We tested Tesla's, Cadillac's, and Mercedes' semi-autonomous driving systems — and the winner is clear

  • We've tried Tesla Autopilot, Cadillac Super Cruise, and Mercedes Drive Pilot.
  • Each has its own pros and cons.
  • Super Cruise is, in our view, worth the extra cost.

Insider Today

These are early days for self-driving cars. True, we've seen some efforts at near full-autonomy in some experimental cases. Waymo has been at it for years and is now moving toward commercializing its technology. Uber rolled out its own system in Pittsburgh in 2016, but has pulled back. Meanwhile, General Motors' Cruise division is moving full-speed-ahead with a roll-out of its ride-hailing autonomous service in 2019.

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Still, these undertakings remain largely experimental, as the systems don't play much of a role in everyday consumers' lives. In fact, fully autonomous technology might never find its way into vehicles intended individual ownership. 

At the moment, however, what we all knew as cruise control has advanced far beyond its origins. Automakers have developed much more advanced systems that, under certain circumstances, can enable something that resembles a car driving itself.

And over the past year, we've sampled some of these systems. Three that stood out are from Tesla, Cadillac, and Mercedes.

Here's the rundown:

Tesla Autopilot

cadillac super cruise vs mercedes

Autopilot has been around for longer than the other two technologies. Unlike Cadillac Super Cruise, it doesn't read from detailed maps created by laser-radar GPS. Instead, it uses a suite of cameras, radars, and sensors to create a 360-degree view of the car.

Autopilot can, in theory, be used under many driving conditions, and because it doesn't use Lidar, Tesla believes that it can operate in bad weather better than other systems.

The times I've used it, I've found that it works best on large freeways where traffic is moving at a consistent speed. But it can function on what I would call smaller highways and multi-lane thoroughfares, sort of like very advanced adaptive cruise control. Autopilot can also handle stop-and-go traffic.

Currently, the system is what   Tesla calls "Enhanced Autopilot"   ("Full Self-Driving Capability" is on the horizon and Tesla thinks it has the right software/hardware combo to make it work). Autopilot now costs $5,000 to add when you order a vehicle, but $6,000 as a post-purchase upgrade.

Autopilot periodically prompts you to retake control, flashing a lighted ring around the instrument cluster. If you ignore the warnings, the system will eventually disable itself until you completely come to a stop and put the vehicle in park.

Autopilot can change lanes and park itself without having a driver inside. It can also take itself out of a garage, and generally begin to behave like a robot chauffeur. For now, it can be used effectively in stop-go-traffic and on non-highway thoroughfares, so it works like the best adaptive-cruise-control system on the market.

What did we think of Autopilot?

cadillac super cruise vs mercedes

I don't recommend that you do what I'm doing in the photo, which was taken from a video when we first sampled Autopilot on its introduction. In my recent Autopilot drives, I kept my hands on the wheel.

Autopilot is vastly more ambitious that Super Cruise, but in practice, it's still awkward. Then again, it's also learning on the fly, sharing data with Tesla's entire fleet of Autopilot capable vehicles and the mother ship in Northern California.

So, in theory, it should benefit from future network effects and be able to match or surpass Super Cruise's highway talents once  Full Self-Driving Capability  arrives and gets regulatory approval. The bottom line is that Autopilot  could  be hands-free in many more environments than Super Cruise.

But there's a big HOWEVER: Tesla hasn't gotten to that finish line yet, or even in sight of it. It's a work in progress.

Cadillac Super Cruise

cadillac super cruise vs mercedes

Super Cruise is a $5,000 extra available on only the CT6, Cadillac's flagship sedan, which can be had for around $70,000 total on the Premium trim level, and it's standard when you step up to the $82,000 Platinum trim.

Super Cruise will only present itself for duty if the following conditions are met:  a daptive cruise control is active; the forward collision system is  set to alert and brake; the  vehicle is on a limited-access freeway; c amera or radar sensors are not covered, obstructed, or damaged; t he system detects that the driver appears attentive;  lane markings are clearly visible, not blurred by weather or other factors; and the "T een Driver" feature isn't on.

About that "driver appears attentive" part: Super Cruise uses a  camera mounted on the steering column to monitor how attentive you're being . It disengages if your eyes wander from the instrument cluster. So although it's possible to engage in risky and distracting behaviors, such as texting or checking Instagram, the system will eventually bust you.

Cadillac and GM have used laser-radar (Lidar) mapping to suss out 130,000 miles of highways, so Super Cruise is starting with a detailed digital landscape. For example, it won't make itself available to the driver if the highway being used isn't up to par, due to construction, for example. 

What did we think of Super Cruise?

cadillac super cruise vs mercedes

I took a CT6 with Super Cruise from New York City to Washington, DC. It drove itself for about half the trip.

Super Cruise was superb, in my limited time with the tech, and when it was willing to operate. It's a hyper-conservative approach to Level 2 autonomy — the level at which the driver must monitor the system, but can  consider  taking his or her hands off the wheel while being prepared to resume control when prompted.

Cadillac plans to make Super Cruise available on vehicles beyond the CT6 in the future.

Mercedes-Benz Drive Pilot

cadillac super cruise vs mercedes

Drive Pilot is the underdog in this fight, and it isn't a fair one because I tested the system briefly on an E400 Coupé — there was no long freeway drive, as in the case of Autopilot or Super Cruise.

Drive Pilot combines all of Mercedes' driver assist features — such as lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, and emergency braking — and adds automatic steering and automatic lane-changing (using the turn signal stalk). 

Think of it as Autopilot Lite. It will permit you to take your hands off the wheel for brief periods (like, 15 seconds) before prompting you to re-establish control. I did "test" this feature for a short time, just to see how it handled itself. Otherwise, I don't advocate hand-off driving. And neither does Mercedes. The idea with ProPilot is just to offer the next level of driver assist.

On the E400 Coupé we tested, all of this tech came as part of a $10,200 options package.

What did we think of Drive Pilot?

cadillac super cruise vs mercedes

Sorry, no hands-off selfie — for safety reasons!

Drive Pilot is surprisingly impressive. It reminded me of Autopilot on the highway, handling straights and curves well, and changing lanes handily.

I had fairly low expectations going in because Mercedes hasn't pitched its tech as anything close to self-driving, but in practice, the system struck me a smooth and confident. Of the self-driving systems I've sampled that are sort of working their way up from cruise control rather than making the leap to hands-free driving, I thought Drive Pilot was the best thus far.

And the winner is ... Cadillac Super Cruise!

cadillac super cruise vs mercedes

I stand by my verdict from my original Autopilot-Super Cruise head-to-head .

Super Cruise does one thing quite well. Outside that one thing — hands-free highway driving — I had zero confidence in it, but then again, Cadillac didn't design it to promote any confidence at all off the highway.

I've added another layering of thinking to my views on these autonomous technologies. My question is, "Would I pay for it?"

I can get Super Cruise for under $100,000 and trust it to handle some major highways, so I would seriously considering parting with the cash. With Autopilot, given that the hardware on new vehicles is already in place, I might wait until Tesla improves the system before ponying up the dough.

And with Drive Pilot, although it's the underachiever that overachieves, it's not so much better than good old cruise control that I'd feel obligated to shoulder the considerable extra expense.

So it's Super Cruise for the win!

cadillac super cruise vs mercedes

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Ford’s BlueCruise Remains CR’s Top-Rated Active Driving Assistance System

Systems from Jaguar/Land Rover, Lucid, and Subaru are new to our rankings, and we also tested updated versions from Hyundai and Nissan

Ford Mach-E screen

It’s equal parts eerie and amazing to experience Ford ’s BlueCruise hands-free driving feature as it takes over your car’s steering, braking, and acceleration while you travel down the highway.

The eerie part is watching the steering wheel turn back and forth on its own, making micro-adjustments to keep the car in the center of its lane, while the system also slows down or speeds up to maintain a safe distance from the vehicle ahead. The amazement soon follows: With your hands off the wheel and relaxing on the armrests as the automated systems take charge, you might start to believe that the age of the self-driving car is finally upon us. 

But while BlueCruise’s capabilities are impressive and can make driving more relaxing, cars that can truly and safely drive themselves remain a long way off.

BlueCruise is what’s known as an active driving assistance (ADA) system. In the simplest terms, ADA is the simultaneous use of a car’s adaptive cruise control (ACC) to control speed and lane centering assistance (LCA) to control steering. ACC is an advanced form of cruise control that brakes or accelerates to keep the car a set distance from vehicles traveling ahead of you in your lane. LCA provides steering support to keep the vehicle at or near the center of the lane.

“Systems like BlueCruise are an important advancement that can help make driving easier and less stressful,” says Jake Fisher, CR’s senior director of auto testing. For instance, it can allow drivers to relax their grip and even periodically let go of the steering wheel, while the car maintains a safe distance from other vehicles when driving on a straight, boring section of highway or when stuck in a traffic jam. ADA systems can also have safety benefits, such as potentially keeping you from crossing over a lane line into opposing traffic during a moment of inattention.

“But they don’t make a car self-driving at all,” Fisher says. “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.”

Though still relatively new, ADA systems are already available on more than 50 percent of 2023 model-year vehicles, according to CR’s data. So it’s likely that the next new car you buy will come with an ADA system as an option, if not as a standard feature. 

