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I went to see the Tesla Cybertruck in person. It's surprisingly different up close.

Business Insider Global Tech Editor Alistair Barr stands in a Tesla showroom in San Jose, California, on December 9, 2023.
Business Insider's global tech editor, Alistair Barr, in a Tesla showroom in San Jose, California, on Saturday.Alistair Barr/Business Insider

I'm a car nut. When I was a kid, I read my dad's car magazines religiously.

I love vehicle design and the driving experience. So, when Tesla's Cybertruck came out, I put a $100 reservation down. When early versions began appearing on the streets, I devoured the photos and videos online.

My beloved wife of 20+ years has threatened to divorce me if I actually buy this vehicle. It's divisive, and not just because of Tesla CEO Elon Musk's controversial comments. You either love the Cybertruck's angular look, or you think it's too big and dumb.

The online footage does make the truck look large, especially the back, which looks high and bulky in photos.

Tesla recently put a Cybertruck in its Santana Row showroom in San Jose, California. I drove down to check it out up close and chatted to customers, employees, and other people who were there.

Here's what I found out and what I decided about my reservation — and the future of my marriage.

I arrived around midday. The Tesla showroom was relatively busy.

People look at a Cybertruck at Tesla's Santana Row showroom in San Jose on December 9, 2023.
A Cybertruck at Tesla's Santana Row showroom in San Jose.Alistair Barr/Business Insider

The truck was cordoned off, so you couldn't touch it or get inside.

A Cybertruck cordoned off at Tesla's Santana Row showroom in San Jose, California, on December 9, 2023.
A Cybertruck at Tesla's Santana Row showroom in San Jose.Alistair Barr/Business Insider

"They've made it slightly smaller compared to the prototype, and you can see it's more compact."

A Cybertruck at Tesla's Santana Row showroom in San Jose, California, on December 9, 2023.
A Cybertruck at Tesla's Santana Row showroom in San Jose.Alistair Barr/Business Insider

A customer in his early 50s wearing a beanie said he'd made a reservation 4 years ago. He said he recently got the invitation to purchase and paid an extra $250 to secure that, choosing the high-end Cyberbeast model. He said he came to see the Cybertruck for the first time and thought it looked better in person. "They've made it slightly smaller compared to the prototype, and you can see it's more compact," he said. His wife stood beside him. I asked whether she liked the look, and she said yes, although not with the same gusto as her husband.

"Your wife is smart and correct."

The rear of a Cybertruck is shown at Tesla's Santana Row showroom in San Jose, California, on December 9, 2023.
The rear of a Cybertruck at Tesla's Santana Row showroom in San Jose, California.Alistair Barr/Business Insider

A younger man in a brown jacket walked up to the truck. He said it looked cool. His wife beside him said it was "too big." I mentioned that my wife had threatened to divorce me if I bought this truck. "Your wife is smart and correct," she said. Another woman at the showroom said, "It's just so big. Too big."

My daughter thought it looked too big to park.

A Cybertruck parked inside Tesla's Santana Row showroom in San Jose on December 9, 2023.
A Cybertruck parked inside Tesla's Santana Row showroom in San Jose.Alistair Barr/Business Insider

I brought my 17-year-old daughter with me. She had a negative reaction when she first saw the Cybertruck. "It's just so massive," she said. To her, it looked too big to park. It's longer than some versions of the Ford F-150, which a showroom employee confirmed, saying it was a few inches longer.

I didn't think the rear looked too large, and it was slightly lower than I expected.

The rear of a Cybertruck at Tesla's Santana Row showroom in San Jose on December 9, 2023.
The rear of a Cybertruck at Tesla's Santana Row showroom in San Jose.Alistair Barr/Business Insider

The corners at the back weren't too high.

The rear corner of a Tesla Cybertruck
The rear corner of a Tesla Cybertruck.Alistair Barr/Business Insider

But the sharp corners looked as if they might do serious damage to anything that came into contact with them.

The tonneau cover blocks rear visibility.

