Jan 25, 2023 - Technology

Ford, GM, Mercedes beat Tesla on driver assistance tech

Illustration of Tesla steering wheel with yellow tape wrapped around it

Illustration: AĂŻda Amer/Axios

Ford has the best assisted-driving system, based on the latest road testing by Consumer Reports, while Tesla's once industry-leading Autopilot technology fell to the middle of the pack.

Why it matters: It's likely that your next new car will come with driver-assistance technology as an option, if not standard equipment. Knowing how to use it safely is critical.

How it works: Active driving assistance is basically the combination of two features: adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping technology.

  • Together, they provide speed and steering support to maintain a set distance from the vehicle ahead and to stay near the center of the lane.

Yes, but: Some systems perform better than others, according to Jake Fisher, CR's senior director of auto testing.

  • Many systems lull drivers into complacency, giving them a false impression that the car is doing the driving. In an emergency, the driver might not be prepared to take back control.

What CR found: After testing 12 automakers' systems, Ford's BlueCruise ranked first, followed by General Motors' Super Cruise and Mercedes-Benz's Driver Assistance.

đź’¬ My thought bubble: I've tried many of these technologies, and prefer GM's over Ford's. It just feels more confident to me.

  • I asked Fisher why CR gave the edge to Ford. He emailed two reasons:
  • "First, Ford allows drivers to collaboratively steer while the system is engaged to adjust the placement in the lane or avoid an obstacle."
  • "Second, Ford allows the system to be used in far more locations than the GM system, but may require both the driver's hands on the wheel in addition to the eyes on the road requirement."

The bottom line: Tesla hasn’t changed Autopilot’s basic functionality, instead adding more features to it.

  • "After all this time, Autopilot still doesn't allow collaborative steering and doesn't have an effective driver monitoring system," Fisher said.

Of note: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating 830,000 Tesla vehicles with Autopilot after a series of crashes with parked emergency vehicles.

Be smart: To use any assisted-driving technology safely, drivers always needs to pay attention.

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