Lexus’ first EV, the RZ 450e, will reportedly be debuting with a yoke-style steering wheel that will be coming to the United States as an optional feature. While we’ve seen yokes on dedicated racing vehicles, their adoption by companies producing mass-market automobiles is fairly novel, and global firms have been generally hesitant to use them inside North America.
Lexus won’t be following suit and has already confirmed that its yoke will be available to RZ shoppers living in the U.S.
The news would have broken on April 20th, when Toyota’s luxury arm had scheduled the debut. However, Car and Driver managed to get the automaker to verify yoke availability early after the company teased some photos of the RZ 450e’s cabin.
The inclusion of such a feature is a clear shot at Tesla, which offers a yoke as standard in the Tesla Model S and Model X. But we’re thinking that the Lexus’s setup may end up feeling quite different than the Tesla’s in practice. When Toyota first detailed the yoke system in the bZ4X, it said it would limit the total rotation of the wheel to 150 degrees and use the steer-by-wire technology to turn the wheels an appropriate amount based on the driver’s input. When we sampled Tesla’s yoke in a Model S Plaid, we found its execution to be poor, as it sometimes requires the driver to turn past about 180 degrees, which makes it awkward and unpredictable to use.
Fans of conventional, round steering wheels shouldn’t worry too much, as we’re certain that the yoke will be an option on the RZ rather than standard equipment. From this interior photo we can also see that the RZ will have a rotary-style shift knob, a touchscreen infotainment system, and a power button — unlike some other EVs which automatically turn on when you enter the cabin.
Yokes aren’t too bad when opposite lock comes on quickly and the car in question won’t be required to do a lot of fancy parking maneuvers. But they’re not ideal for those seeking a laid-back and luxurious driving experience, which is something we hope Lexus keeps in mind. Considering that the RZ is effectively a luxury rebadge of the Toyota bZ4X and Subaru Solterra, it’s neat that something like this is being offered. We’re not just sure how much utility it has on a luxury crossover and imagine a gapless circle will probably be the preferred option for most people’s steering inputs.
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