Home » I Had A Tesla Cybertruck For The Weekend. Here’s Why I Ended Up Driving My BMW i3 Instead

I Had A Tesla Cybertruck For The Weekend. Here’s Why I Ended Up Driving My BMW i3 Instead

Bmw I3 Wins Cybetruck Comfort Ts2
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If you have the keys to a Tesla Cybertruck for a weekend, you should drive the Tesla Cybertruck. No matter your thoughts on its styling or its general “vibe,” it is an awesome machine to experience. Why, then, did I decide on Saturday to drive the Cybertruck back to work, where my 2014 BMW i3 stood, so I could drive the little Bavarian all weekend? It comes down to a term I’m coining today — “Subconscious Comfort.” It’s an idea that could be obvious to many of you (and perhaps we have a word for it already), but even if so, just know that it’s what led me to give up the Cybertruck keys. Here, allow me to explain.

Back when I lived in Michigan, I accrued a lot of cars (14 at one point). I had half an acre at my disposal, rent was cheap, cars were cheap, and every car I bought became content that helped further my career. More importantly, my love for unique automobiles was strong and everlasting, and I enjoyed working on vehicles.

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One question I frequently got from people during those days was: “How do you decide which car to drive?” The answer to that was complicated. Sometimes, the car I chose to drive was a conscious choice. “Man, I want to row that three-speed-on-the-column,” I’d think, and then I’d hop into my 1965 Plymouth Valiant. “That ZJ’s five-speed shifts like a dream, and that four-liter is torquey and smooth,” I’d think. “Plus, the ZJ is just such a historically significant car to me, with it having been my first car.” So I hop into the ZJ. If I’m feeling like having a bunch of fun, I’d fold down my 1948 Willys’ windshield and cruise. Maybe I felt like driving a classic truck? Then I’d jump into my 1985 Jeep J10.

 

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But oftentimes, the choice of vehicle was subconscious. I know this because I once owned a Lexus LX470 — basically a fancy 100-series Toyota Land Cruiser. I did not like that machine; it was thirsty, oversized, only so-so off-road, slow, and I could go on and on. On paper, it was not great. And yet, when it came time to do a basic errand, my hand would naturally reach for the Lexus keys over every other key. There was no thought that went into it: It was almost like a physiological choice that my body made for me.

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Why was it that, any time I headed to the dentist or grocery store or fast food spot, I was always behind the wheel of that Lexus? It’s because it was supremely comfortable. It was so much quieter than any other car I owned, the seats were more comfortable, the ride was better, and at the same time, it had 260,000 miles on the clock and I wasn’t worried about it getting rusty or dinged up. To me, it was the easiest, cushiest car to drive.

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It’s that same concept that led me to drive my i3 this weekend over the Cybertruck (which I’d already driven for a few days at that point — I’m grateful for the experience). The i3 just offered more of this “subconscious comfort.” And I should reiterate, I’m not saying that the i3 is more “comfortable” in a traditional sense; no, most reviewers would call the Cybertruck much more comfortable than an i3. Subconscious comfort isn’t about just ride quality, interior materials, or NVH mitigation — there are loads of factors that go into it. Here’s a list off the top of my head:

  • Visibility
  • Size (for ease of parking, especially in cities)
  • Interior tech/apps
  • Value (i.e. how worried you are about it being damaged)
  • Reliability
  • Ride comfort and handling
  • Interior quietness (NVH)
  • Fuel efficiency
  • All-weather performance
  • Refueling/recharging infrastructure

The reasons why I hung up the keys to the Cybertruck involved the truck’s size, its visibility, and its value. The thing is just too big to easily slither through tight city streets, and its visibility — despite its nice cameras — makes parking tricky. I actually hit a car, though it was slight (I’ll write about that a bit later). What’s more, the truck is just too valuable right now, and with its polarizing styling, it’s hard to feel anxious leaving it sitting anywhere for long.

I didn’t want to deal with all that, so I took the Cybertruck back to work, and grabbed my i3.