Since our last test in late 2022, we’ve added systems from three other automakers into the mix— Jaguar / Land Rover , Lucid , and Subaru —that previously weren’t included. We also tested updated systems from Hyundai and Nissan . Still, even with the additional competition, and now a total of 17 tested systems, Ford’s BlueCruise remains CR’s top-rated ADA system, followed by Cadillac Super Cruise and Mercedes-Benz Driver Assistance. Tesla , once an innovator in ADA with its Autopilot system, remains in about the middle of the pack. (The new Nissan ProPILOT Assist 2.0 has leapfrogged above Tesla.) That’s because Tesla hasn’t changed Autopilot’s basic functionality much since it first came out, instead just adding more features to it, says Fisher: “After all this time, Autopilot still doesn’t allow collaborative steering and doesn’t have an effective driver monitoring system . While other automakers have evolved their ACC and LCA systems, Tesla has simply fallen behind.”

Our testers saw significant improvements with Hyundai’s Highway Driving Assist 2, which scored 12 points higher than the original system. This is mainly because the updated version’s LCA system does a much better job of keeping the vehicle near the center of the lane, rather than allowing it to ping-pong back and forth between the lane lines. While the original system still scores last of the 17 systems we’ve tested, Highway Driving Assist 2 ranks 11th.

Photo: John Powers/Consumer Reports Photo: John Powers/Consumer Reports

Systems to Help Keep the Driver Safe

Not all ADA systems are created equal. Fisher and other safety experts say that many of them are designed in a way that may lull drivers into complacency, giving them a false impression that the car is handling everything on their behalf. That can be dangerous if the ADA system encounters something it can’t handle, such as road construction or an emergency vehicle, and the driver is not prepared to take back control of the car quickly. In order for any ADA system to be used safely, the driver always needs to remain attentive. 

Pnina Gershon, a research scientist at the MIT AgeLab and the MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics , points to data showing that drivers often develop overreliance on driving assistance systems after a relatively short period of use. “We observe frequent situations where the level of attention placed on the road is below what one would traditionally expect a driver to have, especially with the known limitations of these systems, which require drivers to be ready to regain control in a safe and timely manner,” Gershon says. The data also shows that distracted driving is more common when using driving automation systems. “Automation aims to free resources and, not surprisingly, drivers use these ‘freed-up’ resources to do other things than driving.”

The two ADA systems that CR rates highest, the Ford/Lincoln BlueCruise and General Motors’ Super Cruise (Chevrolet/Cadillac/GMC), use direct driver monitoring systems (DDMS) that require drivers to keep their eyes on the road even while the systems are automating steering, acceleration, and braking. Both point infrared cameras at the driver’s face and sound an alert if he or she stops paying attention to the road, even if just for a few seconds. If drivers don’t turn their eyes back to the road, the system soon begins to slow the car.

CR safety experts say that this type of DDMS is key to the safety of any ADA system—and, in fact, CR awards extra points to the Overall Score of tested models whose ADA systems are adequately equipped. Starting with 2024 model-year vehicles, we will deduct points if an ADA system doesn’t have adequate DDMS. Right now, only Ford and GM’s systems meet our criteria for earning additional points, but others could be available soon.

Most ADA systems, however, do not adequately monitor drivers. Instead, they simply require occasional hand pressure on the steering wheel to indicate that the driver is paying attention. This makes it too easy to just give the steering wheel a quick tug without actually looking out at the road. “If an automaker is going to equip a car with an ADA system, they should put in adequate safeguards—or not include both lane centering assistance and adaptive cruise control at all,” says Kelly Funkhouser , CR’s manager of vehicle technology. 

Also of concern to CR’s safety experts are the ADA systems from some automakers that allow their vehicles to be driven for an inordinately long amount of time without requiring the driver to apply any pressure to the steering wheel, let alone make sure they are actually paying attention to the road. In our tests, both Mercedes-Benz and Tesla allowed the vehicle to drive down the highway hands-free for about 30 seconds before the first audible alert was given to the driver to put a hand back on the steering wheel. “That means the car could travel more than half a mile on a highway with hands off the wheel and the driver not paying attention at all—that’s a risky situation,” Funkhouser says.

But Hyundai’s latest Highway Driving Assist 2 is even worse. In our testing, the system consistently allowed our drivers to keep their hands fully off the steering wheel for 2 minutes and 15 seconds before the first audible warning was given to put their hands back on the wheel. “That’s simply irresponsible on the part of the automaker,” Funkhouser says.

What We Tested

We only included vehicles in our testing that were equipped with a system that allows for the simultaneous use of ACC and LCA at highway speeds. Models from Mazda , Porsche , Stellantis ( Alfa Romeo , Chrysler , Dodge , Fiat , Jeep , Ram ) were not included because we didn’t have a vehicle equipped with these features in our fleet when the tests were conducted.

How We Rated the Systems

The 17 active driving assistance systems we tested were put through their paces around the track at our 327-acre Auto Test Center in Connecticut and on a 50-mile loop on public roads between September and December 2022, and between June and August 2023. Each system was rated for its performance in 40 separate tests, such as steering the car, controlling the speed, and keeping the driver safe and engaged with the act of driving. Additional features such as automatic lane changes or reacting to traffic lights were not evaluated in these tests. (Take a tour of Consumer Reports’ $1 million ADAS test loop .)

The specific vehicles we tested generally reflect the performance of other models within each automaker’s lineup equipped with the same systems, but there can be differences among models, model years, and packages that could affect some parameters of how the system operates. 

CR testers evaluated the way each of the 17 systems performed within five specific categories: capabilities and performance , keeping the driver engaged , ease of use , clear when safe to use , and unresponsive driver .

Capabilities and Performance

Keeping Driver Engaged

Ease of Use

Clear when safe to use.

Unresponsive Driver

Consumer Reports' ADAS Loop

CR expands the tract at its Auto Test Center to help evaluate advanced auto technology.

Unlike active safety systems , such as automatic emergency braking (AEB), that intervene only momentarily when necessary to help prevent a collision, active driving assistance systems provide continuous support intended to make driving easier—for instance, when you’re on a long, boring highway drive or when you get stuck in a slow-moving traffic jam. For this category, we judged how well each system’s lane centering assistance (LCA) kept the vehicle in the center of the lane, as well as how smoothly and intuitively the adaptive cruise control (ACC) could adjust its speed behind other cars.

When it comes to LCA, the systems from Ford, Mercedes-Benz, and Tesla all gave smooth steering inputs and did a good job of keeping the car at or near the center of the lane on both straight and curvy roads. This type of performance gives confidence to the driver that these systems are highly capable.

The previous version of the Hyundai / Kia / Genesis Highway Driving Assist system was dinged for its less capable steering assistance, which caused the vehicle to ping-pong back and forth between the lane lines—even though it’s intended to stay near the center of the lane. At times it also moved uncomfortably close to a vehicle in an adjacent lane, and our testers noted that occasionally the system was incapable of keeping the vehicle within the lane through curves. The updated Hyundai/Kia/Genesis system—called Highway Driving Assist 2 (evaluated on a Hyundai Ioniq 6 )—performed much better thanks to its substantially improved LCA system, which no longer struggles to keep the vehicle near the center of the lane.

The Jaguar/Land Rover Adaptive Cruise w/Steer Assist (tested on a Land Rover Range Rover Sport ) performed the worst of any system at keeping the vehicle centered, or even within the lane, on city streets. There were many times the system would suddenly go into a “standby” mode and stop giving steering assistance, and then depart the lane. Other times the steering-assistance remained engaged but the driver still had to intervene to keep the vehicle from crossing over a lane line. It faired much better on the highway—in fact, it almost felt like an entirely different system.

Volvo/Polestar’s Pilot Assist system lost points because it frequently goes into “standby” mode—which is when the system is not giving steering assistance—without a clear warning to the driver. The periodic mode changes create uncertainty as to whether the system is actively providing steering assistance or not, resulting in the driver frequently looking at the instrument panel for verification rather than keeping their eyes on the road.

The Mercedes and Lexus / Toyota ACC systems scored top marks for their well-tuned following-gap distance settings. Our testers found the closest setting to be comfortable in high-traffic areas while still not allowing so much space that other vehicles would continually cut in ahead. We also like that the Mercedes and Subaru ACC systems have settings that allow the driver to adjust the deceleration and acceleration force with which it slows down and speeds back up for traffic ahead.

BMW ’s Driving Assistance Professional and GM’s Super Cruise have a driver monitoring camera that ensures the operator is looking at the road ahead when the ACC system brings the vehicle to a full stop, for up to 30 seconds. This provides the convenience of a stop-and-go feature in most traffic jam situations, without the hassle of having to re-engage ACC once traffic ahead starts moving forward again. The camera is there as a safeguard to ensure that drivers are watching the roadway. Most of the other systems change the ACC mode to standby after the vehicle has been stopped for just a few seconds, which eliminates the benefits of using ACC in stop-and-go traffic.

The ACC function of Tesla’s Autopilot system is capable of stopping the car, such as at a red light behind another vehicle, for an unlimited amount of time before resuming again. But without an adequate driver monitoring camera, this is potentially unsafe as there’s no way to know whether the driver is still paying attention when the vehicle starts moving again.

