A driver needs to feel comfortable while behind the wheel. In the past, SUVs added a feature that enables drivers to adjust the steering wheel to reach this level of comfort and safety. However, manufacturers were slow to add tilt steering wheels to sedans. There has been a gradual movement toward steering wheel adjustment capability in sedans in the last decade as more and more auto manufacturers add safety features.
What Is a Tilt Steering Wheel?
Basically, a tilt steering wheel is one that can be adjusted for height. There is usually a locking mechanism on the side of the steering column that needs to be released. Once this is done, the steering wheel can be tilted up and down. The range of movement is roughly three inches for most makes and models that have this feature. However, this small adjustment can have much to do with the driver’s comfort and ultimately their safety.
What Is a Telescoping Steering Wheel?
A telescoping steering wheel allows for a back-and-forth adjustment. This lets the vehicle operator pull the steering wheel closer or push it further away. Years ago, it was necessary to use tools to achieve the right adjustment. Today, the driver simply has to flip a switch on the steering column and push or pull the wheel further away or closer. A few manufacturers offer an upscale version of the telescoping steering wheel by changing it from manual to power. The power switch is found on the side of the steering column.
What Drivers Best Use a Telescoping/Tilt Steering Wheel?
It is essential to have the steering wheel at a proper distance from your body. Preferably, you don’t want to be too close or too far away. For this reason, drivers between 5 foot four inches and 5 foot nine inches tall are most successful when using a telescoping steering wheel.
One consideration a driver must face is what happens if the airbag deploys. If the steering wheel is too close, it is possible injuries will occur. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a motor vehicle operator should be 10 inches from the steering wheel since an airbag can generate a great deal of force.
The first move is to decide how far you need to be to reach the brake and accelerator comfortably. Once that is established, flip the switch, or hit the power button to adjust the steering wheel. Ensure the steering wheel does not directly face the chest or head when tilting it.
Do All Models Now Have a Tilt Steering Wheel?
Unfortunately, no. However, more manufacturers are adding this feature, usually as a trim adjustment to the basic model. More autos are fitted with a telescoping steering wheel since many personal injury cases are bringing attention to the issue. The reality is if a telescoping steering wheel is offered on basic or upgraded models, the ability to tilt the wheel is usually present. Some of the cars and models that do offer a tilt/telescoping steering wheel are:
- Nissan Rogue – tilt and telescoping steering wheel
- Nissan Murano – tilt and telescoping steering wheel
- Nissan Versa – tilt and telescoping steering wheel
- Kia Rio – tilt and telescoping steering wheel
- Volvo V60 – manual tilt and telescoping steering wheel
- Nissan Leaf (before 2020) – tilt steering wheel function only
- Nissan Leaf SL (2021) – tilt and telescoping steering wheel function
- Alfa Romeo Giulia (2017) – telescoping function only
- Buick 2017 LaCrosse – power tilt and telescoping functions
- Dodge Charger – power telescoping and tilt functions on all trims except for the SE vehicle
- Chevrolet Camaro – Telescoping steering wheel
- Hyundai Sonata – telescoping steering wheel
- Honda Accent – telescoping steering wheel function
It is best to ask your dealer if a vehicle has a telescopic/tilt feature as more sedans are adding this option every year.
Staying Safe Is Paramount
It is critical for drivers to learn about their vehicle before getting behind the wheel. Tilting and telescoping steering wheels should never be adjusted while the vehicle moves. This behavior can make the steering wheel freeze.