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As soon as I was in the i3, I felt so much more at ease. Obviously, some of that has to do with the fact that I was used to it, but its size, visibility, and lack of flashiness/value were key to making it the right car for my weekend.

I’ll soon have a newer BMW i3 in my fleet, and that thing will have Apple Carplay, making it likely the most “subconsciously comfortable” car in my fleet. And that includes my girlfriend’s Lexus RX350, a vehicle that rides much better than my i3, and whose interior is, while perhaps not as pretty, certainly more cushy.

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And yet, when my girlfriend or I reach for a key to do a basic errand, we always choose the i3. It’s smaller, easier to maneuver, and it’s electric. Firing up a gas engine, and knowing you’re burning fuel that you’ll have to replenish at a gas station instead of just plugging in, just makes hopping into the Lexus for a basic errand feel more mentally straining. Perhaps less “easy.” Maybe the term should be “subconscious ease”? I’m not sure, but I can tell you that what I’m describing isn’t just about ride and NVH — it’s a complex thing involving lots of factors.

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If I lived in, say, a snowy place, then certainly the all-wheel drive Lexus on Michelin Crossclimate 2’s would be the car whose keys I’d naturally grab. If I had to go on a long road-trip, I’d probably snag the Lexus’ keys, since the BMW i3’s range extender is a bit loud and just makes me feel uncomfortable due to its lack of reliability.

Yes, reliability plays into Subconscious Comfort. Legendary Autopian writer The Bishop knows what I’m talking about. Here are a few paragraphs from him about his similar experience with a Lexus (shown below):

Let’s say you have just two cars. One is primarily driven by a person that will call you screaming and crying when it breaks down because it’s YOUR FAULT, and your two kids are sitting in the thing as semis whiz by within inches. If faced with that situation, you choose a vehicle with your head and not your heart. I despise almost everything about our 2009 Lexus LX570, but I’ve never gotten a call from the side of the road.

What I hate even more about it is that on weekends, when I need to take a quick trip to the store or the bank, I’m halfway down the street when I realized that I’m not in my German daily driver but instead the hated SUV. I subconsciously took the keys and drove away? Why is that? My guess is that somehow sitting high up in silence with air conditioning that cools the car in seconds overrules road manners all day long in suburbia. Hell, the Lexus doesn’t have any “road manners” at all, nor does it feature “fuel economy”. Muscle memory likely comes into play, just like how you grab those ugly shoes in the closet instead of the slick looking ones that kill your heels. Your body chooses the path of least resistance- at least at my age.

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Image: The Bishop

That’s really well put! Choosing which car to drive often is a subconscious choice that your body makes to follow “the path of least resistance,” factoring in so many different things. I’m not sure there’s a term yet for this “thing” that certain cars have over others so I’m just going to call it “subconscious comfort.” My BMW i3, an electric luxury subcompact hatchback with loads of visibility and reliability along with a rather low flashiness/value on the marketplace, has this in spades. At least, in fair-weathered California, where my girlfriend and I reach for its keys every time we have to do a basic errand.

Anyway, I realize that choosing a smaller, nimbler, less valuable, less flashy subcompact over a big truck in a city sounds fairly obvious, but this article was just a way for me to discuss this concept of “subconscious comfort,” because it’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while. Because it’s not the same as just “ride comfort” or “interior” comfort. It’s a combination of factors, many obvious, some not so much.

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Andre Pereira Goncalves
Andre Pereira Goncalves
11 days ago

I know exactly what you mean – I had my beloved Camaro for almost two years and when the registration was due to renewal this year there was this lingering feeling that something with more comfort would make sense.
You see when 70 to 80% of driving is commuting through traffic at low speeds, dealing with constant speed cameras and in general a lack of nice driving roads, V8 vroom vroom noises, sitting low and chassis balance don’t mean much.
So I got a GX, a vehicle that was never in my radar, and by jolly I can say that I enjoy the unstressed experience of sitting in comfort and actually enjoy just sitting in traffic listening to podcasts

Another Engineer
Another Engineer
11 days ago

This subconscious comfort concept is also true for trips that are so short a car shouldn’t be used at all, but our habits take over.

