The Tesla Cybertruck Isn’t That Impressive

Estimated read time 5 min read

Sorry fanboys, it’s not going to replace traditional pickup trucks.

Tesla faithful are celebrating the production launch of the Cybertruck, a vehicle which even they started to doubt would ever hit the market. Now that it’s almost here, the wild claims that it will replace all traditional pickup trucks are starting to fly once more. That might be fueled in part by the marketing tagline for the Cybertruck: “Better utility than a truck with more performance than a sports car.”

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I have to admit, that’s one hell of a way to sell a truck that looks like a wedge of cheese or a doorstop, so hats off to the marketing department. The one thing the Cybertruck most definitely isn’t is boring and at a time when so many vehicles look the same, it’s admittedly an interesting change of pace, even if one might believe Elon Musk originally sketched it at the ripe age of five.

Weird overall shape aside, there’s just no way the Cybertruck is going to replace traditional full-size pickup trucks, especially heavy-duty models. For starters, the EV isn’t being marketed to the usual truck shoppers but instead to the eternal frat boys along with Tesla’s core audience: disenfranchised nerds who hate car culture. That’s why the in-your-face design is perfect. It’s a middle finger to Detroit and how it believes trucks should look.

Where the Cybertruck truly falls short is performance. Anyone who’s familiar with my commentary on pickups know I will emphasize doing truck things first and foremost when evaluating one, something people who use these workhorses for their livelihood and even weekend play will do as well.

If you’re like me, you’ve seen all kinds of Tesla fanboys on the internet claiming the Cybertruck will “make more torque than anything ever.” So these will be working at mines to haul out rock in the near future, right? And they’ll be pulling cargo trains? Bizarre claims aside, the 3,500 pounds of payload capacity and a stated towing capacity of “over 14,000 pounds” are competitive with other full-size trucks, so Tesla did nail that aspect and should be congratulated for it.

But when it comes to HD models, the Cybertruck just doesn’t stack up. For example, the Ford F-450 can tow up to 32,500 pounds, if configured properly. It’s a similar gap with payload capacities. If you’re rolling your eyes right now, you probably don’t realize people who buy a heavy-duty pickup make use of the towing and hauling capabilities often, not just for some ego trip. They’re not image machines but instead are tools used for competently completing jobs over and over. Those people won’t be swayed by the Tesla and Musk likely knows that.

Another issue with the Cybertruck is bed size. While the claimed 6.5-foot length payload is superior to the Ford Lightning’s 5-foot bed and should compete well with most light-duty full-size trucks, it won’t sway many HD shoppers. Most opt for an 8-foot bed and use that extra length often.  

People are worked up about the claimed 500-mile capacity. That’s certainly impressive for an EV, but it won’t best the heavy-duty diesel trucks on the market. That’s another big reason HD owners love their pickups, enabling them to cruise on the open road with few stops. Consider the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel, which isn’t a heavy-duty model, can go over 950 miles on a single tank. The Tesla is nowhere near that capability.

Finally, one huge deal breaker for truck shoppers who do look at the Cybertruck will be the interior. It’s funky, but more importantly for a truck that’s supposedly going to start at $50,000 it’s really not all that nice. Tesla interiors are – how to put this bluntly? – awful. They’re so sparse and cheap feeling that they’re laughable. You can disagree and that’s fine, but I know plenty of people also find Tesla interiors to be worse than a Kia’s. Since many truck owners spend long hours in their vehicle for work and/or weekend play the trend in the industry has been toward more luxurious cabs. Tesla falls far short in that department.

All this isn’t to say the Tesla Cybertruck is a complete dog. Yes, its looks will be the biggest turn-off for people, but the integrated load ramp in the tailgate is a genius design. Same goes for the stainless steel body, which should be pretty damage resistant. The tonneau cover is also a smart feature to include. I’m sure the people who decided to get one will be for the most part happy with their purchase. Just don’t expect most of the traditional truck crowd to flock to it, especially those who own HD pickups.

Images via Tesla

Steven Symes https://writerstevensymes.com/

Steven Symes is an accomplished automotive journalist with a passion for all things related to cars. His extensive knowledge and love for the automotive world shine through in his writing, which covers a diverse range of topics.

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