• Truck Rewind: Chevy and GMC Quadrasteer – Turning on a Forgotten Dime


    (photo credit: Joe Dixson)

    General Motors equipped some Chevy and GMC full size pickup trucks and 2500 SUVs with its four-wheel steering system – Quadrasteer. Delphi Automotive PLC (now Aptiv PLC) built the Quadrasteer system to significantly reduce the turning radius, increase maneuverability and ease towing maneuvers for GM trucks. GM was one of the only truck-builders to attempt selling full-size trucks with four-wheel steering.

    While four-wheel steering is not new, automakers from Nissan, Honda and Mitsubishi have used four-wheel steering before, this is the only large-scale application of the system used on consumer trucks in North America. Quadrasteer was used on General Motor’s full-size pickup trucks and 2500 HD SUVs, such as the Suburban and Yukon XL. The Quadrasteer-equiped trucks covered model years 2002 through 2005. Trucks equipped with this system were easily recognizable as they had a wider rear (Dana 60) axle and blistered rear fenders that accommodated wheels that can turn up to 15-degrees.


    Initially, the up-charge for a Quadrasteer truck hovered around the $7,000 mark. Some dealerships pushed the up-charge even higher. Sales (slightly) increased when that premium was lowered through time, eventually landing around $1,000+. Still, it wasn’t low enough to maintain sales numbers to General Motor’s satisfaction. The GMT900 platform never received the Quadrasteer system.

    Low sales were the main reason for the discontinuation. The peak penetration of  sales was in 2004 with the GMC Yukon XL with a paltry 17.8%. The four-wheel steering attempt was considered a failure.

    Despite the low sales numbers, fans insist that the Quadrasteer system was outstanding. Kent (AKA “Mr. Truck”) and I have driven a few GM vehicles equipped with the system and were equally impressed. Overall, the system is seamless and the main sensation the driver feels is a better handling truck. Being able to do a U-turn on a small street in a huge Yukon XL is a neat sensation, and being able to thread the needle as you park a trailer is awesome. All indications show the system has proven to be reliable and made these GM trucks remarkably maneuverable even on the highway.

    What chance does a system like Quadrasteer have at returning?

    What do you think?

    Nathan Adlen
    Nathan Adlen
    Easily amused by anything with four wheels, Nathan Adlen reviews vehicles from the cheapest to the most prestigious. Wrecking yards, dealer lots, garages, racetracks, professional automotive testing and automotive journalism - Nathan has experienced a wide range of the automotive spectrum. Brought up in the California car culture and educated in theater, childhood education, film, journalism and history, Nathan now lives with his family in Denver, CO. His words, good humor and video are enjoyed worldwide.

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    58 thoughts on “Truck Rewind: Chevy and GMC Quadrasteer – Turning on a Forgotten Dime

        1. I imagine with electric suspensions will get better as well. There is a video with Bollinger showing the benefits. Independant suspenion wont have limitations due to stress on the yokes at the wheel being on a steep angle. I imagine 4 wheel steer will be easier to add.

          1. Just looking at the Bollinger set up you can see the stabilzer bar could easily be turned into an electric arm that pivots the entire wheel.

    1. Now that 4 wheel steering is starting to trickle back into the sedans, I could see it come back to Trucks and SUV. I feel it is best suited for SUVs, although if the axle is stout enough, the benefits for trailering are awesome. I remember the first Quadrasteer truck the local dealership received ended up damaged when they pulled it out of the car wash bay and forgot that the rear pitched out when turning… The fiberglass fenders didn’t like the concrete wall very much.

    2. GM just caught up to Ford on tech, or will when the Sierra is released. Ram has always had their own features, especially in interior and they are untouchable now. I suspect Ford may be the first to bring independent rear suspension and steer to the 1/2 ton market in the next couple years.

    3. My dad had one bought brand new in 2003 and just sold it last year. Never had any problems with it and he really hated to get rid of it. 6.0L is a tank as well.

    4. I would love to see this 4wheel steering come back but hopefully in a ¾ ton crew cab variety as well and with the Diesel engines. Parking lots keep getting tighter and this keeps the trucks as maneuverable as cars and small suv’s