Manager of vehicle technology for Consumer Reports

Illustration: Chris Griggs/Consumer Reports Illustration: Chris Griggs/Consumer Reports

Keeping the Driver Engaged

When a system is controlling a car’s speed and steering, there’s a risk that its driver might feel more free to pick up a cell phone, eat a messy burger, or engage in other reckless, distracting behavior. That’s why we think it’s essential that ADA systems use direct driver monitoring systems (DDMS) to make sure the driver is paying attention to the road. A good system will encourage the driver to stay actively engaged, such as by allowing the driver to give steering inputs without fear of the LCA function shutting off. 

A camera-based driver monitoring system that uses head- and eye-tracking technology checks to see whether the driver is looking at the road, and that’s why Ford’s BlueCruise and GM’s Super Cruise are far above the competition when it comes to keeping the driver engaged. While some other systems do have cameras, we found that they will still function even if their cameras are covered, and in some cases the cameras can actually be turned off—neither of which is the case with BlueCruise or Super Cruise. The systems without driver-monitoring cameras require only that the driver place their hands on the wheel every once in a while, which doesn’t necessarily mean the driver is looking at the road ahead.

Ford’s BlueCruise sets a high standard among ADA systems, aided by an infrared camera that monitors the driver’s eyes to determine whether they are looking at the road. If the driver glances away from the road for more than about 5 seconds—whether to look at their cell phone or fiddle with the infotainment screen, or because they fell asleep—the system will give the driver a visual warning and an audible chime. When operating on pre-mapped highways that allow for hands-free operation, BlueCruise prompts the driver in advance of risky scenarios, such as lane merges or curves, to place their hands back on the wheel. This feature encourages drivers to be ready to steer if needed and doesn’t turn the LCA system off when they do. 

Both Lucid’s Highway Assist and Nissan’s ProPILOT Assist 2.0 have driver-monitoring camera hardware already in the vehicle. However, in both systems the camera can be toggled “off” within a settings menu, yet the ADA system can still be used. When we asked Nissan the reasoning behind giving drivers the ability to use the new Ariya EV’s ADA system without having to also use the driver-monitoring camera, a spokesperson told us that the automaker would “... continue to monitor the landscape of this emerging technology along with customer feedback and regulatory requirements but (we have) no plans at this time to remove that option on ProPilot Assist for our customers.”

“It’s disappointing that both Lucid and Nissan have this equipment in their vehicles, yet they aren’t using it to the fullest, safest potential,” Funkhouser says. 

CR reached out to automakers that have an ADA system but that don’t have a camera-based driver-monitoring system, seeking comment and information on their plans. Several automakers did not respond, while others declined to provide further details, saying the information is proprietary. Of those that did respond, Polestar (Volvo’s EV sub-brand) said DDMS will be included as a standard feature in its upcoming 2024 Polestar 3 SUV . Audi told us that DDMS “is not available at this time.” Rivian acknowledged that its camera is turned off in most vehicles while its Highway Assist system is active, and said it would keep CR posted on its plans for adding DDMS. Mercedes equips some models, like the EQS and S-Class , with a driver-facing camera to detect inattention, but the ADA system continues to operate even if the system deems the driver to be inattentive. And the driver-monitoring camera can be switched off, even when using ADA.

When there’s a seamless collaboration between the lane centering assistance system and the driver’s own steering inputs, it encourages the driver to stay alert and in control.

BMW and Mercedes ranked at the top when it comes to allowing the driver to give their own steering inputs (known as “collaborative driving”), for example, if you need to swerve out of the lane to avoid a pothole or give some berth to a cyclist. BlueCruise also allows for collaborative driving, and here it distances itself from Super Cruise, Autopilot, Lucid’s Highway Assist, and Rivian’s Highway Assist, all of which immediately disengage the LCA if the driver turns the steering wheel, which—annoyingly—forces the driver to re-engage the system afterward each time. This tells the driver that either the system is steering or the driver, but you can’t have it both ways.

For many people, the next new car they buy will be their first experience with an active driving assistance system. Because these systems are still so new, it’s important for auto manufacturers to make them as easy to use as possible, with simple controls, clear displays, and good feedback regarding the system’s status so that a driver will know what the system is doing and why it’s operating in a certain way.

Our testers evaluated how easy it was for drivers to engage the systems and make adjustments to the settings. They also reviewed the types and amount of information displayed to drivers, and how easy it was to know and understand what the system was doing.

The Highway Driving Assist and Highway Driving Assist 2 systems found in Hyundai/Kia/Genesis models were the top-rated systems in terms of ease of use (the controls are essentially identical between the two systems), due in large part to a strong showing in the “controls” category. Both the Hyundai/Kia/Genesis systems and Honda Sensing/ Acura Watch have separate controls on the steering wheel enabling the driver to activate ACC and LCA independently, which allows drivers to experience and understand each feature on its own. This makes it possible, for example, for the driver to use LCA without ACC if they want. And it prevents the potential confusion of, say, the LCA automatically engaging when the driver activates ACC.

There should be distinct, independent controls for ACC and LCA activation. Combining them into either a single control or a multistep activation removes the freedom for drivers to use each feature on its own. It also implies that the system is more capable than the sum of the two features alone.

Rivian, BMW, and Mercedes scored very well in “displays.” That’s because the driver’s instrument panel in these vehicles provides detailed information regarding lane lines, showing, for example, how close your vehicle is to the lines and to the surrounding traffic. This helps drivers understand what the system is “seeing,” and thus why the system is behaving the way it is. 

By contrast, Nissan/Infiniti’s confusing and poorly labeled symbols on the steering wheel make ProPILOT Assist and the updated ProPILOT Assist 2.0 unintuitive to use and hurt its “ease of use” score.

GM’s Super Cruise would have scored the lowest for “displays” if it weren’t for the bright green LED indicator on the top of the steering wheel rim, which makes it clear when the system is engaged. Beyond that, Super Cruise offers little information in the instrument panel beyond a small, steering wheel icon that indicates the system is active. It doesn’t, for example, show a display of the car, lane lines, or the car ahead, as other systems do.

The latest ADA systems are safest to use either on long highway drives or when you’re stuck in a traffic jam—situations in which they can best reduce driver fatigue and stress. On the other hand, using these systems on narrow, curvy roads or around pedestrians can be dangerous and stressful for drivers.

We evaluated the systems in terms of how clearly they communicate in real time about when drivers should—and should not—be using the technology. We also looked at how well they "explain" themselves in instances when the system won’t engage or suddenly turns itself off.

While ADA systems are generally not designed for narrow, curvy roads, most systems do allow drivers to use them in those environments. We think it’s smart that GM’s Super Cruise, Lucid’s Highway Assist, and Rivian’s Highway Assist use GPS-based geofencing to ensure operation within relatively safe driving environments, such as divided highways. 

A big difference between Ford’s BlueCruise, compared with GM’s Super Cruise and Lucid’s Highway Assist, is that BlueCruise can be used even when you’re not driving on the highway, while Super Cruise and Highway Assist cannot. Ford is able to incorporate LCA on regular, nonhighway roads because the system requires not just eyes on the road (via the DDMS) but also hands on the steering wheel in certain situations. We also like that even when driving on pre-mapped divided highways that are theoretically “hands-free zones,” BlueCruise requires drivers to place their hands back on the wheel in advance of risky upcoming scenarios, such as sharp curves or lane merges. 

Jaguar/Land Rover, Lexus/Toyota, Tesla, and Volvo rank toward the bottom of the chart in terms of making it clear when they are (and are not) safe to use. Tesla’s Autopilot and Lexus’ Safety System+ 3.0 are both capable of being used even when there’s only a single lane line down the middle of the road, which can lead to the driver using them in an unsafe situation. The systems try to create a “center” of the lane but often end up steering too close to the unlined edge of the road.

We were disappointed with Volvo/Polestar’s Pilot Assist system for numerous reasons, including that we found too many instances where the system switched itself into standby mode—meaning the ACC is still controlling the car’s speed, but the LCA is no longer giving any steering assistance—for no apparent reason. “The result is that Pilot Assist isn’t all that helpful to the driver. Much of this could have been solved had Volvo simply installed a driver-facing camera,” Funkhouser says. We plan to evaluate the Polestar 3 when it comes out with a DDMS.

Other than BlueCruise and Super Cruise, the ADA systems we tested don’t make it clear to drivers when they are safe to use. Plus, we find that most vehicle owner’s manuals are overly vague, making the systems seem more like tools used to reduce manufacturer liability rather than to help drivers fully understand, and use, these high-tech features.

An Unresponsive Driver

Systems that are capable of controlling the steering and speed of a vehicle should also be designed to help the driver at moments of greatest need, such as an incapacitating health emergency or if the driver falls asleep at the wheel. We evaluated how effectively the systems escalate driver warnings and assume steering and speed control in such scenarios, paying particular attention to how long it takes before the first audible warning sounds (because an inattentive or sleeping driver probably would not see a visual warning).

Although most vehicles in our testing can’t monitor the driver’s eyes, most do have a system that will signal an alert if the system deems the driver to be inattentive for a sustained period and then bring the car to a stop (with hazard lights on) and even call for outside help.

Ford’s BlueCruise is the best at discerning when a driver is being inattentive, thanks to its DDMS. If the system detects that the driver isn’t looking forward for 4 to 5 seconds, an audible warning alerts him or her to watch the road.

If the driver is unresponsive, however, BlueCruise merely slows the vehicle to 6 mph and continues driving in the same lane indefinitely. It doesn’t bring the car to a complete stop, put on the emergency flashers, or call for help. By contrast, with GM’s Super Cruise and Mercedes’ Driver Assistance, if the driver doesn’t respond to prompts from the system to re-engage, the car will turn on the emergency flashers, bring the car to a full stop (in whatever lane it’s currently traveling), and call for help. We think that’s the smarter response.

It’s alarming that, with the Honda and Kia systems, if a driver becomes unresponsive to warnings to put their hands on the steering wheel, the ADA systems will shut off before bringing the vehicle to a stop. This means that if the driver is distracted or medically impaired, the vehicle will just continue to roll forward—potentially off the road at speed—without any steering assistance or speed control, until it eventually rolls to a stop or runs into something.

Hyundai’s newer system—Highway Driving Assist 2—isn’t any better than the original system in this regard. In fact, in some ways it’s worse. Once Highway Driving Assist 2 determines that the driver is unresponsive, the system deactivates the LCA aspect, but the ACC will maintain the vehicle at a speed of 40 mph, without steering assistance, rather than letting the vehicle roll to a stop. Similarly, Subaru’s system also shuts off the LCA but keeps ACC on at the set speed without slowing.

Other than BlueCruise and Super Cruise, none of the systems we tested will alert the driver to pay attention if they are merely resting a hand on the steering wheel with a light amount of pressure, despite the fact that the driver may not be looking at the road and could even be asleep.

Test-Drive Before You Buy

When shopping for a new car, be sure to have the salesperson walk you through the details of how these advanced technologies work and how to adjust any specific settings.

As these systems become available on more new cars, it’s important that consumers understand their limitations. No matter what the automakers might imply in their marketing, none of the systems we tested here are capable of doing the driving for you.

“Automakers also need to realize that the more capable they develop a system in terms of driver assistance, the greater the chances are that the driver might tune out and try to leave the driving to the car,” Funkhouser says. “That’s why camera-based, direct driver monitoring is so critical and should be an essential tool of any good active driving assistance system going forward.”

Active Driving Assistance Systems in Action

Active Driving Assistance systems rely on several of a car’s high-tech features working together. Watch the videos below, created using CR’s fleet of test vehicles, to learn the difference among lane centering assistance, lane departure warning, and lane keeping assistance; how adaptive cruise control works; what makes for an effective direct driver monitoring system; and which ADA systems performed best in our overall tests.

More on ADAS Systems

cadillac super cruise vs mercedes

Mike Monticello

Mike Monticello is the manager of road tests and reviews for the autos team at Consumer Reports. He has been with CR since 2016. Mike has been evaluating and writing about cars for nearly 25 years, having previously worked at Road & Track magazine and Edmunds.com. On the weekends, he usually switches from four wheels to two, riding one of his mountain bikes or motorcycles. Follow him on Twitter @MikeMonticello .

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Study: Which Are the Best Driver Assistance Systems?

cadillac super cruise vs mercedes

Automakers have made tremendous advancements in safety and driver assistance in recent years, but obviously not all of them have reached the same level of effectiveness and dependability.

While Tesla is generating a lot of talk with its Autopilot system, even more now with the beta test of its “Full Self-Driving” functionality, the reality is that a number of companies are offering similar alternatives.

  • Also: Autonomous Cars Would Only Prevent a Third of Accidents
  • Also: Survey: Consumers Lack Confidence in EVs and Self-driving Cars

So, which are the best driver assistance systems out there? You know, the ones that allow what can be described as semi-autonomous driving? U.S. magazine Consumer Reports recently tested 17 different systems to find out.

By combining lane keeping and adaptive cruise control features on a closed track as well as on public roads, the team conducted as many as 36 tests with each vehicle and evaluated them based on five main criteria—capability and performance; keeping the driver engaged; ease of use; clear when safe to use; and unresponsive driver.

Here is Consumer Reports ’ ranking:

  • Cadillac, Super Cruise
  • Tesla, Autopilot
  • Lincoln/Ford, Co-Pilot 360
  • Audi, pre sense
  • Hyundai/Kia, SmartSense
  • Mercedes-Benz, Active Driving Assistance
  • Subaru, EyeSight
  • BMW, ConnectedDrive Active Driving Assistance
  • Porsche, Active Safe
  • Volvo, Pilot Assist
  • Honda/Acura, Honda Sensing
  • Nissan/Infiniti, ProPILOT
  • Toyota/Lexus, Toyota Safety Sense
  • Chevrolet/Buick, Driver Confidence Package
  • Land Rover, InControl
  • Mazda, i-Activsense

Keep in mind there can be differences among models, model years and packages that could affect some parameters of how the system operates. Also, some automakers can change their systems software on current and future vehicles with over-the-air updates. 

cadillac super cruise vs mercedes

Cadillac’s Super Cruise remains the top-rated system because it uses direct driver monitoring to warn drivers that appear to have stopped paying attention to the road. It can deliver multiple warnings, such as a bright red light on the upper rim of the steering wheel. If the driver still does not react, the system will start to slow the car down and can even bring it to a complete stop.

Like many traffic safety organizations, Consumer Reports warns that none of these systems effectively replaces driver attention and intervention in some situations. When people rely too much on an automated system and tune out from the driving task, many deadly crashes occur.

“The evidence is clear: If a car makes it easier for people to take their attention off the road, they’re going to do so—with potentially deadly consequences,” says William Wallace, manager of safety policy at Consumer Reports . “It’s critical for active driving assistance systems to come with safety features that actually verify drivers are paying attention and are ready to take action at all times. Otherwise, these systems’ safety risks could end up outweighing their benefits.” 

cadillac super cruise vs mercedes

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Cadillac Super Cruise Mini Review

Tim Healey

I’ve tested Cadillac’s Super Cruise twice this year, and I had my first taste of Ford’s BlueCruise autonomous system last year.

As a journalist who covers the automotive industry, I have plenty of opinions about autonomous driving – mainly, I don’t believe we’ll see full Level 5 anytime soon. As a journalist who’s also been able to actually test AV systems, I have come to the conclusion that for now, at least, using an AV system leaves you with very mixed feelings. Especially if you’re a car enthusiast and not someone who merely uses your car as a means of conveyance.

Maybe that will change as we get more used to systems like Super Cruise, but for now, I walked away feeling a bit unnerved. Though I still think that limitations in the technology mean human drivers won’t be fully replaced anytime soon. More on that below.

To be clear, neither Super Cruise nor BlueCruise is a fully autonomous system. Let me reiterate that there is NO fully autonomous Level 5 system on the market today. The best you can get is Level 2, though some newer systems are flirting with Level 3.

Both Super Cruise and BlueCruise also only work on certain roads – roads that are mostly, if not exclusively, freeways.

This past weekend I took the Cadillac Escalade V-Series to my parent’s house for Mother’s Day. The trip is a little over 50 miles each way, with a good chunk being expressway. I’d have a chance to really test out Super Cruise – especially since my previous test, a month or two back, of the system in a CT4 was limited to a short run up and down Chicago’s famed DuSable Lake Shore Drive.

cadillac super cruise mini review

I’ll speak more about the system’s specifics when I review the V-Series, but in general, I found it to work really well, yet I was also on high alert in case the system needed me to take over at a second’s notice. I was on such high alert that it was actually more tiring than if I’d done the driving myself.

That might be a “me” problem more than a tech issue – maybe I just haven’t learned to trust this stuff yet. But I was keeping my hands near the wheel and my right foot hovering over the pedals. Even if I probably didn’t need to. That said, I did relax a bit as time went on.

Almost immediately after activating Super Cruise, which requires you to have already turned adaptive cruise control on, I encountered a traffic jam. I was ready to take over for the system but before I could I felt the Escalade slowing – and it came to a complete stop without any intervention from me. It accelerated and braked as appropriate during the stop-and-go slog. I was only tasked with taking over when a construction zone threw off the truck’s maps of the road.

Out of 110 miles or so of driving, I think about half was spent with the Escalade doing all the driving.

Super Cruise even automates lane changes. Flick the blinker, and it will change lanes for you. It will also change lanes on its own should it encounter a slowpoke that needs to be passed. This latter maneuver was a bit problematic – if the vehicle flashed an indicator of its intent in the dash, I missed it, and a couple of times I thought the system was making a mistake and manually took over when I didn’t need to.

That, again, may indicate that I am just not used to these systems enough to trust them. A prime example occurred on my return trip – road construction meant the lanes were shifted. I was in the left-most lane, and there were construction barrels between the wall and the lane, and the Escalade seemed like it wasn’t going to follow the lanes and I’d be center-punching one of said barrels. So I grabbed the wheel, flicked it, and then reset the system. Only later did I realize that the ‘Slade probably would’ve turned but it would’ve waited a split-second longer than I did. After all, the SC lights were green, indicating it was working fine. It would’ve turned red if it needed me to take over.

cadillac super cruise mini review

Of course, I may have taken more risk if the car was mine – I didn’t want to wreck an expensive Escalade that I don’t own because I put too much faith in Super Cruise. Imagine explaining that one: “Yeah I saw the barrels and the lane shift, but I’m testing Super Cruise and needed to see if it worked.”

