The First Worldwide Electric Vehicle from Lexus Will Come with a Yoke for Steering

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By Car Brand Experts

Many major luxury car manufacturers have been extremely active in introducing electric vehicles in the past year. Mercedes has unveiled the EQS, Audi has its E-Trons, and BMW has launched the iX and the i4. Now, Lexus is getting ready to join the trend with its first EV destined for North America, the RZ 450e. Although the official debut of the electric Lexus crossover is still a few weeks away, the luxury brand of Toyota is giving us a glimpse of what to anticipate. Brace yourself, enthusiasts of conventional steering wheels, because the RZ will boast the latest feature – a yoke.

This means a rectangular-shaped control reminiscent of a gamepad, giving the interior of the automobile a more futuristic appearance, even though it has not been well-received in terms of practicality. The RZ will not be pioneering the yoke concept in EVs, as its Toyota bZ4X counterpart came equipped with one, and it can also be found in the Tesla Model S Plaid. While Tesla mandates the yoke, Toyota offers it as an alternative alongside a traditional steering wheel for those who prefer it. Hopefully, Lexus will follow suit with its parent company in this aspect.

Correction 4/5/22 12:30 pm ET: An earlier version of this article stated that the RZ 450e was Lexus’ initial EV. This has been modified to indicate that it is the brand’s first EV scheduled for North America.

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During his experience driving the Plaid, my colleague Peter Holderith expressed his thoughts on the yoke: “It functions well on highways where minimal steering is needed, but it becomes problematic in certain situations. Actions like executing multi-point turns or maneuvering through tight parking spaces are more cumbersome than necessary. Another issue arose on lengthy exit or entrance ramps, where the wheel needed to be turned more than 90 degrees for an extended period, making it difficult to steer the vehicle without crossing arms.”

Potentially adding complexity to Lexus’ version of the yoke are what appear to be touch-sensitive panels on either side of the airbag. Apart from the yoke, there seems to be a driver monitoring system with a green “READY” indication, hinting at the inclusion of semi-autonomous driving technology, a unit near the windshield that likely houses a heads-up display (HUD), and the same entertainment system controls, HVAC elements, and volume knob observed in the new NX.

A recent teaser photo reveals most of the front portion of the vehicle, indicating that the RZ will embody the essence of an electric Lexus crossover as one would envision. The final production-ready model of the Lexus RZ 450e will be unveiled on April 20. See the prototype design of the complete vehicle here.

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