Hill Descent Control system

Hill Descent Control system

Four-wheel-drive (FWD) and All Wheel Drive (AWD) vehicles such as the Australian made Ford Territory may have a Hill Descent Control system installed, using the ABS braking to control the car's motion downhill, inherited from Land Rover. The system can be controlled, usually by the Cruise Control buttons near or on the steering wheel.

Hill Descent Control (HDC) allows a smooth and controlled hill descent in rough terrain without the driver needing to touch the brake pedal. Push a button and the vehicle will descend using the ABS brake system to control each wheel's speed. If the vehicle accelerates without driver input, the system will automatically apply the brakes to slow down to the desired vehicle speed. Cruise control buttons can adjust the speed to a comfortable level. Applying pressure to the accelerator or brake pedal will override the HDC system when the driver requires.

With Hill Descent Control drivers can be confident that even the ride down hills with slippery or rough terrain will be smooth and controlled, and that they will be able to maintain control as long as sufficient traction exists.


Land Rover originally developed HDC for use on their Freelander model which lacks the low range gears usually provided on 4x4 vehicles. At the time it was derided by enthusiasts, and many claimed its set speed was too high for a controlled descent in difficult conditions. Later implementations such as the Range Rover combine HDC with Traction Control and low-range gears, and also have reduced the set speed to slower than walking pace for extra control.

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