I experienced a similar situation a few miles down the road – a crash had shut the left lane and brought out some fire trucks. As the cars in front of me shifted lanes to the right, Super Cruise kept the Escalade pointed straight, and it even started to accelerate to the set cruise speed when the lane cleared. I don’t know if the system didn’t “see” the fire trucks or was confused by the flashing lights. I don’t know if the truck would’ve slowed and changed lanes when it got closer to the fire trucks. I didn’t risk finding out the hard way – I took over and manually maneuvered it around the scene.

Again, was that a lack of trust on my part or a system failure? I don’t know and didn’t want to find out. Once again, imagine explaining that one – in this case, to the first responders: “I saw you and the lights, but I really needed to see if Super Cruise would navigate around you. For the sake of journalism.”

Super Cruise does monitor you, the driver, to make sure your eyes are on the road and you’re ready to take over. I found its monitoring to be inconsistent – one time, a quick glance at a billboard was enough to get the system to alert me to get my eyes back on the road. Another time, a longer look off to the side didn’t trigger anything and the Caddy trundled along blissfully under Super Cruise’s control.

I’ll close this with one final note – you become extra aware of drivers who cut you off when you’re hovering over the controls, ready to take over. Fortunately, the system always seemed to adjust to some asshole squeezing into a too-tight gap and either slowed the ‘Slade and/or changed lanes.

I don’t know how much I’d rely on Super Cruise or BlueCruise if I owned a vehicle so equipped. I did, after a while, start relaxing and trusting the system more. I wouldn’t recommend playing with your phone or becoming otherwise distracted – it’s still not safe, and things can happen fast at 70 mph – but I can see why someone would be tempted. Especially once you start to feel comfortable with the system.

I am not yet convinced you’ll be giving up your driver’s license and buying a car that can drive you everywhere anytime soon. We’ve seen too many issues with Tesla’s misleadingly named Full-Self Driving system, and Super Cruise and BlueCruise remain limited to certain roads. Those latter two systems also still occasionally get flummoxed – or at least seem to react more slowly than I feel comfortable with.

But autonomous driving will be a larger part of your driving experience going forward, especially if you have luxury car money. I’d recommend keeping perspective – it can be a useful tool that makes freeway driving a little easier, but never forget that you’re in charge and must be ready to take over.

Or just get yourself a 20-year-old Miata and do all the driving yourself. That might be the cure for any AV-induced confusion.

[Images: Cadillac]

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Tim Healey

Tim Healey grew up around the auto-parts business and has always had a love for cars — his parents joke his first word was “‘Vette”. Despite this, he wanted to pursue a career in sports writing but he ended up falling semi-accidentally into the automotive-journalism industry, first at Consumer Guide Automotive and later at Web2Carz.com. He also worked as an industry analyst at Mintel Group and freelanced for About.com, CarFax, Vehix.com, High Gear Media, Torque News, FutureCar.com, Cars.com, among others, and of course Vertical Scope sites such as AutoGuide.com, Off-Road.com, and HybridCars.com. He’s an urbanite and as such, doesn’t need a daily driver, but if he had one, it would be compact, sporty, and have a manual transmission.

More by Tim Healey

Join the conversation

SPPPP

@Tim Healey - Why assume that the Escalade would have shifted over for the barrels? After all, if the light was green, it might indicate it was aware of the lane shift ... or it might indicate that it was blissfully unaware of the lane shift and really would have plowed right into a barrel.

I think your problem is that you know too much. If you were a perpetually distracted driver, you would welcome this system, because it would enable your bad, careless - even reckless behavior. So, as with many things in life, the people who use it the most are the ones who are least qualified to have it. (Alcohol, drugs, guns, power, you name it...)

Tim Healey

I had faith, based on how it had worked to that point, that it would see and avoid the obstacle. Well, not much faith, obviously, since I took over before I could find out. So you might be right -- maybe I shouldn't have assumed it work if I had let it continue operating. This is the problem with real-world testing. Had I been at a test facility and the barrels been soft dummy targets, I'd have tried it to see what would happen.

RHD

First picture: "Man, this Super Cruise makes me sleepy... so sleepy... oh crap, I forgot to shave AGAIN!"

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GM's Super Cruise vs. Ford's BlueCruise: Compare hands-free driving systems

GM's Super Cruise vs. Ford's BlueCruise: Compare hands-free driving systems

Cadillac Super Cruise

Robert Duffer

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  • GM's Super Cruise expands to cover approximately 750,000 miles of limited-access highways in the U.S. and Canada; Ford's BlueCruise covers 130,000 miles
  • Super Cruise can now execute automatic lane changes, and can be used while towing a trailer
  • Ford BlueCruise 1.3 has hands-free lane changes, and earned Consumer Reports' highest rating

A new battlefield has emerged in the century-long tussle between General Motors and Ford: hands-free driving technology.

In recent testing of GM's Super Cruise in the Chevrolet Silverado and Ford's BlueCruise in the Ford F-150 Lightning , one thing became clear. GM is far ahead of Ford when it comes to limited hands-free driving, which is an evolution of adaptive cruise control.  

Cruise, or speed, control dates as far back as the rivalry between America's top two automakers. Yet, the first car to feature a modern version of cruise control was the 1958 Chrysler Imperial that was advertised as "Auto-pilot." That's the same and now controversial name Tesla uses for its semi-autonomous drive system. History may be recursive, but this technology has come a long way.

Ford BlueCruise

Ford BlueCruise

Cadillac Super Cruise

The promise of a car driving itself in traffic while the operator tends to other business has never been closer to reality. And while the technology exists, the current infrastructure and legal framework keeps it at bay. To be clear, there is no such thing as a fully self-driving car on sale today. That threshold of being able to enter a destination and go from point A to point B with no interaction between car and passenger has been identified as a Level 5 advanced driving assistance system (ADAS) by the Society for Automotive Engineering. Super Cruise, Autopilot, and BlueCruise, among others, are considered Level 2, nudging towards Level 3. 

Level 2 has been identified as using active lane control and adaptive cruise control at the same time, with the driver maintaining control of these functions even if their hands are off the wheel. Most new cars offer this level of technology, with adaptive cruise control maintaining the gap between a lead car and providing a nice respite on highways; active lane control keeps the car centered in its lane, but can be obtrusive to some drivers, based on the latest customer satisfaction survey from J.D. Power. 

Mercedes-Benz Level 3 Drive Pilot

Mercedes-Benz Level 3 Drive Pilot

Level 3 essentially means that once the driver initiates the system and sits behind the wheel, the system takes over for the rest of the way without any intervention from the driver, until the system demands. We're not there yet, though Mercedes-Benz claims Level 3 status in select states where its Drive Pilot system is legal, such as Nevada. BMW and Tesla have made similar claims. 

SAE levels of driving automation, from none to fully self-driving

SAE levels of driving automation, from none to fully self-driving

Compared to Super Cruise, Ford's BlueCruise can't quite keep pace. Here's why.

How it works

Both systems use forward-facing cameras as well as navigation info pulled from the GPS and a map database that gets updated routinely (GM says about 7-8 times a year). First launched in 2017, Super Cruise has a significant advantage in tech development. It employs lidar mapping, whereas Ford uses radar, which isn't as accurate or precise in detecting smaller objects. Originally called Active Drive Assist, BlueCruise didn't launch until the second half of 2021. It now encompasses what had been called ActiveGlide on Lincoln vehicles. 

The difference in mapped miles is significant as well, since, unlike Tesla, Ford and GM will not let their systems engage unless it's part of the mapped database limited to divided highways such as interstates and state highways. GM claims more than 750,000 miles of mapped highways for hands-free driving in U.S. and Canada, and Ford claims to have 130,000 miles of "Blue Zone" accessibility. Both automakers say the availability expands with more mapped highways via frequent over-the-air updates.

In practice, they both are an extension of adaptive cruise control with a couple more icons, messages, and warnings mixed in. Also unlike Tesla's Autopilot, GM and Ford employ a driver-facing camera to monitor eye position and engagement with the road. The monitor for Super Cruise is a tiny camera on the top of the steering column, and the top of the steering wheel itself houses a light bar that's green when active, or pulsing red when it demands driver intervention.

A similar camera sits on the steering column of the Mach-E, but on the F-150 there are two driver-facing cameras: one is on the left A-pillar by the door, and the other is offset to the right of the steering wheel on the dash between the instrument cluster and touchscreen. 

Super Cruise in the 2022 Chevrolet Silverado High Country

Super Cruise in the 2022 Chevrolet Silverado High Country

2023 Chevrolet Suburban with Super Cruise

2023 Chevrolet Suburban with Super Cruise

How Super Cruise performs

It's possible to travel hours in a GM vehicle with Super Cruise activated without needing to intervene, or just by tapping the wheel. To engage the system, press the cruise control button on the steering wheel. A gray steering wheel icon in the center of the instrument cluster or at the top of it will turn green when its in Super Cruise territory. The light bar in the steering wheel activates from nothingness to green. If the vehicle is not centered in its lane to start, the light bar appears blue until the conditions are met for it to turn green. It's unmistakable that it's on, especially when the voice commands confirm it. 

