Driving modes or drive modes allow a vehicle to have multiple personalities or characteristics in
the way that it drives, rides and handles as opposed to a single set of characteristics. If your vehicle
has three driving modes the its like you have three vehicles in one.
The average vehicle will have a certain feel to it as you drive. For example the vehicle may have a
sporty nature, another vehicle may be a dedicated sports car, another vehicle may be of a soft and comfortable
nature and there are vehicle that are sort of in between.
The names may differ from marque to marque but the most common modes that are offered on vehicles are:
Any vehicle with multiple drive modes can allow you the driver to select what kind of personality you
want the vehicle to have usually via dedicated buttons or switches. Having multiple drive modes is a luxury in
any vehicle and it does not overshadow the true nature of the vehicle. (A luxury vehicle is still luxurious in its sportiest mode)
Various drive modes can be achieved whenever certain components of the vehicle are controlled electronically.
For instance the ECU that controls
magnetic ride control can allow the absorbers to have soft and stiff settings but continue the damping in both
It should be noted that driving modes also differ amoung the different vehicles and not just the different modes. The
comfort mode for example may be noticably different in two vehicles of the same class and price range even if they have similar
adjustments to similar components to arrive at their respective comfort settings.
- Normal This mode is usually the default setting and is supposed to a balance between comfort and sport.
Normal mode may also be how the vehicle characteristics would have been if it had no driving modes.
- Comfort This is where the components that are altered for different modes are set to allow the vehicle
to have its softest ride and smoothest drive. The suspension is placed in its softest setting, gear changes occur
earlier to eliminate high revs, the steering ratio may be adjusted.
- Sport This setting may also be called Dynamic. This is where the components that are altered
for different modes are set for the vehicle to be sporty in nature with stiff ride and less body roll, the engine
may rev higher before gears are changed and downshifts occur quicker, the throttle response is also adjusted for
the engine to be eager and responsive when the accelerator is pressed.
- Eco This setting may also be called Economy. This is where the engine, transmission and even air
conditioning/climate control is altered to produce better fuel economy
or sometimes the best fuel economy ratings that the vehicle can offer. This mode is common on
hybrid vehicles but it may also be seen on other high end vehicles.
- Sport Plus An even Sportier Setting. The usual setting for this mode is to use whatever sport setting
the vehicle has and then disengage features such as the traction control and
stabiliy control or reduce their effectiveness.
- An Individual Setting This is where you choose to alter components individually. You can have the engine
in normal mode, the transmission in comfort mode, the suspension in sport mode and the steering in comfort mode or any
other combination you may desire.
Dedicated buttons and/or switches to change the drive mode can be located at various points on various vehicles
but are always easily within the reach of the driver. You may also use the vehicle's
infotainment system to change modes or you may see the a graphical display in the infortainment system as you use the
dedicated buttons or switches.
Some marques have names for their driving modes like Audi has Audi Drive Select. Some vehicles
have no names for their driving modes and some vehicles just have their default driving characteristics ans a sport mode.