Steering feel

What makes a vehicle have good steering feel? I recently read an article about my Fusion regarding how great the steering was. I think it’s fine, not too great, not too bad, I don’t notice either way.

It replaced a Focus that I thought had great steering, just touch the wheel and it responded immediately. I also recently drove a 09 Accord that was awesome to drive, and a 03 Infinity FX35 that was unbelievable. The Accord had the same size tires as my Fusion, the Infinity has 20 inch factory tires on it. My girlfriend has a Uplander w/17 inch tires; I’ve had better steering feel on 1980’s video games.

So what is it? Tires? Vehicle size? A combination of both?

it is a combination of everything from vehicle size/weight, tire size and tread, steering gear box/rack, power steering pump, how much/little power assistance, suspension geometry, and probably some other factors I have forgotten.

And personal opinion. Not everyone likes the same feel. Which is why you should always test drive a car before buying it.

The big thing these days in steering is the development of electric power steering, which is beginning to replace hydraulic power steering. Hydraulic power steering pumps are a drag on the engine, and car makers are jumping on the electric power steering bandwagon because it eliminates the hydraulic pump, thus improving fuel economy slightly. However, electric power steering “feels” different, and the manufacturers are still trying to fine-tune their systems to “feel” right. Some are better than others. And some are experiencing growing pains, with some electric systems conking out, and others going haywire. Personally, I’m not a fan of the “fly by wire” approach to power steering, seeing how electrical glitches can make power systems go haywire. I’m happy to stick to my power-hogging hydraulic system that, when it fails, does so slowly and benignly and doesn’t suddenly go all twitchy or yank the steering wheel out of my hands…

It’s a combination of things. Tires, front end geometry, steering gear ratio, etc.

I like heavy feedback, or stiff close ration steering. Touch to steer like your old Focus is like my Ranger, I hate it, there is no feel. But as said, it is preference

It’s all of the things already mentioned plus front-to-rear weight distribution, wheel base, and the designer’s target market.

IMHO the best thing you can do to improve the steering and cornering of a vehicle without significantly affecting the ride quality is to upgrade the antisway bar(s). A company named Hotchkis specializes is this.

If you really want to improve your vehicles feel, I suggest visiting their website.

I don’t believe that tire size or car weight are a factor. Our VW with 13 inch tires tracks straight and true down the freeway with minimal steering input needed for course correction. That is then easy to do when needed because there is no initial resistance (stiction) to turning the steering wheel. We have two other cars with, to me, an annoying measure of stiction in the steering wheel that I hope will go away as the steering gear wears a little.

Steering geometry design has a profound effect on steering stability, more caster angle helps.

A German Opel that we used to own steered very well on the highway as described above but it needed about 40,000 miles of use to get rid of the steering wheel stiction.

German cars typically have good highway steering stability. A Mazda Protege that I drove for a short distance several years ago had that too. A recent model Honda Accord had a little of it but the Mazda was better.

It sounds like people have different tastes and desires regarding steering feel. I, for one, like German style.