A few years ago, an Auto Alliance survey asked more than 4,500 people what they remember most about taking family road trips. A few top answers: great scenery, singing songs, and playing classic road trip games such as “I Spy.” On top of that, 40 percent of respondents said spending time with loved ones was their favorite part of the journeys.
In other words, the family road trip lives on as a family-memory maker.
To that end, understanding your vehicle's capabilities will help you plan your own family’s future travel possibilities—be they paved or unpaved. After all, while family road trips continue to be timeless, the journey options have grown over the decades. Let’s quickly review the traction systems found in various Lexus models (just ask your service consultant if you’re unsure whether your model has these features):
VEHICLE STABILITY CONTROL (VSC)
What it does: VSC helps detect when your wheels are sliding sideways while driving around corners and curves, then helps control them by automatically modifying engine power and selectively applying individual brakes.
Where it comes in handy: VSC is an everyday driving safety feature, but from a road trip perspective, it helps deliver steady footing on curvy two-lane roads like Northern California’s breathtaking stretch of Pacific Coast Highway, as well as wet or snowy routes like Washington’s Cascade Loop in winter.
VEHICLE DYNAMICS INTEGRATED MANAGEMENT (VDIM)
What it does: VDIM takes VSC even further—whereas VSC counters skids after one has begun, VDIM helps predict and then helps prevent a skid before it happens.
Where it comes in handy: Like VSC, VDIM helps deliver normal-driving stability, but it also fortifies traction on winding, wet, or snowy roads. It’s also nice to have if you’re somebody who likes to make good time via confident driving on curvy roads.
What it does: As a GX and LX SUV feature, Crawl Control is a bit like cruise control for uneven off-road driving—it automatically maintains an optimal slow and steady pace over challenging terrain, alternating between acceleration and braking so you can focus on the road and steer.
Where it comes in handy: This feature helps the vehicle climb rocky hillsides, but it’s also helpful in less extreme ways. If you’ve got a favorite remote fishing or camping spot you’d like to take your kids or grandchildren to, for example, one that requires slow travel over a bumpy, unmaintained logging road, Crawl Control can give you a break from the constant acceleration/braking adjustments required to get there.
HILL-START ASSIST CONTROL (HAC)
What it does: When an HAC-equipped vehicle is stopped on an incline, the system helps maintain the vehicle’s position (to not roll back) by automatically applying the brakes to all four wheels until the vehicle begins moving forward.
Where it comes in handy: HAC allows your driving foot to relax briefly if you’re, say, stopped on a hill at a red light. When the light turns green, it also eliminates the need for a quick brake-to-gas-pedal transfer to avoid rolling into the car behind you. In traveling scenarios, think climbs to mountain destinations where traffic can stop and go as you get closer—the last stretches to ski resorts or mountain-based national park gates, for example.
DOWNHILL ASSIST CONTROL (DAC)
What it does: DAC takes over the braking for you on steep or tricky declines by automatically slowing the vehicle so it descends at a steady, constant speed (it automatically keeps the wheels from locking and sliding).
Where it comes in handy: Let’s say you’ve climbed a steep road to a great hiking trailhead or a slushy road to a breathtaking winter vista. On the way back down, DAC allows your driving foot to relax—so you can concentrate on steering and watching the road.
What it does: This feature, found in the GX and LX, allows you to adjust vehicle traction and driving-response behavior for specific off-pavement terrain—modes include Rock, Rock & Dirt, Mogul, Loose Rock, or Mud & Sand.
Where it comes in handy: Just about any outing that takes you over non-paved routes, such as a long dirt road to a gorgeous picnic spot or a dramatic unpaved drive like Arizona’s historic El Camino del Diablo route through the Sonoran Desert. It’s also helpful when road surfaces suddenly change—say a gravel road that encounters a short, muddy stretch.
TRACTION CONTROL (TRAC)
What it does: In a nutshell, Traction Control senses when a drive wheel is spinning in place, such as when you’re accelerating on a loose or slippery surface. It then performs counter measures to help the vehicle gain traction, such as reducing power to the spinning wheel, distributing more power to the drive wheel with the best traction (or other wheels in 4WD models). It even pulses the brakes via the Anti-lock Braking system to help move the drive wheels forward without spinning.
Where it comes in handy: TRAC is helpful all the time, and it especially shines when road conditions are wet, loose, or snowy/icy—especially if you’re going up a hill.
By Brian Gill
 Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) is an electronic system designed to help the driver maintain vehicle control under adverse conditions. It is not a substitute for safe and attentive driving practices. Factors including speed, road conditions, weather and driver steering input can all affect whether VSC will be effective in preventing a loss of control. See Owner’s Manual for additional limitations and details.
 Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM) is an electronic system designed to help the driver maintain vehicle control under adverse conditions. It is not a substitute for safe driving practices. Factors including speed, road conditions and driver steering input can all affect whether VDIM will be effective in preventing a loss of control. See Owner's Manual for further details.
 Crawl Control is designed for driving on difficult terrain at low speeds. It assists the driver by controlling acceleration and braking, allowing the driver to focus on steering. The Lexus LX is designed to meet off-road driving requirements, but off-roading is inherently dangerous. Always wear seat belts.
 The GX 460 is designed to meet most off-road driving requirements. Abusive use may result in bodily harm or damage. Lexus encourages responsible operation to help protect you, your vehicle and the environment. Seatbelts should be worn at all times. Do not allow passengers to ride in cargo area. Tow hitch receivers/ball mount kits are not intended to provide crash protection.
 Hill-Start Assist Control is designed to help minimize backward rolling on steep ascents. It is not a substitute for safe driving judgment and practices. Factors including grade, surface conditions and driver input can all affect whether HAC will be effective in preventing a loss of control. See Owner's Manual for details.
 Downhill Assist Control is designed to help the driver maintain vehicle control and speed on steep downhill descents. It is not a substitute for safe driving judgment and practices. Factors including speed, grade, surface conditions and driver input can all affect whether DAC will be effective in preventing a loss of control. See Owner's Manual for additional limitations and details.