Off-road machines are getting around limitations with some clever engineering. The Rivian R1T uses a heavy battery to power an electric motor instead of burning gasoline in an internal combustion engine. The Hummer EV can crab walk, or diagonally crawl, on trails where the biggest obstacle is itself. And the Ford Bronco can shrink its turn radius using what Ford calls “Trail Turn Assist.”
This Bronco feature is not all that complex or new, but it does make tight turns on narrow trails a lot easier.
The only downside is that it looks like it’s exclusive to Broncos (two-door or four-door) with the ten-speed automatic transmission. That’s fine, though. It’s just another way the automatic could prove more enjoyable off-road.
Ford says this is a torque vectoring system, as in a system that can transmit torque to individual wheels. In this case, it refers to torque sent to the rear axle, as our own David Tracy explained in his deep-dive of the Bronco’s tech:
Ford hasn’t published its turning diameters, but it does mention that it has a feature called “Trail Turn Assist,” which applies brakes to the inside rear wheel to tighten turning while off-road. The indicator light for this feature is shown in the photo above, which shows the top of the dash. (Trail Turn Assist is the third logo from the left.)
The “Trail Turn Assist” brakes the back inside wheel, and traction goes to the back outside wheel. As that wheel is driven, the back inside wheel becomes an anchor of sorts, and you get this neat effect that tracks very tight donuts.
But to say that that Trail Turn Assist is useful only in the context of whipping shitties doesn’t cover all its uses. Look at this example from Bronco Nation of the system engaged at speed, even if it’s not that fast:
The best use of Trail Turn Assist I’ve seen is on hairpin turns where there’s no space to easily maneuver the four-door Bronco, which isn’t comically large, but is big enough that switchbacks on the trail could be tricky.
Watch these big Broncos makes short work of those turns: