Cadillac Super Cruise beats Tesla Autopilot in Consumer Reports testing

2018 Cadillac Super Cruise

We’ve reached the point where there are enough advanced driver-assist systems on the market to do a comparison test, so Consumer Reports pitted Cadillac’s Super Cruise, Nissan/Infiniti’s ProPilot Assist, Tesla’s Autopilot, and Volvo’s Pilot Assist systems against each other. Cadillac came out on top, followed by Tesla, Nissan, and Volvo.

All four systems control the speed of a car in highway driving, and can take over steering to some degree in order to keep a car centered in its lane. Consumer Reports picked these four because they’re both capable and well-marketed, but the latter can lead to confusion.

Because these systems can control steering, acceleration, and braking, they’re sometimes mistaken for fully autonomous systems. Consumer Reports contacted Volvo because the automaker’s Pilot Assist system was listed under “Autonomous Driving” on its website; Volvo subsequently changed the language. Tesla has had difficulty ensuring its Autopilot users stay focused on the road.

Consumer Reports tested the systems on its Connecticut track and nearby highways, with each test car running as both a lead and follow vehicle. Super Cruise couldn’t be tested on the track because it only works on divided highways, the magazine noted. The systems were tested as they were configured in September 2018, but automakers may tweak them with over-the-air software updates, staff noted.

In terms of sheer capability, Super Cruise and Autopilot were the “clear winners,” according to Consumer Reports. Testers reported that both systems accelerated and braked smoothly, and kept cars centered in their lanes “for several miles at a time.” The Nissan and Volvo systems didn’t perform as well. They reportedly had trouble with hilly or curvy roads, and drifted out of lanes frequently. Nissan and Volvo representatives said their systems’ lane-centering ability was intentionally limited to keep drivers engaged.

In evaluating usability, testers found that Autopilot was the easiest to turn on, but that Super Cruise was the best at knowing when it was within its operational limits. If it can’t be activated, it tells drivers why, Consumer Reports said, and provides early warnings when the car is approaching merging lanes, off ramps, or difficult traffic patterns. Cadillac is also the only automaker to use a camera to ensure the driver’s eyes are open and focused on the road. Nissan, Tesla, and Volvo rely on pressure being applied to the steering wheel to gauge driver attention, which the magazine described as “insufficient.”

All systems issue audible and visual warnings if the driver stops responding, but they behave very differently from there. Super Cruise and Autopilot will slow a car to a stop in its lane and turn on the hazards, but Super Cruise will also call an emergency contact number. Cadillac and Tesla also lock out their systems after the driver fails to respond to warnings a certain number of times. Nissan’s ProPilot Assist applies hard braking in these situations, Consumer Reports said, while Volvo’s Pilot Assist simply turns off.

Consumer Reports advised car buyers to remember that this technology is in its infancy, and that there is no data to support manufacturer claims of improved safety. It added that buyers should try these systems when test driving a new car, and remember that they can’t replace a human driver. Automakers were advised to implement better driver monitoring.

“Driver monitoring becomes necessary when motorists can push a button and hand over control of the vehicle,” Kelly Funkhouser, Consumer Reports’ program manager for vehicle usability and automation, said in a statement. “Manufacturers have the ability to monitor drivers and use that information to respond when attention fades, rather than relying on ineffective warnings.”

Product Review

Audi built an electric SUV for buyers who want gasoline-free to mean stress-free

We finally got to spend time behind the wheel of the electric 2019 Audi E-Tron bustling cities and arid desert of the United Arab Emirates to see how it compares with Jaguar and Tesla's competitors.
Mobile

You can now save and review Call Screening transcripts on the Pixel 3

Google's Pixel 3 and 3 XL smartphones can take excellent photos, but there are a few artificial intelligence features that steal the show. Call Screening uses Google Assistant to answer the phone for spam calls.
Cars

Cops chased a Tesla for 7 miles while its driver appeared to be sleeping

When a driver sleeps in their car, it's usually parked at the time. So imagine the surprise of police offers in California on Friday, November 30 when they spotted a car motoring along at 70 mph as the driver apparently slept.
Cars

Waymo becomes the first company to charge for rides in self-driving cars

Waymo has launched a commercial ridesharing service using self-driving cars in the Phoenix area. It's the first U.S. company to generate revenue by putting passengers in autonomous cars. Waymo One is only available to a select group of…
Smart Home

Is old-school Airstream finally embracing smart home technology?

Airstream's vintage-looking trailers have a huge audience but its 2019 Classic camping trailers are getting a modern upgrade with the addition of app-controlled smart home technology to bring modern convenience online.
Cars

Did that car just wink at you? Daimler previews car-to-pedestrian signals

Eager to show off progress with autonomous cars and perhaps do some consumer softening as well, Daimler and Bosch previewed car-to-pedestrian communications. A sensor-loaded Mercedes S appears to wink to acknowledge a pedestrian's presence.
Cars

Uber is about to restart self-driving car tests but on a reduced scale

Uber is reported to be on the verge of restarting its autonomous-car test program. The company halted it in March 2018 following a fatal accident involving one of its vehicles, but its cars could be back on the road within weeks.
Cars

Bosch is developing a Rosetta Stone for autonomous and connected cars

Bosch and start-up Veniam want to create a common language that autonomous and connected cars can use. The two firms have developed a connectivity unit that transcends the national boundaries of technology.
Cars

Aston Martin bets classic car owners will choose volts over carburetors

Aston Martin has converted one of its most sought-after classic models to run on electricity instead of gasoline. The roadster uses electric components sourced from the upcoming Rapide E sedan.
Cars

Volkswagen may be planning a tougher challenge for its all-electric I.D. R

The Volkswagen I.D. R electric race car may head to the Nürburgring in 2019 for a lap-record attempt, according to a new report. Volkswagen will reportedly aim to set the quickest lap time ever by an electric car.
Cars

600-hp, $155K Polestar 1 is the alluring Volvo coupe you’ve been waiting for

Volvo's return to the coupe segment just took an interesting turn: the model will join the Polestar lineup, and it will get a 600-hp plug-in hybrid powertrain. The Polestar 1 will be built in China starting in 2019.
Cars

The Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato Shooting Brake is the sexiest wagon ever

Aston Martin has revealed new photos of the limited-production Vanquish Zagato Shooting Brake. The Vanquish Zagato line now includes the Shooting Brake, Coupe, Volante, and Speedster, each with bespoke styling.
Cars

Nissan and Italdesign’s GT-R50 concept will become a $1.1 million reality

The Nissan GT-R50 is a customized sports car built to celebrate the 50th anniversaries of both the GT-R and design firm Italdesign. Underneath the sleek bodywork sits a 710-horsepower engine fortified with race car components.
Cars

Ford’s new Shelby GT500 Mustang will have 3D-printed brake parts

Ford's new $45 million Advanced Manufacturing Center will focus on emerging technologies, including 3D printing. One of the staff's first jobs is to print parts for the 700-horsepower Shelby GT500 Mustang.