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Ford beats Tesla in in-depth ADAS testing, while Volvo and Polestar deliver bottom-of-the-barrel results

Tesla claims that its automated driving features make its vehicles safer and more comfortable. (Image source: Tesla)
Tesla claims that its automated driving features make its vehicles safer and more comfortable. (Image source: Tesla)
Tesla seems to have let its base Autopilot ADAS technology fall by the wayside while it's been busy working on FSD Beta. Consumer Reports rated Ford's BlueCruise scored first, with Tesla's Autopilot securing a measly eighth place, behind even BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Volkswagen. Hyundai Motor Group's ageing tech scored dead last, alongside Volvo and Polestar's abysmal showing.

As we march ever forward into the future of electric cars, brands continue to stuff their cars with more and more automated driving and intelligent safety tech in an attempt to one-up each other. While the technology is certainly impressive, there is still a lot we don't know about how much we can trust these new safety features and just what they are capable of.

Consumer Reports ran in-depth testing and rated 17 major advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) in five categories: capabilities and performance, keeping the driver engaged, ease of use, how clearly it communicates when it is safe to use, and how the system behaves when the driver is unresponsive. 

Tesla Autopilot specifically fell short in the 'Keeping Driver Engaged' and 'Clear When Safe to Use' categories. However, Tesla Autopilot excelled in the 'Capabilities and Performance' category, thanks to smooth steering inputs, dependable lane centring, and how effortlessly it handles stopping and setting off again at red lights.

Consumer Reports's ranking of the ADAS systems played out as follows:

  1. Ford/Lincoln BlueCruise
  2. Chevrolet/GMC/Cadillac Super Cruise
  3. Mercedes-Benz Driver Assistance
  4. BMW Driving Assistance Professional
  5. Toyota Safety Sense 3.0 and Lexus Safety System+ 3.0
  6. Nissan/Infiniti ProPILOT Assist 2.0
  7. Volkswagen Travel Assist and Audi Adaptive Cruise Assist
  8. Tesla Autopilot
  9. Lucid Highway Assist
  10. Rivian Highway Assist
  11. Hyundai/Kia/Genesis Highway Driving Assist 2
  12. Subaru Advanced Adaptive Cruise Control w/Lane Centering Assist
  13. Nissan/Infiniti ProPILOT Assist
  14. Honda Sensing and Acura AcuraWatch
  15. Jaguar/Land Rover Adaptive Cruise w/Steer Assist
  16. Volvo/Polestar Pilot Assist
  17. Hyundai/Kia/Genesis Highway Driving Assist

A common theme among the tested systems, with the exception of the top two, is that they all scored rather low in the 'Clear When Safe to Use' category, which communicates to the driver when it is and isn't safe to use the system. Ford scored well in this regard because, although BlueCruise isn't geofenced for highway use only, it uses direct driver monitoring systems to make sure that the driver is paying attention to the road ahead and can intervene when necessary.

Consumer Reports specifically calls out Lexus/Toyota and Tesla for inadequately communicating when it is safe to use them, despite not being geofenced to larger roads and highways, and for performing poorly when attempting to centre the vehicle on narrower roads. These systems exhibited a tendency to veer too close to the right side of the road in scenarios where there was only a single line separating lanes.

While Tesla is known for its self-driving technology, FSD Beta and regular Autopilot are two very different beasts. That said, FSD Beta is a US$12,000 add-on that many buyers won't be willing to pay, leaving them with just Tesla Autopilot — a name which has already landed the company in some hot water for inspiring too much confidence in the system.

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> Expert Reviews and News on Laptops, Smartphones and Tech Innovations > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2023 10 > Ford BlueCruise dominates Tesla Autopilot in Consumer Reports testing, while Polestar scores bottom-of-the-barrel result
Julian van der Merwe, 2023-10-25 (Update: 2023-10-25)