To put it into perspective, the most affordable variant of the Rivian R1T begins at just above $75,000 including destination fees, while the most expensive trim starts at just over $100,000.

The initial cost of the F-150 Lightning Pro model is slightly above $50,000, and its three most affordable trims are eligible for a federal tax credit of $7500. On the other hand, the highest-priced trim begins at approximately $92,000. The GMC Hummer EV pickup has a starting price of $98,845. If you are conscious about your budget, my suggestion would be to wait for Cybertruck prices to decrease or opt for a less costly truck.

If you are interested in learning more about its comparison to other versions of competing trucks, take a look at our comprehensive analysis of electric truck costs and specifications.

The Tesla Cybertruck made bold claims of a revolutionary design. CEO Elon Musk confidently touted its ability to completely transform the pickup truck industry. However, upon closer examination, the truth falls short of this hype.

The announcement came during a time when the production of electric pickup trucks was virtually nonexistent. However, upon its release, it faced stiff competition in the full-size internal-combustion pickup market. Unfortunately, it lacks any significant advantage for consumers compared to its rivals. While it does boast impressive features such as a 48-volt architecture, steer-by-wire technology, and stainless steel construction, these do not appear to offer substantial benefits for customers.

One of the main attributes that sets this article apart could possibly be the lasting durability of its build, assuming that is proven true. Its surface appears to be more resilient to scratches compared to the high-quality paint found on a Rivian or Lightning. However, any benefit gained in scratch resistance may potentially be offset by the hassle of locating a body shop willing and able to repair it in the event of an accident. Additionally, after being on the market for a year, the initial appeal of its single-tone silver exterior is likely to diminish.

Although not completely uniform, the tester in our study had varying tones on the doors and some panels that were not properly aligned. However, those who would find its sturdy design most advantageous – fleet purchasers and dedicated do-it-yourself individuals – may be discouraged by its steep price, limited options, absence of external repair assistance, and apparent ongoing development.

This particular product is decent, but I am unsure of its target market. It would appeal to those who have eagerly awaited Tesla’s latest and most awe-inspiring creation, and die-hard fans and early adopters will undoubtedly relish the attention it garners. However, I am hesitant to view it purely as a consumer product; rather, it seems to be more of a symbolic statement. Its software and app surpasses that of traditional manufacturers, and it certainly stands out in a crowded parking lot. However, it falls short of the revolutionary and bold standards set by Tesla.

The outcome is comparable to the vehicle that first introduced this segment: the Rivian R1T. Tesla has not made any progress in the key aspects hindering the widespread use of electric trucks – namely, range, towing capacity, affordability, and charging time. Instead, they have invested an unknown amount of resources into innovating their manufacturing systems to support the futuristic, but impractical stainless steel design.

After a flurry of excitement over the span of four years, my expectations were not met.

To get in touch with the writer, reach out via email at mack.hogan@insideevs.com. Kindly contact the author by sending an email to mack.hogan@insideevs.com.Contacting the author has never been easier. Simply send an email to mack.hogan@insideevs.com and reach out for any inquiries or feedback. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with the writer by dropping a line to mack.hogan@insideevs.com.

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