The latest update to Super Cruise includes an automatic lane change function for passing. The driver no longer has touch the indicator stalk. If you're in the right lane with Super Cruise set at 70 mph, say, and the lead car is going 65 mph, the system will check to see if the passing lane is open, and if so, it will begin a lane change. Before it does an alert flashes in the cluster and the seat side vibrates, so if you’re shifting to the right the right side of the seat will vibrate. Then it activates the blinker, checks the blind spot, and even hustles a few mph over the setting to then clear out of the passing lane and back into the right lane once well clear of the passed car. It's more considerate than most drivers, and better. And it makes Super Cruise super cool. 

Most importantly, it instills confidence and acts as a reassurance. Of all the systems I've tested, including earlier iterations of Tesla's Autopilot, Super Cruise fills dreams of safe, relaxed, open highway cruising. Iterations of Super Cruise with trailering support don't have the automatic lane change function, but do enable Super Cruise to work while towing. 

Ford BlueCruise in the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E GT.

Ford BlueCruise in the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E GT.

Ford BlueCruise

How Bluecruise performs

Because its iconography is blue in the spirit of the Blue Oval, Ford's BlueCruise is not as clear. Add in a blue background on the Mach-E Mustang and F-150 Lightning, and it's not as obvious as the green iconography or steering wheel light bar on Super Cruise. A blue steering-wheel icon with "Hands-Free" appears on the left side of the cluster, which is tiny on the Mach-E Mustang, and a wee little green icon also appears in either the lower or upper corner. 

BlueCruise is not as confident or sophisticated as Super Cruise. Super Cruise uses an HD GPS receiver that locates the vehicle within about six feet of its lane, so it knows where it is. Ford relies on cameras and sensors alone, so it is less aware of where it is. In initial testing, it got confused near off ramps and wary of merging lanes. In my testing on both the Mach-E Mustang and F-150 Lightning, it tended to pinball between the lane for a longer period of time than some cars equipped with only active lane control. It seems to take longer to learn the road patterns, and on curves, ramps, merges, it can be as dodgy as a teenager in a driving test. It doesn't hesitate in requesting the driver to take over, and it's not as relaxing because the steering wheel sensor relies on a tug or some degree of torque from the driver, instead of the touch capacitive steering wheel on Super Cruise. 

In recent testing of the Ford F-150, BlueCruise maintained its lane much better, and also inched over to the lane markings when a merging truck swung a little wide. It's improved dramatically in two years development, from 2022 to 2024. 

BlueCruise can now be had with an auto lane change function, but it doesn't automatically go back into the initiating lane once the passing move is complete, unlike Super Cruise. 

What if something goes wrong?

Ford BlueCruise in the 2022 F-150 Lightning, with the driver monitor camera to the right.

Ford BlueCruise in the 2022 F-150 Lightning, with the driver monitor camera to the right.

Both driver-facing cameras read head and eye position to make sure eyes are on the road. If it detects otherwise, BlueCruise will flash an alert in the instrument cluster that says "Watch the Road," and there may be an audio reminder. If you don't respond to the warning, BlueCruise shuts down and automatically slows the vehicle while maintaining the center lane. To turn it off manually, just press the cruise control button. 

Ford BlueCruise warning in the F-150

Ford BlueCruise warning in the F-150

If BlueCruise can't read lane markings or the lane becomes too narrow, and it detects that the driver's eyes are not on the road, it will brake and maintain the lane until the driver reengages. 

GM Super Cruise warning alert graphic

GM Super Cruise warning alert graphic

Super Cruise requests intervention when encountering unusual traffic situations, when exiting the highway and when merging into traffic, or at a stop or intersection, railroad crossing, or pedestrian crossing. If the system detects the driver's eye or head position away from the road (such as looking down at a phone), the light bar flashes green for a few seconds and requests the driver to pay attention and tap the steering wheel. If the driver does not pay attention, audible chimes, seat vibrations, and messaging in the cluster will appear, before the light bar flashes red and the other alerts intensify. If there's still no reaction, Super Cruise goes into emergency mode and activates the hazards, applies the brakes to a stop, and alerts emergency services. 

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cadillac super cruise vs mercedes

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Cadillac vs. mercedes: a complete brand comparison.

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Cadillac vs. Mercedes: what are the similarities and differences between these two iconic luxury brands? Cadillac and Mercedes are among the most popular prestigious car brands on the planet. From their contributions to modern technology to their century-plus catalog of well-manufactured cars, both have a considerable stake in the global luxury market, but which manufacturer offers the better deal?

That is what we intend to find out in this post. We’ll be looking at each brand as a whole, weighing their history, ride quality, pricing, and maintenance cost to see which manufacturer delivers the better luxury car experience. 

Cadillac vs. Mercedes: Prestige and Background

When comparing Cadillac vs. Mercedes in terms of their prestige and historical clout, you’ll find that they’ve got very different legacies. Both Cadillac and Mercedes have manufactured luxury cars for over 120 years, but both brands could not be any more different.   

Since its first car rolled off the production line in 1903, Cadillac has been known for its precision manufacturing and eye for luxury finishes. It garnered thousands of sales on its first car, and it has largely held to the same philosophy for over 120 years. 

Named after the French explorer Antoine Laumet de la Mothe, Sieur de Cadillac, founder of Detroit, the company was formed from the remnants of Henry Ford’s company and the Leland & Faulconer Manufacturing company in 1902. 

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By 1908, Cadillac had already established itself as one of the premier luxury car manufacturers in America, and when it joined General Motors a year later, it became their Luxury division.

Cadillac is famous for some of the most popular automobile features modern cars use today. It made the first automobile with an electrical system for initiating ignition, engine starting, and lighting. They also introduced several record-shattering engines from the 1920s to the 50s, as well as Tailfins, wraparounds windshields, and a few other trends that mark 50s and 60s car designs.

Cadillacs were also some of the first to feature heater-air conditioners, and their modern engines and car designs are nothing to sneeze at either. Their models set the trend for modern luxury sedans and SUVs. 

Mercedes is also just as invested in manufacturing exceptional cars, but they’re a lot larger than Cadillac. 

Mercedes-Benz’s origins can be traced back to Karl Benz’s creation of the Benz Motorwagen –which featured the first internal combustion engine – and his partnership with Gottlieb Daimler, Wilhelm Mayback, and Emil Jellinek. They marketed their first automobile, the Mercedes, to the old nobles of Europe and popular titans of industry such as Rockefeller. 

Since then, Mercedes-Benz cars have been recognizable for their quality manufacturing, eye-for-detail, as well as technical and luxury innovations. 

They manufactured some of the first cars to use bulletproof windshields, airbags, floats carburetors, four-wheel breaks, seven-speed automatic transmissions, and some of the best turbo and petrol engines in the world. 

Mercedes is the biggest manufacturer of premium cars in the world today and sold over  2.4 million units of cars in 2020  alone. Mercedes remained on top of the automobile industry for over 100 years thanks to its approach to manufacturing cars. It’s perfectly encapsulated in their slogan “the best or nothing.”

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Because the car buying experience is so stressful, it’s helpful to go into the dealership with information ahead of time. Therefore, we’ve curated a list of the 10 most reliable American cars so you can approach the process from a place of empowerment.

Cadillac vs. Mercedes: Ride Quality and Comfort

Mercedes - Benz and Cadillac are famous for the ride quality in their choice of automobiles. Cadillac has been pumping out Devilles, Fleetwoods, and Seville with world-class suspension and ride since the late 50s. Caddie fans swear by the classics and argue that they still ride beautifully to date.

Modern Cadillacs are just as comfortable too. Their CTS models, recently renamed the CT6, use independent suspension that prioritizes ride quality and precision handling.

According to a  Consumer Report carried out in 2018 , the S-class Mercedes sedan delivers one of the best car experiences in the world. It was placed first in a survey of 78 luxury cars. 

The S-class sedans are some of the most expensive luxury cars in the world and are packed with all the comfort you’d expect for a car worth over $100,000. The 2021 model uses electronic-assisted multi-link adaptive air suspension. The front and rear suspensions are also gas-pressurized, and they use AS summer performance tires.

Even their non-elite models stack up exceptionally well against some of the best luxury cars in the world. A Redditor carried out a seismometer test that placed the Mercedes C300 Coupe ahead of the Porsche Carrera 911 as the better riding car. 

Short of testing either the CTS6 or the S-class, it’s hard to determine which car truly delivers the better ride quality. However, on paper, the Mercedes S-class looks to have a better ride quality and interior. It uses a multi-link suspension system which is not only smoother than the independent transmission on the Cadillac CT6, but is also more expensive. 

Cadillac vs. Mercedes: Car Lineup

Mercedes Benz outguns the Cadillac offerings by over 10 car lines. Between Mercedes-Benz, Daimler AG, and Mercedes-AMG, Mercedes has over 12 car lines. They make everything from sports cars and roadsters, hatchbacks, SUVs, luxury Sedans, EVs, supercars, super-exclusive Maybachs, trucks, and even vans.

