Adaptive steering technology in the redesigned F-Series Super Duty pickup and new Edge SUV make the vehicles easier to steer at all speeds, Ford said.
Despite the industry shift to electrically assisted steering, an overwhelming majority of new vehicles sold today have fixed steering gear ratios. Fixed steering ratios are always a compromise between providing steering quickness and manoeuvrability at low speeds, while offering comfortable vehicle response at high speeds. Ford has been awarded eight patents for the technology and 11 more have been filed.
Class-exclusive adaptive steering for the Super Duty and Edge removes these compromises and reduces driver fatigue, especially at low speeds, the automaker claimed.
The system, all contained in the steering wheel itself, has an electric motor, a small computer and a gear unit. Based on driver input and vehicle speed, adaptive steering can add or subtract rotations to driver input at the steering wheel. Up to one full revolution can be saved at low speeds when steering lock-to-lock.
At low speeds, the system increases the angle of the front wheels as the steering wheel is turned, resulting in the driver needing to steer less to manoeuvre, said Lodewijk Wijffels, Ford adaptive steering technical specialist. "At high speeds, the ratio is changed in such a way that vehicle response is more relaxed, more precise, and smoother than without the system."
The Super Duty has a specific setting for engaging tow/haul mode that further optimises how truck and trailer react to steering input.
Adaptive steering made its debut on the 2016 Edge Sport, which has driver-selectable normal and sport settings. It is optional on the Titanium version.