Explainer: Off-road tech in layman’s terms

Keeping you on track when you’re off the beaten path
by Tom Ford | Feb 25, 2022
Hill-descent control, off-road driving features
PHOTO: TopGear.com

1) Hill-descent control

A feature common on most off-road-capable machinery these days, descent control does precisely what it says on the tin: You engage it on a downslope, and the ABS, traction and stability control systems manage speed and traction. Some even let you set a descent speed via the cruise-control function.

2) Climb control

Climb control, off-road driving features

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Very similar to descent control, except more complicated. Essentially, anti-stall and crawl control will also work with the ABS and traction systems in a modern off-roader (Ford, Toyota, and Land Rover all have it) to maintain a preset speed across tricky terrain. Will manage speed while you concentrate on steering—always a good thing.

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3) Electronically disconnecting anti-roll bars

Electronically disconnecting anti-roll bars, off-road features

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Anti-roll bars that work wonders for road driving limit vertical wheel movement off tarmac, so most semi-hardcore 4x4s have a system that can electronically separate the bars and allow for maximum wheel articulation. A wheel that’s in contact with the ground is gripping—a wheel waving in the air is not.

4) Trail cameras

Trail cameras, off-road driving features

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The proliferation of parking cameras has a benefit for off-road driving, too. Land Rover is at the forefront, using existing cameras to let you see exactly where your wheels are and what they’re touching. The ‘Clearsight’ system also interpolates the view so that you can ‘see’ through the hood to the ground beneath.

5) Wade sensing tech

Wade sensing technology, off-road driving features

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Sounds like a good idea, right? But wade sensing technology doesn’t actually tell you the depth of water you’re driving into, just the depth of water you’re already in. Which means, in reality, that while it’s a good trick to show your mates, having a check manually first is still recommended to avoid getting swamped.

NOTE: This article first appeared on TopGear.com. Minor edits have been made.

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PHOTO: TopGear.com
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