By on April 6, 2022

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.

From C/D:

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.

[Image: Lexus]

Become a TTAC insider. Get the latest news, features, TTAC takes, and everything else that gets to the truth about cars first by subscribing to our newsletter.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

38 Comments on “2023 Lexus RZ Coming to U.S. With Steering Yoke...”


  • avatar
    pmirp1

    All you got to do to see impact of Musk on everything automotive, is look at steering wheel in that picture.

    Even the big mighty Toyota, follows Musk the leader.

    Elon Musk,the one to lead them all. The new Henry Ford of our generation.

    • 0 avatar
      MrIcky

      All you got to do to see the impact of… David Hasselhoff, airplanes, F1, video games. Considering all this, and how long they’ve actually been around- why do you think that there are only 2 cars that use them?

      • 0 avatar
        bunkie

        We never got the control that SAAB was testing, the console-mounted joystick which combined steering, throttle and braking in one. Unlike a yoke, it had the very practical advantage of eliminating an artifact that, in the event of an accident, provides a dangerous, chest-crushing obstacle.

        While it’s not quite the same thing, my recent transition from a Cessna with a yoke to an RV-12 with a control stick presented no difficulty whatsoever.

  • avatar
    sgeffe

    At least the Tesla yoke, if I recall, has a rounded bottom portion. I can’t see how this will work without that steer-by-wire thing which would also be of concern, even from Toyota, purveyor of quality vehicles and annoying ads!

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Yokes = boo

  • avatar
    Imagefont

    Lame. I’m waiting for the joy stick controlled car. Thumb controlled turn signals, put the throttle on there too – push forward to GO, pull back to STOP. Steering wheels are so yesterday.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      The almost 60-year old Lexus driver won’t be intrigued by that or this yoke.

    • 0 avatar
      theflyersfan

      @Imagefont – I’ll see your joystick controlled car and raise you this: A mock steering wheel currently being used in the last functional sit-down Sega arcade game “Outrun.” It’s pitted and cracked, the force feedback works when it wants to, it barely turns left, oversteers and deposits you on the road when you turn right, and center is a pipe dream. Or maybe Pole Position – the game that took at least 6-7 rotations to finally make your turn.

      Lexus: if you are going to copy Tesla and video games, at least copy an excellent video game!

      Now I’m going to head out and raid a Daytona USA system for one of their barely functional steering wheels for my car.

  • avatar
    Imagefont

    Lame. I’m waiting for the joy stick controlled car. Thumb controlled turn signals, put the throttle on there too – push forward to GO, pull back to STOP. Steering wheels are so yesterday.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      @Imagefont: There is one steering method I’ve used that I’d never want to see on cars. That’s the differential wheel brake method of steering on the ground by some aircraft. Separate brakes for right and left wheels and that’s how you steer it. Although, I guess I’d take that over one of the designs that have no driver/passenger steering at all.

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    April 6th is a little late for an April Fool’s joke. At least, I hope it’s a joke.

    I remember Baruth saying you should keep your hands at 9 and 3 so that you always know where your front wheels are pointing. With a yoke, there’s nowhere else to put them.

    • 0 avatar
      redgolf

      I was taught the 10/2 position (1966 drivers ed. ) 9/3 close enough! ;-)

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      Not an April Fools joke. I first saw it one or two years ago on interior shots I saw of the bZ cars. I even posted comments here a couple of times that it was coming.

      It’s amazing the kind of stuff you find by testing data harvesting algorithms by pointing it at the patent filing database!

      As far as hand position goes, the people preferring the “praying mantis” 11:30/12:30 positions aren’t going to be happy. I see them on the road all of the time.

  • avatar

    In the near future car will by driven by AI. It is more than drive by wire, it is drive by cloud if you want. You will not steer the car you will just hint the direction and AI will do the rest of steering. It will be fun and it will be safe. Or you go back to surfing Internet and letting AI to choose directions.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I am waiting for the Big 2 1/2 to adopt Tesla’s model of no road side service and that it can only be repaired by their own certified mechanics.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    How dumb. It’s just regular steering wheel with the top missing. I could take a Sawsall to my F-150’s wheel and hardly miss it. Yes there’s less places to grab, especially if you “shuffle steer”. But to change the ratio from around 3-turns from lock to lock, to less than a 1/2 turn would be a stupid mistake.