The back of a Tesla Cybertruck at the company's Santana Row showroom in San Jose on December 9, 2023.
The back of a Tesla Cybertruck at the company's Santana Row showroom in San Jose.Alistair Barr/Business Insider

When the tonneau cover is up over the truck bay, there's likely to be zero rear visibility when reversing. A salesperson said this was solved by multiple cameras for visibility when reversing and parking.

The Cybertruck's panel fit mostly looked good.

A Cybertruck at Tesla's Santana Row showroom in San Jose on December 9, 2023.
A Cybertruck at Tesla's Santana Row showroom in San Jose.Alistair Barr/Business Insider

There was one imperfection with how one rear door lined up with a back panel. More on that below.

Up close, the angular steel panels created incredible design flourishes.

The front corner of a Tesla Cybertruck
The front corner of a Tesla Cybertruck.Alistair Barr/Business Insider

A steel panel jutted down here and was framed by the Cybertruck's rear light.

Tesla Cyberrtruck up close in person
The rear corner of a Cybertruck.Alistair Barr/Business Insider

One of the Cybertruck's headlights and its front bumper

The front bumper of a Tesla Cybertruck
The front bumper of a Tesla Cybertruck.Alistair Barr/Business Insider

The Cybertruck's front indicator and wheel

The front wheel and indicator of a Tesla Cybertruck
The front wheel and indicator of a Tesla Cybertruck.Alistair Barr/Business Insider

A view of the Cybertruck's rear end and tonneau cover

The rear light of a Tesla Cybertruck
The rear light of a Tesla Cybertruck.Alistair Barr/Business Insider

The back corner and rear light of the Cybertruck

The back corner of a Tesla Cybertruck
The back corner of a Tesla Cybertruck.Alistair Barr/Business Insider

Overall, I came away wanting a Cybertruck more than ever. Now I just have to convince my wife.

The back of a Tesla Cybertruck at the company's Santana Row showroom in San Jose on December 9, 2023.
The back of a Tesla Cybertruck at the company's Santana Row showroom in San Jose.Alistair Barr/Business Insider

That wasn't the case with everyone who visited Tesla's Santana Row showroom in San Jose on that day, though. I asked a Tesla salesman about people's reactions to the look of the truck in person. "It's fifty-fifty," he said. "50% of the people who come in hate it, and 50% love it. There's nothing in between." The salesman was offering to sign reservation holders up for free test drives of other Tesla cars on the spot. Those who agreed would be moved up in the Cybertruck reservation line, he said, describing this as an in-store offer.

One Tesla employee said the Cybertruck was too expensive.

The front wheel of a Tesla Cybertruck at the company's Santana Row showroom in San Jose on December 9, 2023.
The front wheel of a Tesla Cybertruck.Alistair Barr/Business Insider

A young man from Italy stood looking at the Cybertruck. He said he worked for Tesla in Germany on the supply-chain side and was visiting for work. He said the truck looked bigger in person, but that was good. He did say, however, that he wouldn't buy one because it was too expensive.

One rear door didn't line up exactly with a body panel.

The side of a Cybertruck at Tesla's Santana Row showroom in San Jose on December 9, 2023.
The side of a Cybertruck at Tesla's Santana Row showroom in San Jose.Alistair Barr/Business Insider

A couple from Pleasanton, California, popped in to see the Cybertruck in person. The husband said he didn't like how the doors opened. He pointed to fingerprints on one side, too. He also said one rear-door panel didn't line up exactly with the rear-corner panel. I could see it was slightly off, too. While not a huge fan, he predicted that Silicon Valley would soon be full of these trucks, and the radical design would become more commonplace. "This is the place you want to drive the Cybertruck. It's a big place." His wife said she liked the look of the Cybertruck and would drive it around happily, although she preferred the Model Y.

Disappointed by price increases

The front of a Tesla Cybertruck
The front of a Tesla Cybertruck.Alistair Barr/Business Insider

A woman in her 50s sat on the edge of the showroom, looking at the truck. She said the design made people "pause," which was a good thing. "You want people to notice when you drive by. It's cool. It's very Silicon Valley. Very Elon." But she said she was disappointed by the increase in price given the range of the Cybertruck. The cheapest model at roughly $60,000 has a relatively low range, which she said was a problem.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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