Image Credits: Motor
You are probably not the only one who gets anxious at the thought of operating a vehicle without a physical link between the steering wheel and the front wheels. Although the company has experimented with it in the past, customers have never taken to it. In the soon-to-be-released RZ 450e electric crossover, Lexus is attempting to market steer-by-wire. Steer-by-wire is a feature that can be experienced in a prototype car, but it is not understood why you would prefer it to traditional steering.
The standard steering wheel is swapped out for a yoke in an RZ with drive-by-wire. At 6 feet tall men frequently have issues with steering wheels blocking gauges, they will not be able to find the display in the conventional RZ to be at all difficult to see. Lexus claims that the yoke design makes it easier to see the instrument screen. This would be simpler to understand in a vehicle with a less traditional dash layout, like the Toyota BZ4X.
Image Credit: Thecharge
To be fair to Lexus, using the yoke in conjunction with this steer-by-wire system makes a lot more sense than using it in Tesla’s Model S and Model X Plaid. That is because you never have to rotate the steering yoke completely in a Lexus. Even in parking lots, where a lot of steering input is needed to make tight maneuvers, the Lexus’ highly variable steering ratio makes sure you never have to cross your hands over each other.
Getting used to Lexus’ steer-by-wire, however, is extremely difficult due to the way the steering ratio fluctuates dramatically and constantly. You’ll probably eventually develop muscle storage, but the learning curve will probably be very steep. For instance, when turning at low speed and when starting a turn, the steering yoke is very difficult to turn. It gets lighter and the ratio quickens as you turn further, so smaller inputs result in a larger change in the direction of the vehicle.
It rarely happens that you add a lot of steering input while driving normally, so this feels mostly fine on the road. However, driving smoothly at slow speeds is incredibly confusing. The RZ is very challenging to drive due to the unpredictable variable steering and the yoke itself.
Read More: Lexus First EV RZ 450e Pics Released -See A Glimpse
Steer-by-wire, which Lexus describes as a mobility solution, is difficult to understand, at least in its current form, whom it is intended to serve. For an autonomous vehicle, steering itself in this direction makes a lot of sense, but for a car that is being driven by a person, the advantages are less obvious.
Although entry and egress were never a problem, Lexus notes that the yoke helps to improve them. Due to the RZ’s relatively conventional crossover and lack of radical changes, the yoke also seems out of place. Space would probably be at a premium in an LFA successor, so it would make sense there, but not here.
2023 is the target year for Lexus to sell 5,000 RZ 450e crossovers. The steer-by-wire system will not be available at launch and probably won’t be until at least 2024.