By on October 5, 2021

Today’s Rare Ride coverage was prompted when your author saw an unusual pickup truck on the roads of Cincinnati. The truck in question was a black Sierra Denali from the early 2000s, with a telltale feature on its rear fenders: little lights on either side. Let’s talk Quadrasteer.

Quadrasteer was developed at Delphi Automotive Systems in the late Nineties. An Irish company, Delphi was founded in 1994 as Automotive Components Group but changed its name to Delphi shortly thereafter. A provider of vehicular electrics, modules, and other components, General Motors contracted with Delphi to create a new four-wheel steering system for its full-size trucks.

While other manufacturers had used four-wheel steering in production vehicles in past, most of those systems were implemented on coupes or sedans to assist with high-speed handling. The old Honda Prelude 4WS comes to mind, and Infiniti used Nissan’s HICAS four-wheel steering system on the original Q45.

With Quadrasteer, GM wanted to enable tighter turns on its trucks – a feature intended to appeal to owners who towed large things. At low speeds, trucks with Quadrasteer could turn their rear wheels up to 15 degrees in the opposite direction of the front ones. With the truck in towing mode, that figure was reduced to 12 degrees. Quadrasteer was effective and reduced the turning radius on trucks up to 21 percent. The system worked at higher speeds as well and turned the rear wheels to a lesser degree than at low speeds, in the same direction as the front. Trucks equipped with Quadrasteer were obvious upon visual inspection given wider rear fenders that were legally required to have their own marker lights. The rear axle on Quadrasteer was based on the Dana 60.

GM limited the availability of Quadrasteer to its 2500 models, and the system debuted in 2002. At that point, the very popular GMT 800 trucks were in their second model year. Quadrasteer was offered on the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra 2500s, as well as their counterpart Suburban and Yukon XLs. Quadrasteer was not limited to Denali trim, but on the Sierra, that’s where it was most often optioned.

That choice made sense when one considered Quadrasteer pricing; it wasn’t cheap. Initially, the system asked $7,000, but almost immediately GM realized it aimed a bit too high. Pricing was cut to $5,600, then $2,000, and finally just $1,000 at the end of Quadrasteer’s life before it was dropped. It was offered through the end of the GMT 800 generation in 2005. Probably for the best, as at the same time Delphi disclosed some interesting accounting practices it used, which led to an almost immediate Chapter 11 bankruptcy. But that’s some Abandoned History for another day.

Today’s Rare Ride is a Yukon XL 2500 in SLT trim, with Quadrasteer. In decent condition (with rebuilt title!) it sold earlier this year for $9,500.

[Images: YouTube]

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22 Comments on “Rare Rides: The 2003 GMC Yukon 2500 XL, a Quadrasteer Experience...”

  • avatar

    Too bad QS was never offered with the 8.1L.

    That would have been an awesome tow rig.

  • avatar

    I wonder if this sort of feature could be reintroduced successfully. After all, people are willing to pay big money for these giant SUVs these days, and for valuable upgrades like the 6.2-liter or (currently-on-hiatus) diesel.

    To say nothing of the 3/4-ton chassis they no longer sell, other than to government organizations.

    • 0 avatar

      See the GMC Hummer EV with smaller turn radius than a Model Y.

      • 0 avatar

        Tesla Cybertruck is rumored to have 4 wheel steering, as well.

        But they’re still building the factory, so it’s still vaporware for now.

        • 0 avatar

          “But they’re still building the factory, so it’s still vaporware for now.”

          There have been sightings and photos of the production version in the wild. We should see the production version unveiled officially tomorrow at 5:30 pm (maybe the new Model Y as well), but who knows. It has been confirmed to have 4WS, but as far as I know, it won’t be standard.

          There are other plants critical to Cybertruck production. About 167 miles from Austin, Steel Dynamics is building a plant to produce the alloy for it.

          There’s just too much evidence that it’s not vaporware. Patent filings (I’ve seen them), supplier contracts, supplier factories being built (not just SteelDynamics), and production version sightings. The fact that a vehicle isn’t in mass production doesn’t define it as vaporware. I used to work in private equity figuring out what companies had vaporware or not. I have ways of getting info.

          If anything, the biggest risk to Cybertuck production is 4680 cell production. That supposedly is going well at the Kato Rd. pilot plant with yields improving. If the 4680 cell production failed, then yeah, the cybertruck would have gone vaporware.

  • avatar

    I wonder if this sort of feature could be reintroduced successfully to the GM LWB SUVs. After all, people are willing to pay big money for these cars these days, and for valuable upgrades like the 6.2-liter, the (currently-on-hiatus) diesel, or max-trailering packages.

    To say nothing of the 3/4-ton chassis they no longer sell, other than to government organizations.

