Virtually every SUV sold in the U.S. now features some variation of stability control programming. Ford, looking to live down the earlier Explorer’s reputation for being prone to rollover, has announced an enhanced stability control system called “Curve Control”. Software-based and requiring no additional hardware, Curve Control will be implemented on 90% of Ford’s trucks, SUVs and crossovers by 2015.
The Curve Control system works in conjunction with other stability control programs already in place on selected Ford vehicles, including Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and Roll Stability Control (RSC). On Ford vehicles, ESC manages brake pressure to individual wheels based on signals from accelerometers and yaw rate sensors. When slip is detected, the system compares driver input to the cars behavior and reacts accordingly to prevent understeer or oversteer. Roll Stability Control, used on vehicles with a high center of gravity (like vans and SUVs) incorporates additional sensors to detect body roll and correct driver input to prevent a rollover.
Ford claims that Curve Control can reduce vehicle speed in a corner by up to 10 mph in one second. The system can be disabled by the driver, using the accelerator or the brake to override the Curve Control feature if desired.
While I’m all for safer vehicles, I wonder if advanced driver aids like Curve Control will create a whole generation of driver who believe they’re immune to the laws of physics. Get used to cornering in a new Explorer, and what happens when you drive an SUV not equipped with an advanced stability control system? I suspect more than one driver will learn the hard way that SUVs, regardless of technology, will never handle like a BMW M3.