    5. In my opinion 4 wheel steering died off because GM failed to sell it. The salesman knew nothing. People are also scared of it. Watch Canadas worst drivers and the like. Many drivers are scared of 4 wheel steering because they believe it will confuse the driver that much more but the opposite is true as it makes driving easier. There are two situations I had. Trying to parrallel park is not possible between two cars so you have to turn it off. As you cut the front of the truck in the rear wheels are pulling away from the curb. And in tight garages as mentioned above the rear can steer out enough to rub the doors. I always turned it off at service garages as techs would not know any better and possibly rub the door when turning, you have to be aware. But on the highway it will keep the rear end from kicking out into a skid and it makes normal parking a breeze. With parrallel you just turn it off. Also the wheels turn opposite when driving slow to allow ease of parking and change direction when over 20mph so what happens when the wheels are cranked and you are at a stop and start spinning in snow or gravel and you exceed a 20mph spin and the computer says turn the wheels the other way? What happens is a safety default. Springs lock the rear end out back to 2wd with a loud bang, sounds bad but its a safety device should something wrong occur and it assumes something is wrong. Also the rear diff oil was expensive and had to be changed or it became too gummy and the system would lock out due to strain. Some also had problems with larger tires as that strained the motors and they would lock out to 2wd. I never had a problem with 20inch rims with massive rear 335 wide tires and the system was flawless otherwise and a dream to own. Every corner was relaxing, 2wd is jerky and cumbersome.

      I posted an article below that could not say it any better. I had a 2004 Sierra Denali for 9 years and it was the best truck I have ever owned. Even had ride control, not offered today on trucks.

      https://www.google.ca/amp/s/www.drive.com.au/amp/motor-news/the-breakdown-four-wheel-steering-20170630-gx22cb

      1. Still driving my 2002 Sierra Denali and the 4 wheel steering has never let me down or failed me.

        Only time I have had an issue is when it’s damn cold here in Northern Illinois, the unit will lock up and turn off until it’s warmed up. You have to manually turn it back on.

        It’s 25mph that engages the same direction steer. The system is smart enough to recognize wheelspin so it never has dramatically steered.

        Although, on snow/ice the oversteer feels a bit funky.

        Never had an issue with being a garage or letting someone else drive it. They usually say wow this thing turns tight.

        When I lived in Phoenix, we had the gang mailboxes and mine was just after my street. I could touch the curb with my tires and then do a U turn. My neighbor complained because even his Civic couldn’t turn tight enough.

        I would gladly, pay for it again. Makes parking, and trailering a breeze. My unit has been built proof. Although, a lot of mechanics don’t want to work on it. Luckily, I found an ex-Chevy dealership mechanic who knows that the system is easy.

        1. If you purposely do a donut in the snow from a dead stop with the wheels cranked and get the wheels over 25mph you will here a large bang that locks the wheels into 2wd. You have to turn the truck off and restart it then press 4 wheel steer to get it back to 4 wheel steer. I did it at least 15 various times because I like to play a lot in mud and snow. Dealer told me it wont hurt it as it is just a safety kick out and it never did. Never had a problem in the cold. I sold mine a little over 3 years ago because it was rusted too badly. Had 120,000 miles.

          Nice to hear you still have yours. When I was on the Denali forums everyone and I mean everyone that owned one said they will own until the wheels fall off. Some even bought wrecks just to keep spare parts. Owners of quadsteer hold onto these trucks with a white knuckle grip.

        1. Magnetic ride is terrible compared to my ride control in the 2004 Denali. Even my Tundra and 2015 Tacoma with Bilstein shocks have softer ride than magnetic ride. Way too stiff, rides like a tank.

    6. I think it was and still is a great idea!

      They pulled the plug too early, it would of caught on. I would much rather see this added to option packages on say everything except base model trucks and up.

      It makes way more sense than say a panoramic sun roof or some of that other junk!

      1. Yep, the urban assault warriors would rather spend that money on a a navigation system, panoramic sunroof, and heated/cooled seats.

    7. The issue with the GM quadrasteer was a marketing failure. They didn’t market or price it correctly.

      Price Skimming
      Designed to help businesses maximize sales on new products and services, price skimming involves setting rates high during the introductory phase. The company then lowers prices gradually as competitor goods appear on the market.

      One of the benefits of price skimming is that it allows businesses to maximize profits on early adopters before dropping prices to attract more price-sensitive consumers. Not only does price skimming help a business recoup its development costs, but it also creates an illusion of quality and exclusivity when your item is first introduced to the marketplace.

      It started as a $7,500 option in 2002! That was too high and there wasn’t going to be competition. Setting the price lower at $3,500 would have been a better strategy. Also the fenders indicated that GM was half hearted about the idea. This translated to a poor reaction from the consumer.

      1. Yeah, if they weren’t stuck on square wheel wells and instead had round ones, they possibly could of used the same beds?

        1. Why would the shape have anything to do with it? People always try to say that the shape of the wheel well affects tire size but it doesn’t. The distance from the corner (where the wheel well opening meets the bottom edge of the panel) in front of the tire to the corner behind the tire is the biggest factor affecting clearance.

    8. The system looks fragile for off road and a lot of low hanging components. Can’t imagine the system holding together going up the cliffhanger

      1. Nothing low hanging on my 2002 Sierra Denali’s even has a skid plate. Everything is the same height as the axle shaft.

