Nexteer Automotive unveils $500,000 worth of renovations to the test track at their World Headquarters and NBC25's Neille Giffune got an up-close look at the upgrades.
"We can put the equivalent of more than 150,00 miles of steering in a vehicle in about 10 weeks here", says Nexteer Central Engineering Manager David Lien.
On the test track in Buena Vista Neexteer puts their column assist and rack assist electric steering to the test.
Lien says, "This is a ride handling loop. The whole purpose here is not speed, but rather steering."
Everything from 2012 Ford F-150's to Fiats and Mustangs hit a variety of road surfaces. Rumble strips, cattleguards and the newest additions, which provide a bumpy ride.
"Our newest investments in these two surfaces is a field stone surface, very agressive. And the left is cobblestones typical of a european road", says Lien.
NBC25's Neille Giffune added, "After the experts took us around the track then it was my turn to jump in the drivers seat to see if i can see the difference between the steering in a big truck and small car."
"Don't go too fast right?", said Giffune, "I thought this would be overwhelming with a big truck like this, but its actually, it just feels like i am driving my car"
"This is suprisingly smooth considering we're driving over boulders right now", said Giffune
With truck conquered now it was time to tackle my first manual transmission.
"Foot off the break", Giffune joked.
I did well. I didn't stall. Now the time for the Mustang. The differnce between the rack and column assits was apparent immedately.
"This was one feels more like the truck but the fiat had more pull going into the corners", said GIffune.
Nexteer steering systems are in over 60 brands world wide and this track allows two full-time test drivers to validate tests and ensure top preformance for customers.
"I will come and test drive for you guys anytime you want" exclaimed Giffune
The Ford F-150 was the first truck in it's class to feature the electronic steering. The 2013 Dodge Ram is in production now and will feature the Nexteer's electronic rack assist steering.