There are different names for active driver-assist (ADA) tech offered by automakers, but they all perform the same general functions – keeping the vehicle between the lines, speeding up and slowing down with traffic, and making sure the driver is still paying attention to the world outside. However, the latest Consumer Reports review of 12 systems shows significant differences in how well they work.
Legacy automakers from Detroit now hold the top two spots, with Ford receiving an overall score of 84 for its BlueCruise system to lead the pack. General Motors is second with Super Cruise at 75. Mercedes-Benz makes the podium with a score of 72 for a third-place finish. BMW takes fourth at 69, with Toyota rounding out the top-five thanks to an overall score of 65.
Gallery: Ford BlueCruise: First Drive
Notably absent from this group is Tesla, which pioneered the ADA world with its Autopilot system back in 2015. In a 2020 Consumer Reports review it was second behind GM's Super Cruise, but has fallen to seventh with a score of 61 because of low marks for driver monitoring and ambiguity on when the system is safe to use.
"After all this time, Autopilot still doesn’t allow collaborative steering and doesn’t have an effective driver monitoring system," said Jake Fisher, senior director of auto testing at Consumer Reports. "While other automakers have evolved their ACC and LCA systems, Tesla has simply fallen behind."
Still, Tesla ranked better than Rivian, Nissan, Honda, Volvo, and Hyundai, all of which scored under 60. Hyundai and its Kia/Genesis brands finished last with a score of 47. Consumer Reports dinged the South Korean brand hard for its unresponsive driver performance, which simply turns off the system after a certain amount of time without slowing or bringing the vehicle to a stop. The lane-keep system also tended to weave back and forth a bit.
In its evaluations, tests are held both on a track and in the real world. Consumer Reports considers five metrics of ADA functionality:
- Capabilities and Performance
- Keeping Driver Engaged
- Ease of Use
- Clear When Safe to Use
- Unresponsive Driver
As these systems become commonplace in new vehicles, there's an increased emphasis on driver monitoring to ensure safety. Right now, Consumer Reports says only Ford and GM qualify for extra points in its scoring structure thanks to infrared cameras that monitor the driver's eyes, ensuring they are always looking ahead while driver-assist systems are active.
"[ADAs] don’t make a car self-driving at all," explained Fisher. "Instead, they create a new way of collaboratively driving with the computers in your car. When automakers do it the right way, it can make driving safer and more convenient. When they do it the wrong way, it can be dangerous."