Lexus’ First Global EV Will Offer a Yoke for a Steering Wheel
Its corporate twin, the Toyota bZ4X, has something similar as an option.
Many of the big luxury car players have been mad busy bringing out electric cars over the past year or so. Mercedes has the EQS, Audi has its E-Trons, and BMW has the iX and the i4. Now Lexus is preparing to join the party with its first North America-bound EV, the RZ 450e. While the electric Lexus crossover's full debut is still a few weeks away, Toyota's luxury arm is giving us a tease of what to expect. And prepare to clutch your pearls, fans of regular-ass steering wheels, because the RZ will be the latest EV to feature a yoke.
That is, a rectangular-ish gamepad-looking thing that makes the inside of the car look way more like a spaceship but hasn't been all that well-received as far as usability is concerned. The RZ will not be the first EV to use a yoke as its Toyota bZ4X cousin debuted with one, and one can also be found inside the Tesla Model S Plaid. While Tesla makes the yoke mandatory, the Toyota merely has it as an option with a traditional steering wheel available if you so choose. Hopefully, Lexus will follow in its parent company's footsteps here.
Correction 4/5/22 12:30 pm ET: An original version of this story claimed that the RZ 450e was Lexus' first EV. This has been updated to reflect that it's Lexus' first North America-bound EV.
In any case, when my colleague Peter Holderith drove the Plaid, he wrote of the yoke: "It's good on the highway when not much steering input is necessary, but it gets awkward in a few key places. Tasks like multi-point turns or navigating through tight parking lots are simply more cumbersome than they need to be. One of the other shortcomings happened on long exit or entrance ramps when the wheel had to be cocked over 90 degrees for a long period of time. There was no way to hold the vehicle around the corner without crossing my arms over each other."
Potentially further complicating things on Lexus' interpretation of the yoke, are what look very suspiciously like touch-sensitive panels on both sides of the airbag. Yoke aside, I can also spot what looks like a driver monitoring system with a green "READY" light very likely implying the presence of semi-autonomous driving tech, a module near the windshield probably housing a HUD, and the same infotainment, HVAC, and volume knob found in the new NX.
A second released teaser shot shows most of the front end and it looks like the RZ will be exactly how you'd imagine an electric Lexus crossover to be. The production-ready Lexus RZ 450e will fully debut on April 20. Here's what the whole vehicle looks like in prototype form.
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