The 2022 Toyota bZ4x is a new electric SUV, and Toyota’s first fully-electric vehicle in awhile. It’s a modern-looking SUV, and some bZ4x’s come with the new Toyota yoke steering wheel. You’ll get a yoke steering wheel if you choose steer-by-wire technology. So what is steer-by-wire, and are there yoke steering wheel benefits that may make you consider making the switch?
What is steer-by-wire technology?
The new Toyota yoke steering wheel comes with the bZ4x when someone orders the steer-by-wire driving system. This means that there’s no physical connection between the steering wheel and the wheels. In steer-by-wire systems, there’s no equipment like the steering column, belts, and master cylinders. The vehicle communicates wirelessly with the wheels of the SUV.
In comparison, a typical car with a mechanical steering system has either Rack-and-Pinion or Worm-and-Sector steering connected to the steering wheel and uses hydraulic power. According to Cross, when you turn your steering wheel, the wheels also turn.
The first vehicle to use steer-by-wire technology was the Infiniti Q50. However, it was met with enough negative feedback that Infiniti returned to putting traditional steering wheels in the Q50.
Is the Toyota yoke steering wheel better?
The real question is, is steer-by-wire better? Toyota says that one of the yoke steering wheel and drive-by-wire system benefits is that turns will be tighter. That means that drivers won’t have to take their hands off the steering wheel to navigate turns, and the bZ4x yoke steering wheel will be the perfect fit. This is similar to how planes operate, so if you always dreamed of being a pilot, you may love the bZ4x’s yoke steering wheel.
There are other advantages to a steer-by-wire system as well. There are fewer mechanical parts to worry about, and the vehicle is generally lighter. They are efficient, quiet, and require little to no maintenance.
However, steer-by-wire technology isn’t necessarily better. It also means that there are more motors in the vehicle and there will be greater energy consumption. In an electric SUV like the 2022 Toyota bZ4x, that could be a huge disadvantage.
There’s also a slower feedback response between the pedals and the engine. Though there are throttle controllers which can mitigate this delay, it isn’t perfect yet.
Is steer-by-wire safe?
Some advocates of steer-by-wire technology say that part of its safety lies in its lack of potential mechanical failure. For example, rather than a steering wheel, a computer can monitor things like electronic stability control and adaptive cruise control.
There are concerns about steer-by-wire technology. Many of these concerns are centered around the potential for hackers to remotely access vehicles like the 2022 Toyota bZ4x. Hackers could possibly mess with or completely shut off the drive-by-wire system, which would obviously be incredibly dangerous and potentially deadly.
Consumer Reports isn’t a fan of the Tesla Model S yoke steering wheel because it can be awkward. That may make it unsafe to drive with a yoke steering wheel.
Whether steer-by-wire technology takes off and becomes the next wave of the automotive future remains to be seen. The 2022 Toyota bZ4x promises to be an incredible electric SUV, and it’s possible that yoke steering wheel benefits will encourage some to try the drive-by-wire system. Whether the new Toyota yoke steering wheel becomes a mainstay or a brief trend will be something to watch for.