Consumer Reports’ points against Tesla’s Navigate on Autopilot were misunderstood

A Tesla Model 3 utilizing its Navigate on Autopilot feature. (Credit: Tesla)

Tesla received an immense amount of criticism recently after Consumer Reports published a scathing review of Navigate on Autopilot with automatic lane changes. The consumer advocacy group concluded that the driver-assist system was more of a liability than an asset, since it requires drivers to be one step ahead of the system while it is engaged. The review was promptly circulated on Wednesday, and largely framed as a blanket criticism of Tesla’s Navigate on Autopilot.

It appears that this was not the case, at least according to Consumer Reports auto testing director Jake Fisher.

Navigate on Autopilot is arguably one of the most robust capabilities of Tesla’s driver-assist system available today, and it is being used by a significant number of electric car owners. This was addressed by the Tesla community on Twitter, who promptly asked the auto testing director if Consumer Reports received input from actual Tesla owners about Navigate on Autopilot’s merits. Responding to the inquiry, Fisher noted that Consumer Reports’ negative review was “specifically about the system’s new ability to remove the confirmation and alert on lane change,” and not Navigate on Autopilot as a whole.

In later tweets, Fisher clarified that Consumer Reports’ recent review was only focused on how Navigate on Autopilot operates when confirmation and warnings are disabled. Thus, the observations and conclusions outlined by the advocacy group were only relevant in the context of the specific Navigate on Autopilot settings utilized by Consumer Reports in its test.

Unfortunately, this point appears to have been missed by the coverage of Consumer Reports’ findings. When presented with several articles featuring CR’s recent review, the auto testing director agreed that the headlines from several publications have not been accurate. Fisher also clarified that despite his criticism of Navigate on Autopilot’s settings, he still believes that Tesla’s driver-assist system is more capable than the competition.

The previous day’s firestorm surrounding Consumer Reports’ review of Navigate on Autopilot’s new settings all but prove that it is quite easy for misinformation to spread about Tesla. Had it not been for several Tesla owners who decided to contact the Consumer Reports auto testing director, the recent, inaccurate coverage from several media outlets would have gone uncorrected.

Simon Alvarez: Simon is a reporter with a passion for electric cars and clean energy. Fascinated by the world envisioned by Elon Musk, he hopes to make it to Mars (at least as a tourist) someday.
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