Consumer Reports gathered up 17 cars with advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and put them to the test to determine which one actually offers the best hands-free help. And Cadillac’s Super Cruise technology took the top spot.
Most automakers are experimenting with ADAS technology in some form these days, but you’re more likely to hear about Tesla’s Autopilot system over any other. In a lot of ways, that comes down to the name: “Autopilot” suggests that Tesla offers full self-driving capabilities while Cadillac’s Super Cruise, Subaru’s EyeSight, or Volkswagen Driver Assist sound a lot less exciting.
CR evaluated the ADAS tech in 36 tests and then evaluated each car within different categories: capabilities and performance, ease of use, keeping the driver engaged, clear when safe to use, and unresponsive driver. The systems were then ranked based on their results and given an overall score out of 100.
You can explore the full results in depth here to see how every automaker scored in each of the categories. Basically, Autopilot and Super Cruise swap the top spots pretty regularly, and each system excels in different ways.
Autopilot, for example, was easy to use and performed the best in keeping the car within its lane. Super Cruise worked best in discovering an unresponsive driver and also performed fairly well in alerting drivers when it was safe to use the system and keeping the drivers engaged. In most other categories, Cadillac performed Pretty Well.
Tesla, though, really dropped the ball in some regards. It performed very badly at keeping the driver engaged and letting you know when it’s safe to use. It was firmly mediocre at detecting when a driver isn’t paying attention.
If you’ve followed the Tesla Autopilot news, you probably knew that already. But those are crucial areas to fall flat in. Yes, it’s all fine and dandy to do a great job keeping a car in a highway lane, but ADAS isn’t designed for narrow, windy roads—and Tesla isn’t great at telling the driver that. We’ve also seen time and again that drivers have fallen asleep behind the wheel, and their cars kept on going because Autopilot didn’t detect it.
Cadillac is largely superior here because of its driver-facing infrared camera. The camera is great at making sure the driver is engaged with the road. From Kelly Funkhouser, CR’s head of connected and automated vehicle testing:
The best systems allow drivers to activate the steering and speed control independently so that drivers can decide exactly how much assistance they want to use, and only have a single lane-keeping system that performs consistently.
So, there you have it. Super Cruise is currently outperforming Autopilot. But with Tesla’s connectivity, it’s possible the automaker can easily update the Autopilot system to remedy these problems.