    9. In 2003 I ordered a 2003 1500HD Crew LT QuadSteer it now has 116k miles. It has hands down been the best truck I have ever owned. I also plow with it, I haul a utility trailer as well. the truck has never skipped a beat. It has not been more expensive to own. I thought I might have to do rear end alignments but to this day I never have. I am on my 3rd set of tires (which I am ok with). I have the 6.0 which is thirsty but I knew that when I bought it. The improved functionality of the feature is far more than a novelty. The day is coming that I will have to let it go…

      1. Only problem I have had with my truck, 2002 Sierra Denali, is the damn rear brakes. Mainly, since my truck was the GM parts bin truck. Getting rear brakes has been a pain the first few times. Once I learned that my front end is a Yukon’s, it made it easier to get the front brakes.

    10. TFLT: “What chance does a system like Quadrasteer have at returning? What do you think?”

      ANS:
      1) Cost-Effective? Like other 4WS systems on cars (e.g., BMW*), it’s probably not cost-effective or needed for the great majority of truck users. Hence: poor sales in the GM attempt of the early 2000’s.
      2) Robustness under severe conditions? The system does lack simplicity and will no doubt be more fragile in heavy hauling over moderate O.R. roads and trails.
      3) Handling? Not sure if the “better handling” claim bears fruit for most truck owners. I am down to three trucks now, and have not noticed any significant handling deficiencies, — considering they are trucks, after all. No, they are not sports cars, and will never be sports cars.
      4) Parking? Learn to parallel-park or back into parking spaces, and you’ll be all set (^_^)..

      Since I keep my trucks for 15-20 years, I would want ease-of-maintenance and durability. Probably would not buy a truck with this his feature. Seems like over-engineering to get a 1% benefit (if real) from a 10% added investment: a “diminishing returns” situation.

      ————
      * I had test-driven a BMW 4WS: the 4WS made a slight difference only in the most extreme cornering needs for that large 7-Series sedan, such as running a slalom. The parking advantage was negligible if you know how to park. Have not driven a truck with 4WS-system, but how many folks run slaloms with their pickups (^_^)??
      ————

      =======================

      1. I don’t know Bernie. Truck owners spend several thousands on all kinds of ‘fluff’ for their vehicles (panoramic roofs, leather everywhere, gadgets galore). Ford sells ‘Active Park’ assist and ‘Pro Trailer Backup Assist’ but Chevy can’t figure out how to market 4 wheel steering? A system which is arguably easier (automatic) to use and more advantageous? I really think it is a marketing and pricing issue. Do it right and it would sell.

        1. Jay H in OKC – – –

          JHOKC: “A system which is arguably easier (automatic) to use and more advantageous? I really think it is a marketing and pricing issue. Do it right and it would sell.”

          Well, maybe you and Rambro are right on this point: as far as sales volume is concerned, it could well be that the Chevy folks (in 2000-2005) simply did not come on with a “splash” of heavy advertising and publicity to give their 4WS a real trial run in the market.
          They could have done separate video commercials to address each of all 4 points I listed above, and could have included a 10 year/100,000 mile Extended Warranty of their 4WS system just to show their confidence in that feature (assuming they did in fact have that confidence).

          But you certainly are right here: “Truck owners spend several thousands on all kinds of ‘fluff’ for their vehicles (panoramic roofs, leather everywhere, gadgets galore).”

          So, the extra $4-6 for 4WS might get swallowed up in the extra $10K they’re putting into the vehicle for more frivolous things anyway! But the consumer would still have to VERY convinced about the long term, maintenance-free viability, — under demanding conditions** — of this feature on pickup trucks: I certainly would.

          ————
          ** I have slid my truck sideways into curbs more than once on slippery, icy roads: no problem. So, could the rear 4WS system handle what this Titan could:
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qnzBkfQCOZw
          ————-

          ===================

      2. Bk it really came down to cost number 1. Yea the benefits I’m sure was all there , but for the price it wasn’t really worth it. And most people looked at the same way. It didn’t make what you wanted to do any quicker having 4ws for the price.

        Will come back? it is possible if it is much cheaper than what gm had.

        My thinking irs might be next in the half tons. Time will tell.

    11. To me it sounds like something you would mostly use in a parking lot or certain off-road situations. And, I bet it would take some ‘getting used to’ for some of us who have driven hundreds of thousands of miles in straight-axled rear end trucks. How would it behave on the highway going 75mph around the bend? How about in 4×4 going 55mph on slushy roads around curves? Or my worst fear, hitting wind blown snow that is hard packed and icy.. What if you wiggle a little? What does it do in these situations?