  • avatar

    I’m surprised this hasn’t come back to the market by now. The four lane turning radius is the one real pain in the ass of daily driving a full size and this would completely resolve it. Adding a second steering rack and u-joints to a formerly dead simple stick axle surely costs something substantial – $7,000 was real money in 2002 and doubly so on a Suburban that wasn’t a luxury product at the time – but in a world of $80,000 trucks with $30,000 of mostly idiotic gimmicks to differentiate themselves from poorer trims this seems like an absolute no brainer.

  • avatar

    Within the last year, a good buddy of mine had his beloved QS Denali totaled out because a little old lady made a low speed impact to the left rear wheel. Bent the rack, dented the quarter. The truck had around 41k miles on it if I recall correctly. From what he was informed, the main component to cause its demise wasn’t the rack (they offered to retrofit a standard axle[?]), it was the quarter panel.

  • avatar

    I think the take might have been higher, had the cost not been so high. Wasn’t it so high because it was only available as part of a high-dollar package? Also, they should’ve engineered a version for the half-ton – the Dana 60 is a BIG axle.

    Corey, you failed to mention that the high-speed operation was same-phase (rear wheels steering the same direction as the fronts) to help with lane changes, rather than the opposite-phase used at low speed for parking and turns.

    Every once in a while I’ll see a Quadrasteer vehicle on the road, easily spotted by the clearance lights (the system makes the vehicles over 80 inches wide).

  • avatar

    In production two decades ago.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    The 88-89 Mazda 626 was offered with 4WS. It was only available on the five door hatchback.
    I didn’t know the Suburban Quadrasteer even existed. I’ll still see a few of the pickups with it. You can tell with the badging and the flared rear fenders.

    • 0 avatar

      In the US, 4WS was only offered on the 626 on the four door sedan, and only for one year, 1988. There were many other restrictions if you wanted 4WS – white paint, blue interior, turbo engine, automatic transmission, uplevel trim, no sunroof, and (i think) then-optional antilock brakes. Unsurprisingly, it was a flop and I’ve never seen one on the road (white wheels were exclusive to 4WS models making them easy to spot). in 1989 and maybe 1989 the 4WS package moved to the MX-6 coupe, again with abysmal sales. In other countries, 4WS was available on the 5 door hatch.

      • 0 avatar

        Mazda’s top of the line sedan in Japan also had 4WS. It connected the front and rear racks with a long skinny prop shaft with several u joints in it. One of the chassis engineers in Hiroshima said that they only sold a few thousand examples and over time the rear rack would leak. To his knowledge they were all recalled, the rear rack removed and the steering knuckles were locked into a straight ahead position.

  • avatar

    Special ordered a marine blue 2500 light duty with leather bench seat in 2004. Awesome truck! My wife drove it daily and at the time we lived on an Air Force Base. The security forces would usually pull one of the barricade poles out of the ground for long wheel base vehicles to get past but they quickly learned that was not necessary for our truck. In fact they would all gather around to watch the show as this massive truck weaved through the poles like an Olympic skier. Unfortunately we had to order the 2500 as GM was a few years late recognizing that half ton crew cabs were the future. The 6.0 was a great motor but very thirsty. We traded for a half ton a few years later when the incentives made doing so pretty cheap. But we have missed the qudra steer every since.

    • 0 avatar

      The 6.0 has a big rep for sucking gas but I think that’s because they almost always put it in the 2500s with HD running gear. Not so much the weight, before they decided they needed a 25K tow rating they weren’t 7000 pounds like they are now, but the big 4L80, floating 10.5″ axle, heavy LT tires, etc. A girlfriend of mine at the time drove a GMT800 Escalade with the 6.0 and it got 15-17 just like the 5300 Silverados. Good pickup too!

      It also puked its trans at 100K just like every single LD GM of that time did, the 4L65 was as undersized for the 6.0 as the 4L60 was for the 5300s.

    • 0 avatar

      We picked up a very clean 2005 Hummer H2 and was pleasantly surprised how well it rode and was very easy to drive(wife want, wife get). It has almost 100K but you wouldn’t know it coming from FL/Michigan.

      The steering radius of the H2 is a couple of feet off our old 2017 Acadia Limited but still not as tight as QS.

      The new Hummer EV has an even smaller diameter turning radius!

  • avatar

    So, with this feature, did the other drivers at Target get to miss out on waiting all day for the USS Nimitz – whoops, I mean, the Yukon – to six-point-turn its’ way out of a parking spot?

  • avatar

    I honestly had no idea QS was offered on the SUVs. I thought it was a pickup thing. And I always wondered why it didn’t take off once GM made it cheap. QS would significantly reduce the pain of a truck in non-rural places.

  • avatar

    Ronnie, you can drop the apostrophe after Curtiss in the headline. Artifact from an edit? I do stuff like that, too.

  • avatar

    QS was awesome – friend’s truck had it and it was amazing. This only failed because of the way it was priced and packaged. BTW, all QS trucks also have the cab roof lights as well…

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