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GMC Sierra Power Steering - Quadrasteer

Gimmick? Or Gotta Have It?

Do you remember the days when most vehicles had, maybe, power steering and no other options to speak of? Fast-forward to 2003, however, and you'll find we're smack dab in the middle of "Bells and Whistles-Ville." Many of us aren't comfortable driving a truck that has radio-delete, crank-up windows, and manual locks. We need power-everything, on-demand four-wheel drive, heated seats, On-Star, and a host of other user-friendly add-ons. Now, we have another technologically advanced option to consider-Quadrasteer. Granted, it's a bit pricey, but is it just a gimmick? Or is it one of those seldom-considered luxuries that we shouldn't quickly strike from the order sheet without the slightest bit of consideration?

With the debut of Quadrasteer on the '02 GMC Sierra Denali, GM's engineering team considered it to be a milestone in full-size truck handling and control. The innovative system consists of an electromechanical unit that turns the rear wheels up to 12 degrees, in relation to the front wheels. This results in, as the factory says, "unprecedented low-speed maneuverability and high-speed stability." Quadrasteer senses the driver's desired steering input with a steering-wheel position sensor.

This information feeds into an on-board microprocessor that determines appropriate rear-wheel angles, based on steering input and vehicle speed. The processor then supplies its data to an electric motor, which, based on algorithms, drives the rear steering rack through a planetary gearset to turn the rear wheels in the proper direction. You'll find the following chart interesting. It spells out the most recent innovations in GM chassis control systems by year and model on which it was introduced.

Intelligent GM
Chassis Control Systems
1986: Anti-lock braking systems (ABS) introduced on Corvette
1990: Cadillac Allante becomes the first front-wheel-drive vehicle with electronic traction control
1991: All Cadillacs come with standard ABS
1992: GM offers ABS and traction control on more models than any other auto manufacturer
1993: Road Sensing Suspension (RSS) and speed-sensitive steering introduced as part of the Northstar System for the Allante
1995: An Integrated Chassis Control System (ICCS) added to the Northstar System
1996: Continuously Variable Road Sensing Suspension (CV-RSS) and Magnasteer debuted on Cadillac models
1997: StabiliTrak introduced on three Cadillac models-Seville Touring Sedan, Eldorado Touring Coupe and DeVille Concours
1998: Corvette's Active Handling introduced
2000: StabiliTrak 2.0 introduced on DeVille, adding side-slip rate control and active steering effort compensation
2000: Four-channel Precision Control System introduced on Oldsmobile Intrigue, bringing stability enhancement advantages to a family sedan
2000: Traction Control introduced on full-size sport-utilities
2001: Second-generation Active Handling introduced on Corvette
2002: Cadillac STS receives Magnetic Ride Control, the world's fastest-reacting suspension
2002: Quadrasteer debuts on GMC Sierra Denali
2003: Magnetic Selective Ride Control debuts on Corvette

We decided to find out what this engineering marvel is all about. The mule vehicle came from the GM Communications Media Fleet, handsomely equipped, eager to spoil us, and set to prove a thing or two. This '03 Silverado LT 1500 four-wheel drive, extended-cab pickup carried a standard price of $34,278. As tested, it topped out at $41,318. And while the Quadrasteer package added $5,715 to the mix, the total list of options on this beauty reached $6,295. Jeez, it had dual-zone automatic air conditioning, AM/FM stereo with an in-dash six-CD changer, XM Satellite Radio, Bose speakers, six-way (heated) front bucket seats with memory, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with thumb-touch, horn-pad mounted cruise and radio controls, and the list goes on. The Quadrasteer option consisted of (among other items) the heavy-duty trailering package, limited-slip differential, and a 145-amp alternator.

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