Alpine 911
Alpine 911
14 days ago

Convenience. Life is getting fuller and while we admire the thought of cruising down a sunny road or go up a twisty pass, we can’t be bothered at some point.

MikeInTheWoods
MikeInTheWoods
14 days ago

The side profile photo looks like some future dystopian movie set. Corroding angular vehicle and city blob on wheels. I actually don’t mind the i3 and considered one once. But I didn’t trust a BMW for reliability as a used vehicle.

Dumb Shadetree
Dumb Shadetree
14 days ago

I think you’re on to something with subconscious comfort. The i3’s interior is also simply appealing. It’s designed to be not just inoffensive, but comforting and attractive. While the cybertruck may be comfortable, it is not designed to be comforting and attractive. It’s designed to be burly and utilitarian. There’s something to be said about calming colors and textures.

Ricardo Mercio
Ricardo Mercio
14 days ago

I think what you’re thinking about is confidence. How confident are you that nothing will go wrong? That depends on 3 things:

Your confidence that you won’t do anything wrong. How well can you control it and avoid disaster? Are the controls good, can you see well out of it, is it small enough to navigate traffic? This can be affected by your driving skills and how used you are to the car.

Your belief that the car won’t do any wrong. Are you sure it won’t break down, leave you stranded, or force you to stop at Dirty Joe’s Discount Auto Parts to jerry-rig a solution in the parking lot? Is your maintenance up to date, are your axle boots in one piece, are you sure the door seals keep rain out? Do your airbags work? This depends on the car and its current state.

Your situational definition of “going wrong”. Would a door ding, curb rash, a flat tire or a mechanical failure ruin your day? Will you have to spend months and thousands in foreign currencies scouring forums and dodgy online auctions in equally foreign languages for a rare headlight housing or distributor cap? This depends on both you and the car, and is a balance between your pain tolerance and the car’s pain-causing capacity.

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
14 days ago

“Size (for ease of parking, especially in cities)”

+1

Yup… a lot of non-city people don’t understand that for those of us in the city, “less can be more”

In that, you only need so much space. Having a huge vehicle with way more space than you need just becomes a pain in the ass to deal with in city driving/parking situations.

Also having a less valuable vehicle for city driving is also better in that the tight parking means a much higher risk of scratches, dents and dings.

Jeff Marquardt
Jeff Marquardt
14 days ago

I am starting to turn into a David too. I’ve had my Camaro for over 10 years now and realize that I am driving it less and less.

When my wife and I go out together, my wife insists to drive and we take her Jetta. It’s not quite as comfortable or fun as my Camaro, but it doesn’t have a clean body panel on it and can fit into tiny parking spots. It probably a bit better on gas too.

Additionally, I’ve been biking more often, so for short trips and nearby errands I hop on my ancient Giant.

MikeInTheWoods
MikeInTheWoods
15 days ago

David and Bishop absolutely nailing the idea of what we do unconsciously with our choices. That path of least resistance can be a slippery slope. If someone can afford it, I recommend keeping a vehicle that you have to effort to drive and yet makes you feel truly alive. This carries over to many other aspects of life as well. Ease and comfort are how our country has been sold a bag of goods by corporations and we now just open our wallets. “Subscription plan for heated seats? Well I’ll only subscribe for my lease, so that’s fine…” Sometimes standing up and doing the difficult thing is necessary. Otherwise, entropy will rule.

Grippy Caballeros
Grippy Caballeros
15 days ago

My 16 YO daughter needed a car to get her to/from school and my buddy had a Fiat 500e and she fell in love. We picked one up albeit overpriced (thanks, COVID!) but every time I sense creeping buyer’s remorse, I take it for a spin. Good god that is a tight, fun little car. It’s not my old S2000 but easily a solid #2. Would select 100x over that pig-iron Aparthied-approved shitwagon.

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