      1. Kris S – – –

        KS: “How would it behave on the highway going 75mph around the bend? How about in 4×4 going 55mph on slushy roads around curves? Or my worst fear, hitting wind blown snow that is hard packed and icy.. What if you wiggle a little? What does it do in these situations?”

        ANS: Probably not predictably. One more computer-controlled system that does what it wants to do in unusual situations, and only works well and predictably (like the BMW case above) in well-known simple, situations.

        ===================

      2. Kris S it improves handling. Does not matter what you do at any speed you will have instant control and will always be better of with 4 wheels steering. Namely it keeps the jerks down and will not allow the rear end to kick out. Read the article. Porsche has always been known to chase the best handling, that has been their pride at Porsche. Anything to help a truck feel more nimble is welcome.

        Read the article.

        https://www.google.ca/amp/s/www.drive.com.au/amp/motor-news/the-breakdown-four-wheel-steering-20170630-gx22cb

        1. manpig – – –

          Thanks for the link. But all it refers to is Ferrari and Lamborghini sports (“super”) cars, whose slalom/cornering-performance is enhanced a bit, which parallels my BMW findings listed above.
          The link, IMO, is not applicable to pickup trucks that get into difficult, strenuous situations of hauling, towing, sliding, slamming into things, off-road, and other inadvertent abuse.

          ====================

          1. The real benefit of this system was when towing. Honestly, I think 4WS is even more useful on trucks than on sports/super cars because of this – the maneuverability you could get in tight spots with a trailer was unmatched, and high speed trailer sway was diminished.

            Basically it acted like a shorter-wheelbase vehicle at low speeds, and a longer-wheelbase vehicle at high speeds. A neat trick. We had two in a very tough farm environment where they pulled some serious loads and while we had other issues at times, the 4WS never gave a hint of trouble. It was a good system.

    12. I think it is a cool piece of technology but the market didn’t feel it was worth the extra money. I drive a very long pickup and although it sure would be nice to have a tighter turning radius, I wouldn’t ever pay more for it. That’s because I’m able to do everything I need to do with traditional technology for steering.

      1. Troverman – – –

        Fully agree. And there is also the robustness and durability issue under demanding conditions (see link at January 21, 2018 at 6:02 am, above).

        ===================

    13. Was a good idea. GM didn’t market it well. The should put this on Trucks/SUVs/Vans. If GM did better marketing on Quadrasteer, I bed it would have/would sell better. But has today’s backup cameras killed it? Is it another thing to break on a vehicle?

      1. Tom Pa – – –

        T: “GM didn’t market it well.”
        True, as described above. But maybe GM itself lost confidence in this feature.

        T: “But has today’s backup cameras killed it? ”
        No. It died before backup cameras.

        T: “Is it another thing to break on a vehicle?”
        Yes. It cannot be as robust as a solid axle in severe situations (see link at January 21, 2018 at 6:02 am, above).

        ===================

    14. Yay my first TFL comment post. Been watching you guys for years, you’re awesome.

      In my experience, the real benefit of this system and the real reason to get 4WS was for towing. While it helped some with low speed tight turns when driving without a trailer, and it improved high speed stability, it really came into its own with a long, bulky trailer behind you in a tight environment.

      It made it easier to jackknife at first, if you didn’t expect it – I’ll admit that. That was the only downside I ever saw to it, though. The ability to swing a trailer around and get it exactly where you needed to in limited space was unmatched by any other trucks of a similar size. You got the effect of a much shorter wheelbase for tight turns at low speed, and a longer wheelbase for gentle corrections at high speed.

      It also, by decreasing vehicle yaw at speed when towing (due to the wheels moving the same direction at higher speed) reduced trailer sway and prevented steering correction from increasing it to the same degree.

      I think the durability concerns are misplaced. We had two of these in a tough farm environment where they towed anything and everything, and the 4WS was never an issue. I was sad to see them go, and if I had to manhandle a trailer in an urban environment with a pickup I’d still go for one of these.

      1. Janet you had pick ups before 4ws ? Did you have any problems then? If you didn’t then the price was to much for a task you already have done before, hence the expense of it wasn’t justifiable to make it any faster.

        Imo I don’t think marketing was the reason because I remember seeing commercials for it constantly when they introduced it. I really think it came down to the point where it didn’t make the job any faster or any better driving for the price. That is the some of 4ws.

        1. We had pickups, cabovers (short Isuzu Elfs), various stuff…this was up in the mountains where very little was flat, and what little was flat was very curvy. Barns built wherever they would fit.

          Sure you could always get a tractor or a little jeep out to guide stuff in the really tight spots, but it was a hassle. Was it worth the price to the average person in the land of wide flat roads? Probably not. I’d think it would have been worth it for snowbird RV travellers, though.

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