    There’s no need for it and if a driver inadvertently turns it a couple degrees while reaching into the passenger area (at hwy speeds), it means a hard Right instead of just off-center in the lane.

    • 0 avatar
      SPPPP

      Ah, but those clever minds are planning to disconnect it from the front wheels and use “steer-by-wire”, meaning any movement the driver makes is merely a suggestion. Which the car can merely ignore if it “thinks” you should be heading in a different direction.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff S

      Agree but this is the future which will eventually eliminate the steering wheel for a joy stick and outside mirrors for a cameras. Car companies have already eliminated transmission dipsticks, hydraulic power steering for electric steering, mechanical emergency brakes for electric park brakes, key locks, and in the case of BMW engine oil dipsticks. Eventually you will give voice commands and the vehicle will drive itself.

    • 0 avatar
      Kendahl

      Long ago, the MG TC had very fast steering; one turn lock to lock if I remember correctly. There are stories of delivery truck drivers driving them off the sides of trailers during unloading.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    No wheel, no sale, and I’m in the heart of the target market if the RZ ever spawns a long-wheelbase variant.

    • 0 avatar
      RHD

      The good news is that this is an option, not standard equipment.
      Something tells me that there will be a large pile of unused yokes piled up in an auto plant somewhere in Japan.

  • avatar
    Garak

    And people used to laugh at the Quadratic Wheel. Now we’re here.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    I think I’m yoking myself to another model without this silly wheel.

  • avatar
    Nick_515

    Yikes to the yoke yik yak.

    Here my steering input: my E91 has paddle shifters on the steering wheel, but they rotate with the steering wheel. That creates a very confusing situation when the wheel is upside down in a turn… my brain can’t keep up. Are all cars like that, or do some have shifters that don’t turn with the wheel?

    • 0 avatar
      SPPPP

      Yes, some have shifters that stay with the column.

      I am not sure which is preferable … either arrangement has a tradeoff. I guess my question would be, how often do you need to shift while the wheel is cranked so far over? If you are really pulling lateral Gs, might you not unsettle the chassis by shifting mid-corner?

      • 0 avatar
        Nick_515

        SPPP, under load this tends to not be a problem, and you’re not cranked all that much. It’s a problem in lower speed sitations (second to third shift). Sometimes I shift in manual all day, especially since my manual mode actually downshifts itself if you forget it, but will never upshift itself. Obviously not that often, just sometimes. But less often because of it!

  • avatar
    AK

    dumb

  • avatar
    Irvingklaws

    Only if it’s part of an option package making it capable of actual flight

  • avatar
    Crosley

    It is the ultimate example of form over function. So silly, a yoke is for aircraft because you make different steering inputs in aircraft.

    I know someone that is a total Tesla fanboy and has written off buying another one over this dumb mandatory yoke.

    Other companies are just trying to imitate the “cachet” of Tesla.

  • avatar
    mpalczew

    Lexus is the only luxury car manufacturer that is reliable, doesn’t rattle and puts luxury(comfort) above sportyness, this may be my next vehicle.

    I wonder what it will be like driving with a yoke.

    • 0 avatar
      RHD

      As the owner of many cars, including one Lexus, you are entirely right. They are very well built, don’t rattle, don’t break down and are supremely comfortable. For a really good deal, find a low-mileage used one from a private seller. There is a reason Lexus owners don’t complain about them!
      The only downside is that Lexus dealers charge ridiculous amounts for repairs. I had a quote of $1500 for fix a non-functioning low beam headlight, which I repaired myself with a $42 part ordered online. (To be fair, pretty much all dealerships quote unconscionably high prices for repair work.)

    • 0 avatar
      xtoyota

      Now if only could design a good looking car…… they are ALL FUGLY

  • avatar
    lc4600

    Is half a turn one way or the other lock to lock? If not sounds dangerous when self centering out of a turn.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • nrd515: Drive something with the ZF 8 speed. That’s a transmission done right. I don’t see how it could...
  • SPPPP: :) Nice.
  • Steve S.: Those ribbed bumpers are highly sought after by customizers, and could probably sell for a couple hundred...
  • detlump: Please change out that plastic fuel filter ASAP! They are fire hazards. Replace with a steel filter....
  • Frobig: The newest vehicle I owned that had crank windows and no AC was a ’93 Toyota pickup. I don’t...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Jo Borras
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber