Tesla Quietly Brings Back Round Steering Wheels
After yoking itself to, well, odd and poorly executed steering yokes for the Model X SUV and Model S sedan models in 2021, Tesla has partially unyoked itself from the cut-down steering interfaces and is offering conventional steering wheels again. Browsing Tesla’s configurator for the Model X and S, near the interior choices now lives a selector for “Steering Control” with buttons for round or yoke-shaped designs; both are listed as “included,” so it appears the normal steering wheel is a no-cost choice. This wasn’t much of a surprise, as some eagle-eyed Tesla watchers first caught peeks at some imagery on Tesla’s website depicting the updated Model S and Model X interiors with the old round wheel instead of the hyped-up yoke, though it didn’t officially come to fruition until now.
That’s a Yoke, Right?
Curious what the yoke is that we’re talking about? There’s a shot of it above. It’s basically two vertical grips linked by a single spoke to the steering hub, with no rim up top or on the bottom. If you’re thinking, boy, that’d be weird to use during a sharp maneuver such as, say, a U-turn, you’re right! It is strange. One must consciously reach for the grips, lest they come up with a handful of air.
Tesla also didn’t adjust the steering at all to compensate for the oddball steering interface; the yoke would be more tolerable if, say, the steering varied its ratio in such a way that the driver wouldn’t need to turn the yoke much beyond 90 degrees in either direction for maximum steering. Lexus has a yoke incoming on its first-ever EV model, the RZ crossover, but it drastically changes the steering’s behavior to ensure the driver can keep their hands on the grips for practically any common steering input, small or large.
Rounding Off the Edges
No question, Tesla’s round steering wheel is better—if less “rad” than the yoke. (Want something in between? This aftermarket brand has a partial fix for the yoke, which turns it into an almost squished, almond-shaped thing with more grip area.) So, what if you were one of the unlucky ones to purchase the updated Tesla Model S or X with the yoke between 2021 and now? No need to trade in your Tesla, because there’s a $700 retrofit for the round wheel available to current customers.
Coming in March 2023, and “only compatible with Model S and Model X vehicles configured with a Yoke Steering Wheel,” the round wheel replaces the yoke and includes a heated rim and Tesla’s dual control wheels for adjusting things on-screen and various other in-car functions. The price includes installation via Tesla Service. If you’re thinking… well, if Tesla could offer a round wheel retrofit, what is stopping it from doing the same with the yoke, for anyone who wants one on their 2020-and-earlier Model S or X? Good question—maybe tweet it at Elon Musk, though it’s possible the yoke isn’t compatible with the older interiors.
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