What’s the Tesla Cybertruck All About? I Took a Spin to Find Out

Once I drove it, it was clear: The Tesla Cybertruck is a character from a video game that protects you from monsters and bad guys in a post-apocalyptic world.

The Tesla Cybertruck
The Tesla Cybertruck. Photo: Scotty Reiss

This Truck is a Video Game Character That’s Come To Life

Once I saw it in person, it was clear: the Cybertruck from Tesla is a video game but in real life. Those are dark, urgent battle-driven games in which the protagonist (you) flees monsters and bad guys while fighting off incoming ammo and rescuing others. Often in a post-apocalyptic world in which everything is somewhat familiar but smoldering and deconstructed. And, it’s very masculine.

That’s what it felt like climbing inside, with a man cave vibe. Bare. Utilitarian. Video focused. And deconstructed.

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This Button Opens The Door

This button opens the door. Photo: Scotty Reiss

What’s So Cool About This Truck

The Tesla team certainly figured out how to reinvent key required components, which might seem boring enough to completely ruin a futuristic design — mirrors, windows, turn signals, gear shifters — and came up with novel designs that meet federal safety requirements. The side mirrors have the same wedge shape as the truck. Windshield wipers are a dial on the steering wheel, just like they are on a Lamborghini. The windshield wiper itself is baseball-bat sized and there’s only one.

The gear shifter is a touch bar on the touch screen — that’s the first I’ve seen. But everything is on the touch screen with the exception of a few controls on the steering wheel: the wipers, turn signals, and voice activation. The rest are on the large center screen. There is not even a driver display screen, a trend we see more of today. The minimalist feel extends to the cabin, which is open and rugged, with leatherette seats and all-weather floor mats throughout. And the ceiling panel is all glass and tinted, giving the cabin an open but slightly dimmed feel; it’s light but not bright, as if the entire car is covered by a pair of sunglasses.

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The Tesla Cybertruck

The Tesla Cybertruck. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Stainless Steel … A Good Thing?

The Cybertruck’s exterior is clad in stainless steel that is .071” thick — though it seems thicker — and feels much more solid than the sheet of stainless that covers your refrigerator or dishwasher. The stainless steel panels have the feeling of being cut with a saw; the edges are square and sharp, without that slightly rounded feel to door panels on most car doors.

Like the stainless on your refrigerator, it’s prone to stains (odd, I know) and fingerprints. Driving around town, I saw several other Cybertrucks with stained siding. Our test models didn’t shed the carrot stains as I’d expected; the panels looked like a messy table in a commercial kitchen.

And they are sharp, which, I found out firsthand, can be dangerous. During my experience with the Cybertruck, a friend, Kyle Conner, did some extensive testing with three electric trucks and put them all to the “pinch” test. The question is: Would they snap a carrot in half, or would they retract away from an object that gets in the way, like an elevator door that opens if you put your hand in front of it?

Turns out, the Rivian R1T passed the pinch test easily; a carrot extended across the rim of the frunk was enough to make the frunk lid bound back open when we tried to close it.

The Tesla’s, however, did not. It closed with a loud ‘thunk’ and chopped the carrot in half. So did the Cybertruck’s doors. Just imagining the hand of a small child or even a grown adult makes me shiver. Keep your fingers and hands out of the way of a closing door or frunk lid in the Tesla (and the Ford F-150 Lightning; it turns out that one didn’t pass the pinch test either).

Related: Why So Many People Are Happily On the Waitlist for Their Rivian R1T Electric Pickup Truck

The Yoke-Style Wheel

The yoke-style wheel. Photo: Scotty Reiss

What’s The Cybertruck Like to Drive? 

Just getting into the Cybertruck is novel. There is no door handle; nothing pops out to greet you; there is nothing to insert your finger in to open the door. There is a single lit button on the door pillar. Touch it, and the door pops open.

Once inside, it took me a minute to find the gear shifter – after that, I put my foot on the brake, and the truck instantly came to life. Soon, I was ready to put it in gear, which I found on the touch screen; slide the truck icon up for reverse and down for drive.

From there, I grabbed the ‘yoke’ style steering wheel, which is flat on the top and bottom. The yoke uses a technology called steer-by-wire, which is essentially computer or electric steering; there is no physical connection between the steering wheel and the car’s wheels.

Steer by wire is very cool. I tried this out in the Lexus RZ, and I’d opt for it if I could. Again, like a video game, it requires very little input; turn the wheel just a bit and for what seems like a large turn.  Once you get used to this, you’ll love it.

The Interior Of The Tesla Cybertruck

The interior of the Tesla Cybertruck. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Finally, Taking Cybertruck For a (Short) Drive

Then, with the car powered, I drove it a very short distance. About 50 feet and backwards: I only backed it from the center of the parking lot into place for a video shoot. My first impressions are two-fold: First, the blindspots in this truck are huge. That’s because with the cover over the truck bed closed, the rear window is essentially useless. With it open, it’s probably a bit better, but I didn’t have that advantage. Drivers will find the side mirrors and rearview camera very handy, as that is the only way to see what’s behind you.

Then, it turned quickly and easily. The Cybertruck has rear-wheel steering, so it was easy to angle this huge blocky truck into the parking spot. It turned handily, and I could see the wheels turning in the side mirror.

My “test drive” was certainly short, but I hope to take a longer test drive soon.

The Gear Selector In The Tesla Cybertruck

The gear selector in the Tesla Cybertruck. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Is it Good for Off-Roading?

Well, critics say no. Tesla says yes. I say, be careful. While the Cybertruck has a nice high ground clearance, it does not come with skid plates, which means you could possibly damage the undercarriage where the battery and some other functions are housed. Without an oil pan or transfer case, the Cybertruck is less at risk of damage from off-roading, but not completely. Though you can have a skid plate installed.

Still, experts report that the Cybertruck isn’t as capable off-road as its gas and electric counterparts and that it’s better suited for city driving.

The Interior Of The Tesla Cybertruck

The interior of the Tesla Cybertruck. Photo: Scotty Reiss

It Is What It Seems

That it’s not the ultimate off-roader isn’t a surprise. The Cybertruck looks and feels and lives the part of the post-apocalyptic truck that can go anywhere and protect you from it all. It’s a tank with its sharp, straight lines, pencil-sketched shape, and wouldn’t-it-be-cool-if features. And, with a price tag of $100,000, it’s targeted at just the right audience: people — mostly men, I’m guessing — who have grown tired of the in-game app purchases and are ready for the real thing. And here it is… in real life, and ready to go.

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Journalist, entrepreneur and mom. Expertise includes new cars, family cars, 3-row SUVs, child passenger car seats and automotive careers... More about Scotty Reiss