Tesla’s Autopilot is often touted as the most capable and advanced driver assistance system available on the market today. But in Consumer Reports’ view that honor actually goes to Cadillac’s Super Cruise.
The consumer organization gave Super Cruise the top spot in its first-ever ranking of partially automated driving systems because it is the best at striking a balance between technical capabilities and ensuring drivers are paying attention and operating the vehicle safely.
That’s an important distinction that means CR is considering a lot more than simply the technical capabilities of any one system.
CR evaluated four systems: Super Cruise on the Cadillac CT6, Autopilot on Tesla Model S, X and 3 models, ProPilot Assist on Infiniti QX50 and Nissan Leaf, and Pilot Assist on Volvo XC40 and XC60 vehicles. The organization said it picked these systems because they’re considered the most capable and well-known in the industry.
Testers looked at the capability and performance of the tech, how easy the system is to use and how well it monitored and kept the driver engaged. Testers also looked at how the system responded if the driver ignored warnings.
Tesla Autopilot scored higher than any other system for capability and ease of use. But Cadillac did a better job of making it clear when it’s safe to use, keeping drivers engaged and reacting when someone is unresponsive to the warnings.
A partially automated driving system — some use the term semi-autonomous — typically uses sensors such as cameras and radar, as well as mapping data combined with software to assist with some driving tasks in certain conditions. For instance, these systems might provide lane keeping and adaptive cruise control on highways.
The ProPilot Assist system used by Nissan and Infiniti fell to third place and Volvo’s system brought up the rear with poor marks (compared to its competitors) in nearly every category.
The consumer organization is particularly wary of how these systems are marketed and believe that automakers can send “mixed messages” that suggest these systems have autonomous or self-driving capabilities.
CR’s tests appear to have already had an affect, in at least how these systems are marketed. CR said that Volvo changed the language used to describe Pilot Assist, which was listed on its website under autonomous driving. Volvo no longer connects Pilot Assist to autonomous driving.