Generally, lateral steering control which ensures good performance of the tracking quality and handling quality simultaneously for autonomous vehicle in high speed is a changeling task. In order to keep the vehicle safe when faces a situation with an emergency lane change, a switched MPC lateral steering controller which is on the basis of the stability characteristic of the vehicle is presented in this paper. First, a MPC steering controller based on the 3DOF nonlinear vehicle model is derived, a comparative study of different vehicle models for MPC control are conducted to prove that the presented MPC steering controller with 3DOF nonlinear vehicle model possesses an advantage of balancing the conflicts between the tracking quality and handling quality. Further, a performance evaluation system which assesses the vehicle handling quality and tracking quality is established. And for the purposes of adjusting the weight between the handling quality and tracking quality of the vehicle adaptively, the switched MPC steering controller respecting to the stability index of the vehicle is further built. What’s more, a nonlinear observer for tire sideslip angle is built and validated to calculate the vehicle stability index value online. Finally, the effectiveness of the switched MPC steering controller is validated by the DLC maneuver with a moderate speed and higher speed respectively. It proves that, when in an emergency lane change with high speed, the presented controller could track the target path well, and avoid the vehicle occur large lateral acceleration as well to obtain a good performance of handling quality.