In comparison, Cadillac has a slimmer offering. They only make three car models– the Escalade, XT, and CT. According to their official site, they are currently working on an EV called LYRIQ. In 2019,  they sold about 165,246 cars  between their three-car lines.

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Cadillac vs. Mercedes: Pricing 

Mercedes-Benz luxury cars are, on average, more expensive than Cadillac vehicles. The Cadillac XT4 starts at $36,500, the CT5 sedans start at $51, 865, and their world-famous Escalades start at $72,000. 

By contrast, the Mercedes equivalents start much higher. Their low-end GLB SUV starts at $36,000, and the luxury Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 SUV starts at $160,000. On the sedan front, their top-of-the-line luxury car starts at $184,900.

With improved interiors, engine configurations, and upgrades, the asking price of Mercedes cars can reach ridiculously high. For example, the Mercedes-AMG GT reaches up to $325,000 on the highest specifications, and the 2022 AMG One starts at $2,700,000.

Cadillac vs. Mercedes: Maintenance and Repair

At first glance, Cadillac seemed to provide a better warranty and repair option. 

On their standard and lowest-tier Bumper-to-Bumper Limited Warranty, new vehicles are covered for up to four years or 50,000 miles for repairs, parts, and labor for any physical defect.  

Unfortunately, the plan does not cover routine maintenance but is transferrable, and so are the Cadillac Optional Extended Limited Warranty and the Powertrain Limited Warranty. Both warranties only cover repairs but last significantly longer. 

Cadillac also offers several tiers of warranties, defective GM parts repairs and changes warranties, and a 4-year coverage for maintenance, oil change and filter, tire rotation, and Multi-point Inspection (MPVI). 

As if those options were not enough, Cadillac also provides Roadside assistance, courtesy transportation, available customized protection products, and a super-exclusive repair network.

With thousands of automotive technicians on the GM repair network across Canada, China, and the United States, most car owners won’t stress getting access to all these fantastic repair options.

According to Cadillac, car owners should bring their cars in for routine maintenance every 7,500 miles, and  YourMechanic.com  estimates that it can cost anywhere from $95 to $1594 to repair and maintain a Cadillac.

Mercedes-Benz cars warranty scheme is less robust. Mercedes’s Basic Factory warranty/ Bumper-to-Bumper warranty covers all repairs and working costs for 4-years or 50,000 miles.

They have a standard Powertrain Warranty that covers 4 years and 50,000 miles from the original purchase date, and they sell extensions that can get you an additional 50,000 miles of coverage. Their Extended warranty covers: 

  • Transmission
  • Supercharger
  • Turbocharger
  • Passenger Car 4Matic
  • Cooling system
  • Electrical system
  • Climate control, etc. 

For routine maintenance, Mercedes has a prepaid maintenance plan that should reduce the cost of repair up to 30% and is transferable. Without the prepaid maintenance,  Mercedes Benz of Henderson  estimates that car owners might spend up to $1000 on maintenance alone. Between the Series A and B maintenance, tire rotations, and oil changes, the cost adds up.  YourMechanic  estimates that it can cost Mercedes-Benz owners anywhere from $95 to $7825 to repair their car.

Cadillac vs. Mercedes: The Bottom Line

When comparing Cadillac vs. Mercedes overall, we find that Mercedes cars are, without a doubt, the better luxury brand. Between their plusher interior, ride quality, and prestige, they have the clear advantage over Cadillac in all but one category—maintenance and repairs. While Mercedes warranties and repair costs are significantly more, they deliver on quality, comfort, and performance. 

With that said, we think you should choose whichever brand you like the best. Both Cadillac and Mercedes have built up their reputation, prestige, and trust over several generations of service, and neither brand seem eager to betray that trust. You are likely to enjoy whatever luxury car you purchase from them, whether they are a few days or years old.

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  • Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Best of Moscow by high speed train

By shuguley , February 15, 2014 in Regent Seven Seas Cruises

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250+ Club

Sure would appreciate someone who has taken "Best of Moscow by high speed train" from St. Petersburg could please share their impressions of this shore excursion. From the description this sounds like a very long day.

Wondering how the 4 hour train trip was in terms of accommodations, etc. Also what time did you leave the ship and what time at night did you return? Were both legs of the trip on the high speed rail (I read that slower trains also travel the same tracks)?

My wife and I are considering this excursion. We thought that if we are making all the effort to go to Russia then how could we pass up going to Moscow, walking in Red Square, seeing St. Basil, etc.

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1,000+ Club

If you are considering this on the 2015 June Baltic cruise on Voyager; my suggestion is don't. There is so much to do in St. Petersburg and although a train is one of my favorite ways to travel the time would be far better spent in St. P.

Thanks for the advice. Yes, this would be on the Voyager during the 2015 season but not yet sure exactly which cruise.

5,000+ Club

We did the Moscow excursion "on a different luxury line", but from your brief description it sounds very much like the same trip, so I will operate on that assumption. It is a VERY long day! We left the ship at 5:30 AM and returned at 12:30 AM. The highspeed train trip is comfortable, and while they call it "Business Class" it does not compare well to the equivalent class on say Rail Europe. When we did it in 2011, we did have highspeed both ways, and the trip back seemed much longer as the adrenaline and excitement had worn off!:D

Moscow itself is not that terribly different from any other big city in the world, but this Cold War kid never thought he would ever stand in Red Square, never mind walk the grounds of The Kremlin, or tour The Kremlin Palace, or see (but not visit) Lenin's Tomb, or visit The Armoury. But he did, and he loved every minute of it! Yes, it is a long day, and you barely scratch a scratch on the surface, but it is worth it. There is a tremendous amount to see in St. Petersburg, but every Baltic cruise goes to St. Petersburg, so you can go back if you choose to. Not every cruiseline offers you the chance to see Moscow.

RachelG

I have not personally done this tour, but our last time in St Petersburg, the private guide that we hired for a day was leading the regent tour to Moscow on the high speed train the next day. He said it was way better than the previous alternative, which was flying to Moscow and back. He said that you actually got to Moscow faster because you didn't have to deal with airline checkin etc. it did seem like a very long day to me, and there is so much to see and do in st. Petersburg that I didn't consider doing it.

countflorida

countflorida

We toured to Moscow from St. Petersburg via the hi-speed SAPSAN train last September, from a Baltic cruise on the Oceania Marina. You need to have a two-night, three day port call in St. Petersburg to take this tour because the tour typically leaves the ship around 5:00 - 5:30 AM and doesn't return until after midnight the next day. We didn't take the ship's tour; we made private arrangements with TravelAllRussia for three days of touring, the first and third days in St. Petersburg and the second day the tour to Moscow by train. Our cost for the private tour for three days was about the same as what the ship charged for the excursion to Moscow alone. There are a number of private tour agencies that operate in St. Petersburg and offer the Moscow train tours; we would strongly recommend them over the ship's tours.

All three days had private guides with car and driver. The second day, the driver picked us up at the ship and took us to the train, but we were alone on the train, and met in Moscow by the guide on the station platform. After our tour and dinner, we were brought back to the train and after the return train trip met by the driver and taken back to the ship. Because you are alone on the train you must have your own Russian visas.

If this is your first visit to St. Petersburg, I would agree there is much more to see there. We found Moscow somewhat a disappointment, particularly Red Square. The Kremlin and the cathedral in Red Square were also worth seeing. But the best thing we saw was the Moscow subway! I worked for the Washington Metro system back in the 1980s as it grew from 40 to 80 miles and although I was in the computer area, I learned a lot about the challenges of running a subway system. We used the Moscow system to get across the city from where we had dinner to the train station, and I was amazed at the cleanliness', speed of operation, the short headways maintained, and the courtesy of everyone involved. A very impressive experience!

We had been to St. Petersburg before, and so had the time to take a day and go to Moscow. Also, I really like trains, and the SAPSAN is a German train set running on Russian rails. Seats are like first class domestic air, spacious but not too plush or comfortable, but with enough room. Not too much recline, and almost 8 hours on the train in two shots is a lot for an old man. They come through and sell drinks, candy, etc. but the sellers don't speak English and no one around us helped, so we had just poor coffee once coming, and brought stuff with us for the trip back. Not too much to see from the train either, particularly on the return when it is night the whole way.

If you decide to go, take a private tour and avoid the overly expensive ship's tour. I'm glad we did it, but wouldn't bother to repeat the tour; we've seen Moscow.

Thanks so much to all of you for the thorough and thought insight. Yhe information you have provided is most helpful.

countflorida: Your detailed post is very helpful. We are not quite ready for a Baltic cruise but should do so within a year. Time enough to do our pre travel research, bookings and visa gathering.:) Thank you!

Emperor Norton

Emperor Norton

Sure would appreciate someone who has taken "Best of Moscow by high speed train" from St. Petersburg could please share their impressions of this shore excursion. From the description this sounds like a very long day.   Wondering how the 4 hour train trip was in terms of accommodations, etc. Also what time did you leave the ship and what time at night did you return? Were both legs of the trip on the high speed rail (I read that slower trains also travel the same tracks)?   My wife and I are considering this excursion. We thought that if we are making all the effort to go to Russia then how could we pass up going to Moscow, walking in Red Square, seeing St. Basil, etc.

