Clever steering for Toyota and Lexus

12 September 2005

Can’t remember whether to steer into or away from a skid? Just generally panicking when travelling sideways? Upcoming new cars from Toyota and Lexus aim to help.
The third-generation Toyota Rav4 softroader, currently being poked and prodded at the Frankfurt motor show, will join the posh BMWs blogged about two weeks ago in helping drivers steer out of trouble.
Emergency driver aids, including braking and stability systems, are linked with the power steering unit to bring a greater degree of automated control over the Rav4’s behaviour. The system is called VSC+ (vehicle stability control plus):

VSC+ works with the electric power steering to add steering torque assistance to the conventional stability control system. It anticipates the occurrence of understeer or oversteer and assists the driver by making the correct steering action easier and an incorrect action more difficult.

As with the BMW system, controlling the steering also helps to correct the sideways pull felt when braking or accelerating on surfaces with patchy grip, when the left and right wheels have different amounts of purchase.
Unlike most BMWs, the 4x4 Rav4 is able to bring in different levels of torque split front and rear to help keep everything in a straight line.
Lexus GS 430 and RX 400h models, as well as the forthcoming IS 220d and GS 450h, get a plusher variant of VSC+ labouring under the name VDIM. Not actually very dim, this adds the possibility of tweaking the steering rack ratio to assist the driver.

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