I did this on Seabourn. IMO DONT. Take Aeroflop (er Aeroflot). The train has non folding seats where you are literally knee to knee with your fellow passenger (facing each other). Further they don't believe in air conditioning. It's also the worlds slowed bullet train. I think I would have found more enjoyment wandering around the St. Petersburg and Moscow airports.

Countflorida,

This is a little off topic,, however we had planned a river cruise in Russia but decided we would rather stay on land and have booked about two weeks with Travel-All-Russia using the private guide and driver. I'm curious as to how you found them as a tour company.

The guides they provided were fine. We had a different guide each of the days in St. Petersburg, but both were flexible, pleasant, knowledgeable and spoke English very well, as did the guide in Moscow, incidentally. She was a bit aloof, distant, not too friendly, but otherwise fine. In fact, she was the one who suggested taking the Metro, which unexpectedly became one of the highlights of the Moscow excursion. If I have a complaint with AllTravelRussia, it is with their plan and its execution (more later).

I had requested emphasis on World War II (in Russia, the Great Patriotic War) sites and info. In scheduling us, they weren't careful about dates and a couple of the sites we wanted to see were scheduled on the third day, after we'd been to Moscow. But both sites were closed that day of the week, and that info was readily available, right on web sites describing them. Also, the included meals (lunches in St. Pete, dinner in Moscow) were not what we asked for: light meals with some choices, so we could avoid things we didn't like and choose things we did like. My request was ignored; we were given full Russian meals with a fixed menu, no choice. On the first day, a fish dish was the entre, but I am allergic to fish. Fortunately, I had the e-mail I'd sent with me and showed it to the guide, and she was able to change my entre to chicken, which was very good actually. But we didn't want a 3-4 course lunches or dinner (in Moscow). We had the guide drop the lunch the third day, although we never got any credit or refund. But, particularly in contrast to the ship's tours, the prices were so reasonable we didn't worry too much about it.

The people who were on the ship's tour to Moscow saw us boarding the same train for which they were forced to queue up and wait on the way back, and asked us what we had done. I was candid and open so they were not happy when I explained what we had arranged and particularly what it had cost. Also, when we returned to the ship, we found they had laid on a late supper for those who had gone to Moscow, so up we went and had something. Well, it turns out the late supper was supposed to be just for those on the ship's tour, but we and others on 'independent' tours, there were a dozen or more of us, crashed the party, actually got there first, and they didn't realize it until the larger group arrived and there weren't enough tables/places set. By that time, the 'independents' had all gotten served and were eating; what could they do?

A couple from the larger group sat down with us and asked us about our tour, and they were the ones I told about our arrangement and its cost. They turned to others who’d been with them and announced the details, loudly enough so the whole room heard, which started a lot of bitching and complaining. I gathered they weren't very happy with the ship's tour to begin with, and this was the straw that broke the camel's back. We finished up and beat it out of there, but overheard later that one of the excursion staff came to check on something and ran into a real mess. I caught a cold on the trip, which forced me to bed the second day following in Tallinn, so by the time we reappeared we heard about the contretemps' but apparently no one recalled who started it, thankfully.

Because of what happened to us, I would probably not use AllTravelRussia if I were to go again, or if I did, I would be sure to get confirmation of every detail of the tour. They do have good reviews generally, and we were certainly helped by their visa department and liked the guides and drivers. Their weakness, I say now with full 20:20 hindsight, is that once the sales person who plans the tour, sells it to you and collects your money, he (or she) transfers the plan to their Russia office for implementation; there is no follow-up to make sure it gets done right. And that is where our problems arose; we paid for a custom tour but got a standard package with a few destinations switched, and no one checked them out, even to see when they were open the day we were scheduled to go. If you check every detail that’s important to you, it should be OK, but that’s a hell of a way to have to do business, in my opinion.

Thank you for the 20/20 hindsight observation on your Russian tour operator, and better priced than the ship's excursion cost.

Thanks very much for the feedback.

We had the same experience as you so far as price. We originally booked a Viking Cruise but, hearing some things about the river cruises that made us unhappy, looked into other options. T-A-R cost the same or less than a cruise and had us in hotels for 11 days. We opted for the private tour. They have three tour levels, based on hotels. We originally opted for the four star as it did not cost much more than the three star hotels. Finally we decided to throw it all in and upgraded to five star. In Moscow we will be at the newly opened Kempinsky which is two blocks from Red Square. In St. Petersburg it is the Grand Hotel Europe, one of the most vaunted luxury hotels in Russia. Location is important for us as the tours use up only part of the day so being in the center of everything for our independent touring is important. As with many other cities, the less you pay, the farther out of the center of town you are.

We have been working with our salesman in D.C. and he seems to get back to us with the changes we want. He recently returned from Russia so is up on everything. When I asked they said they paid the full TA commission if I wanted so I got my usual TA on board so he is watching our back and giving us that extra level of comfort. He also set up our air, which I know pays him little or nothing, and got us business class for much less than T-A-R wanted for economy, though it took working for a while with a consolidator. He's happy to get his 10 percent on this trip without having booked it. He also took care of the trip insurance. We've been doing a lot of research on the CC sister site Trip Advisor and will write a report there. We will, I guess, become a source of info for CC members after having spent 5 days in Moscow and 6 in SP.

  • 4 months later...

scubacruiserx2

scubacruiserx2

Anybody considering a day trip to Moscow from St. Petersburg on the Sapsan may want to look at our travelogue filled with pictures.

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1927687

greygypsy

Very informative. Thanks dor sharing. Jeff

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  11. CR Rates Active Driving Assistance Systems

    Still, even with the additional competition, and now a total of 17 tested systems, Ford's BlueCruise remains CR's top-rated ADA system, followed by Cadillac Super Cruise and Mercedes-Benz ...

  12. Study: Which Are the Best Driver Assistance Systems?

    Cadillac's Super Cruise remains the top-rated system because it uses direct driver monitoring to warn drivers that appear to have stopped paying attention to the road.

  13. Cadillac Super Cruise Mini Review

    Cadillac Super Cruise Mini Review. I've tested Cadillac's Super Cruise twice this year, and I had my first taste of Ford's BlueCruise autonomous system last year. As a journalist who covers the automotive industry, I have plenty of opinions about autonomous driving - mainly, I don't believe we'll see full Level 5 anytime soon.

  14. What GM Wants Drivers to Understand about Super Cruise

    GM rolled out a new "Hands Free, Eyes On" campaign late last week.; The point is to educate people about the Super Cruise driver-assist technology in new and upcoming Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, and ...

  15. GM's Super Cruise vs. Ford's BlueCruise: Compare hands-free driving systems

    In recent testing of GM's Super Cruise in the Chevrolet Silverado and Ford's BlueCruise in the Ford F-150 Lightning, one thing became clear. GM is far ahead of Ford when it comes to limited hands ...

  16. 2025 Cadillac Escalade Prices, Reviews, and Photos

    Super Cruise hands-free driving tech will continue to make the drive less stressful. It's likely the 2025 Cadillac Escalade will use a familiar 6.2-liter V-8 engine with 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of ...

  17. We Test Out The Hands-Free Mercedes-Benz Drive Pilot Level 3 System

    Mercedes cars with Drive Pilot have a pair of large silver buttons and LED lights mounted at the 9- and 3- o'clock positions on the steering wheel. The Level 3 system is available when those ...

  18. Detailed review of SuperCruise : r/SelfDrivingCars

    Detailed review of SuperCruise. Yes the attempt at humor at the beginning (and end) is truly terrible. But the rest is an excellent review of SuperCruise by an actual owner, as opposed to a journalist borrowing a car for a couple of trips. That's rare. My takeaway is that you can solve highway autonomy (on-ramp to off-ramp) with some ...

  19. Cadillac vs. Mercedes: A Complete Brand Comparison

    Cadillac vs. Mercedes: Car Lineup. Mercedes Benz outguns the Cadillac offerings by over 10 car lines. Between Mercedes-Benz, Daimler AG, and Mercedes-AMG, Mercedes has over 12 car lines. They make everything from sports cars and roadsters, hatchbacks, SUVs, luxury Sedans, EVs, supercars, super-exclusive Maybachs, trucks, and even vans.

  20. 2024 Cadillac LYRIQ

    View the All-Electric 2024 Cadillac LYRIQ built with luxury in-mind and innovated technology like Google Built-in assistant, 33" LED display, & ambient lighting. 2024 Cadillac LYRIQ | All-Electric SUV | Model Overview. You are currently viewing Cadillac.com. Close this window to stay here or choose another country to see vehicles and services ...

  21. Best of Moscow by high speed train

    Sure would appreciate someone who has taken Best of Moscow by high speed train from St. Petersburg could please share their impressions of this shore excursion. From the description this sounds like a very long day. Wondering how the 4 hour train trip was in terms of accommodations, etc. Also wha...

  22. River Cruise VS Focus on Moscow

    We want to travel to Russia at the end of the summer and are trying to weigh the pros and cons of the Volga cruise St.Petersburg-Moscow (very expensive @ $5-6K p.p., but acquaints one with the hinterland especially since we don't speak Russian and would not likely venture it by car) VS focusing on Moscow and surrounding areas such as the medieval towns near the capital.